Owen Hart

Owen Hart
1965 - 1999

Owen Hart

Owen Hart was born in Calgary, Alberta on May 7, 1965. He was the youngest of the 12 Hart children. He truthfully never wanted to get into wrestling, but instead wanted to be a phys ed teacher. However, when living in a family that was surrounded by wrestling, he decided to follow in his father's and brother's footsteps. He was trained in the legendary "Dungeon" in the Hart home, where many other great wrestlers were trained, like Chris Benoit, Chris Jericho, and even Bret "The Hitman" Hart, Owen's older brother.

Owen debuted in the ring in his father's Stampede Wrestling. In Stampede Wrestling Owen, with Ben Bassarab, became the International Tag Team Champions, and even proved that he could compete as a singles wrestler by winning the British Commonwealth Mid-Heavyweight Title.

In 1988, Owen headed to Japan, where he gained much success. He became the first IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion by defeating Hiroshi Hase on May 27th. When Owen returned to the States, the WWF showed that they wanted a competitor like Owen Hart. However, Owen wore a blue mask and cape and became known as the Blue Blazer, for he did not want to be overshadowed by his brother, Bret Hart, who was also in the WWF at the time. As the Blue Blazer, his agility and his speed was what led him to be known as "The Rocket". However, the Blue Blazer gimmick never really got over with the crowd, as the Blue Blazer character constantly jobbed to many individuals, one of the last few being Mr.Perfect, known as Curt Henning in WCW. Owen would eventually lose the mask in Mexico to El Canek in a mask match. What some people might not know is that when Owen was still the Blue Blazer, he had a very short stint in WCW.

As Owen entered the WWF, he teamed up with his brother-in-law, Jim "The Anvil" Neidhart, but this team-up never really worked out well. As much as Owen tried, he was always referred to as "Bret's little brother." Well, Owen tried teaming up with Bret on numerous occasions and even had a tag team title shot with Bret against the Quebeccers. The match ended when Bret was unable to continue due to a knee injury. Owen, enraged at all this, brutally attacked Bret after their match, setting up a feud between the two brothers, which all climaxed into the legendary match between the two brothers at Wrestlemania 10. This match changed both wrestlers. It pushed Bret into a Main Eventer and a World Champion, as Bret Hart won the WWF World Title the same night by beating the massive Yokozuna. Owen got pushed and was now in my opinion, out of the Hitman's shadow. Even though Owen was victorious in this match, he was enraged that Bret Hart won the WWF Title and wanted a world title shot, but Bret Hart would not give it to him unless Owen won the King of the Ring. Well guess what? Owen did just that.

At the 1994 King of the Ring, Owen Hart won it by defeating Adam Bomb (Wrath in WCW) in the first round, followed by Tatanka in the second round. And on the same night, Owen Hart beat the 1-2-3 Kid (X-Pac now) in the Semi-Finals, and faced in the Finals Razor Ramon (Scott Hall in WCW), where he defeated "The Bad Guy" with an assist from Jim "The Anvil" Neidhart. The Anvil also earlier at that PPV ensured Owen that he would get the world title shot against his brother Bret by attacking Bret in his match with Big Daddy Cool Diesel (Kevin Nash in WCW) causing a DQ. In the annual crowning of the King of the Ring Owen made his victory speech in which he announced that from now on he wanted the fans to know him as "The King of Harts." Owen got the rematch title shot with Bret Hart in a steel cage match. However, this time Bret was successful when both Bret and Owen were on the outside of the cage. Bret slammed Owen's head into the Steel Cage. Owen's ankles got stuck in the cage as Bret touched the outside floor first retaining the WWF Championship Belt. However, this match, like the one at Wrestlemania X, will always be remembered.

