Owen James Hart (May 7, 1965 May 23, 1999) was a professional wrestler best known for his work in the World Wrestling Federation, though he also wrestled for Stampede Wrestling, New Japan Pro-Wrestling, and (for a brief period) World Championship Wrestling. He held the Intercontinental, European, and WWF World Tag Team Championships, won two Slammy Awards (one of his trademark accomplishments), and won the 1994 King of the Ring tournament. He was also part of the storied Hart family — one of WWE Hall of Famer Stu Hart's many children, he was the brother of WWE Hall of Famer Bret Hart and the brother-in-law of both "The British Bulldog" Davey Boy Smith and Jim "The Anvil" Neidhart.
Owen's life came to an end on the 23rd of May 1999 at the WWF pay-per-view Over the Edge. At the time, Owen was in his Blue Blazer gimmick — a pastiche of superhero-type wrestlers — and at Over the Edge, his entrance would have involved him rappelling down from the rafters to a few feet above the ring, then falling on his face as he released himself from the harness. Unfortunately, the harness holding Owen malfunctioned; he fell down into the ring and hit his chest on the turnbuckle. Medical personnel declared him dead just minutes after they'd carried him out of the ring.
Over the Edge continued after Owen's death, with legendary WWF commentator Jim Ross informing the viewers that Owen Hart had, indeed, died as a result of the fall; the news was not relayed to the crowd attending the event, though. WWE never released Over the Edge on home video in any format, and it retired the event name after that show. (WWE made the show available as part of the WWE Network's on-demand content library, albeit in edited form, out of respect for the Hart family.) The next night, Raw is War held a special tribute show that eventually picked up the nickname Raw is Owen: the company tossed out angles and feuds for a single night so wrestlers could compete in matches to honor Owen, and WWF personalities also relayed stories about Owen in prerecorded interviews. (This show would lay the template for the two shows honoring Eddie Guerrero following his death, and a similar show would be put on for Chris Benoit on the day of his death, before the terms of his death became apparent.) A few months later, when WCW Monday Nitro came to the Kemper Arena in Kansas City, Missouri (where Owen had died), Bret Hart — who had jumped ship to WCW from the WWF following the Montreal Screwjob — wrestled in a tribute match for Owen against handpicked opponent Chris Benoit.
Owen's widow, Martha, and the rest of the Hart family sued the WWF over the accident; the company eventually settled the case for $18 million (which the Hart family distributed amongst its members). Due to footage of Owen being used in recent WWE DVDs (specifically, a 2010 DVD set centered around the Hart family), Martha filed another lawsuit against WWE.
WWE fans have never forgotten Owen: even a quick mention of his name can bring crowds to start a lengthy "Owen!" chant, and every year, fans clamor for WWE to fully recognize his legacy with either a DVD set, a WWE Hall of Fame induction, or both. WWE, to its credit, has mostly respected the wishes of Martha (who wants nothing to do with the company or pro wrestling as a whole): unlike the rampant exploitation of Eddie Guerrero's name and likeness or the Unpersoning of Chris Benoitnote , WWE uses footage of Owen on WWE programming/DVDs in sparse amounts (mostly limited to Hart Family-centric DVDs or events he happened to wrestle on).
Owen Hart will always be remembered as a loving family man, a great all-around wrestler/performer, and one of the funniest people to ever work in the wrestling business.
"THESE ARE TWO-TIME SLAMMY-AWARD WINNING TROPES! THEY ARE WINNERS! WHOO!":
- Annoying Younger Sibling: To Bret Hart during Owen's heel run in the mid-90s.
- Arch-Enemy: Bret, the Smokin' Gunns, Shawn Michaels, HHH, Ken Shamrock, "Stone Cold" Steve Austin
- Badass Family: The Harts, one of the wrestling families, no less.
- Bash Brothers:
- Was this with British Bulldog in the ring and real life. The two formed one of the best tag-teams in the mid-90's while also being great pranksters in the locker room.
- Also with Jeff Jarrett. They were travelling partners and close friends years before officially becoming a team.
