Monday, January 2, 2012

Interview with Diana Hart

Photos Courtesy of Facebook
Recently, Mr Main Event BDuB had the honor and privilege of catching up with Diana Hart. Diana is the mother of former WWE Superstar Harry Smith, the youngest daughter of Stu and Helen Hart, the sister of Bret and the late Owen Hart, and last but surely not least, the former wife of the late Davey Boy Smith.
MEBD: Have I ever thought about being in-ring talent?
DH: Yes, I would liked to have done something. My dream job would have been to be a performer in Cirque du Liel (sp?), but I am too old for that now and didn’t know about that when I was really suitable for it. Owen and I had a lot of crazy routines we learned just from stuff around the yard, like tree and rope climbing to gymnastics to holding positions like frozen statues for long periods of time to running in our barefeet in the snow or on rocks just to see if we could go farther than our last run. It was just out of the oridinary stuff, but it kind of tied in with performing. I love fitness and am a certified NASM trainer. A lot of what I learned came from my dad, Davey, and my family.
MEBD: What was your Favorite “Era” of Wrestling
DH: 1981 to 1984. 1981, April, was when I first met Davey, although I first saw his picture in March, when it began to appear in my dad’s wrestling program. I was infatuated with Davey just from his picture, and when I met him it was like I was hit in the head with a giant infatuation brick, and then, then, then when I saw him wrestle for the first time, which was on tv, only a few days after I met him, I was hopelessly in love with him. I never saw anything like him. He was very similar to his cousin Dynamite Kid, but he fit just perfectly into what I was always dreaming of, and I still, to this day, know no one who compares to him. His matches against his cousin Dynamite (which no one at the time knew they were related) back in the Stampede days in summer of 1981 made me such a fan of wrestling, and I compare what I learned and saw in those days to everything I see now. Harry has been influenced very much by them too, and my family, like Bret, Owen, Bruce, Wayne the referee, Ross the producer, and my dad the promoter and my mom the glue that held it all together, Stampede Wrestling and the Hart Family legacy, made those days, that era the best time for me in wrestling.
MEBD: Do you still watch wrestling, if so could you imagine your life without it?
DH: I watch classic wrestling matches, mostly archived DVDs or early stuff of Harry, Ted Hart and TJ, Nattie and Jack Evans (Ted’s partner from Mexico and Mat Rats). I love to watch Josh Barnett of Strikeforce. He is one of the top ten toughest guys in the world today, but the you tube stuff of him in New Japan is very good and I enjoy watching that. Harry has all the DVDs from Japan that sometimes even youtube can’t produce. I like to watch old footage of Don Leo Jonathan, Billy Robinson, Antonio Inoki, Terry and Dory Funk, Hiro Hasi, Bret, Dynamite, Chris Benoit. I like to hear the old interviews I have on VHS tapes of David Shultz in Calgary and Archie the Stomper Goldie in Stampede Wrestling.
MEBD: What would you say that was your favorite moment in wrestling and why?
DH: My favorite moment in wrestling was when my father was inducted into the Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2010. It was the first time since he passed that all the brothers and sisters were all together, and then to have so many of our children there to be with us too, like my own kids Harry and Georgia. vince took care of us that night and I wish I could freeze that moment in time, especially when they took a family photo of us all after the Wrestlemania event was over, and we all just relaxed. John Laurinaitis got us together for the picture, which Bret tried to do at the Hall of Fame, but for some reason we all got ushered onto the busses and it didn’t happen until the next night. It was after the whole thing was done that we finally got this picture, and I wish so much that I could just go back in time whenever I am sad or need to be with my family and get rejuvinated again, (which is all the time). I am so proud to be the daughter of Stu and Helen Hart, and be the baby sister to all my brothers and sisters. I have a remarkable family, which was thoughtfully put onto DVD by WWE in the WWE Hall of Fame Class of 2010. I can watch that and look at the photograph and that takes me back to my favourtie moment(s) in wrestling.