The years from 1995-1996 were not good years for Owen Hart. He had very little success in singles competition, except on one night on Raw in late '95, when Owen did an Enziguri Kick to the back of the head of Shawn Michaels, rendering him unconscious and giving him a concussion. (What really happened was Shawn Michaels really got the concussion after a beating by a few men out in Syracuse, New York). Owen however, gained a Slammy for that fateful kick, and he was now known not only as "The Rocket", not only as "The King of Hearts", but also as the "Slammy Award Winning" Owen Hart. However, Owen had great success in tag team action as Owen, with the mighty Yokozuna, beat the Tag Team Champions The Smoking Gunns (Billy and Bart Gunn) in 1995, and became the Tag Team Champions. Owen did the same thing in the Summer of 1996 with the British Bulldog as they beat the Smoking Gunns and became the Tag Team Champions. Owen and the British Bulldog were probably one of the best Tag Team Champions in the WWF, as they held the WWF Tag Team Titles for almost a year. As tag champs, Owen and the Bulldog defended the belts against almost everyone. They defended against the Godwins, the Blackjacks, the Legion of Doom, and even the team of Vader and Mankind. They lost the belts at a Raw at the beginning of June '97 to the unlikely team of Shawn Michaels and Stone Cold Steve Austin.

Also in the year 1997 we all saw Bret Hart reform the Hart Foundation with members the British Bulldog, Jim Neidhart, Brian Pillman, and even Owen Hart. All members had great success in this group. Owen of course, as everyone knows, defeated Rocky Maivia and became the Intercontinental Champion thus ending Rocky's first reign as Intercontinental Champion. At Summerslam '97: Hart and Soul, Owen Hart defended the IC strap against Stone Cold Steve Austin. This was a classic match between the two, but it was also a fateful night, as Owen Hart hit a K-Driller Tombstone Piledriver on Stone Cold Steve Austin. This piledriver almost ended the career of Austin. Austin managed to win the match due to a roll-up (which was very cheap), but the Piledriver also paralyzed Austin for a few moments after that match. Austin became the new Intercontinental Champion that night.

The night after, Owen continued his feud with Stone Cold Steve Austin, as he continued from night in, to night out, brag about crippling Stone Cold Steve Austin. The slogan, "Owen 3:16, I Just Broke Your Neck" was born. Eventually, not only did Austin have to forfeit the Tag Team Belts at Ground Zero, but at Badd Blood had to forfeit the IC belt to the winner of a tournament held for the IC belt on the fact that Austin had not defended the belt in over 30 days. On the night of Badd Blood, the finalists of the tournament, Farooq and Owen Hart met. Austin struck the side of Farooq's head with the IC belt, giving Owen Hart the win, and becoming a 2-Time Intercontinental Champion.

Owen would not hold that title for long, as a month later Owen would eventually lose the IC Title at Survivor Series '97 to a returning Austin. Once that feud was over, Owen didn't have much of a role in the WWF. Brian Pillman had passed away earlier in the morning the day of Badd Blood. Jim Neidhart and the British Bulldog headed down South to WCW. Bret Hart did the same after the infamous Shawn Michaels/ Bret Hart match in where Vince "screwed" Bret. With nowhere to go, and being nothing but a lone sheep, Owen became known as the Lone Hart, the "Black Hart". Owen would not forget what Shawn Michaels did, as Owen on Raw, and after the end of the Ken Shamrock/HBK match, continued to sneak up and attack Shawn Michaels from behind. Finally, Shawn Michaels gave Owen Hart a World Title Shot on a December Raw. Owen should have won the World Title that night, as he had the Sharpshooter locked on HBK, but thanks to Triple HHH, the match resulted in a DQ win for Owen, but did not gain the WWF Title.

"The Black Hart" would then get into a major feud with Triple HHH after winning the European Title from HHH at the time in a controversial way. Owen was set to face HHH at a Raw after Christmas, I think, however instead of HHH coming out, it was the Artist Formerly Known As Goldust that came out, dressed up like HHH. Owen of course, successfully destroyed Goldust, but since it was not HHH, it was not for the European Championship. However, right after Commissioner Slaughter came into the ring and awarded not only the match, but also the European Championship to Owen. This of course did not sit well with HHH and the rest of DX, and a major feud between Owen and DX began, but it was mainly a feud between Owen and HHH.

On the March 17th episode of Raw is War, HHH beat Owen Hart and won the European Title by beating him in a matter of seconds. What happened was a week before, in a match with Barry Windham, after punching Windham in the corner( was standing on the second rope at the time) he jumped off and landed awkwardly on the side of his foot and sprained his ankle. Owen would get a rematch at Wrestlemania 14, but would lose the match due to interference from Chyna. Owen would get 2 more rematches at the next two PPV's, but once again Chyna and the rest of Degeneration X would not allow Owen to take the belt.