- Berserk Button:
- Just being made fun of in general; when DeGeneration X was doing a parody of The Nation of Domination, Owen stormed to the ring and beat the guy who was doing an impression of him, a Canadian wrestler named Jason Sensation, to a bloody pulp.note Aside from not being particularly funny (HHH in a segment making fun of the size of someone's nose), Sensation's version didn't even look like Owen, looking more like the love child of Andy Warhol and Adam Bomb.
- He hated being called a "nugget". Coined by Shawn Michaels after Bret Hart, Jim Neidhart and the British Bulldog had left for WCW, and Shawn called him "that one last stinky nugget that just won't go down the commode".
- Borrowed Catchphrase: Back on the July 6, 1996 episode of WWF Action Zone, they asked various Superstars the question, "What's the best thing about America?" Owen put over Canada and added, "USA, *ahh-ptooey!"
- Cain and Abel: With his brother Bret, from turning heel in 1994, to making up with Bret in 1997 (after Bret's heel turn).
- Canada, Eh?: The strongest example against the idea that Canadian wrestlers were just good on the mat but black holes of charisma. Owen was not held up as being one of the most charismatic members of his family but anywhere in professional wrestling world.
- Catchphrase:"Well, ENOUGH IS ENOUGH! AND IT'S TIME FOR A CHANGE!"
- Cool Mask: The Blue Blazer.
- Dead Artists Are Better:
- Owen Hart is more well known in death than he was when he was alive, due to the fact that he has never faded from public memory due to the tragedy of his death.
- He was well known before that for accidentally breaking "Stone Cold" Steve Austin's neck.
- Dirty Coward: His character upon his heel turn was basically the sneakiest, most devious little weasel who would cheat at every opportunity.
- Dude, Where's My Respect?:
- He refused to talk to "Stone Cold" Steve Austin after he broke his neck and stopped his momentum. Even his brother Bret Hart was pissed off at this attitude.
- Enforced after his death, as the WWE wants to tribute properly the guy and induct him in the Hall of Fame, but Owen's widow Martha won't allow him to do so.
- Ermine Cape Effect: After he won the King of the Ring tournament, he came to the ring with the full KOR regalia—a gaudy Ermine Cape, a huge crown, and a scepter.
- Evil Is Hammy: Post-heel turn Owen is a masterclass in being a whiny, obnoxious Heel.
- Fat and Skinny: When he was tagging with Yokozuna. They're the heaviest tag team champions in WWE history...despite the fact that Owen was a cruiserweight (though a borderline one at 227). This is especially impressive when you consider that Kane and The Big Show have both been part of a champion tag team.
- For Want of a Nail: It's under debate what would happen if the WWE granted him his release at the same time than Hart Foundation teammates Jim Neidhart and The British Bulldog.
- It Runs in the Family: He came from a family dedicated to Professional Wrestling like the Harts.
- Large Ham: Owen was not nominated for anything at the 1997 Slammy Awards. After the nominees for "Best Bow Tie", Mr. Bob Backlund, Nation of Domination manager Clarence Mason, and Steven Q. Urkel, (who was, of course, not in attendance), were announced, Owen jumped on stage and named himself the winner."Yes! I did it! I won! I'm a winner- whoo! Bulldog, you might have two titlesnote but you don't have two Slammys... but I do, because I'm a winner- whoo!"
- Lightning Bruiser/Jack-of-All-Stats: A great high-flyer, sensational technical wrestler and a pretty good brawler who could throw out amazing power suplexes. Possibly one of the most well-rounded wrestlers ever.
- Owen could also be an intentionally crappy wrestler whenever he felt like amusing the guys.
- My Death Is Just the Beginning: Owen dying led to WWE becoming safer for performers, changes that gradually led to the PG Era.
- Memetic Mutation: "...and that's why I kicked your leg out of your leg!"
- Never Speak Ill of the Dead: You do not insult Owen Hart. He's on a pedestal only matched by Eddie Guerrero, and fans and wrestlers will lynch you alive if you are stupid enough to do so. And definitely never do it when Scott Hall is around. He will straight up knock you out cold.
