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Stu Hart Passes Away...
Plus Other Weekend News
October 17, 2003

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


OK, I really got nothing today.  Much like Pedro in the eighth inning last night, I'm spent, and my good stuff is long gone.  And yet, here I remain cuz no one's got the balls to give me the hook.  The SD! PPV should be my main topic, but honestly, last night I got wrapped up in watching the ballgame and doing some drinking.  I have yet to watch SD! in its entirety, and what I saw the previous week or two doesn't really leave me all that fired up for Sunday's No Mercy.  Now that I know Game 2 will be taking place on Sunday night, I estimate the likelihood of me seeing the PPV to be less than 20 percent.

God bless her, Erin has done the traditional Big Ass PPV Preview for No Mercy, complete with the predictions and the whole nine.  So you can check that out.  One way or another, I promise I'll have a PPV Recap here at OO on Sunday night, too. 

For our time together here today, though, we've got some sad news to cover...  so let's just get to it:

  • Stu Hart died yesterday at the age of 88.  He had been hospitalized two weeks ago following a fall, but an infected cut on his elbow was soon the least of his concerns.  Stu developed pneumonia while in the hospital, a condition complicated by existing diabetic and arthritic conditions.
    There is a Stu Hart who played football and who himself was a talented and acclaimed pro wrestler.  But very few, if any, fans today remember Stu Hart, the Athlete.  If Stu's contributions had been limited to his 40-years-dormant athletic career, they would have been worthy of note.  That he proceeded to contribute to the success of not only his sons, but also a significant percentage of an entire generation of wrestling stars, is even more impressive.
    Stu's Stampede Wrestling circuit, based out of Calgary, started while the man was still a semi-active competitor, and then flourished in the 60s and 70s.  Their weekly TV would eventually be syndicated throughout Canada and even into a few American markets.  As the 70s became the 80s, Stampede was, if anything, growing stronger with the Hart brothers, Davey Boy Smith, Dynamite Kid and others providing not just box office drawing power, but also an innovative, high-caliber level of in-ring action.
    But even as Stampede Wrestling and its young stars were bringing an incredible style of wrestling to fans, the nature of the business was changing.  Vince McMahon and the WWF were in the throes of an expansion that basically gobbled up all but the strongest of regional promotions.  Stu Hart's Stampede Wrestling was not going to be able to compete, and in 1985, the promotion was one of many to lose battles to the WWF.  Stu's top stars moved on to Titan, including his son, Bret.  It would be a fortuitous move for all involved.
    First as a member of the Hart Foundation tag team -- and often in amazing matches against fellow Stampede cast-offs the British Bulldogs -- Bret became a huge star in the WWF, a position that afforded him the chance to involve his family members in WWF storylines.  Not only did younger brother Owen become a staple performer for the company, but fans were introduced to his parents, Stu and Helen.
    By the early 90s, even casual WWF fans had learned about the legendary Hart Wrestling Family.  At Survivor Series '93, several of the lesser-known Hart sons even donned tights to compete while Stu and Helen were at ringside.  The match was the result of Jerry Lawler's direct insults towards Stu and Helen (I was even there in person at the Manhattan Center for one RAW taping during which Lawler heckled the pair).  
    And while the sporadic on-air storyline appearances by Stu (and Helen) allowed fans to learn a bit of the family's long history of contributions to the wrestling business, something unique in an era of one-dimensional gimmickry, that was only a small part of the story.  Stu, even well past the years in which he'd get in the ring and compete and then even after Stampede Wrestling had ceased to thrive and was reduced to variable levels of success after the mid 80s, was more than just a periodic sympathetic character used by the WWF to help Bret Hart's career.
    Stu Hart maintained a training facility in the basement of his home...  it was called "the Dungeon."  Obviously, Stu had a hand in the development of his sons' skills and careers.  But beyond that, his list of protégés reads like a who's who of respected in-ring technicians.  And while not everyone who came out of the Dungeon can lay claim to being as proficient as Chris Benoit, I can guarantee you that everyone who passed through came out a better performer.
    As recently as the late 90s, the Dungeon was still in operation under Stu's guiding hand.  The WWF would even avail itself of his services when it needed some help developing young, inexperienced wrestlers.  Guys like Ken Shamrock, Droz, and Brakkus got their first tastes of pro wrestling in the Dungeon after they had been more renowned for shoot-fighting, football, and bodybuilding (respectively).  It was, in a way, sort of an embryonic version of the developmental system used by WWE today.  Stu and the Harts didn't stop putting their stamp on the wrestling business with the generation of guys that included Benoit and Brian Pillman, nor with the next phase of workers like Chris Jericho and Lance Storm.  In fact, the facility that Stu worked hard to turn into a Star Factory has become so well known and respected that it continues to operate to this day.  "The Dungeon," in the hands of the next generation of Harts, has continued to instill the hard working ethic in a slew of stars we fans have yet to even see.
    Obviously, I am ill-equipped to properly eulogize Stu Hart.  Many of his greatest accomplishments took place 30 years before I was even born.  But I have seen enough, even in the last decade of my fandom, to know that his contributions to the business are significant and that he will be terribly missed by many.