Owen would then state that there would be changes, and were there ever. Owen aligned himself with Ken Shamrock in a match against the Nation of Domination, who Ken was feuding with at the time. In that tag match, Owen turned heel again when he turned on Ken Shamrock, and joined the Nation of Domination. Owen started his feud with Ken Shamrock, which would not end till Summerslam '98. However, in this feud, there was another feud as well. Owen Hart feuded with X-Pac during the King of the Ring, who was returning to the ring for the first time since his neck injury. In Summerslam '98, the feud with Ken Shamrock ended in a Lion's Den Match. From that point on, I feel the WWF was just not using Owen Hart right at all. They first had him deliver a K-Driller Tombstone Piledriver on Dan Severn and paralyzed him. Of course, this was all an angle. Next in the angle, they made him retire and made him come back in the Blue Blazer gimmick, and constantly attack Steve Blackman, forcing a feud between the two which would not end till Rock Bottom as Owen did not want to wrestle anymore. Obviously, this feud sucked, and I couldn't stand watching someone with the ability of Owen Hart being in a feud like this. At this point in time I feel that Owen should have been feuding with Shawn Michaels for the WWF Title.

However, a positive outcome of this feud was that Owen started working together with Jeff Jarrett, and would eventually form into a tag team known as Canadian Country. As the team of Canadian Country, they had great success, with a lot of assist from Debra. Canadian Country defeated everyone from the New Age Outlaws, to the Brood, until they finally beat the team of Ken Shamrock and the Big Boss Man, and became the WWF Tag Team Champions, which would be the last Title Belt Owen would hold before the incident at Over the Edge. Owen and Jeff eventually lost the Tag Belts about a month later to the unlikely duo of Kane and X-Pac (suck to the max). However, the team stayed together, until Owen Hart was forced backed into the Blue Blazer gimmick, because at the time, the WWF had no idea what to do with Owen Hart, and what angle to put him in.

The return of the Blue Blazer gimmick had Owen in a pseudo-Hollywood Hogan-esque like character. Basically, being the good guy. He kept saying in his interviews to remember to take your vitamins, say your prayers, and drink your milk. He was basically THE superhero of the WWF, always out there too save the day. Tragedy struck on the night of Over the Edge, as Owen was ready to take on the Godfather for the Intercontinental Title. Owen was supposed to make a grand superhero entrance and fly down from the rafters of the arena. Something went terribly wrong. The harness that was supposed to lower Owen down to the ring malfunctioned and Owen plunged to his death that night, falling 50 feet down and hitting his head at the bottom right turnbuckle, which snapped his head back and broke his neck. Paramedics rushed quickly to revive Owen, but after 15 minutes had no success and took him to a nearby hospital in Kansas. Sadly, it was too late. As Owen died on arrival from a heart arrest.

His family and many of the WWF wrestlers and fans were all shocked from this outcome, as it had an effect on everybody. Monday Night on Raw, the show was a 2-Hour Tribute to the man known as Owen Hart. Many people in the Kiel Center paid their final respects to this great man. As did the wrestlers who talked about their most memorable thoughts of Owen. We will always miss Owen Hart. He was a talented athlete, a loving husband, a great father, a great uncle, and just one of the boys as a brother. Truly, Owen Hart was a remarkable man.

Owen wrestled his final match at a House Show in Chicago, where he and Jeff Jarrett successfully defeated the team of the Brood's Edge and Christian. Owen's career in the WWF was very great. He was the 1994 King of the Ring, a 4-Time Tag Team Champion, a European Champion, and a 2-Time Intercontinental Champion. Owen....wherever you are right now, we're all down here thinking about you, and hoping we'll see you again someday. Owen Hart was always one of my favorite wrestlers. Not only was he probably the best wrestler/performer (except Shawn Michaels), he was the most decent and honorable person in the industry ever. The WWF did not treat him right. He should have been a multiple World Champ, but Vince does not have any kind of wisdom about talent. Only marketing. He is survived by eleven older brothers and sisters, his parents Stu and Helen, his wife Martha, and his children Oje and Athena. Owen Hart has definitely touched my life, and he will live forever in the hearts of not only me, but of millions.

Remember these words from Owen Hart...."There's a little bit of the Blue Blazer in all of us." And in fact, he is right. There is a little bit of the Blue Blazer....no, there is a little bit of Owen Hart in each of us.

In Loving Memory of Owen Hart (34)
May 7, 1965-May 23, 1999

J.C. Weyand