Photo Credits – WWE and Daily Accolade
Talk about bombshell shockers to start Grand Slam Week, AEW enters into a relationship with Owen’s widow, Martha and the Hart Foundation to allow the wrestling fans the privilege to honor one of the greatest of all time in a way we never thought possible. It is hard to believe that it has been 22 years since that tragic night of May 23, 1999 at the Kemper Arena that Owen tragically lost his life in a stunt gone horribly wrong. A stunt that should have never been attempted in the first place. I still vividly remember that night, just the pure shock of hearing the words from JR, “Owen Hart has died”, it still hits me incredibly hard as I type this right now. For years many fans held resentment towards Martha for refusing to let Owen enter the WWE HOF. To be perfectly honest, for a long time I felt that way too but after seeing last year’s excellent episode of Dark Side of the Ring, I finally heard Martha and their kids speaking on what happened and how they felt about it. I was under the impression that she hated the wrestling business and she wanted nothing to do with the fans. That wasn’t the case at all, she just didn’t want the WWE to make another dime off of Owen’s name. She was determined to keep Owen’s name and legacy alive via the charity she had setup in his name after his tragic death.
I think that Dark Side of the Ring episode, not only open fans eyes to her side of the story but I also think it opened Martha’s eyes too that the fans wanted a way to celebrate Owen’s legacy in a wrestling environment. Over the years WWE has released career DVDs that included Owen as part of the Hart Family documentary and a Owen Hart DVD, both met with lawsuits from Martha. In 2018, while giving his induction speech into the WWE HOF, Mark Henry, shocked the world when he made a plea to Martha to allow Owen to be inducted and celebrated by the fans and his peers. After watching that Dark Side episode, it was clear that Martha nor the kids would ever allow Owen to be inducted. The door seemed shut but that Dark Side episode opened another door, when Martha agreed to let Pro-Wrestling Tees to open a Owen Hart store for shirts and for the first time since 1999, fans could purchase officially licensed Owen Hart shirts. She also agreed to limited run microbrawlers in Owen’s likeness.
It was at this point that I thought that there maybe a real possibility that we may see a new Owen Hart figure produced for the first time since 1999. I even wrote about it a few months ago in an article that Owen was on my top 10 list of new wrestling figures I wanted to see made. I thought maybe Super7 or Storm Collectibles or Figures Toy Company would be the most likely companies that would be the most likely to make it since Mattel/WWE was out of the question, I never expected AEW and Jazwares to make a deal to release the figures under the AEW umbrella. Making this deal is an absolute home run by AEW to sign the deal to give the Owen Hart fans a new Owen figure.
I don’t want to hear but Owen’s a WWE guy and they just did it to spite WWE, Owen Hart is a wrestling legend that is not defined by simply one company. Yes his career was mostly in WWF but they don’t own Owen, he transcended the WWF guy label, he is a GOAT, a legend that should be celebrated no matter who does it. It is a major signing and will WWE be pissed? Of course but at the same time I don’t think Tony Khan was like I’m doing this to spite WWE, he was doing it for the same reason that he has kept Brodie Lee’s legacy alive because he is a fan and it is the right thing to do. Tony Khan was a young wrestling fan when Owen died as well and he now has the means to honor Owen and it gives the fans an opportunity too.
In addition to the action figures, we will also see Owen make his first appearance in a wrestling video game in over twenty years.
To me the biggest news in the official press release isn’t just the first figures and video game appearance in over 20 years, it is the tournament that AEW will be holding each year to honor Owen’s name and legacy in this business. Owen could put on a great match with anyone and had the talent and connection with the fans that he could have easily been a world champion. HBK, arguably the GOAT in ring performer, has said in interviews that as great as Bret Hart was, he thinks Owen was even better. Owen had a love and passion for this business and a tournament in his name is the perfect tribute for the stars of today to make their name in the business and honor a true legend. Owen could have been a possible childhood hero and/or inspiration to get into the business in the first place. It is also fitting that Owen won a King of the Ring tournament and now he will have a tournament in his name.
A whole new generation will get to know the name and legacy of Owen Hart and those that were fans of Owen will FINALLY get the opportunity to honor and remember the legacy of Owen Hart. This is a absolute GRAND SLAM and classy move by AEW to honor the King of Harts. This isn’t about AEW or WWE or even Martha, this is about Owen and the his fans. I for one cannot wait to celebrate the life and legacy of Owen Hart and look forward to see the stars of AEW in this tournament do Owen’s name and legacy proud. In addition, this brings more money and recognition to the Owen Hart Foundation which continues to carry out charitable causes in Owen’s name.