MEBD: How was it Growing up as a Hart
DH: Tough sometimes–we got teased a lot, sometimes because we were very poor for periods in our lives, which is nothing to be ashmaed of, but nasty kids at school can be very cruel. Sometimes, because these nasty kids were convinced (probably by their parents or their friends whose parents convinced their kids who convinced their friends) that my father was a phony. My dad was the most genuine and real, down-to-earth person you could meet. He was so tough, strong, athletic, legitimate and honest, and he was that way because he had such a really hard life growing up, due to poverty. He was the genuine article, so when these delicate feeble kids with their insults said that my dad was a phony, I would want to go for their throats! I didn’t have it as bad as my older brothers and sisters, especially Ellie and Georgia, but Owen and I had to fend for ourselves sometimes and I actually never forgot being teased. I have developed a sharp tongue and sometimes say things now that surprise people because they think I am meek and mild and they think they can get away with saying mean things to me and finally, just like in the old school days, I just snap and let them have it verbally, and they get totally offended and act like they are the victims when they actually started it. I am not wrong, but they just can’t take what they dish out. It has cost me one relationship, since Davey, but then again, Davey would have had more spine and never have hurt my feelings in the first place. I like to think that when that happens, and I have to get my claws sharp again, that I won’t let myself be compromised, which is just what my mom and dad would want. Hart = Heart. Kind of like that, that is what growing up Hart means. Speak up for what you believe in, and if that is making a comment about my son and how he was kept down in his wrestling career at times, I am picking and choosing my battles, and my family is something I will I think it was meant to be that my father had the last name Hart, and my mother was supposed to become Helen Hart, not Helen Jones or Helen McDonald, but Helen Hart, and Stu and Helen Hart were supposed to have a dozen kids. It was meant to be.
MEBD: Who are you closest to in the family
DH: I am closest to my sister Ellie (Natalya’s mom and Jim Neidhart’s wife) as we both live down here in Florida, but I am close to everyone in my family. I often reminsce with Ellie about our family and Davey and she understands my depression, which is sometimes quite severe. She is very creative and compassionate and we have made a true bond with these ferral cats outside of where we both work. My daughter Georgia is very friendly with these little cats too. I believe keeping them alive has given me a purpose, and it keeps me going. I want to help them by getting them fixed, and all in good health, and keep them together where they can live happily ever after. That is something I think any one of my brothers and sisters would do for stray animals. We have a soft spot for them. We all have that in common in my family and that keeps us close, now that wrestling seems so foreign to me, a new language I don’t speak very well, and almost don’t want to learn. I have good relations with my brother Bret and I am glad to see his pug dog is the one in charge at his house. His name is JoJo and he is quite the tennis player. Who would have thought a pug dog can play tennis, but Bret’s pug can. I am pretty close to my whole family, as I said, and they keep an eye on my as I do get very depressed. I think I cause some of them a bit of worry, and I am sorry about that. I appreciate their help.
MEBD: How do you feel having the last name has altered your lifestyle?
DH: I found the wrestling, the Hart/Bulldog name helped me a lot, especially when it was with a fan. I have had a great life because of my elite involvement with wrestling and all the true affection and support from my family’s fans.
MEBD: We always hear how the guys wrestled in the dungeon, did the ladies of the family ever go down there?
DH: No the girls were not allowed in the dungeon, but I was the only girl who ever went down there after everyone was gone and practices my gymnastics and workouts with Owen and my friend Caprice HoLem (who is now married to Steve DiSalvo, aka Strangler Steve DiSalvo).
MEBD:How did the family take to you marrying Davey, and if you were not which one of your sisters were the first to marry a wrestler?
DH: Ellie was the first to marry a wrestler, Jim the Anvil Neidhart. Thirty three years later they are still together. My dad was all for that. He knew Jim was a tremendous athelete, he really was. He is still super strong and looks pretty strong too. I think as far as I went, my mom and dad hoped I would have seen more of the world, perhaps met a senator’s son or an astronaut’s son, because my dad and mom could make things like possible by the time I was 18. They were royalty in Calgary, Alberta, around the world even, and they had hoped I would not want to marry the first boy I fell in love with, but, I knew I wanted to marry Davey from our first meeting at my dad’s house and that was that. I married Davey relatively young, I was twenty and he was twenty one. We were together almost twenty years.
