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  May 29, 1999

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No respect by WWF after Hart's death

By GLENN COLE -- Toronto Sun
  Owen Hart had all his priorities straight.
 He was a good family man, first and foremost. He loved being around people and had the knack of making them feel good.
 Bright and witty, able to keep his ego under wraps, Hart was respected deeply and obviously well appreciated by his fellow workers.
 And as fellow wrestler Jeff Jarrett said, Hart was a man of integrity in a business that has no integrity. We saw evidence of the latter in the moments and days after Hart, wearing the Blue Blazer costume he detested, plummeted nine storeys to his death on Sunday night in Kansas City. Hart apparently died instantly when his chin and chest hit the turnbuckle at ringside. Knowing he was dead, the World Wrestling Federation show went on -- just like the circus goes on when a lion or tiger dies, and that is unacceptable.
 Even cold-hearted, money-grubbing baseball postponed a game in Cincinnati a few years back when umpire John McSherry collapsed and died of a massive heart attack.
 And while the taped tributes to Hart the following night in St. Louis were a nice touch during a show that was dubbed a celebration of Hart's life, couldn't the WWF have cancelled the live event, put together a two-hour taped package featuring Hart's career highlights and televised that instead?
 Of course it could have, but there were 19,000 seats sold at the Kiel Center and money to be made from T-shirts and foam fingers. And, lest we forget, there were TV ratings to worry about.
 Then again, maybe there have been discussions about assembling an Owen Hart highlights video. Only $19.95, coming to a video store near you. Can you say cha-ching?
 At least WWF Canada had the class to postpone the scheduled shows for Winnipeg, Hamilton, Montreal and Ottawa this week. Had the shows been in the U.S., who knows? In a recent interview with Dan Ralph of The Canadian Press, Steve Lucescu, a veteran movie stunt man, indicated there was no way Hart should have been in the position he was Sunday night.
 "He got into the business to wrestle, not to dangle 100 feet off the ground," Lucescu said. "I read that he had done this stunt several times, but it's absolutely ridiculous to think that just because he did it several times he was qualified to do it. You might be a stunt performer for 10 years before you even get the chance of doing a big fall like this."
 The police know the safety harness Hart was wearing came loose, causing the fall. What they don't know is how it came loose, and they may never know. The bottom line is a good man is dead.
 Neither the anti-wrestling soap boxers, who used Hart's death to relaunch their stale tirades, nor the so-called wrestling "smarts," with their various conspiracy theories, can undo the first death of a wrestling performer in a ring in 30 years.
 It is sickening to think there are people who have profited directly from Hart's death and others (read lawyers) who will. While Owen's widow, Martha, hasn't indicated she will sue, no doubt there will be pressure to do so. Right now, she is too busy trying to comfort her seven-year-old son, Oje, and her three-year-old daughter, Athena. And Martha also is preparing for Monday morning, the day the final and true celebration of Owen Hart's life will be held in Calgary.
 It was a life that ended too soon.

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