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  April 3, 1999

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Ring-a-ding dong dandy

By BILL KAUFMANN -- Calgary Sun

The thud of bodies on canvas resounded once again last night as Stampede Wrestling returned to the ring after a nine-year absence.

For many in the boisterous sell-out crowd of 1,800, the resurrection of the one-time Calgary institution that ran from 1948-1990 was a ring-a-ding-dong dandy.
Stu Hart puts a headlock on Ed Whalen. -- Mike Drew, Calgary Sun

"I spent most of my youth here," said Calgarian Colin Hill as he settled into his seat in the Stampede Pavilion.

"It's big-time nostalgia -- we used to fling elastic bands at the wrestlers and see if they'd flinch." The night's only shortcoming -- the absence of Ed Whalen as the ringside announcer, added Hill.

"He was the man -- like he used to say, it's a malfunction in the junction," said Hill.

Newfoundland native Gary Dawson, anxiously hunting for a ticket in the pavilion lobby, recalled broadcasts of Stampede Wrestling in his home province.

"We used to see re-runs of it -- it's a break from reality," said Dawson.

In the ring, an old favourite from the 1970s instalments -- the military fatigue-clad Cuban Assassin -- paced the canvas while Keith Hart, the son of Stampede Wrestling's legendary founder Stu, prepared to take him on.

"I didn't know there'd be such a good response," said Annie Annis, 13, Stu Hart's granddaughter.

"It's a good thing for my grandpa, it's a flashback for him and all the kids."

Faron and Heather Taylor brought their sons Ryan, 8, and Bryce, 9, to see the action.

"It's a lot cleaner than the World Wrestling Federation," said dad Faron. Promoters hope to make Stampede Wrestling a regular feature once again.