Highlights from Bret Hart’s Book: Part 2

bret1More clips and commentary from Bret Hart’s 2007 book Hitman: My Real Life in the Cartoon World of Wrestling:

Turned out the guy was the handler of the chimp from the TV show B.J. and the Bear.

At a Stampede show there was a “midget” tag match and a guy with a chimp walked to the ring. The chimp was left on the apron and entered the ring and screwed with the finish, much to the chagrin of Cowboy Lang.

As I sat undoing my boot laces, I heard Ole’s voice on the other side of the dressing-room wall. “Did anyone see Hart’s match? Damn, I really wanted to see him work.”

Bret went to Georgia Championship Wrestling in 1979 where Ole Anderson was the booker. Hart was told to expect a big push as a babyface for a run in the territory, but when he had his tryout match the one guy who needed to actually watch was doing something else. And people wonder why WCW was so screwed up years later when Ole was booking there.

“We had to decide on your first night whether to push you or Buzz, and damned if I didn’t miss your entire match. So I went with Buzz and now look!”

Ole had to decide whether to push Bret or Buzz Sawyer and went with the latter since he actually saw that match. Sawyer later became known as something of a crazy person with various antics, such as taking the money of Mark Calaway (The Undertaker) to train him as a wrestler and only teaching him how to lock up before skipping town. Sawyer passed away in 1992 at age 32.

I was really beginning to understand how to structure a card. Never have two disqualifications back-to-back. Keep the broadways, or draws, to a minimum. Go easy on the gimmicks. Use juice only when necessary. Not too many low blows. Never let the fans guess the outcome. Keep it real. Book at least three weeks in advance. Above all, make sure nobody gets hurt for real.

Stampede was truly a family operation and even in his early to mid 20s, Bret was booking for the promotion. These are all sound rules. The WCW of the late 80s was very much in love with their opening match draws, late 90s WCW had way too many DQs, and low blows are still overused to this day.

It would be our first “ladder match.” The concept was actually conceived by Dan Kroffat, a smooth-talking protégé of Stu’s who had Robert Redford looks. He and Tor Kamata, a pearshaped wrestler who was born in Hawaii and whose parents were Mexican and Chinese, sold out the pavilion with the first ever ladder match in the summer of 1975.

Based on the description, that Dan Kroffat is not the Dan Kroffat who was in the tag team with Doug Furnas and also went by the name Phil Lafon. This Original Kroffat was one of the bigger stars in Stampede in the 1970s and retired in 1985.

fag gimmick

This would be the rather unenlightened way to describe the gimmick popularized by Adrian Street, who worked many of the territories in the 1970s and 80s. It was later borrowed by Adrian Adonis in WWF in 1986-87.

New Japan had called him to work with Tiger Mask at Madison Square Garden for just one show; a blown-away Vince McMahon Jr. did the commentary. The wrestling world in North America was catching on to what I already knew: The Dynamite Kid was ahead of his time.

The WWF and New Japan had a strong relationship that lasted until 1985, and the WWF Jr. Heavyweight title would be regularly defended in New Japan. This match took place in 1982 as part of a larger series between Tiger Mask and Dyanmite. If you’ve watched any wrestling from 1982 then saw this, it would seems as if these guys came from another planet with the speed they worked. This is a quick 7 minute match with Satoru Sayama under the mask and Kid still in his prime before all the injuries. No Vince on commentary, unless he learned to speak fluent Japanese.


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