    Condolences to all of the Hart family and their friends.
  • Having a chance to say a few things about Stu Hart is the big reason why I decided to go ahead and do a column today...
    But I guess since I'm here, I should at least TOUCH on SD!'s No Mercy PPV.  If nothing else, I do want to make predictions for the show, since we can't be having any holes when I do the OO Year in Review...
    Again, it's important to keep in mind that I haven't seen all of last night's SmackDown! yet...  I tried last night after I watched the game and then after I felt obligated to go out for a few celebratory cocktails on top of the ones I'd already enjoyed.  It started out great: the Angle/Cena thing at the top was hilarious.  Benoit/Basham was OK, too.  I could only take about 2 minutes of the Steph interview, though, before my lack of inhibitions had me leaning heavy on the FF button.
    Rather than let myself go through 2 hours of SD! in 20 minutes, I decided to just give up and save it for a time when I'd be willing to concentrate a bit more.  Or I could also just give up and read Danny's SD! Recap.
    So if I'm wrong on any/all of these, at least I have an excuse.
    My predictions:  Lesnar over Taker...  Vince over Steph...  Angle over Cena...  Eddie over Big Show...  Benoit over A-Train...  Rey over Tajiri (boo!)....  Matt over Zach...  and...  well, actually, that's it, right?
    Man alive, I wish they'd pushed ahead with the "Eddie must defend both titles" gimmick.  As I said Wednesday, Shelton Benjamin is back, and they could have done a deal where the World's Greatest Tag Team asked for their rematch at No Mercy, and Eddie was obligated to compete in that even though he's already go the US Title defense...  I think Eddie being forced to defend two titles in one night (even if he loses one or both of them) would have done WONDERS for getting fans to buy into him as a legit main event type talent.  Or at least: it would have done more than spraying Big Show with raw sewage.
    As it stands now, No Mercy could have used the potential kick-ass match that would have been the Guerreros vs. WGTT, and it wouldn't have hurt to remember to push the tag titles even if it WASN'T Haas and Benjamin who took the shot.  When was the last time those belts were defended, anyway?
    Alright, enough.  No Mercy is on Sunday night.  Either I will eschew Game 2, watch the PPV, and do an immediate post-show recap here at OO, or I will get somebody else to do one for me.  Either way, OO's got your back if you want to know what happens at No Mercy...  there will be a recap here around midnight (eastern) on Sunday night. 
  • Overnight rating for last night's SD! was a 3.1.  That bodes ill.  Last week's ON rating was a 3.9, which settled down to a 3.6 when all was said and done.  The 3.1 is sure to dip at least a couple of tenths, and may result in SD!'s lowest rating in recent memory.
    Yankees/Red Sox Game 7 did monster ratings for FOX, and crushed everybody (even doubling up NBC's usually strong "Must See TV" lineup).  Baseball's appeal this year extends past just WWE's usual young male demographic, though in this case, WWE's usual stronghold of fans in the northeast were probably all glued to the game instead of wrestling this week.  
    I'll add SD!'s final rating to this week's Battle of the Brands at some point over the weekend (whenever I get around to adding my own ratings).  I'll also be sure to mention it in Monday's OO.
  • Kevin Nash, as discussed here a week ago, is indeed hurting...  upon further review, Nash has decided to undergo neck surgery (with the same doc who did Kurt Angle's surgery earlier this year; the guy has also operated on Nash's buddy, Scott Hall).  He will be out of action for about 2 months after the surgery, which is scheduled for early November.  
    So:  although many signs pointed to Nash being turned heel and being revealed as Goldberg's Mystery Attacker, those plans are now out the window.  Nash (hey, remember this mantra?) should be ready to make a big splash by returning at the Royal Rumble.  Hell, his hair should be ready to make a triumphant return by that point, too.
    Looks like the RAW creative team has another corner they need to book their way out of....
  • A bunch of people forwarded me a note about a movie website reporting that Triple H is under consideration to play the titular character in a revived Conan the Barbarian movie series.  It's another case where nothing is certain, but Ah-nold had been discussing possibilities before his new little hobby... now that he can't be making any movies for about 3 years, they might end up shelving the Conan idea.  But for now, they want to push forward.  Writer/director John Milius introduced the idea of going with HHH...
    If you're wondering why HHH's name came up, it's because Milius is also the man responsible for the "Journey of Death" project that will be starring HHH.  Milius, as you'll recall, wrote that one specifically for HHH.  And now he's saying HHH might make a good Conan.  If I didn't know better, I'd say this Milius fellow had a bit of a man-crush on the Game...
  • Also on the movie front:  I told you Wednesday about "Instant Karma," the Rock's proposed next project.  I explained the premise and then made several pithy comments about how it sounded like it would suck.  Badly.
    Well, once again, my instincts were right.  I actually got an e-mail from a guy who read the script when it was first circulating Hollywood three years ago.  Let's just say there's a reason why it's taken three years to get someone to make the movie.  Of course, I'm sure changes have been made in the ensuing three years... but it's like I always say: you can't polish a turd.
    An additional note:  the producer for "Instant Karma" is the same one who is trying to get the "Duke Nukem" movie franchise started.  And you'll recall that the Rock was high on the want list for that project...  I shall not speculate on what it means that Rocky is now showing up in another of the same producer's projects.
    Thanks to Jason for the tips, here.

