Martha Hart vs. The Wrestling world: The Owen Hart controversy

I can’t seem to remember when & how the tragic death of Owen Hart can become as controversial as a topic, consider the fact that the accident itself was an unforeseen occurrence that nobody had ever wished for it at all, especially everyone including Vince Russo, Jim Ross, Jeff Jarrett, and the boss himself Vincent Kennedy McMahon, never mind all of the backstage personnel and the office in Stamford, Connecticut, and of course, everyone in the wrestling community including fans, audiences, and the journalists who covered that event. While I am not saying that we shouldn’t grieve for the loss, the real question is how long you would grieve for a person before going to the extremity of utterly disowning the very people whom that individual have supported prior to the passing, such as the case that this article is focused upon regarding to Dr. Martha Hart, PhD., the widow of the late Owen Hart, and his verbal tirade against not only the WWE, for righteously or not, but also the family that had accepted her to the Hart family, and shamelessly quoting Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, the “millions and millions” of Owen Hart fans (myself included), to the point of utterly disown them even though they were the ones who paid for his funeral and other expenses via McMahon’s annual budget.

While I am trying to keep my composure as I compose this article in good intention, her vitriolic tirades against the very fandom that are trying their hardest to convince her that it’s time to move on in life from Owen Hart after almost twenty years. Even I have to do the same when I lost my maternal grandparents from aneurysm in a 14-year span even though the pains of losing them stays with me, there’s still a life and opportunity laying in front through thick and thin. While I stumbled upon many false hopes and desire, I forged ahead rather than becoming another statistic in spite of finding more roadblocks and death traps. Even though I may seem to give up on finding someone special to be my wife, particularly when the one chance that I thought I had captured got the rug yanked away at the bottom of my feet, I still hope that someone else would take a chance on me though I still feel the loss of both the girlfriend and the child that we had borne. Though the yearning for someone with persistent out of wedlock haunts me daily, I am still learning from those mistakes and proceed with extra caution. That’s life in a nutshell.  Alas, I don’t think she has ever received that particular memo …. until now.

Sadly, it seems that Dr. Hart has remained utterly stubborn in taking down the entire pro wrestling with reckless abandon by accusing the industry of “profiteering the deceased”, “purposely targeting her late husband into performing a dangerous stunt with malicious intent”, and steadfast in firm belief that the WWE was responsible for Owen’s death, resulting in not supporting any efforts by the WWE to profit from Owen’s memory.  In addition, she had also claimed that Bret Hart’s comments are disrespectful , reckless, irresponsible, and cruel, as well as  claiming she’s not ““erasing” Owen’s memory by committing her charity work under the banner “Owen Hart Foundation”, and so forth.  In response, Bret Hart, Martha’s “disowned” brother-in-law, stated the following (in which I have decided to put this in its entirety for clarity):

This past week, I have received multiple requests for comment regarding my recent interview on a podcast and the rebuttal made by Dr. Martha Hart. First of all, I want to express my disappointment in both the Calgary Sun and Calgary Herald for running a gossip-style article and making it front page news when there are more pressing issues in the world to highlight. You are better than that. I listened back to the interview in question and I specifically want to address Martha’s comments about my words being ‘cruel, reckless, irresponsible, and hurtful’.

Stampede Wrestling was an institution in the city of Calgary. Wrestling was our family business. My brothers and I either wrestled for my father Stu or worked behind the scenes. Fans packed the Victoria Pavilion every Friday night for decades. Martha has seemed to have forgotten that she attended those same shows before she met Owen. She was, by definition, a wrestling fan. That same group Martha appears to look down upon and ignore.

Earlier this year, Mark Henry took time during his WWE Hall of Fame induction to specifically address Martha. With tears in his eyes, Henry pleaded with her to allow Owen to be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame. My nieces and nephews were in the audience with tears in their eyes as he expressed how much he deserved for be there with his peers. Fans have told me they had tears in their eyes when they watched the moment on television. Those same fans Martha sat side-by-side with at Stampede Wrestling and WWE events. Those same fans that donate to the Owen Hart Foundation and helped make it what it is today because they remember the joy he brought to their lives and not by how he died. Those royalty checks she receives from the company she says she doesn’t want any part of? Those are also from those same fans. To her, their tears do not matter. To me, that is cruel and hurtful.

It is true that Martha and I were close at one time. I was right by her side after Owen’s death until she received her settlement from WWE and proclaimed me a ‘pest’. Martha later declared herself and her children Harts in name only, called us all ‘black sheep’, and ceased contact with the rest of the Hart family. She further isolated from us when we all came together in 2010 to honour our father Stu being inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame and participated in a DVD that celebrated our family (Hart & Soul). Owen’s children do not have a relationship with his brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, and cousins. One of my nieces, in fact, named her son Owen after him. I do not know Oje and I wouldn’t know Athena if she walked passed me on the street. Owen’s children only know of their father’s family by what is told by their mother, whatever that may be, painting us all with one broad brush. To block Owen’s children from knowing their father’s family, to me, is cruel, reckless, and irresponsible.