MEBD: What do you think of the changes of the wrestling since the days of the Hart Foundation and Stampede Wrestling?
DH: I know change is inevitable, but sometims the wrong kind of change can be really counter-productive, destructive, and or disrespectful and pointless. I feel for the wrestlers who are told to be soap opera C-grade actors and can’t even have an impromtu interview. Everything has to be scripted. Everything is getting like that nowadays. Even radio is not as ‘live’ as I thought. So much of the world is becoming diluted and it is just a shame. I hope people like my son Harry and daughter Georgia, and the next generation can change some of the things that scare me about how the world is getting. Not to be ranting, but I just think the direction of so many things is getting really ugly.
MEBD: How was it sitting at ringside watching Bret and Davey wrestle at Summer Slam ‘92, knowing that the cameras were on you?
DH: I was a nervous wreck
MEBD:Did you know the outcome, and if so how hard was it to keep it in?
DH: No I did not know the outcome
MEBD: When it came to cheering , was it difficult to be unbiased?
DH: No, I cheered for both Bret and Davey, but I did hope Davey would win, and he did!
MEBD: Being around professional wrestling all your life, someone like myself would say that you were lucky, was there ever a time that you felt that you needed a break?
DH: No, but felt misunderstood a lot, still do.
MEBD: How did you feel when Bret and Owen began their kayfabe feud?
DH: I was upset by it, because my mom was so upset by it, I was convinced it was a legitimate feud.
MEBD: What was your favorite match that Davey worked?
DH: Against Bret at Wembley Stadium, 1992, Summerslam
MEBD: One of my favorite moments when I think of the Hart family was July 6, 1997 WWE In Your House: Canadian Stampede. Can you describe the energy in the building that night?
DH: It was incredible and I thought who would have believed this would ever happen, if you told any of us this scenario in say, 1989. i would have said no, it would be nice but that will never happen
MEBD: Were you in Montreal during the night of the infamous screw job? Can describe the mood of the entire family after that night
DH: I was coming home from a modeling project I was doing in Vancouver. I came home, totally unaware to my dad’s house and everything was chaos in the hot kitchen. My dad was on one phone and finally Davey got through to me on the other line. He told me what happened, he said he was disgusted and he was not appearing on RAW the next night. He said he also blew out his knee, pulling Shane McMahon off Bret who was in the process of destroying Vince, I think it was right around the shower area. Davey didn’t have his knee brace on, the same type he was wearing when Shawn Michaels ripped it off and destroyed it in In Your House in England about a month before. This was the new one and since he wasn’t wearing it, he tore his ACL. Bret, I believe, was in his bare feet. He saw Vince and just went for him, he was so furious and betrayed.
MEBD: Everyone describes Owen as a fun loving person, can you share your best memory of him?
DH: I love the memories I have of Owen and me out at my dad’s beach, Clearwater Beach ust outside Calgary. We didn’t have a care in the world. We were little and were I guess teenagers when my dad and mom sold it. I remember playing with Andre the Giant and the Wild Samoans, the Iron Shiek (who came straight from Iran, pretty much right out of the Shaw of Iran’s bodyguarding duties). We got to make food like hot dogs for customers and mix our own pop, which was like playing ‘bar’. We used to mix the orange pop with the rootbeer and it was icecold. We could swim in the lakes and play in the sand. And we owned it. It was great. Funny, years later, it has been developed on and there are estate acreages and mansions on smaller lots. Davey and I bought an acreage lot and Owen and Martha bought a smaller lot, where they actually did build their dream home. Davey broke his back and we never did get past just meeting with the builder and getting a construction loan approved. But Owen and Martha went all the way and built a lovely home that was finally completed and ready for them to start moving into on the day that Owen died. How unfair. I really get upset about that. What a terrible thing to happen. Sometimes life is such a tragedy, and I can only imagine Martha’s (Owen’s widow) grief. What a shame. Thank God for our memories, and Clearwater Beach was where I shared so many of my finest and most fun ones with Owen.
