Saturday, May 28, 2022
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A Case For Martha Hart

Owen HartOwen Hart has been dead for thirteen years now. As we all know, he died falling from the ceiling of the Kemper Arena in Kansas City during the Over the Edge pay-per-view before he was scheduled to wrestle the Godfather. To this day, it remains the most senseless and tragic death in a litany of early pro wrestling fatalities that include car crashes, overdoses and suicides. None who died were as revered within the industry as Hart, and none who died were as blameless in their demises as he was.

[adinserter block=”2″]In the fallout of his death, WWE has faced a slew of lawsuits and injunctions from Hart’s wife, Martha, preventing them using his image or enshrining him in the WWE Hall of Fame. This has rankled many a fan who want to see WWE honor the fallen Hart, and in some respects, I am on board with the resentment, even if it’s just because I really do think Hart deserves to be celebrated not only by his fans, but by his former peers, coworkers and the numerous members of the roster whom he influenced in some degree.

That being said, I can also see where she is coming from. She lost her husband and her children lost their father because someone in the then-WWF in 1999 thought it was a good idea to have a wrestler rappel down from the ceiling into the ring. Stunts go wrong all the time, but very rarely do they result in death. Even with that being the case, the spectacle of wrestling is dangerous enough without the risk of catastrophic failure. Why add to the danger with something that really was superfluous?

The way that Martha sees it is that no matter what WWE does to honor her late husband, they’ll be making money off it. That is, they’ll be profiting over her loss, and honestly, I’m not sure how anyone could see how that’s at least a little screwed up. The sad thing is that some fans are basically going past the point of disagreement and calling this woman hurtful names, ones that are a bit too extreme to post on a blog like this. I hope those people who disparage her character never have to suffer a loss like hers, because if that’s what it takes for someone to feel empathy, then I really have lost even more faith in humanity than I already have.

That being said, I do think that Hart should be allowed to be honored by his peers. Therefore, I think that a compromise should be made in this arena. However, it has to be on WWE to make the effort to reach out to Martha Hart. What they need to do is reach out to her, make an agreement that if they do honor Owen Hart that they’ll donate any revenue from it to a charity of her choosing and that any depiction of him would not be exploitative. That is to say there would be no use of his name to further an angle in the same way that Randy Orton would tell Rey Mysterio that Eddie Guerrero was in hell in the aftermath of that passing.

[adinserter block=”1″]But even then, if Martha were to refuse that agreement, I’m not sure we as fans would be in a position to argue with her. We only lost a beloved performer. She lost a husband. I think the advantage of gravity in this situation rests solely in her favor, if one can call it “favor”. The common criticism of her refusal to let WWE use her husband’s name and likeness on their programming is that she should let it go. Conversely, maybe it’s those fans who should let go the idea that Owen Hart can only be memorialized if it’s done by a company that would stand to make more money on any tribute than they’d make in a year or more.

Tom Holzerman is a lifelong wrestling fan and connoisseur of all things Chikara Pro, among other feds. When he’s not writing for the Camel Clutch Blog, you can find him on his own blog, The Wrestling Blog.

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