Alberta wrestling royalty subject of new documentary

Two Edmonton filmmakers are ready to rumble with a new documentary on troubled Alberta wrestler Teddy Hart. But producing it was quite the adventure, they say.
Teddy Hart was the youngest wrestler to sign a WWE contract. Now the Albertan is the subject of a feature-length documentary from two Edmonton filmmakers. (YouTube)

When Edmonton filmmakers Frederick Kroetsch and Kurt Spenrath first met wrestler Teddy Hart — in a bizarre mansion, surrounded by 40 Persian show cats, beautiful women, tattooed bikers and rappers —  they knew he would make a great reality show.

When he was 18, Hart was the youngest wrestler to sign a contract with World Wrestling Entertainment.

But the grandson of Stampede Wrestling founder Stu Hart never really experienced glory in the ring. He's perhaps better known for his troubles with the law, penchant for cat breeding and strange behaviour than for wrestling. 

And these antics make for great TV, the filmmakers said.

"For example, he just had a tryout with one of the big wrestling promotions down in Mexico and he was told there are three things you need to do to succeed: 'show up on time, show up without an entourage, and leave the cats at home,' " Spenrath told Edmonton AM. '

"Well, he showed up an hour late to the press conference with an entourage and a car full of cats. And we filmed it all."

His wrestling persona and his real life persona have blurred into this manic personality.- Kurt Spenrath,  filmmaker

The filmmakers began developing the reality show with the Discovery Channel, but had to stop production when Hart was charged with sexual assault. The men decided to keep filming, and are hoping to turn the footage into a documentary called Hart of Darkness.

The first 15 minutes will air on Bravo sometime after May, they said. They're currently looking for financing to produce and air the full-length documentary.

Kroetsch and Spenrath said Hart's antics, at times, had them in a bit of a headlock. They even questioned whether they should even be filming a show based on him.

At times, he was charismatic, like a cult leader, they said. Other times, he would get angry. It was all part of the rollercoaster ride of filming him. 

"Sometimes we question should we be pointing a camera at a monster," Spenrath said.

"His wrestling persona and his real life persona have blurred into this manic personality, so it's hard to tell what he's thinking. He's very charismatic, so sometimes I think we kind of like him and sometimes we hate him. It flips back and forth."

Kroetsch and Spenrath said Hart still hopes to make it as a professional wrestler, but he might have to check his attitude in the locker room first. 

"We spent a lot of time in his proximity, and he's interesting," Spenrath said. "It is absolutely never boring with him. I think there's an adrenaline rush that you get from spending time with him."


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