After years of waiting, the WWE are finally releasing a DVD set on the life and times of the late Owen Hart. The set, out on 7 December in the UK and the following day in the USA, is titled ‘Owen – Hart of Gold’ and today Craig reviews this long awaited 3 disc set.
Straight off the bat, I should admit that I am a huge Owen Hart fan.
Any list of favourite wrestling talent always contains him. Whether it was for his high risk, innovative style when he debuted as the Blue Blazer initially, his feud with his brother Bret and his heel mannerisms teaming with The British Bulldog through to his stint with the Nation and Teaming with Jeff Jarrett.
Watching any match with Owen, you knew you’d get a stellar encounter and, if paying close enough attention, the sort of moment that would make you chuckle as he attempted to get those in the ring with him to break character and laugh at his antics.
And it is that assessment of Owen that you get from those interviewed for this set. It’s predominantly Ross and Bret Hart that voice the opinions of the Hart family with a bit of Bruce, Diane and others thrown in. Natalya and Tyson Kidd also share their thoughts on how inspiration Owen was to them whilst growing up. We also get archive footage from the British Bulldog and Owen Hart himself – which is a lovely touch.
The set begins by looking at the stir Owen’s style caused in Stampede wrestling as he showcased his athletic ability. On we then go to Owen’s arrival in the WWE which, unsurprisingly, Bret Hart takes credit for. Following the brief, but ultimately, unsuccessful run as the Blue Blazer we hear of Owen’s travels in Europe before moving on to WCW. We get a JR talking head here who talks about Owen’s undoubted talents but that the WCW had little or no idea what to do with him.
From there we move on to his return to the WWE and teaming up, initially, with Jim ‘The Anvil’ Neidhart and then Koko B. Ware. Chris Jericho lends his thoughts to the teaming up with Koko stating that it was clear that the WWE had little or no idea what to do with Owen other than dress him up in brightly coloured clothing.
With the WWE struggling for ideas, Bret tells us about Vince McMahon’s desire to book a brother vs. brother Hart feud with Bruce Hart and Bret going at it. ‘The Hitman’ states that he put his foot down at this point and urged Vince to look at the younger Owen rather than the almost finished wrestler that was Bruce.
For me this leads to the best part of the set as we focus on what was undoubtedly the high point of Owen’s WWE run – his programme with his older brother. We are told by various Hart’s the length that the pair went to to protect the gimmick – not being seen together in public, not talking at airports and even at family dinners. As well as a strong storyline, we were treated to some fantastic matches including the pair’s battles at WrestleMania X – the best opening match in ‘mania history – and their steel cage tussle at the 1994 SummerSlam.
The set then covers Hart teaming with Yokozuna and what he brought to the team before becoming aligned with The British Bulldog and Vader under Camp Cornette. This section also looks at the lengths Owen went to to make the WWE Slammy Awards seem important and who can forget just how much joy, and heat from the crowd, he got from those little gold statues.
From there it’s on to the formation of the Hart Foundation, the Canadian Stampede event, the death of Brian Pillman and Bret’s departure from the WWE and Owen’s reactions. This leads to the more emotional section of the documentary as we look at his stint with the Nation of Domination, teaming with Jeff Jarrett, how uncomfortable he was with the more risque elements of the ‘Attitude Era’ and his untimely death, under the Blue Blazer guise, at the 1999 event ‘Over the Edge’. The documentary concludes with a look at Hart’s legacy.
The second disc of the seat features various a host of talking heads – wrestling talent and family members – sharing some of their favourite Owen Hart stories which are absolutely hilarious and the first set of matches including from Hart’s time in Stampede right through to joining the WWE. Disc 3 picks up where the previous disc ended with a host of WWE matches including his King of the Ring win, the European title final, winning the tag titles, the Canadian Stampede main event and much, much more. If blu-ray is your medium, you also get many of the interview clips from ‘Raw is Owen’ which will bring a tear to even the glassiest of eyes.
In a previous interview Bret Hart had said Owen’s widow Martha had described the Owen set as ‘the shits’. She is very far off the mark. While the DVD set doesn’t come close to being all that it could be, it is still a very good set.
You have a selection of some of the finest Owen Hart moments and matches and the memories of his peers in one 3 disc set. It’s a very good tribute to one of wrestling’s brightest talents and a worthy addition to any DVD set. It tells a great story of a wrestling great and goes from the hilarious to the sombre. As ever, the documentary is very strong but even just the bonus matches make this set more than value for money.
‘Owen – Hart of Gold’ is out on 7 December in the UK and 8 December in the US. It can be pre-ordered – in the UK – from wwedvd.co.uk.