1948, Calgary, Canada
Stu Hart (1948–1984)Vince McMahon (1984–1985)Bruce Hart (1985–1989)Bruce and Ross Hart (1999–2007)Bill Bell (2007–2008)Smith HartMartin Soult and Cory Crispens (2012–Present)
National Wrestling Alliance (?–1982), WWE (1984–1985)
Stampede Wrestling is a Canadian professional wrestling promotion based in Calgary, Alberta and was for nearly 50 years one of the main promotions in western Canada and the Canadian Prairies. Originally established by Stu Hart in 1948, the promotion competed with other promotions such as NWA All-Star Wrestling and Pacific Northwest Wrestling and regularly ran events in Calgary's Victoria Pavilion, Ogden Auditorium and the Stampede Corral between 1948 and 1984. Bought out by promoter Vince McMahon, the company was briefly run by the World Wrestling Federation (WWF) before being sold back to the Hart family the following year. Run by Bruce Hart until January 1990, he and Ross Hart reopened the promotion in 1999 and began running events in the Alberta area.
- Take over from the World Wrestling Federation
- Notable alumni to enter the WWF
- Television program
- Tape library
- The Dungeon
- Hall of Fame
Along with its wrestling school known as The Dungeon, many of the promotion's former alumni becoming some of the most popular stars in the World Wrestling Federation and other American promotions during the 1980s and 1990s, the promotion produced one of the earliest televised professional wrestling programs (today considered the forerunner of today's WWE) that remained one of Calgary's most popular sports programs eventually airing in over 50 countries worldwide.
Stampede Wrestling was operated by Stu Hart from 1948 to 1984. In 1983, a riot broke out during a match at the Ogden Auditorium in Calgary during a match between Bret Hart, Davey Boy Smith and Sonny Two Rivers against Bad News Allen, The Stomper and Stomper's kayfabe son Jeff Gouldie. Longtime Stampede announcer Ed Whalen reportedly became distraught during the riot, in which a woman was trampled, causing him to quit from the Stampede on air. Speaking of the events he remarked, "We're starting to scare the patrons with this violence outside the ring, and I will not be associated with it anymore." The event led to Stampede Wrestling being banned from Calgary for six months by the city's wrestling and boxing commission, and within a year the operation was sold to the World Wrestling Federation.
Take over from the World Wrestling Federation
A member of the National Wrestling Alliance until about 1982, Stampede's talent was taken by the World Wrestling Federation in 1984, developing into the major professional wrestling promotion it is today. In 1985, the WWF sold Stampede back to the Hart family, who continued to run it until it was shut down in December 1989. The promotion was reopened on April 2, 1999 by Bruce and Ross Hart. Stampede's weekly shows were held mostly at the Victoria Pavilion in Calgary, with special events held at the Stampede Corral.
Notable alumni to enter the WWF
In the 1970s and early 1980s, Stampede Wrestling was one of the top wrestling promotions in Canada. One of its main legacies was its impact on the WWF. In the 1980s, the stars of Stampede Wrestling included Bret Hart, Owen Hart, British Bulldog, Dynamite Kid, Brian Pillman, Bad News Allen, The Honky Tonk Man (under the name Honky Tonk Wayne), Jim "The Anvil" Neidhart, Junkyard Dog (under the name Big Daddy Ritter) and Chris Benoit. All these wrestlers later joined the WWF when it expanded across Canada and USA. The British Bulldogs and the Hart Foundation were among the top tag teams in the WWF in the 1980s.
Stampede Wrestling was the basis for a long-running weekly sports broadcast produced in Calgary showcasing many of the promotion's most popular wrestlers. Hosted by Ed Whalen most of its run, which went from 1957 to 1989, the series was syndicated around the world and reruns continue to be shown in some countries to this day. At the time Stampede was revived in 1999, a second Stampede Wrestling TV series was attempted, hosted by Bad News Allen and play by play commentator Mauro Ranallo, but it was short-lived and Whalen was not involved.
In early 1999, Bruce and Ross Hart reopened Stampede Wrestling after a nine-year hiatus showcasing graduates from the Hart Dungeon training school. However, only weeks after their first event, the promotion once again became inactive following the death of Owen Hart in May. Although considering closing the promotion, the Hart family continued to promote events five months later and began touring western Canada. Although successful, the Harts were forced to cancel several tours in late 2001 and early 2002 due to the arrival of a rival promotion backed by a Calgary businessman. The promotion also lost much of its roster due to its rival hiring away top stars.
In 2005, promoters Bill Bell and Devon Nicholson took over day-to-day operations for Stampede Wrestling. During an event at the Spray Lakes Sawmill Sportsplex in Cochrane, Alberta, Nicholson would face Abdullah the Butcher after the scheduled main event between Lance Storm and Rhyno was canceled when Rhyno failed to appear. At that same event, longtime tag team partners TJ Wilson and Harry Smith faced each other in Smith's final match for the promotion before leaving for World Wrestling Entertainment.
Earlier in 2007, Stampede Wrestling lost the use of the Ogden Legion which was their home base for the past number of years. Stampede Wrestling announced on their official website that the promotion would begin to run at the Bowness Sportsplex with the first show being September 7, 2007.
Bruce and Ross Hart sold Stampede Wrestling to Bill Bell in 2007. The promotion ceased operations again in April 2008. In May 2009, After filing notice to all linked to the name, giving them 9 months to respond, no one opposed the name being revived and a New Trademark was filed and new ownership of the name Stampede Wrestling was declared. In May 2012 Tamara Becket Incorporated Original Stampede Wrestling as her company.
WWE currently controls Stampede's extensive tape library. In December 2015, the WWE Network began adding Stampede Wrestling shows to its Vault section. However, it was all removed a few days later, after Bret Hart proved that he owned the rights to the footage of his matches.
Stampede Wrestling was famous for "The Dungeon", a professional wrestling school located in the basement of the Calgary mansion Hart House, home of the Hart family. Stu Hart and Mr. Hito were the main trainers in the Dungeon. The school trained a number of WCW, ECW, WWE, and Japanese stars, including the Hart Brothers, Mark Henry, Chris Benoit, Ricky Fuji, Hiroshi Hase, Ken Shamrock, Justin Credible and Edge.
Hall of Fame
The Stampede Wrestling Hall of Fame list professional wrestlers and others who have competed in Stampede Wrestling, from Stu Hart's Klondike Wrestling to the original Stampede Wrestling promotion which closed in 1990.