On May 23, 1999, Hart fell to his death in Kansas City, Missouri during the Over the Edge pay-per-view event.
Owen Hart was entering the ring from the rafters of the Kemper Arena. The entrance was a special entrance in keeping with his Blue Blazer gimmick. The match Hart was due to compete in was an Intercontinental Championship match against The Godfather however tragically Hart unintentionally triggered an early release of the quick release mechanism.
WWE officials and medical staff immediately rushed to the ring. In Mick Foley's autobiography Have a Nice Day: A Tale of Blood and Sweatsocks, he claims that following the fall, Hart attempted to sit up and did so before falling back.WWF television announcer Jim Ross repeatedly told those watching live on pay-per-view that what had just transpired was not a wrestling angle or storyline and that Hart was hurt badly, emphasizing the seriousness of the situation.
Cause of Death
Hart was transported to the Truman Medical Center in Kansas City, where he was pronounced dead on arrival. Hart had actually died while still being tended to in the ring. The cause was later revealed to be internal bleeding from blunt chest trauma.
Vince McMahon controversially continued the event though they were unaware of the severity of Hart's injury at that time. The event was never released by WWF Home Video. Many have critized the actions of Vince McMahon for continuing the event. To this date no footage of Hart's fall has ever been officially released despite many youtube videos claiming to be the official death video of Owen.
RAW IS OWEN
The night after Hart's death Raw Is Owen was broadcast a special name given to the normal Monday Night RAW IS WAR programme to celebrare the life of Owen Hart. It featured interviews from his fellow wrestlers. WWF management gave all wrestlers on the roster the option of working or not. Nevertheless, ten matches were booked with no angles.
"The show began with all the wrestlers of the WWF standing on the entrance ramp (with the exception of The Undertaker, who was actually in Calgary). Vince McMahon, Linda McMahon, and Stephanie McMahon were at the front of the ramp. Howard Finkel called for a ten-bell salute. Hart's former Nation of Domination comrades were emotional, most notably Mark Henry, who read a poem that he wrote in memory of Hart. A tribute video narrated by Vince then played on the TitanTron. Throughout the broadcast, personal thoughts on Hart in the form of interviews with various WWF Superstars were played. Before the first commercial break, such thoughts were aired from Mick Foley and Bradshaw. Foley noted that Hart was his son's favorite wrestler and had proudly gotten a haircut like Owen's, although he also said his son didn't quite understand that "nugget" was not a term of endearment. Bradshaw talked about how Hart spent less money on the road than most wrestlers because he wanted to retire early and spend time with his family. The broadcast ended with Stone Cold Steve Austin coming out for a special salute to Hart by climbing the turnbuckle and performing his famous beer guzzling routine, and leaving one beer in the ring 'for Owen'."
- The tribute show scored a Nielsen Ratings score of 7.2, making it one of the highest rated shows in RAW history.
- Jeff Jarrett defeated The Godfather to win the WWF Intercontinental Championship, the title Hart was booked to win at Over the Edge for the third time. Jarrett screamed Hart's name as the belt was handed to him.
Three weeks after the event, the Hart family sued the World Wrestling Federation (WWF) over how dangerous and poorly planned the stunt was, and that the harness system was defective. After over a year and a half into the case, a settlement was reached on November 2, 2000, which saw the WWF give the Hart family $18 million dollars that was distributed among the Hart family.
Hart left behind a widow, Martha, and two children, Oje Edward and Athena Christy.
Book and Fund
Martha used the lawsuit funds to establish the Owen Hart Foundation. Martha wrote a book about Hart's life in 2002 called Broken Harts: The Life and Death of Owen Hart.