Synopsis: A tabloid-like look at the Hart family, through the eyes of its youngest living sibling.
I know what you're thinking: because this is the mother of current WWE star David Hart Smith, a guy who wrestled not too long ago using... well, my name (Canadian Bulldog, remember?).... that I automatically have it in for Diana Hart. Nothing could be further from the truth.
I have it in for Diana Hart because she's written, by far, the sloppiest, sleaziest wrestling book of them all. And in this industry -- that's saying a hell of a lot.
A bit of backstory is in order. When this book came out in 2001, there were copies available at my local bookstore. I glanced through it briefly, and figured I'd pick it up later. Within days, it was pulled from bookshelves and never released again. Today, it sells used on amazon.com for a whopping $69.95!
Why all the fuss? While I don't remember all the specifics, I recall that Martha Hart (Owen's widowed wife) and others may have initiated legal proceedings because of the near-slanderous nature of Hart's comments.
After briefly looking through this book at a local library, of all places, I picked it up for literally $4 at a used bookstore. After barely choking this pile of steaming shit down, I'm pretty sure I overpaid.
My venom is justified. I am quite aware that the Harts are far from the perfect family. And in fairness, I can't even begin to imagine what Diana must have gone through growing up in such a large, competitive and often backstabbing household. Add on top of that, an abusive and substance-prone husband (Davey Boy Smith; the book was published prior to his death) -- it must have been hell on earth.
My question is: why did she feel the need to expose everyone in her family? Do wrestling fans REALLY need to read about the alcohol battles of the late Helen Hart? Or the sexual habits of older brother Smith Hart? Or the fact that Martha Hart's mother was rude and liked to drink? Maybe I can't speak for everyone, but I certainly didn't need to.
Yet, with the same pen, Diana manages to paint the McMahon family as saints, even after Owen's death and Bret's screwjob. Hell, I think as much as anyone that Bret needs to "get over" Montreal now that it's been a full decade, yet I can completely see why he was so angry at his sister supporting the McMahons after Owen's death.
Please don't get me wrong: I'm not making light of her alleged abuse at the hands of Davey Boy, and anyone who has ever had to go through any of that garbage has my utmost sympathy. But it's not about that here; it's about someone realizing that dishing on top wrestling stars could turn a profit. Nothing more. Forget Eric Bischoff's (very well-written) tome; THIS book should been called Controversy Creates Cash.
Rating: You're FIRRRRRRRRRED! The best thing I can say about "Under The Mat" is that's not widely available. Hmmm, I wonder if eBay wants to take a crack at my copy?
Under the Mat
Inside Wrestling's Greatest Family
Diana Hart (with Kirstie McLellan)