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  May 31, 1999

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Hulkster's plea
Hogan holds hope as wrestlers gather for final farewell

  One of wrestling's biggest superstars hopes the sport comes to its senses following the tragic death of Owen Hart.
 World Championship Wrestling's Hulk Hogan, arriving yesterday afternoon in Calgary for Hart's funeral, said he hopes things will change in the wrestling world.
 "Hopefully something good will happen," said Hogan as he got off a plane. "Wrestling's gotten ... way too over the top."
 Hart, 34, a.k.a. The Blue Blazer, plunged nine storeys onto a wrestling ring during a stunt last week in Kansas City, Mo.
 The husband and father of two young children was instantly killed.
 The World Wrestling Federation is noted for its scantily clad girls, soap-opera story lines and high-flying athletes.
 "(WCW owner) Ted Turner won't let us do all the crotch grabbing stuff," said Hogan, who has known Hart for 15 years.
 Hogan said his prayers are extended to the Hart family in their time of mourning, and the huge wrestler also had a message for WWF owner Vince McMahon, also expected at the funeral today.
 "I hope he learns a lesson from this horrible accident," Hogan said.
 "He (McMahon) has a good heart -- I hope he follows his heart."
 The Hart household was filled with well-wishers yesterday as wrestlers arrived for what could be Calgary's largest funeral ever.
 Billy Gunn, Road Dogg Jesse James, The Rock, Stone Cold Steve Austin, Jeff Jarrett, and scores of other wrestlers will all be on hand when Owen Hart's body is laid to rest this morning.
 As will Premier Ralph Klein, Mayor Al Duerr, country singer Collin Raye, who will sing inside the chapel, and many other celebrities and dignitaries.
 "He's going to be missed by so many people," Ross Hart said of his younger brother.
 "We didn't realize so many knew and loved Owen."
 Hart's WWF tag-team partner, Jeff Jarrett, had only praise for his friend.
 "When I think about Owen's life," said a sobbing Jarrett.
 "I think about integrity -- because in this business it's cold, it's callous, it's selfish, it's self-serving, it's unrealistic, it's a fantasy world. But Owen was real. He was a man's man."
 The open-casket service will be invitation-only because the chapel seats 300 people.
 At 5 ft. 10 ins. weighing 227 lbs., Hart started his professional wrestling career in 1989 with the World Wrestling Federation.
 He was a four-time tag-team champion, two-time intercontinental champion and a European champion.
 Hart's father, Stu, was one of Canada's most influential wrestling icons.
 He wrestled for Canada in the Olympics in the 1940s and later promoted the sport by packing small-town prairie arenas with tough, spirited crowds.
 Kansas City police say they may never know what caused the wrestler's fatal plunge, but believe it was an accident.
 Most of the investigation is wrapped up. Police say Hart likely inadvertently unhooked a harness attached to a cable as he was being lowered from the rafters of the Kemper Arena.
 The harness is being tested to find out how much force is necessary to activate its quick release and to determine its maximum weight capacity, said Sgt. Floyd Mitchell.
 The six remaining Hart brothers -- Keith, Ross, Wayne, Bruce, Smith and Bret (Hitman) -- will be pallbearers at today's funeral, which starts at 11 a.m.

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