I distinctly remember the day that I heard Owen Hart had died. At first I wasn’t sure if it was part of the wrestling storyline because someone had told me that the Blue Blazer died. I just thought that they had killed off the blue blazer character. The next night when they showed the RAW tribute, I knew for sure that tragedy had fallen on the WWE. Owen Hart’s death brings up many interesting issues concerning the way in which the situation was handled.
In watching the clips from the PPV that he had the accident, it is interesting how they continued on with the show. It looked like the fans at first thought that it was some kind of wrestling angle and that it was part of the stunt. You can see the crowd was unsure what to think after some time had passed. Being in the crowd and removed from the action, I don’t think that the fans understood the gravity of the situation. The WWE fans had been tricked and thrown with al types of surprises in the past that you can’t really blame them for wanting the show to continue. You can obviously tell that the wrestlers’ and commentators’ heads were not in the event, but with Hart.
The next night on RAW, the WWE made a 2-hr tribute to Owen. The tribute consisted of candid interviews of wrestlers who knew Hart and their memories of him. You get the feeling that he was really loved and respected in the WWE. Although he did not play as big of a role in the storylines, you can tell that he was a big influence behind the scenes. I did feel like they were trying to come away form the fantasy wrestling world and into real life. Several wrestlers are shown crying for the loss of a friend and are able to convey the kind of person Owen was outside the ring.
I think Jeff Jarrett explained his character best in one word: integrity. In Sex, Lies, and Headlocks it’s explained that Owen was forced to make that entrance because he refused to be involved in a storyline that was offensive to him and his family. Vince has proved that he would never make a wrestler do something that he wouldn’t do himself. A similar high flying entrance was also performed by Shawn Michaels at Wrestlemania XII. In a clip we watched earlier in the class, Vince was shown to be the first person to test the harness out. I don’t think Vince intentionally put Owen in harms way, but an accident did happen.
The thing that made me feel uneasy was the way in which the fans continued to play the role of a wrestling fan during both nights. It is more understandable that they might’ve been confused at the PPV and just thought it was part of the show. The next night, however, they seemed to be celebratory at times. Even during the ringing of the bell, the fans are still cheering by the time it is half way through. The wrestlers were able to step back from the fantasy world for one night, but the fans were stuck somewhere in the doorway. I guess it is hard to step back form the situation when you’re in the wrestling environment and ultimately the show must go on.