There are certain names in wrestling people just know, whether they are a fan or not. It’s true what they say, when you went to a person who had no idea about wrestling, they would at least be able to tell you “It’s that thing Hulk Hogan does…” or “It’s that thing Stone Cold does…” some names are known universally, regardless what knowledge people may have of the industry itself. Sadly there is one name that is known for one incident that in my opinion was the saddest day the industry had ever witnessed. If you ask an avid wrestling fan who Owen Hart was, chances are they’ll have quite a list of accolades to provide for you, a technically gifted wrestler, trained of course in the famous Hart dungeon, part of one of the most famous wrestling families to grace the business. A fun loving family man with championships, slammy awards and King of the ring to his name, a wrestler and an entertainer who was loved by everybody who knew him or watched him on their screens. However in this day and age, with what happened in 1998 and everything that came after it with the ongoing troubles that occurred, Owen Hart has sadly become to casual viewers, non wrestling fans and even a few avid fans who never got to see his work “The wrestler that had that accident” It’s wrong and it’s sad for a man’s entire career to be defined by one tragic night and after a good long debate of what to write with Wrestlemania coming up my mind lingered on the Hall of fame. I sighed with relief when I heard Macho Man was going in, an honor that should have been handed to him long before he passed away and while two of the holy trilogy of names people thought would never be inducted, that of Bruno Sammartino and Macho Man Randy Savage, the third name that’s requested every year couldn’t help but come to the forefront of my thoughts once again. It’s been almost twenty years since that unfortunate accident took away Owen’s life and over those twenty years the WWE has had to be very careful, for reasons we’ll get into later in mentioning him or showing clips of him and I honestly think that because of this lack of exposure, time has just led people to brush things over, sweep things under the rug, and whether we’ve been aware of it or not as a fanbase, Owen Hart has indeed become the wrestler that had the accident to a lot of people and that is something I want to try and correct here in this article.
Owen initially wanted to try and make a living outside the family tradition of wrestling, according to his wife he had made multiple attempts to find a profession and they just never worked out. I don’t know whether him being a member of the Hart family had anything to do with that, but I can imagine it being difficult to break away from a tradition like that. If your last name is Hart, Von Erich, Flair or Rhodes, the likelihood is you’re going to get involved with the wrestling business in some capacity. After being unable find a profession outside of wrestling, Owen did what the rest of the Hart’s did, he trained in the Dungeon.
Brief bit on The Dungeon for those that don’t know, it’s sort of become a part of wrestling lore and mythology now as this place that trained some of the best wrestlers to grace the business. The Dungeon was a training room set up in the basement of the Hart family house and would train footballers, strongmen and of course wrestlers and Stu Hart was the man to do it. Stu was…Stu was tough to make a long story short, very set in the old school mindset he had shaped himself, his family and his training on that mindset and because of that, his little training room was given the nickname of The Dungeon, because of the ridiculous amounts of pain that the trainees would be put through in their time. It’s no lie that if you managed to walk out of that place you were one of the best, because Stu Hart made sure that was the case. Everything went on there from weight lifting to actual shoot wrestling matches and according to Bret, there were holes across the walls, floor and ceiling where wrestlers had been thrown into them either by Stu or by their sparring partners.
Owen was just one of many to go through the rigorous, painstaking training that Stu provided and when he was done he would go on to work in his father’s wrestling promotion, Calgary Stampede Wrestling, as well as a fact that I myself didn’t know, Owen apparently also went to work for Max Crabtree who ran the famed Joint Promotions, a British version of the National Wrestling Alliance which was known for the famous World of Sport which ran on ITV (Ah, British Wrestling…I’ll talk about that personal love in another article). Needless to say, Owen managed to do well in his home country of Canada the most in these early goings, winning the tag team championship in the Calgary Promotion and going on to become rookie of the year in 1987.
