The wood-paneled basement of Stu Hart’s house, also known as the Hart Dungeon, has become the most infamous training ground in pro wrestling history. It seems like every wrestler who’s even briefly passed through Canada claims to have trained in the Dungeon, something the Harts have been willing to play along with. The more wrestlers claim to have trained in the Dungeon, the better the Hart legacy looks. But where does the truth lie? Who actually got stretched on those green mats?
Well, in a recent interview with WWE.com, Bret Hart separated Dungeon fact from fiction. According to Bret, the last man his dad, Stu Hart (who would have turned 100 yesterday) personally trained in the Dungeon was Jim Neidhart, and one of the first guys he put through his paces was Nikolai Volkoff. In between those two guys, Stu also trained major names like Ole Anderson, Superstar Billy Graham, and The Iron Sheik.
All the Harts trained in the Dungeon, but Stu didn’t train the younger family members, like Bret and Owen. Yes, Tyson Kidd, Harry Smith, and Natalya are legitimate Dungeon grads…
“My dad taught Keith, Smith and Bruce when they started, but we had other wrestlers train us. I learned some little things from my dad, some amateur wrestling and submission wrestling, but I was trained in pro wrestling by two Japanese wrestlers, Tokyo Joe and Kazuo Sakurada, who worked for my father. Nattie, TJ and Harry trained in The Dungeon with some of the other young Harts with Tokyo Joe. He was probably the best legitimate wrestling trainer in the world. He trained them for quite a long time.”
Now, what about the guys who have claimed some connection to the Harts, but didn’t get tortured in the Dungeon? It’s a fairly long list. Guys like Chris Jericho and Lance Storm were actually trained at the Hart Brothers Camp, a separate wrestling school that took place in a more traditional gym setting. According to Bret, a large number of wrestlers also trained at his house…
“After being signed by WWE, Edge, Christian, Mark Henry, Giant Silva, Test and Ken Shamrock all trained at my house. I had a pool room with an indoor pool and a garden behind it. I took out the garden and put in a wrestling ring.”
Of course, Bret’s recollection is far from complete. For obvious reasons, he didn’t mention guys like Dynamite Kid and Chris Benoit (both legit Dungeon grads) while talking to WWE.com. Still, it’s fascinating to see the Dungeon’s thick, dusty shroud of mystery pulled back even a little bit.