WWE Owen Hart: A Day of Remembrance for One of the Greats

Kevin BergeFeatured ColumnistMay 7, 2012

Image Courtesy of: wrestlescoop.com
Image Courtesy of: wrestlescoop.com

Owen Hart. A name that lives on in WWE legend for many reasons.

He was a bold talent, great in the ring, good on the mic, and had the undefined star quality of a top star. He also had his last name, Hart, as both a hindrance and a help.

But above all that he will be remembered for May 23, 1999. That fateful day on which Owen would unintentionally trigger an early release of a harness that was lowering down to the ring for an elaborate entrance as the Blue Blazer.

Owen would fall 78 feet landing chest-first on the top rope before falling into the ring. The impact would cause him serious injuries from internal bleeding coming from a severed aorta. He would die that same day.

But I am not writing this on the anniversary of Owen's death but rather on his birthday. I don't want to remember Owen just as the man who fell to his death before a wrestling match, and I don't want others to remember him as such either.

Owen was the younger brother of one of the greatest wrestlers in WWE history, Bret Hart. Owen debuted in the WWF in 1988 under the Blue Blazer gimmick but lasted less than a year before departing.

When he finally came back in 1991, he was entering a landscape that his brother had been competing in for seven years already. As is an unfortunate truth in all of life, it is extremely difficult to escape a sibling's shadow. With Owen, it was especially hard since Bret would become WWF Champion around the time Owen first started in the company.

While Owen never quite distanced himself from his big brother's legacy, his natural talent would lead him to many successes. In fact, Owen achieved almost every honor in the WWF except becoming the World Champion.

He was a two-time Intercontinental Champion, a four-time World Tag Team Champion, once the European Champion, and even won the King of the Ring tournament. Even so, he was never allowed to take that final step and become the man in the WWF.

As a Hart, Owen was simply one of the best wrestlers on the roster, bringing a varied style that was much more flamboyant than his brother's with more high-flying than pure technical style. That said, as he proved in his matches against many, he could grapple with the best of them.

Owen's matches are not all remembered as well as they should be especially since he was given so little time to truly get to his prime. Even so, his matches with his brother Bret both at WrestleMania X and Summerslam 1994 were two contests that live as true embodiments of what Owen could do at his best.

Owen's career was a wild ride. Filled with ups and downs as he found himself as close as he possibly could be to the top of the company and still never quite made it. His mic skills and charisma something his brother Bret always fought to fully bring together came much more naturally to Owen who by the end of his run was entertaining regardless of what he was doing.

His run as a wrestler took a dangerous turn though when he would botch a piledriver in a match against Stone Cold Steve Austin, leaving Austin seriously injured. The injury coupled together with a WWF storyline one year later where an ashamed Owen quit the company only to come back as the Blue Blazer.

If the WWF had never done this storyline, there is very little doubt in my mind that Owen would have found his way to a World Championship. At only 34 when he died, Owen was about at his prime physically and as a performer.

One mistake extrapolated into one storyline decision lead to the end of one of the greatest wrestlers that WWE never quite got to fully experience. Owen was a star, and now he is a legend.

Thank you, Owen! Thank you for all you did for this company and the lasting legacy you left as a true performer. Thank you for all of it, Owen, and happy birthday!

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