Book Marks

Pain and Passion: Part 2

Mark Pink

The book I read prior to this was “Ring of Hell” so needless to say I loved “Pain and Passion” from the start. The story of the attempted mutiny on the road was a great way to start the book and give the reader a preview of the tales that were to follow. The one thing that I struggled with a bit was the long parts on the history of Stu’s childhood. It was important to give a look at how Stu became Stu, but I thought it dragged a bit in length.

I thought this was one of the more un-biased wrestling books I have ever read, it was almost like listening to a oral history of the territory being passed down by generations of men who lived though it. No political slant, which is hard to find in a book about the Harts, it was just a good, entertaining history.

The thing that stands out most to me was Ed Whalen, I never realized how much power he had, how he used it and how in the dark he was about story lines, to me that really showed how the scene was so different back then. Overall, a fun, informative book ~!

“I agree completely with you. I too found the Stu background a little slow, but on the whole loved the book. Ed Whalen was a great guy, and I did my first pro-wrestling interview with the Stampede legend. In a strange coincidence my wife and I had to do a session of marriage counseling before getting married (required by the church that married us) and our counselor was Naomi Whalen, Ed’s wife. Ed actually came by during our one session, and we ended up talking wrestling through half of our marriage counseling session.”

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Karen Brickhaus

This selection was a lot easier if a read for me, I was more interested in the subject matter and was able to devote longer periods of time reading it and really enjoyed it. It reminded me a lot of when I was reading (or more aptly skimmed over since Scott had borrowed it and I only saw it for a couple days): Wrestling at the Chase: The Inside Story of Sam Muchnick and the Legends of Professional Wrestling. I have to say I identified more with the Wrestling at the Chase book, since I remembered seeing some of the things that happened in it, but I recognized a lot of the names in the Stampede book, and remember reading stories (and commentaries) by some of the wrestlers involved.

One problem I did have with Pain and Passion, The History of Stampede Wrestling is that it is presented as a book about Stampede Wrestling. It wasn't. To me it was a book about the Hart family and some of the wrestlers that wrestled for Stampede Wrestling, with some Stampede wrestling history thrown in for good measure. To some (if not most) people The Hart family is Stampede Wrestling, but to me (granted, I'm not all that familiar with Stampede Wrestling and not from, nor have ever been to Calgary...Alberta, Canada), they are separate. Though including the problems within the ranks of the Hart family probably did make it a more interesting read.

I did almost get chills reading about the death of Owen. I remember vividly that night lying in bed when I got a phone call from one of my sisters asking if I knew that Owen Hart was dead. I'm like WTF?!?! She was live in the audience that night at Kemper Arena (WWE did not tell the live audience in the arena that Owen had died, she heard it on the radio after the show and wanted to know if I knew anything about it). I also remember watching Raw the next night (I wasn't watching WWE at the time so Scott and I didn't attend the Raw in St. Louis the night after Owen passed on). It is sad that instead of bringing a troubled family together, the tragedy ripped it further apart.

All in all, I did enjoy reading this selection and am looking forward to the next one!

“ I agree with you that this book was not strictly the History of Stampede Wrestling, but I found the other stuff bonus and added to the book rather than detracted. You have to cover the Hart family to fairly cover Stampede and covering the former Stampede guys after they left Stampede made sense in that they were more or less the legacy of Stampede. I can certainly see how being from this area added to my enjoyment.”

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Val Bewer

Yet another good selection for Book Marks. Even though I had a little trouble getting into the book at the beginning. But maybe that's just because the family history before Stu became a wrestler - though interesting - has little connection to wrestling itself. But later I was fully hooked by the book. Seeing how familiar names got to break into the business was nice. Also making connections to modern day storylines. Then again it was quite unpleasant reading about the family that practically defined wrestling for a long time break into factions and fight about legal issues as well as friendships going down the drain.

