WWF Wrestler Killed in Arena Plunge
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A World Wrestling Federation wrestler was fatally injured
Sunday when he fell 50 feet into the ring as he was lowered from the ceiling
of the arena — stunning the sold-out crowd and pay-per-view television
audience that initially thought the accident was a stunt.
Owen Hart, 33, hit his head on a turnbuckle. Hart, who wrestles under the
nickname "Blue Blazer," was given CPR in the ring in front of the audience
at Kemper Arena and then taken to a nearby hospital.
"We thought it was a doll at first," said 15-year-old Robert McCome. "We
thought they were just playing with us. We were really shocked when we found
out that it was no joke."
Michelle Hindorff, a paramedic and dispatcher for the city ambulance
service, said Hart was supposed to be lowered down into the ring.
"It didn't get hooked on to him. He thought it was hooked on. We gave him
CPR in the ring. He was a trauma code," she said.
Commentator Jim Ross repeated over and over to the audience that Hart's fall
was not scripted, as professional wrestling matches openly are.
The event was televised live on pay-per-view and seen around the country.
Hart's fall happened in the second part of the event called "Over the Edge."
The first part of the event, "Sunday Night Heat," was televised live on the
"We at the WWF are saddened by the tragic accident that occurred here
tonight," Vince McMahon Sr., chairman of WWF, said at a news conference. "We
don't have any answer as to why this happened ... There is an ongoing
He declined to comment further.
Shawn Gaitan, 24, who brought his 7-year-old nephew to the event, said: "I
think it's really messed up that they kept on with the show. They could at
least told us what was going on. We worry just like the other people worry."
Gaitan said he saw Owen flying through the air; his head hit a turnbuckle
and snapped back.
Hart is the younger brother of World Championship Wrestling wrestler Bret
(The Hitman) Hart.
Martha wishes to thank all family, friends, neighbors, and fans world wide for their ongoing support and comfort in this time of great sorrow.
A private family service will be held at McInnis & Holloway's "Park Memorial Chapel" on Monday, May 31, 1999 at 11:00am. Everyone is welcome to gather around the Funeral Home to pay tribute to Owen, but services inside the Chapel are private.
OWEN HART'S FUNERAL
Bidding a great star, a great man, farewell
By Hart family friend Jason Clevett
Today it finally sunk in. Owen Hart is gone. The guy who
I was lucky enough to have sat down and had dinner with,
who was one of my heros and someone who was deserving of
being so, has been laid to rest.
I attended the public portion of the funeral, standing
outside Mcinnis and Holloway Funeral Chapel with about 2000
other fans. Two large speakers set up on each side broadcast
the funeral to those of us outside.
As guests arrived, organist Jeannie Harrison's music
played through the speakers, playing emotional songs such as
"My heart will go on" "Wind beneath my wings" and "Unchained
3 busloads of wrestlers were brought to the home. In
attendance were the mayor of Calgary, Al Duerr, the Premier
of Alberta, Ralph Klien, as well as many wrestlers from the
WWF and Chris Benoit, Chris Jericho and Hulk Hogan of WCW.
The funeral officially began with Owen Hart's friend,
country singer Collin Raye. He sang 3 songs. "One Boy, One
Girl", "Love, Me", and "Amazing Grace." This started the
tears flowing for many, and those few who had not yet been
pushed over the brink were done so when Reverend Andrew
Risby of the Standard Church of America said a prayer for
Owen. Then Martha Hart took the podium for her tribute to
"I'm not worried about Owen." the said, her voice choked with
tears. "Because I know he's walking with god. But I just wish
he were still walking with me because I miss him so much." In
the most emotional speech of the afternoon, Martha talked
about her High School sweetheart. "He had one flaw.He had the
weirdest toes!!!" she said, one of the many uplifting moments
in a emotional event. "For a while there I didn't think it
was going to work, his feet were so ugly. But he promised to
keep his socks on. He did for the first 7 years, then when we
got married he tossed them away."
Martha moved the audience to tears, mentioning how she and
Owen had been scheduled to move into their dream home this
past Friday,and that they had planned to take a train from
Calgary to Vancouver for their 10th anniversary.
"Nobody I know has what we had." she said of their
Taking a moment to acknowledge those of us outside in the
rain, Martha said "I don't want to forget the people outside.
We all know we have jobs and places to be. I want to thank
them for being here, I don't want to forget them."
"I'm a very forgiving person, and I'm not bitter. But there
will be a day of reckoning, and this is my final promise to
Bret Hart spoke next, admitting he wasn't sure what he
was going to say. He made most of his tribute "Owen Stories."
something I am sure that will be told for many years to come.