One part of Owen’s career I had to look into was his time in New Japan pro wrestling, now New Japan has gained a lot more attention lately and is becoming an alternative for a lot of people from the regular WWE, however NJPW for the longest time was something only “Insiders” knew about. (I hate that term but I really don’t know what else to call it) To try and word it better, it was difficult for a fan in America to watch New Japan in the eighties, if you didn’t know how to get hold of tapes that would circulate or didn’t know somebody that did, chances were you didn’t see NJPW and you probably didn’t know it existed. New Japan has for a very long time been the big company in it’s home country, but it’s never managed to break out from that area, a decision they had made, rather than restriction that was forced upon them and it’s only now we’re hearing about them more as a fanbase because they’ve finally decided to try and break through that glass ceiling they’d had over them. Anyway there wasn’t much I could find on Owen’s time with the company, I’m not sure how long he was there, from what I can tell he did a couple of tours with them and then head off for other things in the states. What I did find however were two notable feuds that Owen had during his time with the company.
One was against a wrestler known as Hiroshi Hase, one of the few Japanese wrestlers to learn from both Antonio Inoki and Giant Baba, two of the most legendary Japanese Wrestlers to ever grace the business. Owen would defeat him for the Junior Heavweight Championship, the first non Japanese wrestler to accomplish this as well from what I’ve read, even with it being so many years later, being the first to do anything is quite a big deal in wrestling, especially in Japan where it’s treated with immense amounts of respect.
Owen would also wrestle multiple times with Jushin Thunder Liger, both before and after that character was developed. For those that don’t know I’ll just say Jushin Thunder Liger is one of the greatest wrestlers period, he was a revolutionary wrestler who completely reinvented the whole light heavyweight scene in the nineties. Luckily it’s not as hard as one might think to find a Owen Hart vs Jushin match, in fact, this is just one of the matches you can find that the two had with one another after a nifty internet search.
The Blue Blazer Travels The World.
After his stint in new Japan, Owen would become sort of a nomad, like a lot of wrestlers were in the eighties, at the time of the territories it was just normal, have a stint in Japan, go back to america, travel the territories, maybe go back to Japan and just keep moving to get better and more experienced. That’s what Owen was doing and he must have been good enough at the time to get the attention of the WWE because they decided to hire him in 1988.
I can imagine some people who had no idea of this scratching their head a little when they look at that sub heading, I didn’t even know it myself until I decided to do this, but Owen was the Blue Blazer long before the Attitude Era. In fact, his very first introduction to the WWE wasn’t as Owen Hart, the brother of the guy that was quickly becoming their top face, but rather as the superhero, Blue Blazer. (One of the MANY strange creative decisions WWE has made I’ll agree) The reasoning for the character however was simple. Owen had a style that wasn’t regularly seen in the company, with a combination of the straight shooting wrestling skills his father had instilled on him and the high flying style that the light heavyweights he had encountered in Japan now in his arsenal, Owen had a very interesting move set at the time, one the American audience wasn’t used to. So, to play to the strengths of this new and interesting high flying move set, the WWE decided to make him a superhero. Silly? Very much so, but this was 1988, this was very much the normal thing at the time, everybody had a character and Owen’s was the Blue Blazer.
He was only there a year and the small stint as the Blazer brought a small amount of success at best, he was a solid midcarder but only really got to beat people lower on the card than him, enhancement talent who were supposed to make him look good any way. He did make a Pay-Per-View debut as the Blazer in 88 at Survivor Series as part of the big elimination match, although he was eliminated early, his team got the victory. Other than that there’s nothing much to note when it comes to Owen’s time as the Blazer in WWF. He left in 89 after losing to Mr. Perfect at Wrestlemania V and would go on to tour the world, sometimes as himself, sometimes as the Blazer. He even did a little bit of time in mexico where he decided to remove the Blazer from his career losing his mask in one of the most famous Mexican Wrestling matches you can have. A mask vs mask match, where the loser’s face is exposed and in Lucha, when that happens that means that character is gone, the wrestler’s honor is lost and in Owen’s case, that was the end of his time in Mexico.
