Wrestling fans that grew up in the eighties and nineties will testify that there are certain memories that will always stand out. Moments in history that you know you will never forget, whether it was Hogan slamming Andre, the debut of The Undertaker or The Montreal Screwjob there dos certainly no shortage of highlights. However for many like me, there is one tragic memory that will always be with me and that is the untimely death of Owen Hart.
I remember waking up for school and I hadn’t switched on the TV yet, my Mum came running into my room and said a wrestler had died. Given that this was and is a fairly regular occurrence with wrestlers from that era I wondered who it was and why on earth my Mum knew about it. Turns out it was on national news in the UK and straight away I knew that something major must have happened. It wasn’t another Brian Pillman or Yokozuna but this was a genuinely tragic accident that was totally unexpected. When I learned it was “The Blue Blazer” Owen Hart I was taken aback and genuinely upset. Owen embodied a blend of my favourite styles in wrestling, I have always loved watching the great technical wrestlers and also the daring high flyers. Owen was a perfect hybrid of the two styles and was a mainstream innovator destined for greatness.
When the opportunity came up to review Hart of Gold I jumped at the chance to get a look at the new DVD released by WWE to look back at the life of Owen and listen to a lot of the backstage stories you wouldn’t normally hear.
Disc One is roughly an hour long of interviews and clips of Owens career, there’s various anecdotes from legendary wrestlers who worked with him as he began to build his career as well as from up and comers in the WWE like Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn who detail the influence Owen had on them growing up as youngsters in Canada. It’s not just the usual backstory you get but also all the road stories and what Owen was like outside the ring and you really get a feel for the impact he had on those around him. There are some great tales about practical jokes he carried out on the likes of Hacksaw Jim Duggan to the origin of his Slammy Award obsession and embracing “The Nugget”
Disc Two continues the interviews before moving into matches from early in Owens career with Stampede Wrestling and WCW. As well as a few hidden gems there are also some of his classic matches for the early 90’s including his matches with his brother Bret at Wrestlemania and their lumberjack match as well as the King of the Ring final with Razor Ramon and other encounters with Shawn Michaels and Mr Perfect.
These matches really do highlight Owens ability, what you need to remember is that these were the days before the internet took over, most of the wrestling you would get to see in this era was always big guys, your Hogans, Undertakers, Ultimate Warriors, the push was always on the big scary monsters. We had nothing to compare it to, Lucha Libre was unheard of to many kids of the early 90’s so whe Owen comes out and showcases what he can do in matches from the late 80’s that would still be relevant in the ring just now you can really see what a pioneer he was.
Disc 3 picks up from 1995 onwards and is back to back matches mainly from pay per views leading up to the birth of the Attitude Era. Many well known classics such as the Canadian Stampede 5v5 match, European Title matches against the British Bulldog and Golddust as well as an Intercontinental Title match against a young Rocky Maivia from 1997. Fittingly the last match is against fellow Canadian Edge at the Breakdown PPV who was in his debut year with WWE where Owen put on a technical clinic with the youngster. Watching the encounter you can clearly see Owen controlling the match and guiding Edge from spot to spot and this will have no doubt played a role towards the development of Edge, who himself went on to have a stellar career within the WWE and became one of the companies most prized assets for over ten years. It would have been easy for someone of Owens experience to take advantage of someone as “green” as Edge, it’s obvious at certain points in the match Edge is still a little off the pace but Owen gives the rookie ample opportunity to display his potential.
Overall this is simply a must have for any wrestling fan, whether you have spent the last 30 years watching wrestling or are a youngster who never got to experience the career of Owen first hand. It has most of the major PPV matches for his career and a few well hidden treasures from early on that make a perfect addition to any collection. It is a fitting tribute to one of my favourite superstars of all time, The King of Harts, The Black Hart, The Rocket, The Blue Blazer, The Nugget, the one and only Owen Hart.
Wrestling, Documentary | USA, 2015 | 15 | Fremantlemedia International | Buy:WWE: Owen – Hart Of Gold [DVD]