Dark Side of the Ring: Season 2 Finale to Detail Owen Hart Tragedy
BarnBurner Sports Writer
Sunday, May 17, 2020
Vice TV will be concluding another successful season of their docuseries: Dark Side of the Ring this Tuesday. The series has been both an informative and eye-opening experience for fans who might not have known about the behind-the-scenes aspect of the professional wrestling industry.
Season 2 kicked off with a two-part premiere dedicated to the death of Chris Benoit, which had been one of the biggest tragedies in professional wrestling, and will conclude by detailing the death of Canadian wrestling legend Owen Hart and relive the final days of his life. In addition to Jim Ross and Jim Cornette, who have provided their perspective in each episode, the season finale will also feature former WWE referee and current co-host of Sportsnet’s Aftermath, Jimmy Korderas, who was in the ring when the tragedy occurred, and Hart’s widow, Martha Hart.
Owen Hart was a member of the Hart wrestling family and a fixture in WWE throughout the 90s. Throughout the decade, Hart had been involved in many memorable feuds and matches with some of the company’s top stars including his brother, Bret “Hitman” Hart, Shawn Michaels, Triple H, Stone Cold Steve Austin, and Ken Shamrock.
The tragedy occurred during the 1999 Over the Edge pay-per-view, which took place at the Kemper Arena in Kansas City, Missouri. During the broadcast, then-WWE announcer Jim Ross notified the viewers watching at home that there had been an accident while Hart was making his entrance and stressed that it was a real and serious matter:
“Let me tell you, we have already had some entertaining things…this is not a part of the show. I don’t know any better way to put it…this is real life. Owen Hart with the equipment malfunctioning is being attended to by a host of EMTs. We are not going to put this on television…it is not a sensationalistic attempt to leave a mark here on this event.”
Last year, both myself and BarnBurner founder Joe Peisich conducted an interview with Jimmy Korderas, who was scheduled to officiate the Intercontinental Championship match between then-champion The Godfather and Hart, wrestling as “The Blue Blazer”. Korderas mentioned that he had been clearing up the ring following the hardcore match that had just concluded. While clearing the ring, Korderas recalled feeling something brush against the side of his head and the top rope snapping out of his hand, before seeing Hart laying in the ring:
"I turned and saw Owen laying there on his back and just went over. I knew something was weird because obviously he wasn't supposed to be there. I went over and called a couple of times and there was no response…and I really started to panic and just started calling for help and after that everything was just...I don't know...it was very blurry because now the ring's filling up, and now people were trying to attend to him, and I just didn't know whether I should just stay out of the way or you know what I mean...you don't know what to do in that situation."
Ross then notified the viewers that Hart had tragically died due to the accident that took place. For years, WWE Chairman Vince McMahon had received plenty of criticism for his decision to continue the event after the accident and once it was known that Hart had died. The next night on Raw is War, the show served as a tribute to Hart and was titled: Raw is Owen, where storylines and angles were put on hold and the talent got to pay tribute to Hart. The show began with a ten-bell salute and was followed up by matches and video tributes throughout the show.
Hart accomplished a lot in his WWE career; he was a two-time WWE Intercontinental Champion, WWE European Champion, four-time WWE Tag Team Champion, and 1994 King of the Ring winner. Hart was a talented and charismatic performer that possessed the ability to adapt his in-ring style from a high-flyer to technical wrestler with ease.
Looking back at Hart’s WWE career, WrestleMania X was probably his true breakout moment; he defeated his brother, Bret, in what many believe to be one of the greatest opening matches in WrestleMania history. The match was significant for Hart’s career because it put all his talents on full display and proved that he can perform with the company’s top stars and not look out of place. WrestleMania X was viewed as the night Hart got out of his successful brother’s shadow while also establishing himself and getting over with the fanbase.
Hart had an excellent reputation amongst his peers and in an industry such as pro wrestling, it is almost impossible to be as universally admired and respected like Hart was. Last year, both myself and BarnBurner founder Joe Peisich were fortunate to speak with former WWE referee Jimmy Korderas on BarnBurner’s “Fired Up EXTRA” and former WWE superstar Ken Shamrock on BarnBurner’s “Creative Control” wrestling show, where both shared their memories of Hart and spoke highly about the way he conducted himself.
Shamrock, who wrestled Hart on numerous occasions including in matches such as the Lion’s Den match and the famous Dungeon Match, mentioned that Hart was sincere and genuine in all his interactions:
“He was the kind of guy you could talk with and get a straight answer from him…never thought that he was trying to work you over or that he was looking for something from you. He was a genuine guy…good person. I thought that he was one of the better guys in our industry.”
Korderas echoed those same sentiments during the interview Joe Peisich and I conducted with him last May, and brought up some of the classic ribs that Hart was known for. Korderas shared a story of when Hart ribbed him in the middle of the night at a hotel. Korderas recalled getting a late-night phone call from what he thought to be the front desk claiming that his credit card had declined. “I was like dude, it’s two-thirty in the morning, can we not do this in the morning…you know…when I check out?” said Korderas, who was then notified the matter had to be taken care of immediately. To his surprise, Korderas made his way to the front desk only to find out that the employee working there had no recollection of the phone call he was referring to. “I go to the front desk and the guy asks, “can I help you?” I said “yeah, you called my room.” He says “I did?” I was like “yeah, you called my room and said my credit card and all this stuff.” He said “no sir, everything seems to be in order…I have no idea what you’re talking about.” And then you know it’s two-thirty in the morning so you’re kind of like oh...okay…so he got me.”
The stories from Hart's co-workers from the past have all been positive and are testament to the consummate professional and overall exceptional person he was. What makes his death even more tragic is that at 34 years age, Hart was not only in the prime of his career, but he was also in the prime of his life.
Of course, fans will always think of what could have been or what potential matches Hart could have been a part of, and what else he could have accomplished in WWE in the years that followed, but he was also a husband and father to two young children, who lost out on birthdays, holidays, family trips, and other milestones as a result of what happened that night at Over the Edge.
There will surely be more memories of Owen Hart shared in the season finale as according to the Owen Hart Foundation’s Twitter post, the episode will be featuring never before seen footage. The season 2 finale of Dark Side of the Ring airs this Tuesday, May 19 at 10pm on Vice and Crave TV.
Video Credit: Vice and Chris Jericho (YouTube)
Photo Credit: @Gian_411