In one of those weird “That guy worked for WCW?” moments, Owen even got the briefest of stints in WCW before heading back to the WWE, he only did five televised matches for the company, all of them against enhancement guys, local talent, that kind of stuff. A deal was trying to be worked out between him and the company to make him a part of the roster, but Owen being the family man that he was didn’t want to move his family all the way out to Atlanta where WCW was based. So instead he signed with the WWF and that’s where the rest of career took place.
Owen’s Early Days.
Owen did not start out great in the company, it just seems that they had no idea what to do with him. Obviously he was a great hand in the ring, a great talent…but maybe him being Bret’s brother restricted him at first, I’m not sure, but Owen’s first couple of years were creativly stifling for him by the looks of things. At the time the Hart Foundation, the team of Bret Hart and Jim Neidhart had been split up, Bret had gone off on a singles career and Jim was being used very rarely after the team broke up. So the idea was to team Jim up with Owen, going under the name of “The New Foundation” this is part of one of those trends, any team with “New” in their name is bound to fail, it has nothing to do with the wrestlers. It has everything to do with fan expectation. There you are, a fan that his witnessed a team like the Hart Foundation come along and do great things, put on great matches, become tag team champions. They split up, go their seperate ways and now all of a sudden a New Foundation comes along? That’s great right? It’s a NEW foundation? Surely that means you’re going to see new and interesting things from this new version of the team? Instead you just end up comparing them and the team falls flat on it’s face. It wasn’t Owen’s fault, wasn’t Jim’s fault, it was creative’s fault for not giving them an original name and booking them terribly. They had one pay-per-view match before Jim would leave the company and Owen was stuck on his own for a while. This is where a star is meant to flourish, instead for whatever reason the company decided to put Owen in yet another tag team. Now in basic booking terms, the idea of a tag team is advantageous, you take two guys who either aren’t that good on their own, need a boost in their careers, or one of them needs a little help and you get a good hand in the ring to help give him experience, you put these two guys together, make a team and you either keep them together or you split them up when you feel they’ll make a good go of a single’s career. Problem was Owen got teamed up with Koko B. Ware a man that was never going to go up the card, he was an entertainment act and a jobber. There’s nothing wrong with that by the way, people give Koko a hard time and they think it’s a joke he’s in the Hall of Fame. Was a he a great wrestler? Not really, did he do great things? No but he entertained people, he was good at what he needed to do and we remember him, even if it was for his bird dance.. Wrestling needs people like Koko B. Ware…there has to be jobbers, even if they get a bad reputation because of it. Owen however, did not need Koko B. Ware, he’s split up from a team, he makes a go of a single’s career and the company sticks him with a jobber, thus making him a jobber in the process, completely taking away any and all momentum the man had. To top it all off, any help either man could have gained from it was blown away, it was a very short run team that had one PPV match, which they lost before any and all mention of the two working together got swept under the rung and their alliance just mysteriously disappeared. In short, WWE messed up Owen Hart’s singles push before he had any time to prove he could do it by sticking him in a team that nobody wanted to see in the first place.
Feuding With Bret
Thank god for this angle, you want to know how good this storyline was? For decades WWE has been trying to recapture the magic they had in this bottle that was the Hart Brothers feuding and with each and every time they have tried it, it has gone terribly, terribly wrong. Every. Single. TIME! This was the one and only instance of the jealous sibling storyline working out and it is gloriously done.
See at the time WWE as doing a cross promotional rivalry between them and the USWA (United States Wrestling Association) At the time Bret was feuding with Jerry Lawler who was a big headliner for the company which was based in Memphis. Owen, wanting to support his brother joined up with Bret to try and take on Lawler which led to this story of a company war between the two. Owen even won the USWA Heavyweight title from Papa Shango (a fact that never gets mentioned) He didn’t get to take part in the story for long because of injury sidelining him. The story sort of faultered and went off the tracks a little as it headed in to the fall. When Owen returned, the plan was him and Bret alongside their two brothers Bruce and Keith Hart were going to face Team Lawler at Survivor Series in what was going to be booked as a Team WWF Vs. Team USWA match. Problem was, Lawler couldn’t make it to the show and thus wasn’t shown on WWF television, effectively killing the storyline without a fitting confusion. What this huge mess led up to however, was storyline gold. Lawler got replaced with Shawn Michaels and during the match Owen and Bret accidentally crash into each other. Owen gets eliminated because of this, the match ends and Owen comes back out furious, having a confrontation with his entire family, Stu Hart even comes to the ring to try and calm things down but Owen has none of it and leaves the ring with the entire crowd booing him.
