Owen Hart

From Academic Kids

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Owen Hart

Owen James Hart (May 7, 1965May 23, 1999) was a Canadian professional wrestler and entertainer. He also competed under the ringname Owen Hart and had many nicknames such as The Rocket, The King Of Harts, The Blackhart, The Blue Blazer and the derogatory term Nugget.

He was born in Calgary, Alberta, the youngest of 12 children, all of whom were involved with wrestling in some way; one of his brothers is the well-known wrestler Bret Hart. His father was the wrestling promoter Stu Hart.

Contents

Wrestling Career

Owen entered wrestling by working for his father's Stampede Wrestling. Wrestling however was not Owen's first choice for a career; as Martha Hart, his widow, would explain in her book Broken Harts, that Owen tried numerous times to find a profitable living outside of wrestling. Those attempts were unsuccessful, and Owen began his WWF stay as the Blue Blazer in 1987. The Blue Blazer was at that time a generic masked wrestler gimmick, but made its return in 1999 to be portrayed as a stereotypical over-the-top superhero; some argue this was done to punish him for refusing to take part in lurid storylines of the WWF Attitude Era. Owen would later team alongside Koko B. Ware in the early 1990s as High Energy. Eventually he was pushed as a singles competitor and feuded with his brother Bret--they competed at WrestleMania X and later in a Cage Match at SummerSlam 1994. They are both considered two of the greatest matches of the 1990s. Owen combined high flying and technical mat skill for a very sound style; he was also quite adept at playing a sneaky, smarmy heel, as evidenced by his "King of Harts" gimmick.

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Owen Hart as a member of The Hart Foundation

Hart's WWF career included Intercontinental, Tag Team and European gold; he teamed with the 600-pound Yokozuna and his brother-in-law Davey Boy Smith, the British Bulldog, at various points in his career. He was also infamous at this time for the errant piledriver at Summerslam 1997 which severely injured Stone Cold Steve Austin and ultimately led to Austin's retirement in 2003. When his brother Bret lost his WWF title in controversial fashion at the 1997 Survivor Series in Montreal, Smith and Jim Neidhart, another Hart brother-in-law, responded by joining Bret in WCW. Owen tried this as well, but elected to stay put in the WWF when faced with breach of contract issues. This was the start of his "Blackhart" gimmick which had a great deal of potential; however Shawn Michaels, the WWF champion in the wake of Montreal, suffered a career-ending (at the time) back injury and additionally managed to convince WWF owner Vince McMahon not to put that potentially hot feud together. As such Owen floundered for a bit, turning heel again and joining the Nation of Domination, a black militant themed stable. Obviously, this was not a good fit for Owen.

In early 1999 Owen began teaming with Jeff Jarrett and again captured tag team gold; however he was also in a storyline involving the Blue Blazer character; this, again, was rumored as punishment for Owen not wanting to do a storyline which suggested a sexual affair with Debra, the valet for the team. Of course, Owen Hart was a happily married family man and wanted no part of this. It was the Blue Blazer gimmick which led to his untimely and unfortunate death at the Over the Edge PPV in May 1999.

Death

Hart died in Kansas City on May 23, 1999, during the WWF's Over The Edge pay-per-view professional wrestling event. His death occurred while he was being lowered into the ring from a catwalk of the Kemper Arena for a match with The Godfather (a wrestler with a pimp gimmick). This entrance was originally planned to be a "comedy stunt" entrance, in keeping with the buffoonish character of the Blue Blazer gimmick; indeed, Owen had perfomed the stunt successfully before. Owen - in Blue Blazer regalia - was to be lowered to just above ring level, at which time Owen would release himself from the safety harness, drop to the ring, land on his feet...and then fall flat on his face. However, for reasons never revealed, the release was triggered early, and Owen fell 90 feet into the ring, (allegedly) smashing his chest on a ring turnbuckle. The viewers at home did not see the incident, as the WWF was transmitting a promotional package for the Hart/Godfather match. Upon the return to live action, the cameras focused on the crowd and the announcing team (Jim Ross and a visibly shaken Jerry Lawler) as paramedics tried to revive Owen Hart. The crowd, believing that this was "part of the act" (despite Ross stating repeatedly that it was not), cheered with a standing ovation as Owen was carried out. Owen was transported to Truman Medical Center in Kansas City, where he died a short time later; the cause was later revealed to be internal bleeding from blunt chest trauma. Despite the tragedy, the show continued.

The next night, the WWF mounted a two-hour televised tribute to Owen Hart - featuring the company's biggest stars (most of whom were in shock or in tears) - which concluded with a "beer toast" from Steve Austin. The Over The Edge event name was retired immediately, and the WWF tried to distance itself from the in-ring events. However, the Hart family was furious with the WWF for continuing the pay-per-view, with Bret accusing Vince McMahon of murder.

Owen left a widow, Martha, and two children, Oje and Athena. His widow now runs a charity called the Owen Hart Foundation with the money gained from her out-of-court settlement with the WWF from a wrongful death lawsuit. (As a result of the settlement, what truly happened on May 23, 1999 was never revealed.) Martha wrote a book about Owen's life in 2002 called Broken Harts.

Owen Hart's last match was on May 22, 1999 in Chicago. He and Jarrett won a tag team match against Edge and Christian.

On the night of his death, he was booked to win the Intercontinental Championship from The Godfather.

In Wrestling

Finishing/Signature moves

Championships/Accomplishments

World Wrestling Federation


Stampede Wrestling from Calgary

  • 2-Time Stampede Wrestling North American Champion
  • 1-Time Stampede Wrestling British Commonwealth Champion
  • 1-Time Stampede Wrestling Tag Team Champion (with Ben Bassarab)


Other Titles

  • 1-Time USWA Heavyweight Champion
  • 1-Time NJPW IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion


Pro Wrestling Illustrated

  • Pro Wrestling Illustrated (PWI) ranked him # 66 of the 500 best singles wrestlers during the "PWI Years" in 2003. He was also ranked # 84 of the best tag teams of the "PWI Years" with Davey Boy Smith.
  • Owen won three PWI Awards during his career. He won Rookie of the Year in 1987 and was in the 1994 Feud of the Year (vs. Bret Hart). He was awarded the 1999 Editor's Award.

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