- No-Sell: Mick Foley recounts in his first book a particularly hilarious use of this by Owen. While in a tag team against his brother Bret, Owen was put in the Sharpshooter and just laid there, not selling it. Bret cranked it back and Owen still wasn't selling, even mocking how it wasn't hurting him. Eventually, Bret cranks it back one last time and Owen suddenly starts selling it like it's the worst pain in his life. His tag partner, his brother-in-law the British Bulldog, was thoroughly amused as usual.
- He apparently did this to the Rock in a match in Germany during the latter's Rocky Mavia stint. Throughout the match, a 4vs4 tag team match featuring The Undertaker, Bret and the British Bulldog, Owen was the subject of repeated attacks against his leg with him rolling around in pain. Then Rocky comes in and starts kicking away at his leg... with Owen just sitting there with a bored look (he even waves to the audience).
- Stylistic Suck: A very subtle version, going by what Mick Foley wrote in his first book. Mick described a match Owen had with Marc Mero where Mero hit Owen with a shoulder tackle as Owen came off of the ropes, and, instead of taking the standard flat back bump, Owen slowly fell as if he was a tree. He also did a slow, heavy stomp toward Mero into a hiptoss that was more like an ankle roll. Mick wondered if he was having a bad night until he saw Davey Boy Smith cracking up at it, and Mick realized that, while Owen was deliberately stinking up the joint, he was doing it to amuse the other wrestlers, since they were the only ones who would have been able to pick up on it.
- Parts Unknown: Billed from there as the Blue Blazer.
- Power Stable:
- Camp Cornette, with Yokozuna (later replaced by Vader) and the British Bulldog.
- The Hart Foundation of the mid '90s, with the other Harts wrestling with the WWF at the time (Bret, Jim Neidhart, the British Bulldog, and Hart confidant Brian Pillman).
- Was also the Token Minority in The Nation of Domination for a time.
- The Prankster: Owen was famous among wrestlers for being one of the best at practical jokes.
- Real Men Wear Pink
- Red Baron: "The Rocket," "The Avenger," "The King of Harts," "The Two-Time Slammy-Award Winning," "The Blackhart".
- Sibling Rivalry: In kayfabe Owen strove to get out of his brother's shadow and make a name for himself, which led to the two becoming rivals.
- Small Role, Big Impact: Owen originally joined The Nation to gain backup in his war against D-Generation X. This would eventually lead to one of the greatest feuds in WWE history between The Rock and Triple H.
- Squash Match: Defeated Skinner (Steve Keirn) in 1:11 at WrestleMania VIII.
- Tag Team:
- Token White: During Owen's stint in the Nation; he was the only white guy in a stable where everyone else (The Rock, D'Lo Brown, Kama Mustafa, and Mark Henry) were angry black men.
- Too Good for This Sinful Earth: He and Eddie Guerrero are the two foremost examples of this trope in wrestling.
- Trickster Archetype: According to everyone who knew him, Owen was this backstage.
- Unsportsmanlike Gloating: Whenever the topic of his Slammys came up in a conversation, which was usually at his own accord.
- Unperson: The WWE has had more or less no choice but to avoid bringing him up as much as possible. Not for the same reason as Chris Benoit, obviously, but due to his family filing a lawsuit against the company, prohibiting them from using his likeness in any form of media (except for any videos he appears in on the Network), he's sadly become this.
- Verbal Tic: "Whoo!"
- Villainous Breakdown: His catchphrase was coined after having one at Unforgiven 1998, when he was cheated by Triple H and Chyna one too many times, even saying he was "sick of this bullshit".
- What the Hell, Hero??: Even Bret has mentioned that Owen should have tried calling Austin after he broke Austin's neck.
- Wrestling Family: One of the many, many Harts involved with wrestling.
- I tried to be a nice guy... I tried to play by the rules...
You turned your backs on me!
I snapped. I was a victim! Well, ENOUGH! IS ENOUGH!