May 23, 1999.
For any fan of wrestling, this is a day that will be remembered and a day marked with tragedy, as this is the day that Owen Hart left us, the fans, his friends and his family.
It was 10 years ago this May 23 that Owen Hart was killed at the Kemper Arena, in Kansas City, MO during the WWF pay per view “Over The Edge” while performing his “Blue Blazer” ring entrance from 50 feet above the ring.
He was supposed to be lowered to the ring via a harness he was wearing, and cables. But something went horribly wrong. It still isn’t known if it was an equipment malfunction, or if someone, possibly Owen himself, secured the harness improperly.
What is known is that one of the friendliest, most fun loving and entertaining men in wrestling was taken way too soon. He is survived by his wife Martha Hart, and two children, Oje Edward Hart and Athena Christie Hart.
Owen Hart began his career in his father’s, Stu Hart, Stampede Wrestling promotion, and after his training in the “dungeon” won the Stampede International Tag Team Championship with Ben Bassarab in 1986. He even won the prestigious PWI Rookie Of The Year award in 1987, a testament to the training time he had put in.
From there Owen traveled to Japan, specifically New Japan Pro Wrestling, and on May 27, 1988 became the first westerner to win the coveted IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Championship, a further tribute to how well he was learning his craft.
Owen signed with the WWF later in 1988 and debuted as “The Blue Angel” which was later changed to “The Blue Blazer” as the WWF didn’t want to promote him as Bret Harts brother. While a popular mid-carder, he didn’t fare as well when matched with upper card talent, and left the WWF in late 1989. He wrestled in the independents and even had a stint in WCW in 1991, but it was upon his return to the WWF in 1991 that really got things going for Owen.
As part of the talent exchange between the WWF and the USWA, not only did Owen feud with his brother Bret’s nemesis Jerry “The King” Lawler, but he also won the USWA title from Papa Shango.
Returning full time to the WWF, Owen and Bret became embroiled in a feud over a mis-understanding. Owen pinned Bret cleanly at WrestleMania X, with Bret winning most of their later encounters.
In the midst of the feud with his brother, Owen, and a mystery partner who turned out to be former WWF Champion Yokozuna won the WWF tag belts from the Smoking Gunns at WrestleMania XI.
In Sept. 1996 at In Your House 10, Owen and The British Bulldog won the WWF Tag Team Titles, again from The Smoking Gunns, but the two later began feuding over the newly instated European Title. Bret Hart intervened, and Owen began to go after Rocky Maivia and the Intercontinental Championship, which Owen won on Apr.28 1997.
Owen and The British Bulldog lost the tag belts to Steve Austin and Shawn Michaels. Owen lost the Intercontinental belt later to Austin. This was the night Owen unintentionally injured Austins neck.
In an angle where Owen also injured Dan Severn, Owen “quit” the WWF only to have The Blue Blazer return in his place. Many attempts were made to prove Owen wasn’t the Blazer, even going so far as to have Owen show up along side Koko B. Ware in the mask.
Owen was scheduled to wrestle The Godfather for the Intercontinental title as the Blazer when the deadly accident at the Kemper Arena took place.
Please join OWW Radio as we honor the memory of the late Owen Hart on the 10 year anniversary of his passing this May 23. It will truly be a special program dedicated to a very special and very missed Owen Hart.