Book Marks

Pain and Passion: Part 3

Robert Demond

I've read a lot of wrestling books over the years. Some great ones, some not so great ones but lucky for me and all the bookmarks, Pain and Passion is one of the great ones. I thought that not only was it very well written by Heath McCoy but it also seemed very well researched, not to mention fair and balanced. I hadn't been too familiar with the history of Stampede wrestling until I read Bret Hart's outstanding autobiography, which I read a few months before Pain and Passion. That helped familiarize myself with alot of the characters and people from Stampede. I liked that Heath McCoy did a very nice job of showing the good and bad about everyone he wrote about. For most all the wrestlers there was some positive writing to go along with all the negative things. I guess I don't have much else to say about the book; I would definitely recommend it to any wrestling fan and probably any non-wrestling fan. It was a terrific read from start to finish.

“I knew or at least met most of the people from this book, and I can attest to Heath’s balance in writing. He did not see to have any agenda or previous opinions of people going in, or at least none that he let show in the book. I also think the key to his book being accurate and fair was that he interviewed so many people. Even those who would lie and placed blame elsewhere or tried to bury others would be exposed when enough people were interviewed. If you get 20 people to tell you the same story the versions told by the most people is most likely the truth. Heath even at one point printed both sides of one story because he couldn’t completely determine which side of the story was the truth.”

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Kyle Henderson

I really enjoyed Heath McCoy's story on Stampede Wrestling; Heath knew a lot of knowledge that even surprised me when I read it. I am glad that Heath decided to cover everything from the humble beginnings of the family all the way till the bitter endings with family feuds, as well as the Benoit tragedy. The Hart family sure set a landmark in Canadian professional wrestling that will never be duplicated in the future. Lots of great storylines and in-ring action.

“It certainly never will be duplicated. Stampede was a one time only experience. I was very lucky to break in when I did and catch the tail end of it and get to work at least one show at the Stampede Pavilion. If I had broken in 5 or 10 years earlier I doubt I would have lasted long in the Stampede territory.”

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David Solow

I really enjoyed this book for several reasons:

1-Any wrestling fan is familiar with Bret and Owen Hart but this book introduced us to the entire family in great detail.
2-I have previously heard of Stampede Wresting but this book took me all the way through the rise and fall of this promotion that became such an important part of the Calgary culture.
3-My son begins training today at the Storm Wrestling Academy.

“Just a side note, David’s son Aaron is still training with me and we are about half way through training. Part of me is amazed that anyone reading this book would be okay with their son getting into wrestling (LOL). Thankfully the business is more professionally run now.”

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Adam R

I really do not think there is anything I could say that other Bookmarks fans won't say. Pain & Passion was a fantastic read! I would recommend it to anyone who has love and respect for the history of the wrestling business. I actually finished this book over a month ago. I am just writing now because I really wasn't sure what I could say to bring an ounce of the praise it deserves.

The only thing I would say is, it is not a book I would recommend to someone who is not a wrestling fan. Some of Mick Foley's books could be a fun read for someone who is not a fan (is Mick going to be a bookmarks author? fiction or nonfiction?) Pain & Passion is almost too indepth, thick, and detailed for someone who is not a Hart Family fan or fan of the bizz. I read much of this book while on vacation with my wife's family. They were asking me about it & as I began telling them bits and pieces of the book, I saw a distant look in their eyes as they quit listening to me. Guess it's not for everyone...

Besides enjoying the stories and accounts in this book, I also learned things I did not know about certain workers and their origins in the world of wrestling (Von Erich, Valentine, etc). I've always had an extra bit of respect and love for Nattie, and that is even more so after this read.

Like I said, I could type on and on about how much I enjoyed reading about the history of The Harts, from baby Stu to the present, but I will just end here by saying: 5 stars! A must read for any fan with an attention span! Best Bookmarks to date!

“Glad you enjoyed it. Nattie likely comes off better than anyone else in the book. I know Nattie and she deserved to come off this well, she is a real sweat heart and really talented worker. I haven’t seen too much of her in WWE because I often miss SD, but they really need to highlight her more and let her shine. Nattie is so much better than what I have seen of her thus far in WWE. I’d love to see her work with Gail Kim.”

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Lynn Hodge

First off, I was thrilled to hear about this selection. I am a big fan of Bret and Owen Hart and being from Tennessee, I never got much of a chance to see Stampede wrestling. I thought the book opened a little slow going over the early events of Stu's life and career. It provided some context for the rest of his life, but it was a little boring to me. I didn't really get into the book until about the middle, reading about the Stomper and Abdullah the Butcher. I remember watching the Stomper as a kid and thinking he was insane. I would have loved to see his work at a much younger age as he was already in his 50's by the time I watched him. I enjoyed reading about the various monster heels that were brought in and fed to the faces, especially a young Bret Hart.

I also enjoyed reading about Tom Billington, as I think he was always a great worker. Although I do not care for his personality based upon his own book and other writings about him, Dynamite Kid was so intense, so full throttle, and so hard hitting. I likewise liked reading about a young Davey Boy Smith and how the two Bulldogs eventually got together as a team.

From there, I thought the book took a sad turn as the remainder of the book was nothing but tragedy after tragedy. I thought the last few years of Stu and Helen Hart's lives were heartbreaking, seeing the business that they were son engrained in fall into disarray and watching their family in constant turmoil. It is always hard to read about your heroes and realizing that they are not always the good and decent people that they portray. I thought Owen was the only child that really came out sounding like someone I would want to know. Overall, I think Bret came off pretty well in the book, but he had a few moments in there that I didn't like to hear about. I thought Diana sounded like a money hungry pathetic woman, as did many of the Hart children. I also thought Martha dragged the family through the mud unnecessarily.

The two dominant thoughts that I had coming out of this book were concerning Bruce and Nattie. Bruce sounded like the ultimate loser, always clinging to the past, and the past was never much for him either. I think Bruce sees himself as Stu, but the truth is, he is nowhere close to the man Stu was. As for Nattie, she sounds so grounded and the best chance to carry on the Hart name with some class and dignity, inside the ring and out. Regardless of the amount of success that she encounters, Nattie stayed above the fray. She loves her family, warts and all, but she refuses to take sides or shun anyone. I think this book speaks volumes to me as a father as to how to teach my children to love each other and ALWAYS look out for one another. It also made me a HUGE fan of Nattie Neidhart.

I am really torn how to rate this book. It was a good read, but one that was very sad and depressing. This is one story that does not have a happy ending for most of the characters. And unfortunately, these characters are real people.

“The Stampede/Hart story is a very tragic one and because of that this book certainly isn’t a feel good read. Unfortunately wrestling families are often VERY dysfunctional. The Von Erick/World Class story is very similar. If there was ever a Canada – US versions of the same story it would be Stampede and World Class. I think the only difference was Stampede had longer road trips and worse weather, which actually made it a harder territory. And yes, Nattie is amazing. I often joke with the boys that it is an absolute miracle she ended up so grounded growing up in the family that she did. You can’t help but love and respect Nattie after reading this book or getting to know her in person. ”

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