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Owen Hart's death rocks wrestling world

By TIM BAINES -- Ottawa Sun
  Owen Hart had been bodyslammed through tables, had folding chairs slammed over his head, he'd spurted blood after being struck by an assortment of foreign objects and he'd been kicked in the groin ... all too often.
 That's what made his death so stunning Sunday night at the World Wrestling Federation's Over the Edge pay-per-view.
 It had to be another gimmick, another angle in the ongoing soap opera.
 The words from announcer Jim Ross, so sombre, were a prelude to the horror that would set in for the thousands and thousands of viewers watching.
 "Something went terribly wrong," said Ross.
 "This was not a wrestling angle, not part of the entertainment."
 And with those words, wrestling stopped being about elbow smashes and pinfalls, it transcended heroes and heels, it became real life.
 All too real. It became about life and death.
 And today we're left without Owen Hart, who died in a wrestling ring, not because of a sleeper hold, not because of his leg being twisted into a pretzel.
 He died because of an error, whose mistake it was is not yet known. Hart, wrestling as the Blue Blazer, was to be lowered to the ring by a cable and harness.
 Something wasn't right. As many of the wrestling fans in Kansas City's Kemper Arena were watching a pre-fight promo with Owen on the big screen, the wrestler plummeted to the ring, bouncing off the ropes in some accounts, off the turnbuckle in others.
 Either way, he was quickly dead.
 Many spectators thought the lifeless figure in front of them was some sort of mannequin, maybe a practice run for the routine that was to follow.
 But this was no dry run.
 Many are questioning why the wrestling show was allowed to continue after Hart plummeted to his death.
 Several of the performers were obviously in shock, some were in tears. It was a tough call, a decision made by WWF boss Vince McMahon. In retrospect, it should have been stopped, not only out of respect for Hart, who had been so senselessly killed, but for the other wrestlers, forced to carry on.
 The family of Owen Hart believes the accident was part of wrestling's obsession with ratings, the need to be No. 1.
 There's little arguing that the storylines have become bogged down with sex, violence and shock value.
 Wrestling will carry on, likely in much the same manner.
 Wrestlers will tumble off cages. They'll plunge through tables. They'll be buried alive, only to re-emerge the following week no worse for wear.
 Wrestling's females will continue to wear as little as possible.
 After Owen Hart is buried, the sleaze that has become wrestling will go on. And the fans will cheer, once again.

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