Under the Canvas
By Christopher Joesph
Hello and welcome to first ever edition of ‘Under the Canvas’ with me, Christopher. I decided to start our first coloumn with a bang. Surely, you’ve heard of the tradgic death of Owen Hart. And, you’ve heard how he died in the middle of the ring. Which left us all wondering why the show went on..
Let’s start from the very begining, Owen, or at that time ‘The Blazer’, was scheduled for an Intercontinental Championship match against The Godfather, with the Blazer’s new ‘buffoonish superhero’ persona, he was to begin a dramatic enterance, being lowered with a harness and grappline from the rafters nearly 80ft down to the ring. But that one night, during the Over the Edge pay-per-view in Kansas city, Missiouri, a techincall defficlultie went devistantingly wrong.
Hart had performed the stunt only a few times before and was worried about performing the stunt at Kemper due to the height involved. He should have listened to his gut and not done the extremely dangerous stunt. He fell 78ft from the rafters onto the turnbuckle. The tragidy was not shown on PPV broadcast, the monitors darkened the arena. Medical personal quickly atteneted to Owen. Meanwhile, WWF television announcer Jim Ross repeatedly told those watching live on pay-per-view that what had just transpired was not a wrestling angle or storyline and that Hart was hurt badly.
The WWF mamagment controversially chose to continue the event. Later that night, Jim Ross the death of Owen Hart to the home viewers, but not to the thousands in attendance. The show went on, but was never commercially released by WWF home video. In the weeks following, much attention was focused on the harness Hart used that night, especially on the “quick release” trigger and safety latches. When someone is lowered from the rafters in a harness, there are backup latches that must be latched for safety purposes. These backups may take some time to unlatch, which would have made Hart’s stunt difficult to perform smoothly. Therefore, it was apparently decided that it was more important not to have the safety backups, because it would be easier for Hart to unlatch himself.
Three weeks after the event, the Hart family sued the WWF over how dangerous and poorly planned the stunt was, and that the harness system was defective. Which was extremely sensible due to the carelessness that night on the WWF’s part. A year later the Hart family received $18 million dollars. Following that, the WWF managment planned a ‘RAW is Owen’ special. Which was an emotional-filled night fully intribute to Owen Hart. Surprisingly, all the matches were with no angles. Which one of the most memorable nights, in my opinion, being all the superstars were involved, the emotion that night from both the athletes, executives & fans shook the ring.
Even though, all the disagreements are settled now, personally, I still wonder why the WWF/WWE decided to continue that night. I mean, you’d figure after an 78ft fall an average person would pass away. I don’t care how sick this sounds, I believe the only reason it wasn’t officially released by the WWF was to avoid further lawsuits. Which leaves me to the question I asked at first.. Is showbiz that important?
Thank you for reading my debut article, Chris.