The night after, do they shake hands? Do they say it was a mistake and let bygones be bygones? Nope, Owen decides he needs to send a message to his brother, he comes out wearing the same pink and black attire as his brother as well as the famous shades, he even uses the Sharpshooter in his match, to try and send the message tat he’s just as good, if not better than his brother. He challenges Bret to a match, saying he doesn’t want to be in Bret’s shadow any more, Bret comes out and rejects the match and tries to patch things up with his brother, after some coercing it looks like Owen’s realized he’s over reacted and the two reunite.
Everything seemed fine, they went on to make amends and become a tag team, even getting a shot at the tag team championships, then along comes the Royal Rumble, they’re up against The Quebecers, everything seems to be going fine until Bret hurts his knee (kayfabe). Due to the pain he’s in, Bret is unable to tag Owen which leads to Owen going absolutely ballistic. Eventually the referee has to stop the match due to injury. Thinking that Bret has done this to spite him, Owen snaps and attacks Bret, kicking the injured knee repeatedly before heading backstage, giving Bret a complete earful on the titantron when Bret’s being helped to the back by medics. It was made clear after this from Owen himself, he wanted to prove that he was the better wrestler and the better brother and he was going to do it at Wrestlemania 10.
The match itself is one of the highlights of the show, a great technical battle between the two brothers that culminates in Owen beating Bret cleanly only for Bret to go on and win the WWF Title anyway. The rest of the year the brothers would meet multiple times with Owen just as determined to prove he was the better brother in both his matches against Bret and his own accomplishments within his career, going on to win the 1994 King of The Ring (back when the King of The Ring meant something)
The best match between the two would happen at Summerslam 1994 where the two would finally meet each other in a Steel Cage match for the WWF Championship. It is, without a doubt, the best Steel Cage match I have ever seen in my life as a wrestling fan and I suggest, if you can find it, or if you have the network to go and watch Summerslam 94, even if it is just for the cage match. The other major highlight of their feud was at Survivor Series, where in a match against Bob Backlund, Owen would con Bret’s mother Helen into throwing the towel for her son, costing Bret the championship. The two would clash once more before the Royal Rumble, putting a temporary end to their feud after Bret managed to pick up the victory against Owen and the two would go their seperate ways.
Tag Teams and Slammys
Owen would return to the tag team scene only this time he would see a lot more success than his early days within the company. In a moment of strange creative decisions, Owen would team up with Yokozuna for a brief period of time, why this was? I have no idea, but the two managed to snag the tag team titles and hold them for half a year, they were surprisingly a good combination, albeit a strange one. What followed though was without a doubt the best tag team run Owen ever had and that was the tag team he had with the British Bulldog. The British Bulldog is a wrestler near and dear to many UK fans and a man I’m sure I’ll cover at some point in the future. (We here in Britain still hold on to the memory of Wembley Stadium)
Davey Boy was Owen’s brother in law and had recently turned heel, the two were initially apart of a stable ran by Jim Cornette. When it was discovered the great chemistry these two had together as a team, it was only common sense to have them team up more and more, eventually breaking away from the stable when they won the tag team titles at In Your House 1996, they also left with a new manager by the name of Clarence Mason, but people don’t usually remember him a lot during their tag run together.
The two would go on to develop sort of a Daniel Bryan and Kane relationship, where they would have more competition with each other than the team they were facing off against in the ring. Heat between the to started at the Royal Rumble when Bulldog was eliminated by Owen, after that they had the usual tag team mismatches that you see today, miscommunication leading to lost matches…they weren’t reinventing the wheel here guys, they were just doing a good job of telling a basic story. What helped you follow the team was the chemistry they had and the pure entertainment factor of Owen Hart, by this time Owen was showing more of his comedic skills, Owen was known for being a bit of a goofball and is notorious for many of his pranks both in and out of the ring. His character was over confident, self indulgent and liked to believe he did things all on his own.