MEBD: With Harry’s recent departure of the WWE, I notice that you are supportive of his journey to MMA, do you think he would ever go back to wrestling?
DH: Harry will be a future MMA World’s Heavyweight Champion, is my prediction. He is that good! You’ve heard about the horror stories with my dad stretching guys in the dungeon? Well, Harry has that same sadistic trait, but he is such a wonderful sweet guy, like my dad, it is hard to think of them as sadistic. They are just extremely strategic in their submission techinque. Add Harry’s reach, height, and of course the strength of this father, the British Bulldog, and you have a beast, as Josh Barnett calls him. Billy Robinson said “Harry, you’re goin’ rip someone’s f***ing head off, you don’t know your own strength.”
MEBD: If he does decide to go back to wrestling, how would you feel?
DH: I will be proud of Harry whatever he does. He is the best of my father Stu Hart and Harry’s father Davey Boy Smith, so he has a lot of secuirity in his gifts such as his athleticism and he is very smart. He is also an animal lover. That counts for a lot in the Hart/Smith Family.
MEBD: What do you think of Natalya and how she continues to make a statement in the WWE?
DH: Natalya is amazing. She is articulate and witty but she is an exceptional athlete and a very good artist. She had a very keen eye and she doesn’t miss much. She is very pleasant and very supportive of her fellow wrestlers, male and female. She deserves a lot of success, long term, not just winning a title for a month. She could bring so much credibility to the women’s division of wrestling. Natalya, Beth Phoenix and Gail Kim are all underutilized.
MEBD: Has your daughter ever expressed an interest in becoming a wrestler? If so how would you feel about that?
DH: No, Georgia is not interested in a career in wrestling, especially after what she saw happen to Harry, and how things happened with Davey and also with Owen. She is so proud of her family and so very proud of Harry. They are really close and have been through some awful stuff together. They stuck by each other through so much, and when Georgia saw Harry get released, even though Harry was fine and is now moving into such an exciting new direction in his wrestling career, although it has been with him all along, Georgia just got one final bad taste in her mouth and she is pretty much done with wrestling. She feels like Davey did after the Montreal Screwjob in 1997, to sum it up. She is persuing a career in broadcasting and journalism and I anticipate she will move to England and work on employment there in radio or TV. She does very good cartoon voices. Voices that you would never think could come from her mouth, and she gets right into character for each one. That is a gift. It shows her insight, like Natalya–they don’t miss a thing
MEBD: Do you think that Davey will be in the Hall of Fame one day, and if so how long you think it will take?
DH: Well, I hope it happens one day for Davey, before too much time passes. I would like his father Sid Smith to see his son Davey inducted into the Wrestling Hall of Fame. I would like to see Davey inducted on his own, as Bret and Shawn were (without tag partners, who I am sure will be honored in the Hall of Fame on day too). I would like to see Dynamite Kid inducted one day too, on his own. He deserves to have his own day, his own induction, because he and Davey were more than just one half of the greatest tag team of all time (in my opinion). They were giants of wrestling on their own and each influenced the sport in paramount ways that few can rival. They each deserve their own induction, and I hope that is the case. Who knows, though, if that will ever happen.
MEBD: When you decided to pull your book off the shelf, did you feel that there was a sigh of relief between the family and perhaps a better relationship?
DH: I am relieved especially now, thinking back on how counter-productive that book was, that it was taken off the shelves. I wanted it to be something touching and heart-felt, quite about how my family overcame so much. The book was just a fraction of my thoughts, and what the reader did see was just the bitter side, and I feel terrible about that to this day. I think the person who co-wrote it with me must not have been a fan of mine, my family’s, or of wrestling, but I didn’t see that at the time. I saw her as someone trying to help me and Davey work things out and get on our feet with this book, and Davey would read it and say “let’s work this all out, we have been through so much to just walk away from each other” Fairytale stuff that I still believe in because I think Davey and I had that. That book, I am glad, was had the curtains closed on it before it did too much damage. My family didn’t deserve that. Anyway, what came out was really harsh and I am glad it just went away. It didn’t deserve to become a success, not the way it had left out so many of the beautiful things to buffer the harsh things. That would be where we showed our strength, not this family that was bickering. Every family has its problems, but if you only tell the harsh side of it, and leave out the making up and being stoic and helping each other segments, well that is not really fair. Enough said about that. Mission aborted, Mission aborted, Mission aborted. Mission aborted.