Most stories, he admitted, weren't appropriate. He wracked
his mind to come up with some. Included in his tribute was a
story about Owen making fun of Jim Duggan over the phone from
the front lobby of a hotel. When the desk clerk expressed
concern about taking the blame, Owen said "Just tell him Jim
Powers did it."
"Owen was the best father and husband I've ever seen,
it's fitting he be remembered as that."
His anecdotes lightened up the procession as much as was
possible under the circumstances, and allowed us another look
at the joker Owen was.
Ross Hart also spoke in tribute to Owen, titled "Forever
Young". It was a very touching finale of tributes.
Finally the reverend spoke again about Owen, God and other
such things. Following this was a video tribute, which was
unfortunately not viewable by those outside. At that point,
the funeral ended.
The guests then departed the parlor. Owen's brothers
Smith, Keith, Bret, Bruce, Wayne and Ross served as pall-
bearers. Owen's hearse lead a police-lead procession away
from the home to the graveside service in Queens Park
Cemetery, as fans applauded Owen and remembered someone
who will never, ever be forgotten.
Thanks Hart Family, for allowing us fans the chance to be
a part of saying goodbye to such a incredible human being,
and thank you Owen, for the memories.
A reception was held at Hart House after the funeral.
In closing, here is a poem, written on the back of this
afternoons program, written by Martha Hart, that "describes
Owen's wonderful spirit."
I am a lighthouse, Lonely but strong
I reach out to help people, Weather the storm
Some are lost souls, Some in dismay
My light helps to guide them, Out of harms way.
Owen is the youngest child of legendary Stu and Helen Hart. Owen was
trained by his father in the Dungeon. In 1986 Owen was ready to join
Stampede Wrestling, owned by his father, but at that time it was already
going downhill. Owen though, used the time that was left to hone his skills
and become one of the most promising rookies the sport has ever seen.
Owen showed on several occasions, that he was championship material, and
together with Ben Bassarab, he became International Tag Team champion. Owen
also showed his skills in singles competition by winning the British
Commonwealth Mid Heavyweight title once. Owen then went after the North
American Heavyweight title, which he came close to winning in a tournament
final, where he lost to Makhan Singh, Owen though came back an won the title
twice, the last time holding it for 13 months.
In 1988 on a tour with New Japan, Owen's skills finally paid off. Owen
became the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion by defeating Hiroshi Hase, May
27, in Sendai. Owen was the first westerner to hold the title. Owen title
regain lasted until, June 24 1988, when he lost the title to Shiro
Koshinaka, in Osaka.
Owen returned to the States, where the WWF showed interest in him. Owen,
beneath hood and cape, became the Blue Blazer - a lightweight high flyer
versus the heavyweights of the WWF. Owen's skills was mostly used to put the
other guys over, at WrestleMania V, he jobbed to Mr. Perfect, shortly after
Owen left the WWF. Never once during his first stint in WWF was it
mentioned, that Owen was Bret Hart's brother.
Owen spent the next two years on the road, showing his skills in Mexico,
Canada, Japan, Europe, and he had a very short stint in the WCW.
Owen returned to the WWF, where he joined his brother-in-law, Jim Neidhart,
in the New Foundation. The team didn't last long because they never got a
clean break, everybody was comparing them to the original Hart Foundation,
which they couldn't live up to.
Neidhart left the WWF, but Owen wasn't finished with tag team wrestling
yet. Owen and Koko B. Ware formed High Energy. They didn't have much success
though. Owen got a knee injury at the end of 1992, and when he returned,
Koko was gone.
The Rocket Owen Hart was born. Via the working agreement with the USWA,
Owen went to Memphis, where he defeated Papa Shango for the Unified World
Heavyweight Title, only to drop it to Jerry Lawler after two weeks.
After the taste of gold Owen was ready to make his mark in the WWF. But it
didn't happen. Owen was still on the bottom of the ladder, while Bret was on
top, he had just won the 1993 edition of the King of the Ring.
At the Survivor Series 1993, where a united Hart family fought Shawn
Michaels and his knights, Owen was whipped into Bret, who stood on the
apron, causing Bret to hit the railing and Owen to get eliminated. The Hart
family won the match, but Owen wasn't satisfied with the result, he blamed
Bret for his elimination, Owen then developed an obsession, he wanted to be
regarded as his brother Bret's equal, Owen would not be in the shadow of the
Hitman. Owen was furious at Bret, so he wanted a match against him, so he
could step out of Bret's shadow, but Bret wouldn't give it to him.
Owen and Bret talked the things through at the end of 1993, and they agreed
to form a tag team. Owen and Bret got a shot at the tag team champions, the
Quebecers, at the Royal Rumble 1994. The brothers lost the match, when the
referee ended the match, because of Bret's injured knee. Owen totally lost
it, he kicked Bret on his knee after the match, and blamed Bret for the
loss. Owen also said, that it was Bret, who told him to wrestle under hood
and cap, so Owen wouldn't take the limelight from Bret.