Anyway dissension between the two continued for a while, after Bulldog fired their manager due to being embarrassed in a match against Crush which Own didn’t take to well too and the competitive nature of both men leading to jealousy over the newly created European title, the tension would eventually reach boiling point all while holding the tag team championships by the way. Owen would eventually challenge the Bulldog to defend his European title. The two were going all out in such a way the crowd had thought the tag team had split up, however this is the famous night where Bret Hart who had turned heel came out and stopped the match. Reuniting The Hart Foundation.
I wanted to briefly touch on Owen winning the Slammys in 97. Ah the Slammys, I’m not sure if they ever were prestigious or if they ever meant a thing to the fans at home, but if there was one person that managed to make the Slammys seem like a big deal? It was Owen Hart, Owen sort of had a tradition of changing his attire when he achieved something. When he won King of The Ring? He changed his nickname to “The King of Harts” and his attire reflected that, when he won the Slammys? He decided to slap two slammys on his gear and make sure to pronounce it to the world whenever he could that he was a two time slammy award winner and that he did it all on his own! WOO! What I love and what people seem to forget is that Owen’s second Slammy was one that he stole. Owen was supposed to come out and present an award for something stupid like best bowtie (best bowtie? really? God damn it Slammys) instead of presenting it? Owen just decided to claim it for himself.
Owen saw success during his time in the Hart Foundation and gained a hold of the Intercontinental championship, making the Hart Foundation themselves the most dominant stable at the time as they held every major title except the WWF Championship, this success wouldn’t last long for the stable though as the tag team championships would be taken away from them by Stone Cold and HBK. The outcome of this was a short feud between him and Stone Cold.
The two would meet at Summerslam for the Intercontinental Title in what was strangely booked to be a “Kiss My Ass” match. What happened instead was a lot different as this was the one other night in Owen’s career which has a black spot upon it. Although Stone Cold would go on to win the match, this was, sadly the night which Owen performed the Pilderiver in an unsafe way and because of that broke Stone Cold’s neck. The incident was obviously an accident but that didn’t stop the company from working the injury into the storyline. The next night Owen would come out sporting an “Owen 3:16” shirt, mocking Austin and on the back of the shirt, just in case you forgot, it said I just broke your neck! Poor taste? On the WWF’s part maybe, but it made Owen receive exceptional heel heat and made the crowd want to see a returning Stone Cold as soon as possible. Due to Stone Cold’s injury the title had been vacated and a tournament had been held, which Owen won but only thanks to the man he injured. Stone Cold actually helped Owen win the title because he wanted to make sure that when he came back, that he was the one to beat Owen and take that title away from him again as revenge for what he did at Summerslam.
Austin would return at Survivor Series 1997 to do as he had promised and take back the title from Owen, which is exactly what he had done. However later on in the night, the infamous Montreal Screwjob took place. What followed left Owen s the only member of the Hart family left in the company. Bret obviously went to WCW, Jim Neidhart and Davey Boy both got quick releases due to their displeasure but for whatever reason, Vince did not grant Owen a release and due to contractual obligations, Owen had to stay with the company. On top of that, Bret himself wanted Owen to stay with the company because WCW wasn’t willing to pay Owen as much as the WWF was.
The Black Hart
Owen would disappear for a while from television, though it was never really mentioned and whether or not things were planned to go that way, the idea was Owen was sorting things out with his family after the screwjob. When he did return however, he came back with a new and edgier attitude, attacking the man who screwed over his brother at Survivor Series, Shawn Michaels. Owen had become an antisocial man who referred to himself as “The Lone Hart” or The Black Hart This is a lot of fans favorite incarnation of Owen Hart’s characters which brought with it the famous line of Enough is Enough!
