One of pro wrestling's biggest stars tells it like it was, with an obscene amount of detail.Read more...
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One of pro wrestling's biggest stars tells it like it was, with an obscene amount of detail. Few are better qualified than Hart to relate the story of how a family-friendly, locally oriented sport run by curmudgeonly promoters was steamrollered by the Hulk Hogan-fueled WWF marketing machine. Likely the most popular wrestler to ever come from Canada, the author grew up in Calgary, one of many sons of wrestling promoter Stu Hart, whose televised bouts were staples for decades. The Hart family basement passed into legend as "the dungeon," a place where Stu put top wrestlers through his grueling moves. The author's loving depiction of his cranky, painfully honest, perpetually broke father is a high point of this bloated memoir. Hart also vividly depicts the threadbare but thrilling family business he grew up in, with its road trips in crowded vans, meager pay, clownish ring antics and solid sense of brotherhood. But in 1983, hungry New York promoter Vince McMahon Jr. started televising his matches in other promoters' territories, necessitating a 1983 gathering in Las Vegas that Hart compares to "a meeting of Mafia dons protecting their turf." With the coming of the louder, meaner WWF, he laments, "something uniquely vaudevillian was lost forever." Nonetheless, it was only after Hart joined McMahon that he became an international star. McMahon's steroid-pumped musclemen were often not even wrestlers, the author admits, but since it was the only game in town he soldiered on, reaping millions in the process. Unfortunately, nearly two-thirds of the text focuses on Hart's fights with the untrustworthy McMahon and squabbles with siblings, rendering much of the book a tiresome bore. Excessive scoresettling smothers a pungent account of wrestling's changing of the guard.
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page 55.
- Review Date: 2008-08-04
- Reviewer: Staff
Hart's account of his professional wrestling career is almost literally blow-by-blow, with detailed descriptions of the choreography of many of his most prominent matches in the former World Wrestling Foundation and the now-defunct World Championship Wrestling. (And, yes, he freely admits that the outcomes are determined in advance, while the wrestlers work out the actual moves for themselves.) To hear him tell it, everybody hailed him as “the best damn worker in the business,” a storyteller with the comparative artistry of a De Niro. But the manipulative schemes of WWF head Vince McMahon (and several of his colleagues) kept Hart from reaching his full potential as a champion until injuries sidelined him for good. The memoir goes deep into Hart's family history—his father was one of the pioneers of the Canadian pro wrestling circuit, and his brothers and brothers-in-law followed him into the business. Wrestling fans will eat up all the backstage drama, but even those who don't care for the shows should be impressed by Hart's meticulous eye for telling detail—the bittersweet story that results is simultaneously a celebration and an exposé. 32 pages of photos. (Oct. 8)