At WrestleMania X, Owen and Bret had a classic match, which went back and
forth. Owen was victorious, but at the same event, Bret became WWF
Heavyweight Champion for the 2. time, which made Owen even more jealous.
Owen wanted another shot at Bret, but to get that, he had to win the King
of the Ring tournament. Owen qualified to the King of the Ring by beating
Adam Bomb. In the first round of the tournament, Owen and Tatanka went at
it, with Owen coming out on top. In the semi-final round waited the 1-2-3
Kid. Owen defeated him easily with the sharpshooter.
It was time for the final round. Jim Neidhart had secured that Bret was
still the champ, by attacking Diesel, who got the DQ victory. Owen and Razor
Ramon was the two finalists, it was an even match until Anvil attacked
Razor, which made Owen the 1994 King of the Ring. After the victory Owen
proclaimed himself the King of Harts.
With the victory at the King of the Ring, Owen showed that he was a force
to be reckoned with, Owen also got what he really wanted, a match against
his brother for the WWF title at SummerSlam 94. The match was a cage match,
with Neidhart and the British Bulldog in the public. The match went back and
forth, both wrestlers slugged it out up the cage, over the top and on the
way down, when suddenly Bret slammed Owen's head against the cage. Owen got
his ankles caught between the bars, Bret jumped, landing feet-first at
ringside. The British Bulldog cheered, when suddenly Neidhart attacked him.
Owen and Neidhart dragged Bret back into the cage and started beating on
him. Bulldog got to Bret's rescue. This event was reason for some great tag
team matches between Bret/Bulldog and Owen/Neidhart.
The family war died out when Neidhart left the federation in the start of
1995. Owen then aligned himself with Jim Cornette, Owen the challenged the
WWF tag team champions, The Smoking Gunns, at WrestleMania XI, where he
would reveal his mystery partner. The mystery partner was none other than
the mighty Yokuzuna. Owen and Yokuzuna defeated the Gunns with relatively
ease, and became WWF tag team champions. Owen had won his first title in the
Owen and Yoko held on to the titles for almost a half year, before dropping
them to the Smoking Gunns, actually Owen and Yoku lost the titles to Diesel
and Shawn Michaels at In Your House III, but since the Bulldog replaced
Owen, and it was Owen who got pinned, the titles was handed back. After the
defeat both Yoku and Owen wanted to use more time on their singles career,
which split the team.
The rest of 1995 and until the summer of 1996, Owen was jobbed to almost
every WWF superstar. Owen did have some success though, on an instalment of
Monday Night Raw, in a match against Shawn Michaels, Owen hit Michaels with
a kick to the back of the head, which made the lights go out for Michaels,
who laid flat on his back. At the Slammy Awards 1996, Owen won a Slammy for
the incident, after the event he billed himself the Slammy Award Winning
During the summer of 1996 The British Bulldog, who had joined Camp Cornette
in the end of 1995, and Owen decided to use their combined forces to win the
WWF tag team titles from the Smoking Gunns. The title changed happened at In
Your House X, where a manager change also happened. Clarence Mason became
the new manager for the new champions, when he got a groggy Jim Cornette to
sign the papers.
With a new manager and the titles on their waist, you should think
everything was good. But it wasn't, Bulldog got more and more popular among
the fans, while Owen got more unpopular, it seemed like a team split was
At the Royal Rumble 97, Owen "accidentally" eliminated the British Bulldog
from the battle royal. But it got worse, Bulldog fired Clarence Mason when
he lost a match to Crush, also managed by Mason. Owen tried to convince
Bulldog that it was wrong, but he couldn't.
In February of 1997, the first ever WWF European Champion should be crowned
via a tournament in Germany. The final saw the tag team partners Owen and
Bulldog go at it. It was a tough match, but in the end it was Bulldog, who
stood triumphant with the new belt. After the match Owen launched a
post-match tirade about Bulldog's lack of respect for him. Owen has been in
another tournament final in 1997, it was in Kuwait, where he lost to Tiger
At the Slammy Awards 1997, Owen "won" another Slammy. The tag team
champions continued to fight of all comers, but you could feel the tension
between them. At Raw is War after WrestleMania 13, Owen and Bulldog had to
fight the Headbangers for the titles. Bulldog and Owen got in a fight at the
end of the match, Owen said that he demanded a shot at the Bulldog's
European title at the following Raw is War, Bulldog gladly accepted.