A feud would culminate between Owen and pretty much the entirety of DX who were all heels at the time, in good heel stable fashion, whenever Owen seemed to be getting the upper hand the rest of DX were there to ensure that Owen would receive another loss at their hand. Many back and forth matches between him, Shawn Michaels and Triple H would go on during this period, making Owen the constant thorn in their side, but with each loss and with each interference, the fan favorite was becoming more and more on edge.
Owen would eventually snap and turn heel, aligning himself with the Nation of Domination as he turned on Ken Shamrock during a tag team match on Raw, in kayfabe, snapping his ankle and biting his ear, while the two would face off in special matches, the lion’s den match being the most notorious, there was never really a solid conclusion to their feud.
Owen would become the co-leader of the Nation alongside The Rock, continuing his feud with D-Generation X with the Nation to back him up, only now the roles were reversed. DX had become the rebellious, anti-authority faces and Owen and The Nation were the vicious heels. This led to some memorable moments, the most memorable being The Nation parody which was performed by DX. Looking at it today, it amazes me how much DX got away with it, the copious amounts of black face, the insider reference to Mark Henry’s backstage incident of eating the log sandwich, the blatant racism on multiple accounts…it could only have existed in the Attitude Era. The show stealer of the entire segment however was that young kid playing Owen Hart. If you don’t recognize him, it’s because he isn’t a wrestler. His name is Jason Sensation and he was “famous” for impersonating wrestlers, he got discovered and managed to get some TV time making fun of Owen Hart. What people don’t remember however, is what started as a parody, later turned into a savage beating for Jason Sensation. The feud would get sidetracked when Owen’s feud with Ken Shamrock kicked up and things sort of petered out after that for the Nation of Domination.
The Blue Blazer Returns
Owen would keep the Black Hart gimmick for a short while after the Nation of Domination fell apart, returning to the tag team scene as he joined up with Jeff Jarrett with Debra as their manager, the two would team until Owen’s accident and from all accounts became very good friends together. The Black Hart gimmick came to an end when Owen would “accidentally” (kayfabe) injure Dan Severn in a match, calling back to him breaking Stone Cold’s neck. Having remembered that incident and not being able to deal with the guilt of doing it to another man, Owen seemingly quit and left the company.
The next thing we know, we see the arrival of The Blue Blazer once again in WWF. Now, some people say this was punishment for Owen. Owen had a lot of problems with the attitude era, didn’t like a lot of the things being done and had rejected a few things that had been proposed to him. The thought was giving him this silly superhero gimmick was penance for all the times he said no. Whether or not the intent was to punish Owen, I’m not sure…but I don’t think Owen himself would have cared that much. Owen was a goofball, a comedian backstage, notorious for his sense of humor…if giving him a character he could use to show off his comedic skills was punishment? Then the WWF didn’t know how to punish Owen Hart.
The joke of course was that everybody knew that under the mask it was Owen Hart and the Blazer did everything in his power to try and prove that wasn’t the case. One week Owen would show up on screen standing next to the Blazer, trying to quell the rumors that it was him, although it was quite clear the man wearing the Blazer mask was none other than Jeff Jarret? So to try and prove people wrong again both Owen and Jarrett would show up with the Blazer, who happened to be black. Fun fact, the guy wearing the Blazer mask alongside Owen and Jarrett was apparently Koko B. Ware, Owen’s former tag team partner.
Over The Edge 1999
There are few shows I refuse to watch when it comes to wrestling…but Over The Edge 1999 is one of them. I realize now on the Network version, they have a little tribute image informing people what happened and all the footage of Owen has been cut out from what I’ve been told to avoid any discomfort for viewers but that’s the problem…you can’t really delete something like that from human knowledge. At the end of the day a man died during that show, there’s no trickery, no fakery, this isn’t a story…a man died in the wrestling ring. I refuse to watch Over The Edge knowing that.