  • Back to HHH for a second: as you know, he's back on house shows for tonight and Saturday only.  That's after 3-plus weeks of vacation, and with his wedding and more vacation looming after that.  The anomalous house show appearances, however, have a perfectly rational explanation.
    They are practically in HHH's back yard.  Duh.  I don't know why I didn't realize that.  Manchester, NH, and Providence, RI, enjoy....  and again to reiterate what I said Wednesday: all signs point to no on-screen use of HHH on Monday's RAW, or at least they didn't on Wednesday, and now that I have a rational explanation for the two house show appearances, I feel safe assuming nothing's changed on that front.
  • Test's injury may only keep him out for a month or so...  that's a halving of the original estimate.
    On the other hand, Rodney Mack's diagnosis is not so good.  He'll need knee surgery and is looking at up to 4 months on the shelf.
  • From the "this is so stupid, somebody deserves to be punched in the eyeball" file....  the Maryland State Athletic Commission apparently forbids male vs. female wrestling matches.  Vince vs. Steph is slated for Sunday's PPV in Baltimore.
    For some reason, the commission actually intends to enforce its rule despite WWE's obvious status as entertainment.  WWE will do the match anyway.  You know why?  Because the fine is $2000.  Yep, two grand.  Talk about a deterrent!  
  • I think that's about all for today.  I'll see you either Sunday night or Monday, kids....  Go Yankees!  [And hey, Midnight Madness is tonight, so also:  Go Flyers!  Have I mentioned that I love October?]
    Later on....  


Rick Scaia is a wrestling fan from Dayton, OH.  He's been doing this since 1995, but enjoyed it best when the suckers from SportsLine were actually PAYING him to be a fan.

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