Monday, June 4, 2018

Stampede Wrestling in the Legislature

MLA Hanson bringing up wrestling in the Alberta Legislature
Photo via Wikipedia
Hello, friends. It's been a very long time since I've written anything Smackdown related, and that's because I haven't been watching very much wrestling. I have, however, been watching Alberta politics, and sometimes those two wacky worlds collide in the most surprising ways. Thus it was that on May 29, 2018, Stampede Wrestling became a running theme for a large part of the afternoon in the Alberta Legislature.

I've posted before about Graham Sucha, member of legislative assembly for Calgary-Shaw. He's an avowed wrestling (specifically WWE) fan and has delivered statements about Mauro Ranallo, Jinder Mahal, and Natalya. He's even wished everyone a happy Rusev Day – yes, Rusev Day lives forever in the annals of Alberta's political history. So one could expect any wrestling talk in the Legislature to originate with him...but that was not the case on this occasion. Instead, we turn to Dave Hanson, MLA for Lac La Biche-St. Paul-Two Hills. All of the following is straight from Alberta Hansard:
My grandfather was a worker. He was up early in the morning, sun-up to sundown, except on Saturdays. At 1 o’clock on Saturdays there was a program on CFRN TV called Stampede Wrestling, and it was fantastic. You know what? Everything would stop. It didn’t matter what you were doing, if you were in the middle of seeding or anything; it was Stampede Wrestling. Ed Whalen was the announcer, and he would get the crowd fired up. I believe that it was filmed down in Calgary. The Hart family was a real big part of that. There were numerous villains. You know, they would pack dust inside their wrestling shorts and throw it in the guys’ eyes.
I don't usually associate Hanson with anything involving fun, but I guess wrestling is for everyone. Of course, he brought it up just to make a dig at the government:
The reason I’m bringing this up is that when I look across the aisle and I see all the NDP that used to be protesting pipelines and protesting the oil and gas industry suddenly standing up and waving the flag of prosperity for Alberta – “We’ve got to get behind” and, you know, “We’re pushing for this” – it makes me think of Stampede Wrestling because everybody that’s watching it knows it’s phony, but it is entertaining. It’s like watching a train wreck. You can’t take your eyes off of it.
I absolutely will not get into the political debate currently raging in this province, but this does seem like a long way to go just to say, “I don't believe you.” Still, I wouldn't oppose absolutely everyone using wrestling comparisons all the time in debate.

The saga does not end there, though! It seems Mr. Hanson struck a chord, because about half an hour later Ric McIver, MLA for Calgary-Hays, chimed in:
But just before I get into that, I’m going to, interestingly enough, take issue with what our hon. Member for Lac La Biche-St. Paul Two Hills said when he was on his feet. He actually disparaged the honour of Stampede Wrestling at one point in his remarks, and I would like to say that that was first-class entertainment and as authentic as anything that I recall. That’s what I have to say about that.
It's still real to him, damn it.

And then about an hour later, Hanson came back to the subject to make amends and provide some history, with our old friend Mr. Sucha getting a word in, too:
Mr. Hanson: Thank you very much, Madam Chair. Seeing as we’re speaking of media and the promotion, I did take a little walk down memory lane earlier, and apparently I might have stepped in it a bit and upset some of the security forces here that stand and protect us in the House every day. It’s kind of like telling your kid brother that there’s no such thing as Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny. Apparently, I’ve upset them by saying that Stampede Wrestling wasn’t real. So I do apologize for that, and in recognition of that, I’d like to talk a little bit about it.

Mr. Sucha: Predetermined. The term is “predetermined.”

Mr. Hanson: Predetermined. Sorry. Stampede Wrestling was established in 1948 and actually ran till 1984 and had a long list of alumni. I’ll read them into the record for you if I could. We have Adrian Street, Abdullah the Butcher, Bad News Allen, Hercules Ayala, Ben Bassarab, Black Tomcat, Steve Blackman, Bulldog Bob Brown, Kerry Brown, Leo Burke – all real people; that’s why I’m bringing this in in recognition of these folks; this was a real program; these were real people – Larry Cameron, the Cobra, Cuban Assassin, Steve DiSalvo, Dynamite Kid, Dory Funk Jr., the Great Gama, Sumu Hara, Bret Hart, Bruce Hart. And the list goes on and on. I’d just like to apologize to the good security. I didn’t mean to upset anyone. Thank you.

The Chair: Hon. member, was that in relation to amendment A1?

Mr. Hanson: Yes, ma’am. Thank you.
How very dare the chair suggest that we shouldn't take time out to talk about wrestling. It's always relevant to every amendment and every bill.

Anyway, that's the story of how Stampede Wrestling became a topic of debate in the Alberta Legislature. I hope you were all as thoroughly entertained by it as I was. Here's to more wrestling history in politics.