For those that may not know how it all happened, Owen was set to face The Godfather for the Intercontinental Championship as the Blue Blazer, in what I think was supposed to be a parody of Sting’s entrance in WCW, Blazer was going to be lowered from the rafters into the ring. Now here’s where you can’t really get a clear story. Cynics say the stunt hadn’t even been practiced, some say it had been practiced but not in the Blazer suit and others say the stunt had been practiced fifty times. One thing I can say is that the stunt had been performed on Sunday Night Heat successfully. The idea was as Owen is being lowered into the ring, he starts to act as if he’s trapped in the wires when he’s at a safe enough distance from the ring where he won’t get hurt, he pulls the clasp, falls face first onto the ring mat, picks himself up and acts like nothing happened. That was the original plan, what happened instead though we can only speculate. The general thought was as Owen was trying to get comfortable with the harness what with having a big cape on, the quick release of the harness triggered and Owen fell about 80 feet, chest first by the turnbuckle.
The incident was never seen by a television audience due to them airing a promo while Owen was making his entrance and to make sure nobody at home saw what was going on in the ring, the camera lingered on members of the audience the entire time that Owen was being seen to in the ring by medical staff, all the while Jim Ross is having to explain to us that something terrible has happened and that this is not part of the show. For those curious, no, you cannot find footage of this incident anywhere, WWF has most likely gotten rid of any footage that they themselves had and nothing has leaked out into the public eye and I’m very thankful for that…there are just some things we don’t need to see.
The controversial part about that whole night other than the accident itself was that the show went on and the live audience had no idea that the man had died, the only people to be made aware of it were the home audience, who had it announced to them by J.R. I only saw Over The Edge once and I can tell you from memory that crowd didn’t really need to be told…I think they knew, the life of that show just got sucked away after that and the whole thing is just one uncomfortable experience.
Is anybody to blame? For nearly twenty years we’ve been pointing fingers and at the end of the day, the blame rests on the WWF. We can call it what it was, an accident…but it’s an accident that shouldn’t have happened. A quick release shouldn’t go off because of a man trying to get comfortable or because his cape got snagged. Some argue the man shouldn’t have even been up there in the first place, apparently he hated heights. The fact of the matter is, he was a member of their roster, it’s his responsibility to go out there and entertain the people, but it’s their responsibility to make sure he is safe and that an accident like this has no chance of happening. Regardless of it being an accident, he died on their watch and in their ring, they are to blame for it.
Raw is Owen
The Raw after Over The Edge remains to be the highest rated Raw in the history of the show, all storylines and kayfabe was thrown to the side as a tribute show was held for Owen after the accident. The show had multiple tributes spread throughout which I could only find a few parts for which you can see here . They are all worth watching and in the words of Shawn Michaels…Owen was the only guy you could hold a two hour show for and not have a bad word said about him.
The show ended with a beer salute from Stone Cold , some said it was tasteless and offensive and I tell whoever thinks that to get a grip on themselves. Could Stone Cold have broke character and done something else? I hear people asking, well back then that was Stone Cold, he was being himself just amped up a little bit…the beer salute was his sign of respect, a cold one for Owen Hart, a great wrestler and a good friend to many people.
To this day Owen Hart is remembered fondly by wrestlers and fans alike. The reason Triple H called himself The Game? The plan was the name was going to be given to Owen and Triple H did it out of respect. The Hall of Fame? Fans ask for it every year and while I’d like for him to go in, I can understand his widow saying no. She gets a lot of flak from the wrestling world but Martha has all the reason in the world to say no to the company she believes responsible for her husbands death. I’m just thankful we’re allowed to see him now. For the longest time Owen Hart footage couldn’t be shown by the WWE due to the lawsuit that had been held against them, now, with Owen’s widow allowing the company to use his image, you can watch him on the Network, maybe we’ll even get a DVD some day…and who knows, maybe in time we’ll see him take his place in the Hall of Fame.
Point is, he isn’t just the wrestler that died…he never got the WWF Championship but he didn’t need it. He made a lasting impression with everybody he came in contact with. He was a solid, talented wrestler who achieved all the major accolades except the main title, with a memorable character and memorable moments to talk about for decades. There’s a lot we need to remember about Owen Hart, I needed to remind myself of that while writing this…and I hope reading it will take you on the same journey that writing it took me.
In the words of Jim Ross…
I hope that I can be as good a man as him, so that I can see him again, some day…