How Owen Hart’s Death Changed Wrestling Forever

How Owen Hart's Death Changed Wrestling Forever
WWE Legend Owen Hart. Photo credit: WWE

The tragic story of Owen Hart’s death is one that shook the WWE to its very core. But what really happened? and how did his death affect the world of wrestling? Before we get to the actual story, let’s take a look at the job of a wrestler.

Wrestling is a sport that entails a lot of hard work, perseverance, tenacity, and skill. Some wrestlers even have to suffer severe blows to critical areas of their bodies. Violence and, in some instances, extreme violence is all a part of the deal.

The fitness training, ‘small blows to their heads and necks,’ ‘small falling’s from or unto the ring,’ and all the other hazards of the wrestling profession are what wrestlers have to endure consistently.

They have to take in all these without any break in and out of season. Just to ensure that they put on a good show for the audience. Talk about an infinite love for their audience, right? Surely it must be. 

This article is not targeted at exposing the fatal ‘ life-transforming’ injuries and even untimely deaths that occur randomly within the wrestling profession. 

But instead, in this article, we will be considering how Owen Hart’s death changed wrestling forever.

Related: 11 Wrestlers Who Died In The Ring

The Early Life Of Owen Hart

Owen touched down on Earth on a clear spring day on the 7th day of May 1965. This Canadian born wrestler was a native of Alberta, Calgary.

If he were still alive today, Owen would have been fifty-five by now, but unfortunately, he died at thirty-five. That means he died in 1999.

Like the Biblical Benjamin, Owen was the twelfth and youngest son of his parents. His mother was an American while his dad was Canadian, and almost every member of Owen’s family is into wrestling, probably because their dad was once a renowned wrestler.

Personal Life

By the time Owen was twenty-four years old, he had married Joan Martha Patterson. Three years after they were married, Joan gave birth to their first child, Edward Hart.

After the birth of Edward three years later, Owen became a dad again. This was after the birth of their daughter Christie Hart.

The Tragic Death Of Owen Hart

The year 1999 is one that the world would never forget in a hurry because the tragic and untimely passing of one of it’s greatest wrestlers happened on the twenty-third of May in that year.

It was a live performance with a teeming number of viewers physically present in the auditorium and hundred of others watching through their television.

Owen was performing that night as the Blue Blazer at that Over The Edge Episode, which turned out to be his last show. He was supposed to duel against The God Father, and the winner of their match would become the intercontinental champion.

But, before he even had the chance to duel that day, his mere entering into the ring was the cause of the historical disaster. As the captivating and astonishing entrance he intended by descending from the slopped beam, supporting the roof of the more than 2,379 Centimeter high auditorium, went very wrong,

According to plan, Owen was supposed to be brought considerably close to the ring by a machine, and from that height, he was to land dramatically in the center of the ring. But then something went awol.

As a result, Owen fell chest down on the first rope in the ring from that height. Minutes later, he was confirmed dead by medical experts at the Trauma Medical Centre in Kansas City.

An autopsy done on him showed he suffered from severe internal bleeding due to the trauma to the chest. His aorta was torn, which caused his lungs to be filled with blood.

Controversies Surrounding Owen Hart’s Death

After the death of this impeccable, cheerful, and very talented professional, some differing opinions have arisen to either question, justify or oppose the unfortunate incident.

The First Controversy

 Martha, Owen’s wife, felt that WWE let her husband die through their negligence. Martha says the WWE, in a bid to cut cost, hired armature riggers who ‘ set the stage for her husband’s death.’

While WWE says, Owen must have triggered his release from that height by his nervousness.

However, Martha sued the company, and in court, the case was ruled in her favor. After that, the WWE gave her eighteen million USD as compensation for the death of her husband.

The Second Controversy

Martha blames Vince McMahon, the CEO of WWE, for his ridiculous leadership skill. Most persons like Martha would have expected Vince to put the entire show for that evening on hold. 

But much to the amazement of persons with the feeling of humanity, Vince still let the show for the evening go on with wrestlers falling over each other on the ring stained with Owen’s blood.

While Vince says in a moment of indecision and irritation, he paused the show for a few minutes before continuing it to give viewers a good time at least before they knew about the tragedy.

The Third Controversy 

When Martha sued WWE, some other members of the Hart family, who were also professional wrestlers, were against her.

Like we already mentioned, most of Owen’s sibling’s are into wrestling, and at that time, it could appear to them as a choice of loyalty, to either a living promising career or an already dead younger brother

The Fourth Controversy

After the death of Owen was the fact that the WWE wanted to make him a hero in the WWE Hall of Fame. And Owen’s brother Bert who is also a WWE champion, agrees to this while Martha does not.

She says she doesn’t want the men who murdered her husband to make money off him now that he is dead.

How Owen Hart’s Tragic Death Changed Wrestling

It is usually said that ‘in every dark cloud there is a silver lining’ and happenings have most times proven this to be true.

What was a major tragedy for the Hart family, and the entire world turned out to eventually have a positive impact on some things within the dogged world of wrestling?

After the death of Owen, any of such extremely dangerous Stunt was banned at the WWE. The media and human rights advocates have since then begun to look very carefully into the activities of the WWE.

While this may have eternally opened up the WWE to the media, warranting them ‘too much’ publicity and attention from the media, this is not so bad after all. And due to this development, the case of Owen Hart was the last of any such deaths on the ring.

After Owen’s death, humanity in viewers and the WWE resurfaced. They now ‘saw’ wrestlers as humans and not mere ‘immortal’ robots. Who knocked the hell out of each other. Also, some viewers who enjoyed the violence the game offered reconsidered their stands.

They were subsequently conscious that blood also flowed through the wrestlers, and like any fragile human, these ‘wonder performing’ professionals could die too.

For once, Owen’s dea stirred up sincere feelings of empathy among fans of the wrestling world.

How Owen Hart’s Death has Changed the World

For the world in general, Owen Hart’s death viz the eighteen million USD paid by WWE to Owen’s widow brought about the Owen Hart’s Foundation.

The Owen Hart Foundation provides the following to a needy community: suitable shelter to low-income earners, financing to families of single female parents, and opportunities for kids who can not afford it to be schooled.

Also See: 10 Famous WWE Wrestlers Who Died Young

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