There are few names in the wrestling business that you can not find one person to say a bad word about. Owen Hart was on that short and very exclusive list. Owen was always in the shadows of Bret his older brother but it never seemed to matter to him. He seemed just love having a good time and entertaining everyone including his fellow wrestlers. There was a list of Owen Hart stories and jokes that goes on for days. This is why the events of 15 years ago still make people sad but when they remember Owen a smile comes across their face.
It was a tragic accident at the end of the day. A lot of blame and debate goes on about the actual events that led to his death. In the end it was a tragic accident that I am not sure you can real blame on any one individual. It was not like we hadn’t seen this stunt performed successfully a number of times before. Sting had used these wires and harnesses and so had Shawn Michaels at Wrestlemania 12. Even Vince McMahon himself took the ride to show Shawn it was safe and that he would do anything he asked him to do.
The other debate that was sparked was if the WWE should have gone on with the show? A man had died in the middle of the ring. A live audience was stunned and never told of Owen’s death till they would find out upon leaving the arena. It was not like today with advantaged technology and smart phones to have access to that information. I just heard Jim Ross recalling the events of that night in interview with Josh Lopez who writes here with us on the website. Ross who had seen the tragedy take place right in front of recalls going into a state of auto-pilot for the rest of the night. He recalls being told on headset that he and King were going to be on camera to give an update on Owen Hart. He was told this by Kevin Dunn who has thought J.R knew the news that Owen had died. Instead Ross asked what the update was. This is how he was informed of the news and 10 seconds later had to break it to the world.
Ross would go on to say, “Owen Hart was set to make an entrance from the ceiling, and he fell from the ceiling. I have the unfortunate responsibility to let everyone know that Owen Hart has died. Owen Hart has died tragically from that accident here tonight.”
Jimmy Korderas was the official in the ring and had Hart fallen 6 inches in the wrong direction, Jimmy may have lost his life as well. Jimmy talks about the incident in his book “The Three Count: My Life in Stripes as a WWE Referee” and as he has said in several interviews he thought that talking about that incident might be cathartic and ease the pain to some extent. It however will always be something that he won’t forget and has to live with.
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Truth is no one that was part of the WWE at that time will forget that night. No fan of the WWE from that night will forget that night. The following night on Raw the moving tribute they did would bring tears to your eyes 15 years later.
I think sometimes we forget what a tremendous wrestler Owen was and only remember his tragic end. He likely would have been in the WWE Hall of Fame already if not for the rather stormy relationship WWE has with Owen’s Hart’s Widow Martha Hart who has had her share of legal battles with company and has been trying to fight any use of mention of her husband by the company fairly hard.
In a way I understand that as she doesn’t want to see the company that she blames for her husband’s death to profit from his legacy. In another way she is robbing a generation of fans from getting to know a great performer in Owen Hart. In the end you can find Owen Hart matches on the WWE Network.
What was also a great source of debate when the network launched was what to do about the “Over the Edge” event itself and if it should appear on the network? The PPV does exist on there with no reference to the death as it has all been removed.
It is amazing how fast time passes. I remember I just moved to where I live currently. I can’t remember the exact reason but I was unable to watch “Over the Edge” live and was frustrated as to why I couldn’t order the replay. Viewers Choice in Canada had pulled the replay in light of the tragic events. I would turn on a radio show here in Canada that covers wrestling called “The Law-Live Audio Wrestling” and be made aware of the tragic news.
Owen Hart will go down as one of the most beloved people the wrestling business has ever had the good fortune to claim as one of their own. That may not be “The Best There was, The Best There Is or The Best There Ever Will Be” it means far more. Owen Hart was a good human being that was taken from the world and more importantly his family far too soon.