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  September 2, 2000

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Stomper chompers

Breaking Archie's tooth made me realize Gouldie was good as gold

By BRET HART -- For the Calgary Sun

 Thanks very much for all the mail in response to my last two columns about Stampede Wrestling.

 It's great hearing from those of you who were there in those days.

 Many of you have asked what kind of match is the hardest.

 One of the hardest things to do in wrestling is the 60-minute draw.

 To wrestle for one full hour, you need to be in excellent condition and you'd better know your stuff.

 My first one-hour match was in 1978 with the Dynamite Kid and I soon ran out of moves. I found myself experimenting with things that turned out to become my signature moves years later, such as the piledriver, German suplex and Russian leg sweep.

 In '82, I had a classic babyface match with a young Davey Boy Smith in Regina, which turned out to be a prelude to our famous Wembley Stadium showdown a decade later.

 Davey could really move in those days, but the pace soon got to him and I remember he was on the floor, with his head under the ring, throwing up. He pulled himself together and we went on to rock the Agri Plex to its foundation. At about the 30-minute mark, we spilled out onto the floor and the fans and security thought it was all over, but we fought our way back into the ring and carried on.

 When I was 11, I'd hear Archie (The Stomper) Gouldie blaring through the TV, screaming that he was going to come to the Hart house and tear it down brick by brick until he found my dad. Well, I can tell you, I had goose bumps on my arms -- but I never believed he'd ever show up.

 All of a sudden, this new Cadillac pulled into the yard and a grim-faced Stomper climbed out. Well, I hid right under the kitchen table fearing the worst -- and my dad wasn't even home! My mom bravely answered the door and, much to my dismay, gave him a hug and his cheque.

 Years later, in 1983, The Stomper returned to Calgary and, in many ways, it was a dream of a lifetime to wrestle the single greatest wrestler that Stampede Wrestling ever had.

 Archie was from Carbon, 6-ft. 2-in., 260 lbs. and was one incredible athlete. When it came to doing "the wrestling interview," he was the absolute best. Arch was 51 and there was talk in the dressing room that he was just too old now, but boy were they wrong!

 It was after one heck of a battle in Regina where I gave him one of my lifter elbow smashes and chipped one of his teeth. Archie was very temperamental and, back in the dressing room, he wouldn't even talk to me.

 In fact, he was so sulky, he was packing his bag to go all the way home to Knoxville, Tenn. to see the dentist. This was the guy I was terrified of as a kid and now I approached him -- meekly -- and simply told him I was real sorry. That was all it took. He shook my hand and we went on having great matches.

 One of my greatest memories is of a tag match when Archie teamed up with J.R. Foley against me and my dad. Besides that it was special for me to be teamed with my dad, I thought it would be a lot of fun considering the history between Stu and Archie and that J.R. would lend some humour to it.

 But when you throw two old shooters in there, things get carried away. Stu broke Foley's dentures in half and somehow J.R. stomped my dad so hard with his cowboy boot that he broke a few ribs. Needless to say, J.R. had a malfunction at the junction every time he crossed paths with my dad after that!

 And then there's Bad News Allen. When he came to Stampede Wrestling in '82, he ate up one opponent after another, including a number of epic battles with yours truly. I was lucky to come out of the ring in one piece.

 If the walls of the Victoria Pavilion could talk, they'd tell the story of one of the greatest wrestling territories there ever was.

 I don't think we'll ever see anything like it again.

 I miss all those guys and I'm proud to have been a part of something special.

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