SLAM! WRESTLING: Guest Columnist

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Thursday, May 19, 1999

SLAM! Wrestling Guest Column

Another dead hero

HART Owen Hart on his way to the ring for his match against Bad Ass Billy Gunn at Raw Is War in Toronto on February 8, 1999. -- Stan Behal, Toronto Sun.
By ROSE VAN WORMER -- For SLAM! Wrestling

In memoriam. That's how Kat Celata hoped she wouldn't have to love Mick Foley in a few years like she does Brian Pillman and her Dad. Now, instead, she and the rest of the world have to honor Owen Hart that way. I watched wrestling when I was a little girl, and I remember seeing the antics of the wrestlers, but I also remember the athleticism they possessed. It wasn't "scripted" nearly as much then as it is now. That script is what killed Owen Hart.

I hope John Powell is right. I hope all wrestlers and promoters step back and make a return to real wrestling - without the emphasis on stunts that existed last night. I've known a lot of people who beat themselves up physically, mentally and emotionally, and paid the price. While I have not been watching the current round of wrestlers for very long, it seemed to me that Owen was focused on the job at hand. He had a lot to live for and he died far too early.

Last night, watching Over the Edge with my neighbor and her young son took me back to my childhood. I was just the age he is now when my grandmother died. How do you explain death to an 8 year old? How do you explain the inexplicable - going on with the show when a friend and colleague has just died for the sport? I can understand WWF making the decision to continue while Owen's fate was unknown, but when it was known that Owen had died, the show should have stopped right then. Young Jack said to his Mom "I can't believe he died." Then the boy wanted to turn off the TV. The adults weren't sure what to do. Was it more respectful to continue watching, or shut of the TV and deal with our own shock and confusion? Sometimes I think he shows more maturity than we do.

The simple fact that there was no visual of Owen's fall and subsequent treatment in the ring says a lot - that it affected everyone in the arena and that the producers have - had - a great respect for him. I knew it was bad simply because the arena was so quiet. When there is some hope and encouragement, there is noise - not subdued and fearful murmuring. From JR's description of the fall, I was fairly certain Owen had died instantly, and like his mother Helen, my worst fears were confirmed.

On a final note, my condolences go out to the family and friends of Owen, but especially to his wife and their two young children. They also go out to his fans - of whom I am glad to count myself one.

Rose Van Wormer is from Dedham, MA, and can be emailed at

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