MEBD: What was your exact mind state mentally and emotionally when you wrote the book?
DH: I was severely depressed at the time. I still have a lot of battles with depression. It doesn’t go away, but it helps to have someone there who understands. My sister Ellie is pretty good for my morale. People, I have found, with me at least, have taken huge advantage of my depression and confusion from tramatic things I can’t seem to let go of, due to lack of closure, and perhaps just depression in general. I have been told by the ‘well-meaning ones’ that these people are in my life for a reason, and just say good bye to what they did to me, and learn from it. I try, but sometimes, I think they were just here to take advantage of me and I still find no good reason why they did take advantage of me, except to set me back very far again, and open up scabs that were almost healed. There would still be scars, but scars don’t hurt, they are just like thick skin and kind of numb. These scabs are open and they hurt, and I don’t know why or how I keep letting people take advantage. If Davey was alive, or my mom and dad, things would be so different, obviously. And no, I am not in denial. I know they are gone.
MEBD: Even though Bret was your brother, how did it feel to see him have all the success while Davey was in and out of the company?
DH: It was good for Bret–he worked hard, as hard as anyone for thier character and his position in wrestling; maybe harder than anyone because he is a perfectionist and he can be hard on even his best work. Like I said, he is a perfectionist. His success made my mom and dad very proud and it did a lot of good for my family, for Calgary, for wrestling. Davey was not the jealous type, so he was happy when Bret too. They always had good, excellent matches, so Bret’s success helped everyone, and gave pro wrestling a good name.
MEBD: What is next for Diana Hart?
DH: I want to launch a DAVEY BOY SMITH clothing line, just a few items like the prototype of one of his old work out shirts, made in AMERICA. I want to get another book written, or two or three. I have three very good ideas. They are on the hush hush right now, but I think they will be very good. Nothing to hurt my family or wrestling. I am working with a guy to get a cartoon with Davey and Harry and Joanna, our bulldog and they are superheroes who like the real story, are father and son and dog. I have to save these ferral cats outside of where I work. They are special to me. I am doing the TEAM which Diamond Dallas Page endorses, and created this program. I think it is really good. I want to resurect Davey’s name and I really must fall in love again. I think it will be beneficial to my whole outlook on everything, but I know there will never be another Davey. I would like to get a radio, internet, tv, or some form of exposure involving me and my three sisters in a scenario that would make the world see my family and our outlook that is not necessarily from the wrestling point of view. Maybe more of what my mom would like to have had seen for her daughters. My dad too. They were both supportive but we don’t really get heard too often, just the brothers mainly. Maybe that is why I am talking so much in this interview, because I am finally getting a chance to be heard, and not through the harsh words of the Mission Aborted book. I also had an idea which I told Paul Heyman about, and he liked it, but unfourtunately it didn’t go anywhere. It was going to be called, WHO WANTS TO MARRY DIANA HART and the contestants would have to go through the scrutinizing of the entire family, cats and dogs and the wrestling and the wonderful chaos, training, large meal portions, mood swings, Flintstones, Bugs Bunny cartoons, etc and maybe I would find the right man or it would go into a second season. Well, if anyone has any ideas about how to help me rescue these poor ferral cats, let me know, and if it takes getting a tv show to do it, I would be grateful, and so will the cats, once they understand we aren’t going to hurt them. I am not sure about the marrying show anymore. I am kind of impossible. Ha ha ha.
MEBD: Anything that you want the fans to know, or anything special that you would like to say to them?
DH: If anyone would like to book me for appearances, or autograph sessions or interviews to view and or buy any of my artwork (drawings) or if you have any ideas for my ideas regarding Davey, Harry, etc or myself, please contact me on facebook; twitter @dianahartsmith ;;; and web page being built : I would love to be booked.


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