If I used the term “scrambled pay-per-view channel” how many of you would be brought into an immediate wrestling nostalgic state, just like me?
To those of you who may not know what I am talking about, some US cable outlets in the 90’s had their pay channels like HBO, Showtime, and their pay-per-view as available channels. The catch was that if you did not have a subscription or order the pay-per-view event, the video would be scrambled, and the picture would be distorted.
However, there were those brief glimpses would occasionally pop up where you could get a good look at what is going on. Plus, there was nothing done to the audio, so you could at least clearly listen to what was going on. Essentially, it could be considered “Radio Plus.” Hey, this was how I found out that Hulk Hogan was the 3rd man!
So, long story short, if you had nothing to do on a Sunday evening and were short on funds, you could still check out the WWF or WCW Pay-Per-View.
This was my situation on May 23, 1999 … unfortunately.
To give you a little behind the scenes look, I have been sitting in front of my computer for quite some time now trying to figure out how to properly transition into talking about the worst on-air event in WWF history…I got nothing! How can you?
It had been done 100 times in WCW with Sting’s entrances, and WWE even used the same rigging guys that WCW used. It seemed so standard.
It was set to be an entrance meant to take the fans’ breath away – and in a way it was, but in a much different, unexpected and horrific way.
The legacy that Owen left can still be seen today. Several of his matches are still talked about as matches that young wrestlers should watch and take notes on. Kevin Steen signed with WWE, was told that he couldn’t use his real name and needed to come up with something else. To Steen, there was only one option, a way to honor his childhood hero – and Kevin Owens was born.
Every year as the names are announced for the Hall of Fame the entire WWE Universe waits with baited and somewhat ignorant breath hoping that this will be the year Owen will take his rightful spot in the WWE Hall of Fame. Owen’s widow, Martha, has stated on several occasions that she does not want WWE to profit off of Owen’s name in any way.
She doesn’t…SHE doesn’t. It’s not about what she wants, it’s not about what WWE wants, it’s not even about what the fans want – it’s about what Owen would want and what he earned. I am sure that I am not the only one that will continue to believe that next year will always be the year!
I listened to the Jim Ross podcast while writing this. Listening to Ross tell the tale of a man that was 10 feet from the fall and had to keep the microphone in his moth for the rest of the show was one that I had been waiting to hear.
One tidbit stood out more than others as a perfect way to sum up the person that Owen seemed to be. It doesn’t take a lot to realize that that kind of fall would not last long – a few seconds at the most. In the ring getting ready for the next match was Jimmy Korderas. The veteran referee had mentioned that when he was in the ring he could hear someone shout “Look out! Get out of the way!” He didn’t realize it at the time but Korderas would come to figure out that it was Hart that was yelling to him. In the few seconds that Hart had, his immediate reaction was the safety of others. It’s just amazing.
Despite Martha’s best efforts, Owen will never be forgotten. For one, Mark Henry needs to be commended for taking time in his Hall of Fame speech to speak to Martha through the camera and plead to her to allow Owen’s memory to be on that stage. “It’s his birthright.” Being the youngest in a family full of wrestlers and wrestling wives, “birthright” is not just an opinion.
Regardless though, that night in Kansas City 20 years ago isn’t how The King of Hearts should be remembered, and it isn’t. His match at WrestleMania against his brother Bret, the Slammy’s, Nugget, the backstage stories of Owen being the King of Ribs as well, the list goes on and on.
Simply put, thank you Owen! I don’t think there is a better way to end this than to quote Jim Ross at the end of the Owen Hart Tribute Show on Raw the night after the accident –
“I hope that I can be as good a person as Owen was so that I can see him again.”