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Kayfabe! – Back to the Territories with Jim Cornette: Stampede Wrestling

September 8, 2015 | Posted by Mike Campbell
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Kayfabe! – Back to the Territories with Jim Cornette: Stampede Wrestling  

Back to the Territories with Jim Cornette – Stampede Wrestling

One of the reservations that I had with this series was how Jim would fare when he had to discuss a territory that he’d never worked. Both previous volumes were more or less mini reunions for Jim, when he got to chat and talk about old times. But, Jim managed to put those reservations to rest. He actually pretty much carries the interview here, as he seems to know more about Stampede than Lance Storm (Not necessarily a knock on Lance, since he was from another part of Canada, and didn’t really see much Stampede until the last days of it). I’d wager that this is the most detailed history of the promotion outside of anything produced locally in Calgary or the book Pain and Passion.

Jim starts off with a laugh right away, by talking about how Stu Hart’s family was so poor that they lived for a few years in a tent in the woods, and that might explain the contradiction of Stu being such a dedicated family man, and a sadist who loved torturing others. Then, Jim and Lance take a 100-minute journey through the promotion, starting in its formative years in the late 1940’s (ironically, Stu’s most successful time period), and up through the various names changes (Wild Cat Wrestling, Big Time Wrestling, etc.) until settling on Stampede Wrestling in 1967, and of course discussion of all the great wrestlers that Stu trained. One of the more interesting tidbits is the fact that Stu met Helen in NYC when he was wrestling for Vince senior, and, when junior bought out Stampede, he wasn’t too keen on Bret, and, might not have taken him, if he wasn’t already a U.S. citizen. Jim and Lance talk the whole Hart family, complete with a flowchart, and share memories of them all. They don’t full out knock him or anything, but Bruce isn’t exactly a favorite.

Another big topic is Ed Whalen, who is held in the same high regard in Canada as Lance Russell or J.R. is here in the states. Ed gave them a lot of credibility because he was a legit sportscaster in Calgary. A lot of the boys didn’t like him because he wouldn’t sell for them, and wanted to knock him out, but, couldn’t. Of course, one of Stampede’s most famous angles, the Stomper’s son, comes up, and how it was supposed to revitalize things, but, Whalen got pissed and quit and they wound up getting cancelled off TV and kicked out of the Pavilion. This leads Jim and Lance to discuss how most of the commissioners are political appointments, and they aren’t smartened up to the business, although Lance knew of one who was, so they’d warn him when something big was coming and he’d go take a convenient smoke break.

Like I said, Jim carries things, but, Lance has his strengths as well. He talks a lot about how revered Stampede and the Harts really are in Calgary. To this day, Lance can’t go anywhere without meeting someone with a connection to Stu Hart, and a lot of fly-by-night indy groups will use the Stampede name, or come up with some obscure connection to the Harts and easily draw 1,000 people. Lance also talks about the road trips in Canada, because there are very few bit cities and they’re spread out, so eight-hour (one-way) trips were not uncommon, and were especially dangerous in the winter.

The final score: review Virtually Perfect
The 411
I think this is the best edition of the series yet. It's every bit as entertaining as the previous installments, and because, so much of this stuff hasn't been covered in great length, it's much more interesting.