On Tuesday night, the second season of Dark Side of the Ring came to its conclusion with a powerful finale on the final days of Owen Hart. Controversy over Owen Hart’s legacy and how it should best be remembered has been an active debate ever since the popular WWE Superstar tragically fell to his death in Kansas City in 1999. For two decades, fans around the world have pleaded with Owen’s immediate family, particularly his widow Dr. Martha Hart, about letting the WWE induct Owen Hart in its WWF Hall of Fame. But after the finale of Dark Side of the Ring, many fans who had previously been on the opposite side of the argument immediately became sympathizers with Marth Hart and her and Owen’s two children, Oje and Athena, after finally hearing all three talk of their loss and wishes for Owen’s legacy. And those wishes continue to include the decision that they will not allow the WWE to profit over Owen Hart’s name by inducting him into their Hall of Fame.
Respecting those wishes, now more clear than ever why Owen’s surviving family has no desire to work with WWE to preserve or maintain Owen Hart’s legacy, there are still many ways in which fans, old and new alike, can keep Owen Hart’s spirit alive, as a pro wrestler and as the kind and generous human being that he was throughout his life. And despite recent comments from WWE Attorney Jerry McDevitt to CBS Sports that Dr. Martha Hart “just wanted to use [Owen’s death] as a vehicle to beat up a business that she didn’t like that her husband was in, the wrestling business”, there is plenty of evidence to the contrary.
George Tragos/Lou Thesz Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame
Located in Waterloo, Iowa, the George Tragos/Lou Thesz Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame was founded in 1999 by co-founder and former NWA World’s Heavyweight Champion Lou Thesz and named in his honor (as well as his own trainer, George Tragos). According to the Hall of Fame’s mission statement, it is a “private nonprofit institution whose mission is to honor the sport of wrestling by preserving its history, recognizing extraordinary individual achievements, and inspiring future generations.” Unlike the WWE Hall of Fame, this is a physical building that allows fans to enter. In 2018, Owen Hart was inducted into the Tragos/Thesz Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame, with his family present, including Martha Hart.
Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame & Museum
Located in Wichita Falls, Texas, the Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame & Museum was also founded in 1999, by Tony Vellano, and continues to induct stars from promotions around the world into its shrine, which also has a physical building and museum for the industry’s history throughout the ages. In 2019, Owen Hart was inducted into the PWHF as a Modern Era inductee. With two recent inductions into physical pro wrestling Hall of Fames in the past year, both authorized and approved by Owen’s family, it’s clear that Martha Hart has no intention of erasing Owen’s memory from pro wrestling history.
The Owen Hart Foundation
One of the things Dr. Martha Hart mentioned in the Dark Side of the Ring episode was the Owen Hart Foundation. This charitable foundation was created in 2000 and for 20 years has helped those less fortunate around the world, as well as in Owen Hart’s own community of Calgary, Alberta, Canada. It has become an international symbol of Owen’s real-life generosity as a human being. Legendary comedian Jerry Seinfeld was the special guest at the Foundation’s 20th Anniversary fundraiser, adding star power to the cause.
His First Official T-Shirts Since WWE
In conjunction with the Dark Side of the Ring producers and Pro Wrestling Tees, the Owen Hart Foundation has also announced the release of two new official Owen Hart T-Shirts, with all proceeds going to the Owen Hart Foundation.
The WWE Network & NJPW World
While WWE may never get the chance to induct Owen Hart into its own WWE Hall of Fame, the bulk of Owen’s wrestling career is still available to watch on two networks. His entire WWE career is still available to search on the WWE Network and his early days with New Japan Pro Wrestling can be found on NJPW World.
So while many WWE fans – and fans of Owen Hart – may continue to decry Martha Hart’s decision to keep her late husband away from the WWE Hall of Fame, keep in mind that she is not trying to erase Owen Hart from the minds and hearts of his fans. There are two very real wrestling halls of fame that have inducted Owen in the past three years that have physical buildings that you can plan trips around that don’t involve having to go to WrestleMania. And in the end, its up to us the fans to keep Owen Hart’s legacy as a pro wrestler alive, through conversation, dialogue, and exposing new fans to his body of work, a power that the fans hold that no on-line photograph in a Hall-less Hall of Fame on the WWE’s website will ever be able to replicate.
Stay tuned to the Last Word on Pro Wrestling for more on this and other stories from around the world of wrestling, as they develop. You can always count on LWOPW to be on top of the major news in the wrestling world, as well as to provide you with analysis, previews, videos, interviews, and editorials on the wrestling world.