There are some things that change you for the better. Then there are those that you will never forget for all the wrong reasons. May 23rd 1999 was one of those days for me. It was the day Owen Hart died and the day the love of professional wrestling started draining from my body.
WWE pay per views were free back then in Ireland, shown live on Sky Sports at 1 a.m in the morning. Once a month my brother and myself were allowed to stay up and watch larger than life superstars do battle, and while Owen would have been the ‘heel’ back then I couldn’t help but root for him. The youngest of his family looking to come out of the shadows of legendary brother Bret, I related to Owen. The Blue Blazer though was a ridiculous gimmick by a company that didn’t know how to market a true athlete.
On Thursday I finally got around to watching the final episode in season two of The Dark Side of the Ring a docu-series that has been a massive success for VICE. I admittedly have not watched any of the other episodes due to lack of interest but Owen’s death still bothers me to this day and once I saw the ad I knew it was much see TV. It definitely delivered and I think former WWE superstar CM Punk summed it up best when he tweeted:
Half way through the Owen Hart episode @DarkSideOfRing. I have to take breaks. Feel like I just want Martha, Oje, and Athena know I admire their strength.
— player/coach (@CMPunk) May 20, 2020
Without spoiling it for anyone that has yet to watch, the episode gave a great insight through home videos of Owen outside the ring while intertwining interviews with Hall of Famers like Jim Ross and Jim Cornette added the ‘Wrestling’ feel. It’s become evident how much Owen loved being home and adds to the much-told story that he was only in the business to make enough money so he could retire and his family could live comfortably.
Then all that was taken away from him.
To say the WWE doesn’t come off great in this episode would be an understatement. From continuing the show with Owen’s blood still on the ring apron to Kevin Dunn telling Jim Ross “he’s dead. And you’re back in 10…9…8” the WWE and Vince McMahon come across as, for lack of better words, heartless bastards. And then there was the harness clip. It honestly looked like something you could buy in any hardware store for a couple of bucks. The quick-release method should have never been used and more care definitely should have been taken. All for the sake of a couple extra seconds when he landed to make it looks better’.
I’ve always been a huge supporter of Owen being inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame but after watching this it’s no wonder his wife Martha refuses. There’s no physical Hall of Fame (yet) and the WWE profit massively off the night itself with advertisements. To have the company who essentially killed your husband profit off his death is not something anyone should be okay with and when you listen to Martha and Oje (Owen’s son) speak about it you realize you don’t want him in there either.
Instead, they have decided to remember his legacy by setting up the Owen Hart Foundation to help ‘provide opportunities for hard-working people who have limited resources and unlimited potential’. A true dedication to a man whose own unlimited potential we never got to see.