Owen Hart was arguably the best technical wrestler of his era and even overall. He had everything we enjoyed in a professional wrestler from ability to charisma and good looks. His future was bright as the Hart family still commanded the respect of fans and critics. But then something went horribly wrong.
There have been numerous accusations over the years of the WWE not using the right rigging, buckles, and other safety gear for Owen to be safely lowered to the ring. We’ve heard rumors that he was being punished for something and as a result had to perform as the Blue Blazer.
The WWE has denied all of these throughout the years, but the VICE channel’s show, Darkside of the Ring, has made a name for itself by bringing up and investigating topics like this as best balanced as they can.
I’m not going to lie. There were three episodes this season I was looking forward to, but none more than Darkside of the Ring “The Final Days of Owen Hart.” The fact this episode is airing tonight (5/19) five days before he died (5/23/1999) is fitting as an homage to his passing.
This is an event that altered the landscape of professional wrestling and caused a lot of people, fans and not fans, to sit up and pay attention. Like most of the negatives that have come out over the years, this didn’t do the business any favors. It came during a time when pushing the envelope was a regular occurrence during the Monday Night Wars.
In the fight between titans, it’s often the individuals that suffer. And this was no different.
The Hart family especially seemed to have a target on their backs as Bret got screwed in Montreal, Owen died, then Bret suffered a career ending kick to the head by Bill Goldberg. Along the way, others close to the family suffered as well. Brian Pillman’s death was a blow many didn’t see coming, and soon. It seemed like nothing could go right for the Harts at the time.
But while some events may or may not have been prevented, Owen’s death is one that hurts the most because, in my opinion, it didn’t need to happen. And that’s where the real shame of it lies.
The black eye the WWE took over this, and continues to take from many, can’t be ignored. Is it deserved? Is everyone overreacting?
Those are questions we need to ask ourselves for the real answers. Others may try, but in the ends it’s just everyone sharing their opinions and/or trying to get others to agree with us. But it’s more than that, and personally, Martha Hart, Owen’s widow, has a point where she wants people to remember Owen then man.
In an industry where people pretend to be something they aren’t, it’s easy to lose sight of the real person behind the persona.
Hopefully, Darkside of the Ring succeeds in this as it allows Martha to continue to share her story. It hurts losing a loved one even if it happened twenty or more years ago. It’s a wound that never really heals, and we hope this will help her to achieve her goal and we remember Owen for the person he was. And for all the stories he’s given so many to share and remember him by.
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