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  May 26, 1999

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Mat Matters Editorial: Goodbye, King Of Harts

Mat Matters

Informative views and insights on the wrestling world from SLAM! Sports.

By JOHN POWELL -- SLAM! Wrestling

When I heard you were gone, I felt a shadow cross my heart.

- Rush (Nobody's Hero)

I will remember you.
Will you remember me?
Don't let your life pass you by.
Weep not for the memories.

- Sarah McLachlan (I Will Remember You)

Here in Toronto it has rained every day since Owen Hart's untimely death last Sunday. It's like the heavens themselves are crying too.

About a year ago, I chatted with a friendly, down to earth Owen Hart in the concourse of SkyDome. Wearing a white dress shirt, blue jeans and cowboy boots, he looked like he belonged on a dusty ranch somewhere rather than standing in a multi-million dollar sports facility made of iron and concrete. Owen and I talked about wrestling. We joked about the “nugget” gimmick. He spoke about leaving wrestling one day so he could be a teacher as well as a better husband and father.

In the course of producing and writing for SLAM! Wrestling, I have lived a fan's dream. I have had the pleasure of meeting and talking with people I have admired as a young boy. It's a strange experience interviewing pro wrestlers. Some are wary as soon as the tape recorder starts rolling never deviating from their character for fear of damaging their in-ring persona.

Owen Hart salutes the crowd at a WWF show on July 4, 1998, in Edmonton at the Coliseum. (CP PHOTO/Edmonton Sun - Joseph Ranger)
Some, like Owen Hart, are themselves. No change in voice or attitude. No cutting impromptu promos. No BS. What you saw is what you got. He wasn't flashy. He wasn't some larger than life superstar standing next to you basking in the attention. He was real. He was Owen. I appreciated that.

About a month ago, I stood backstage at SkyDome waiting to chew the fat with Mick Foley. Later on, Hart wandered into the room making himself available for interviews. I thought about interviewing Hart again as he was so approachable and good humored...but I didn't. Maybe it was because not much was happening with his character that interested me. Maybe it was because I wanted to give others a chance to speak with him. Whatever my reasoning was at the time it's a decision I now regret.

Regret. It stings. It hurts. It eats you up inside. You second guess yourself. The “ifs” and “buts” swarm like angry bees inside your head. If Owen Hart's death instilled anything in me it's to live in the moment. Enjoy life to the fullest not only today but every day. All too often we get caught up in the trivial, meaningless crap that clutters up our lives. The stupid, petty arguments. The unfounded worries that prey on our minds. The single-minded, shallow pursuits that distract us from what really is important. Our friends. Our family. The people we love and live for.

However it happened, Owen died entertaining us - the fans. Something about that is so wrong it's sickening. Presently, there is a woman in Calgary who is too young to be a widow. With her are two children who don't have their father anymore. I ask that pro wrestlers, promoters and fans everywhere seriously think about that so some meaningful change can be brought about before another precious life is gone forever.

In journalism school we are taught when writing obituaries that to get a full appreciation of a person's life you must talk to as many people as possible. Business associates. Family members. Former classmates. Rivals. Friends. Then and only then do you get an accurate picture of what they meant to others and what affect they had on their lives. In watching that emotional edition of Raw, reading the thoughts of Owen's family, colleagues and also in publishing a page of your heart-felt remembrances, I can say that Owen Hart changed people for the better and that means more than any fact in a record book or shiny, gold plated strap that he did or did not wear around his waist.

God bless Owen and the Hart family.

More on Owen Hart