The following Raw is War it was time for the match for the European title
between Owen and Bulldog. It was a brutal match, where Bulldog was going to
use a chair on Owen, when Bret entered the ring. Bret got the two combatants
separated, he then told them, that the WWF and the American wrestling fans
were doing everything in their power to destroy them. Bret also told Owen
and Bulldog that he needed and loved them, and that he wanted them to join
forces with him against Steve Austin, WWF and the American wrestling fans.
They accepted, the Hart Foundation was founded.
The following weeks Owen and Bulldog watched out for Bret, by attacking
Austin and Michaels. Pillman and Neidhart also joined the Hart Foundation. 2
weeks after joining the Hart Foundation, Owen won the Intercontinental
Title, cleanly, from Rocky Maivia at Raw is War. Owen had finally won a
singles title, which he has deserved.
Owen and Bulldog's constant attacks on Austin and Michaels lead to a
challenge from the Tag Team Champions. On an instalment of Raw is War Austin
and Michaels won the titles from Owen and Bulldog, who had held on to the
titles for 8 months.
With only the Intercontinental Title at his waist, Owen will go back to
singles wrestling, a place where he fits much better. Owen proved that he is
one of the best, by beating Golddust and Hunter Hearst Helmsley in a Three
Way Dance on Raw is War.
At Summer Slam Owen had to defend his Intercontinental Title against Steve
Austin. As expected Owen lost the title to Austin, but injured Austin in the
match. Since the match, Owen has been very proud of himself, because he
injured Austin, this has lead to Austin attacking Owen at every opportunity.
Owen then got a restraining order on Austin, but this hasn't stopped
Austin, who continues to attack Owen. In my opinion it looks like Owen will
win the Intercontinental Title only to loose it to Austin, when he returns.
Owen did win the IC Title at Badd Blood, with the help of Austin, who
smacked Faarooq in the head with the Title. Now Owen prepares for Survivor
Series and the next time he and Austin will tangle in the ring.
Owen met up with Austin at the Survivor Series and dropped the IC Title to
the Rattlesnake, but the events with his brother Bret had an effect on the
younger Hart. As a result, Owen left the WWF for a while to think about his
future, but he didn't stay away long.
At In Your House, Degeneration X, Owen returned to take out his anger on
the man responsible for his brother's departure, Shawn Michaels. During the
ruckus, Owen threw HBK through a table and broke Shawn's nose.
The Way I See It...by Earl Oliver
To say that what happened last night at Over the Edge was a tragedy is to understate the obvious. Not only was it a
tragedy for the Hart family, his parents, siblings, wife and children - but it was a tragedy for the wrestling business and
millions of fans throughout the world.
Needless to say I received a lot of comments on the subject and several of them (including my wife's) expressed the
sentiment that the WWF should have stopped the show after the accident. I can understand this attitude and I can
...but I can't agree with it.
Owen was in show business. He was an athlete, a wrestler, a warrior...but first and foremost, he was a showman. Owen
knew that, and his family knew it as well.
There is a maxim in show business. In fact, it is the first rule of show business.
THE SHOW MUST GO ON
As a former actor and a professional musician, I can tell you that every person in show business lives by that rule. I
would liken it to the situation in which a circus acrobat plunges to his or her death from the high wire or off the trapeze.
I read an account of this happen once at a performance of the Clyde Beatty Circus in Chicago around 1965. A high wire
performer, who made it a point to work "without a net", had cause to regret that decision when he over balanced on his
bicycle and fell over 70 feet to the sawdust below. The crowd did not know until they saw the paper the next day that he
had died due to his injuries. At the time of the accident, an emergency team came to his aid as the band struck up a loud,
up-tempo march and he was whisked away as fast as his condition would permit. The audience's attention was drawn
toward another ring and the show continued.
The people who worked with Owen (and make no mistake about, they were all his friends) live by the above stated rule,
and so did Owen.
Jeff Jarrett and Debra McMichael were interviewed shortly after the incident and Jarrett found it impossible to not
comment, offering a prayer for his fallen partner's recovery (at that point it was not yet known that he was dying). Debra
sobbed visibly as they left the scene after Jarrett had sucked it up and went on with his threats against his opponents in
the next match. The Road Dogg also stepped out of character to offer his best to Owen but then he went on with the
As did everyone else. During his usual "grab the headset and do commentary" bit, Rocky Maivia ended his tirade with,
"Owen, the Rock loves you."
In a CNN interview afterward, a visibly shaken Vince McMahon expressed condolences to the Hart family and implied
that an investigation was underway. There have had many instances in which I have expressed my disapproval of
McMahon's business practices and values. In this case I can neither second guess him nor disapprove of his decision to
continue the show.
It took great courage to do so, and I think he did the right thing...
At least that's the way I see it...
Earl Oliver...Editor, Solie's Wrestling Newsletter