Doctor Martha Hart sat down with Justin Barrasso from Sports Illlustrated to discuss her late husband Owen Hart in preparation for this week’s series finale of Dark Side of the Ring. The episode will cover the tragic fall and death of Owen at the 1999 Over The Edge pay per view. Highlights from the interview are below.
Vowing that Owen will never be in the WWE Hall of Fame:
I’d never want him recognized by a company responsible for his death and that has been so disrespectful to his family No, never.
On Owen loving his fans:
Owen really loved his fans. He loved his fans more than the people he worked for, and he spent a lot of quality time with his fans. It wasn’t an ‘us and them’ mentality. He enjoyed getting to know them as people.
Being pleased with the Dark Side of the Ring episode on Owen:
I am very pleased with the Dark Side of the Ring episode on Owen’s final days. They did an exceptional job telling the story, and it’s actually the story I hoped would be told. The episode is only 44 minutes and there is so much more to cover. Overall, they could not have done a better job.
How everything about Owen’s rigging setup was wrong during the incident:
Everything was wrong, nothing was done properly. In our lawsuit, we had every single top rigger in the business give us deposition and they all said how egregious and negligent the set-up was and how inappropriate the equipment was. The clip was meant for the sole use of sailboats. The whole design of it is to release on load, so they used the worst equipment and there was no redundancy. In the past, the WWE had used quality riggers to rig their stunts. The one they used was Joe Branam, who rigged everybody from Elton John to the Rolling Stones to Robin Williams. He did it the right way and Owen had no control over the stunt.
They didn’t like the way that he was rigging Owen because they wanted him to be able to release [from the harness] when he dropped to the ground, but that isn’t possible when it’s done the right way. Joe Branam said he would not rig Owen that way, so instead they hired this hacker, Bobby Talbert, who had no business rigging anyone. Owen never questioned his safety because he assumed the company wouldn’t put him in harm’s way. And after he died in the ring, they scooped him up and went on with the show. When fans wonder why I don’t want anything to do with this company, hopefully this Dark Side of the Ring episode will answer those questions.
Being involved in multiple lawsuits against WWE:
A lot of people might not realize that the WWE sued me. We were suing them in Missouri [where Owen died] for the wrongful death of Owen, and they sued me for breach of Owen’s contract because it said in Owen’s contract that any lawsuit against them should be in Connecticut. They wanted to get it moved to Connecticut because there are no punitive damages awarded in Connecticut, so they sued me and I actually had to go hire lawyers in Connecticut and fight that lawsuit against them at the same time that I was fighting the wrongful death lawsuit.
When I finished my lawsuit with WWE, I never kept track of wrestling. I didn’t know anything about what was happening, but they were selling merchandise since his death. The only time I became aware of that was after 10 or more years after they put a video out on Owen and his family. My lawyers said there were other videos, too. If they were putting out merchandise, they had to pay royalties, and I’d never received a penny. That was another lawsuit, and they fought me for three years until that case settled.
On the settlement and other members of the Hart family betraying her:
Because of Owen’s family’s interference, everything was such a mess. My lawyers were always sort of bugging me to put [a settlement] number on the table. I always said, ‘No, this isn’t about money,’ but WWE could afford to delay forever. So we put a number on the table, and they had something like 60 days to accept the offer. I got worried that they might accept the offer and the case would settle. Then where was Owen’s justice? I phoned my lawyer in a panic, and she said something to me that was so striking. She said, ‘Martha, in the end, all this case is ever going to amount to is money. No one’s going to jail, no one’s getting convicted.’ I was so deflated that, no matter how it would end, it was only going to be about money.
Since I couldn’t get the justice that I wanted from the legal system, I created my own justice. That’s why I created the Owen Hart Foundation. We created something beautiful with that money. With the betrayal from the Hart family, them working against me, stealing documents, and the WWE suing me, it was such a disaster. This was a good solution to end it and carry on in a positive way.
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***REMINDER*** The season two finale on Owen Hart will premiere tonight (Tuesday, May 19) at 10pm ET on Vice TV. You can see the trailer for the episode below.