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Owen didn't die due to a heart problem likely brought on by the excessive steroid abuse; he didn't overdose on the popular combination of alcohol and pain pills; he didn't die by any fault of his own. Owen James Hart died because he was a company man, a pawn in a ratings battle that had already been over for a long time.
RD Reynolds, The Death of WCW

Well ENOUGH! IS ENOUGH! And it's time for a CHANGE!
Owen Hart's Catch Phrase

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 Tag Team Championships, won two Slammy Awards (one of his trademark accomplishments), and was the 1994 King of the Ring. 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 May 23, 1999 at the WWE pay-per-view Over the Edge. At the time, Owen was in his Blue Blazer gimmick - the Blue Blazer being a pastiche of superhero-type wrestlers - and at Over the Edge, his entrance was to involve rappelling down from the rafters to a few feet above the ring, then end up falling on his face as he released himself from the harness. Unfortunately, the harness holding Owen malfunctioned, and he fell down into the ring, hitting his chest on the turnbuckle. He was declared dead just minutes later, after being carried out of the ring.

Over the Edge continued after Owen's death, with legendary WWE 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. Over the Edge has never been released on home video in any format, and the event name was retired after that show. The next night, Raw is War held a special tribute show that came to be known as Raw is Owen - the WWF tossed out angles and feuds for a single night and allowed wrestlers to compete in matches to honor Owen, while wrestlers and other WWF personalities 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.) 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 in late 1997) wrestled in a tribute match against Chris Benoit, who Bret had handpicked to be his opponent that night.

Owen's widow, Martha, and the rest of the Hart family sued WWE due to the accident, and eventually, WWE settled for $18 million (which was distributed amongst the Hart family members). Recently, due to footage of Owen being used in WWE DVDs (specifically, a 2010 DVD set centered around the Hart family), Martha has filed another lawsuit against WWE.

Owen has never been forgotten by the fans: 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 (you can sometimes see "Owen for HOF" signs at WWE events), or both. WWE, to its credit, has mostly respected the wishes of Owen's widow (who wants nothing to do with WWE) - unlike the rampant exploitation of Eddie Guerrero's name and likeness, or the UnPersoning that Chris Benoit got following his death, WWE has only sparingly used footage of Owen on WWE programming/DVDs, such as Royal Rumbles and Wrestlemanias he just happened to have matches in. Owen will always be remembered as a loving family man, a great all-around wrestler/performer, and one of the funniest people in the wrestling business.

Tropes associated with Owen Hart include:

  • Annoying Younger Sibling: To Bret Hart during Owen's heel run in the mid-90s.
  • Badass Family
  • 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.
  • Berserk Button: 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".
    • Just being made fun of in general; when D Generation 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 to a bloody pulp.
  • Cain and Abel: With his brother Bret, from turning heel in 1994, to making up with Bret in 1997 (after Bret's heel turn).
  • Cool Mask: The Blue Blazer.
  • Dirty Coward: His character upon his heel turn was basically the sneakiest, most devious little weasel who would cheat at every opportunity.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • It Runs in The Family: Well, duh.
  • Lightning Bruiser / The Mario: 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.
  • Mean Character, Nice Actor
  • Memetic Mutation: "...and that's why I kicked your leg out of your leg!"
  • 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 Dwayne Johnson 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).
  • Power Stable: Part of 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 in the Nation of Domination for a time.
  • Red Baron: The Blackhart.
  • Real Men Wear Pink
  • 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.
  • Token White: During Owen's stint in the Nation; he was the only white guy in a stable where everyone else was an Angry Black Man.
  • The Jimmy Hart Version: His 'Hi-Energy' theme which he used for many years sounds a bit like "Girls Just Want To Have Fun". It's really just an instrumental re-edit of "I Want To Be A Hulkamaniac"
  • Trickster Archetype: According to everyone who knew him, Owen was this backstage.
  • 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 Could Have Been: Owen was slated to win the Intercontinental Championship the night that he died. Triple H has gone on to claim in interviews that the gimmick of "The Game" was originally going to be Owen's.
    • During his feud with Bret, Owen was booked to win the world title off his brother before that was canceled.
      • In his first book Chris Jericho mentions that Owen was one of the main reasons he became a wrestler and wanted little else but to be one-part of the Tag-Team Champions with Owen. But, Owen died after Jericho had signed with the WWF/E, but before he had made his debut.
  • 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.