Book Marks

Pain and Passion: Part 4

Mike Patry

I had already read McCoy's Pain and Passion in the Spring, but I took another glance at the work once it was a BookMark selection. In many ways, this book reminded me of a good textbook. With all the research, interviews, and meticulous details, this book seems like the perfect fit in a classroom. Mind you, it would need to be a History class based on Stampede Wrestling, most likely the most influential Canadian wrestling promotion ever.

This book has it all. McCoy takes the reader on a very special journey. We feel the hardships endured by Stu Hart while he is growing up. We get a glimpse into the Hart family's beginnings and its continued growth. The journey continues with the creation, the stumbles, and the joys of Stampede. I really enjoyed the mix of first hand experience and retold stories presented in the book. It helped the reader picture the crazy characters, venues, and incidents.

Near the end of the book, I found it difficult to read about the tragedies that fell upon the Hart family and those involved in Stampede Wrestling. However, the added section gave me hope, with the presentation of Nattie Neidhart, TJ Wilson, and DH Smith.

My appreciation of Pain and Passion goes beyond its covers. While reading the book, I was constantly reminded of the days where my father would take me to my first pro wrestling events, where I would cheer and boo to my heart's content. So much so, I had to share stories from the book with my dad. It became another bonding experience. During the spring, I also had a chance to meet Bret Hart. In one of our discussions, he talked about the incident where the wrestlers broke down on the side of the highway and needed a ride into town. Hart recounted the story word for word as it was presented in the book. It's clearly a testament on how accurate Pain and Passion truly is.

I hope that, someday, we see a documentary as carefully researched, unbiased, and well written as Pain and Passion.

“I think Stampede might be even more than the most influential Canadian territory because you could make the case for them being influential industry wide in that Stampede was largely responsible for bringing the more acrobatic Japanese style of wrestling into North America. I think Stampede and ECW were two of the biggest style influence on our business.”



History books usually grabs my attention in the beginning but eventually it drags on and I lose attention. Pain and Passion did have some slow parts, but overall it was a decent read. I liked how McCoy described the wrestlers in each decade and how McCoy incorporated quotes when the stories where told.

“Most people felt that Pain and Passion was the opposite to what you expected. It started a little slow and the beginning then grabbed their attention fully”


Marty Sugar

Hey, Lance: long-time reader, first-time caller.

“Pain and Passion” is a pretty amazing book, and is right up there with my two other favorites: Jericho’s and Dynamite’s. Whereas Jericho’s book is (for the most part), very light-hearted and fun, McCoy’s book is in the same vein as Dynamite’s: gritty and dark. From beginning to end, it didn’t pull any punches about one of the most legendary promotions in wrestling history. As someone who has been toiling in the business myself for the past five years, these are the types of books I really enjoy: it pulled back the curtain and showed the best and worst of how professional wrestling works.

I also liked how the updated version touches on the Benoit tragedy (and not in some big, drawn-out, “People Magazine” type way), and discussed the life-to-date of Nattie Neidhart. It’s nice to see that she has reached the big time, sooner rather than later. Usually I only have time to read on the john, so it takes me some time to finish a book. Only the best books get out of the bathroom and get extended reading time; and this is one of those books.

Not sure if that’s the type of endorsement that would make the back cover of a book, but there you go. J

“I doubt you will be quoted for the cover on future reprints. I think the reason behind Pain and Passion and Pure Dynamite both being so dark and gritty is that their stories are almost one and the same and unfortunately that story is not a very sunny one. Living in Calgary like I do I was glad to finally have an honest account of the Stampede/Hart tale because often in this City the entire Hart family is put on a pedestal and often given almost God like status and this books shows that wrestling aside Harts are people too and they are flawed like the rest of us, and in some cases maybe even more so.”


Melissa J. Valentine

So the Legendary Stu Hart used to live in my hometown of Great Falls... that excites me more than Clint Eastwood having lived here! It was nice to read a book about wrestling and have it be mostly stuff I didn't already know. It would have been exciting to have been alive and old enough to remember Stampede Wrestling for myself, unfortunately I was only 3 years old when it came to an end. The opening paragraph in the introduction made me laugh because it reminded me of Chris Jericho (I named him my favorite active wrestler when The Undertaker was "banned" and kept him in that spot even after Undertaker returned) and Shawn Michael's (2nd favorite active wrestler) rivalry. The last quote from Nattie Neidhart, 'But anything you love is worth fighting for,' summed the book up really well. Everybody fights for the things that they love. Some may have it easy and others may have it hard, but it is one universal thing that ties us together and I wouldn't have it any other way.

“I love your story about Clint Eastwood. You know if there was ever a Stu Hart or Stampede Wrestling movie, Clint Eastwood would be a pretty good choice to play Stu.”


Tom B

I've read all of the books about the Hart family and Pain and Passion is the most readable, the most balanced and the fairest of the bunch. I was really impressed by Heath McCoy's attempts to give all sides of the story -- something that couldn't have been easy given the outsized characters and the wild events he writes about.

Reading the book made me realize just how innovative Stampede Wrestling was. I saw them live once in the '80s, in Williams Lake B.C. Most of the audience seemed to be drunk -- mean drunk -- and it felt like the place was about to blow up at any minute. Reading Pain and Passion took me back to that night.

So much of Pain and Passion is tragic -- the deaths, the decline of Dynamite Kid, the Hart family infighting -- but I thought McCoy did a great job of showing what's great about wrestling without covering up the sad parts of the story.

“Agreed, Heath did a great job of telling the story dirt and all. He made it both interesting and fair without making it a scandalous tabloid expose like the book Ring of Hell, which was the most bias agenda ridden thing I’ve ever read.”