Owen’s tragic accident almost 20 years ago changed our family forever. Martha lost her soulmate and her children lost their father. You have to remember, however, that I also lost my brother. My children lost their uncle. My grandchildren will only know him through pictures and stories. His peers lost a close friend who filled them with endless laughter through long periods on the road. The fans lost someone that they lovingly connected to. Martha is not alone in her loss and grief.

The Owen Hart Foundation is a wonderful charity that has raised millions of dollars and has helped many people in its 19 year history. I am not disputing or denying that whatsoever. I disagree, however, that it should be the sole outlet to remember Owen by. This is not just about Owen being inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame. This is about his wrestling career, his wrestling legacy, his contribution to the business that he loved and honouring that contribution. Owen Hart was a world-renowned professional wrester, and a damn good one. He was part of the foundation that our family name was built on not just in the city of Calgary but all over the world. For Martha to want to rewrite history, to refuse to acknowledge or recognize his great wrestling career, to brush off what he, myself, and my father did as ‘that fake stuff’ is wrong.

Owen Hart was a wrestler. The next generation deserve to know how great he truly was.

I am happy to hear that my brother Owen will be inducted into the George Tragos/Lou Thesz Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame on July 28 in Waterloo, Iowa. My father and I are past honourees. While I will not be in attendance, the Hart family will be well-represented with my brothers Ross, Bruce, Keith, sister Diana, and my nephew Harry Smith accepting the honour on his behalf. Thank you to the Board of Directors for recognizing his wrestling career, his contributions to the wrestling business, and his legacy. I’m sure the event will be filled with laughter, tears, and an overall appreciation for the man that he was. I can only hope that this is only the beginning.

Bret Hart”

I have been stating for years with regards to Martha’s “well-intention” in forming the Owen Hart Foundation to honor her late husband’s name versus the reality of her perception towards the pro wrestling/sports entertainment industry and its community as the “culprit” of Owen’s untimely demise is too wide apart.  Rather than collaberating towards safer conditions during the presentation for future events, she remains steadfast by total disassemblement of WWE, if not the entire industry AND fandom alike.  Instead of reconnecting with the fandom and celebrating the life and times of Owen Hart by inducting him into the WWE or any other Hall of Fames, she has kept everyone including WWE and the fandom from doing so in public display with appreciation by declaring war with all of them.  Rather than reconciling the difference within family in order to move forward in their daily lives, she essentially “disowns” the entire Hart family from ever letting her children to interact with their uncles, aunts, nieces and nephews.  That’s all she has been unequivocally telling everyone to (excuse my language) f**k off for the last 19 years, even to those who have pouring their hearts out and pleading with her such as Mark Henry during part of his HOF speech.  My fear is that her obsession of taking down the WWE might end up spread to the notion of taking down the entire industry, if not stirring even more verbal jousting between the fallen fandom and her ego.

Before I get to my conclusion, I would like to point out in which I sincerely hope that Martha should consider before claiming Vince McMahon a “coward” in regards to some of the stunts that occurred under his watch, a few examples that came to mind about this including the Shawn Michaels flying across the arena at Wrestlemania 12, in which Vince McMahon risked himself during the pre-event setup by doing the exact same thing before Michaels did his; another one involved his crash into the announcing table during his match with “Stone Cold” Steve Austin at St. Valentine’s Day Massacre in Febrary 1999, which McMahon opted to risk his health by letting Austin bounced his head into the bar cage and obliterated it, all because he simply wanted to make that performance memorable for all to see; there’s also the infamous “Vince McMahon Kiss My @$$ Club and the beatdown he took at the hands of the Undertaker at Survivor Series 2003.  Things like that McMahon opted to do it himself even if it means to risk injuring himself.  Therefore, I would like to convey a message that a former churchmate once emailed me years ago for Martha, in which I hope she would take this to heart someday and go forward with her lives along with her children:

Don’t look back and grieve over the past; it is gone!  Instead, get ready to receive all the treasures God had prepared for you.  God has prepared a path for everyone to follow.  As long as we put our faith in Him, he will guide us and give us what we need.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old one is gone, the new has come!”  2 Corinthians 5:17

In conclusion, please feel free to forward this article to Martha Hart and the Owen Hart Foundation if you are brave enough, as I have experienced many, many losses in my own lifetime and have been struggling to let things go.  Hope this article breaks the ice cap and face the future, regardless how treacherous it may be, and I sincerely pray that she’s not turning her children and herself into a version of Amish community per sé.

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