But the most painful part was well into the end of the book when one person after the other died with Stu Hart as the tragic climax. His situation after the death of his wife reminded me very much of how my grandmother must have felt after she became a widow herself. It brought me to the brink of tears. Then there was the part, which was added in this edition. First thing I noticed was the mission subtitles to the pictures. And of course the segment about Chris Benoit. In the first part it made for an eerie kind of feeling as he was still mentioned in present tense. It felt eerie but somehow justified nonetheless. Of course the tense changed in this latter part of the book and I had a feeling that this particular tragedy was granted a little more space within the book than was really necessary.

All in all I consider it a good and interesting book that made me sorry for not being able to have witnessed Stampede Wrestling first hand. Thanks once more.

“I think the slow start covering Stu the early years is going to be a common concern. I found it especially slow because I had heard a lot of it before and was really anxious to get into the meat of the book. I also read an original edition that did not have the updated section. I do have a new copy so I will have to check that out. The Hart Family and the Stampede story is a tragic one.”

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Steve Anderson

I've owned this book since it first came out; I think I've read it about 3 times back to front now. I have always been a big fan of the wrestlers that came out of the Stampede territories, but my only real exposure to them that I received was through the WWE in the 80's and 90's, and occasionally when I caught the odd episode on television when I was really young, so it was great to learn more about the promotion. I felt at times the book focused on the authors favourite wrestlers above the other talent that wrestled during the same period, especially Dynamite Kid, but being a huge Dynamite Kid mark I am not bothered by that at all. I've read the book several times and still find myself chuckling to some of the stories, especially Stu's response to why he hadn't brought in Don Leo Jonathan in awhile, "Eh, bastard likes to chase trains." I think this is probably one of my favourite wrestling books I have ever read, up there with Pure Dynamite, Jericho's book and Bret Hart's book. I hope one day the WWE makes a legacy of Stampede Wrestling dvd so we can see some of the moments talked about in this great book.

“ I don’t think it was so much that Heath was focusing on his favourites as it was he was focusing on the key people at the time. I had heard endless stories over the years about Stampede and this book tied all of them together and from everyone I’ve talked to about that Era supports the book’s accuracy.”

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Kerry O'Brien

My dad actually recommended this book to me. He was the one who got me hooked on wrestling when I was about 5, and this was the first book he had ever read that talked about the guys he grew up watching. After debating starting in the middle where I would recognize some names, I decided to start at the beginning. I was very glad I did.

The first thing that has to be noted is that Heath is a great storyteller. He understands very well how to weave various accounts into a cohesive narrative, how to inject humour or work with sadness, and he never condescends to his material or his subjects. I also appreciated how he was willing to allow for inconsistencies in the stories (i.e., Hito claiming that Stu stretched Smith after stiffing him on his pay for a tour, which Smith denied). Any company's story as told by all the people there is bound to have conflicting memories and McCoy is more than willing to allow the reader to decide who they want to believe.

I was VERY impressed at how well researched it was. I recently read "The Death Of WCW" and, while thoroughly entertaining, there was nothing approaching the level of research McCoy did. It gives the book weight as far as its accuracy goes and allows for a whole new level of storytelling. We get the overall arcs of the major stories, but also little stories-within-the-stories that a colour and depth.

Even though there were a ton of personalities I'd never heard of before reading the book (Foley, Whalen, and so on) the book was extremely enjoyable and thorough. Huge thumbs up.

“I’m glad you mentioned The Death of WCW because I loved that book too. I think the key to both books is the impartial view provided by a third party writer. The critics of the WCW book always complain that it can’t be accurate because the guys that wrote it weren’t there, where I contend the exact opposite is true. A third party will be less bias in their writing and as long as the research is done (as it was in Pain and Passion, and Death of WCW) the real story will come out. I often equate it to history; which book covering WWII would be more accurate the one written by Adolph Hitler (because he was there) or one written by a third party journalist who does the proper research? I do agree that there seems to be better research in Pain and Passion, but I think that is because Heath tells a more human story where the WCW book was more about money and business. Also the fact that the WCW book was written while those involved were still in the wrestling business and less apt to talk opening about the companies down fall. Pain and Passion was written so far after the fact that most of the people that Heath would have interviewed would be completely out of the business and more open to honest interviews.”

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