I love wrestling. You guys know I've covered Wrestlemania with our wrestling guys and occasionally I've written about wrestling, but tonight, man, I've got one you need to read/listen/watch/. Anyone who is even a casual wrestling fan is likely aware of Owen Hart's death in the ring at the Over The Edge pay per view in 1999. This week Vice TV did a special on Owen Hart and his death on their series "The Dark Side of the Ring" and it was riveting.
Briefly, and cleanly, Owen Hart fell from the catwalk of an arena in St Louis during a WWE pay per view and ultimately died from the injuries sustained in that fall. For years and years after there was debate about whether WWE was right to continue the show they way they did after the accident. There was debate about whether Martha Hart had misplaced blame for the death of her husband. There were questions about whether she was right for not giving WWE permission to induct Owen into the Hall of Fame. This show does a lot to answer those questions.
There are no graphic images in this show. There are no photos that will make you squirm. What there are, however, is conversations with Martha, Owen's son Oje, his daugher Athena, and Jim Ross. Those conversations are enough to lead me to believe that what the WWE did that night was wrong on so many levels. Their culpability was ultimately decided in an $18 million settlement according to the show. When you look at the hook used to release Owen, compared to the locking carabiner usually used, you can see why.
The shocking thing to me is the continuation of the show that night in St. Louis. For years the argument has been well, we didn't know what to do. Some have argued, Owen would have wanted the show to go on. After watching this, in my view the best episode of this series, I think the answer is simple. It was a potential crime scene. The police probably should have shut this thing down. If they didn't it then goes to Vince McMahon and the company. Co-workers had just witnessed their friend die in a ring that bore his blood and an indentation from his body. How on Earth could you expect them to then go out and participate in a show with that knowledge? It is mind blowing to me.
The Hall of Fame question has been raised about Owen Hart many times over the years. He is certainly worthy based on his in ring work. I believe WWE has wanted to induct him over the years and Martha Hart has said no. Now that reason is crystal clear. She said at the conclusion of the episode that she will not allow the company who's negligence in her mind caused his death, to honor him and profit off him. Further, his son Oje has said he does not want that to happen either. These are not bitter people. Watch the documentary for yourself. It is hard not to agree with their points of view on one of the very darkest days in professional wrestling history.