Interview: Martha Hart on Owen Hart Starting Wrestling, Owen Staying in WWF After Montreal Screwjob, More

A recent episode of the Talk Is Jericho podcast had Martha Hart as the guest. Some of the topics discussed included how Owen Hart got involved in wrestling, Owen staying in WWF following the infamous Montreal Screwjob incident, production of new Owen merchandise, and being open on honoring his legacy in New Japan Pro Wrestling.

On the topic of how Owen Hart got involved in wrestling, Martha stated:

“Owen was never going to get into the business…Owen went to the University of Calgary on a wrestling scholarship.  He was a true athlete.  He was a four star letterman.  He was in football, rugby, track and wrestling.  He got a scholarship for wrestling.  We were there together.  He was going to be a Physical Ed teacher…Owen was a very sensitive person and he really loved his dad.  That’s all it took was that you can really help your dad.  You can help the business.  We are struggling and bleeding money here so could you help.  Owen worked under a mask.  Then he worked in the summer as himself and it really helped to rejuvenate the whole territory.  He had an issue at University that he didn’t take one of the classes that he was supposed to take so then he had to wait.  He had to take a semester off, not by his choice, but had to wait, I think it was English.  He then stayed through the summer and into the following semester.  By the end of that semester, he was this staple in Stampede so he thought I will keep going a little bit longer.  It was never the long term goal or the plan to stay in it.  As life picks you up and carries you away, it has other plans.  Your original plans get left in the dust.  He tried for a long time to get out of the business.  He applied to the fire department every year for years.  At that time, it was hard to get on the fire department.  You need to have a University degree.  It was one of those sought after jobs, especially in Calgary.  His brother and brother in law were firefighters.  He knew that life and liked it and tried to pursue it.  He was also a Canadian and American citizen.  He also applied to be a customs agent because he thought it would be ideal because he lived in Calgary and American so he can work for customs.  He always regretted that he didn’t finish his education because he was actually a very bright guy.”

On the topic of Owen staying in WWF following the infamous Montreal Screwjob incident in 1997, Martha stated:

“That was a really difficult time for Owen, because even though he didn’t share the same philosophy as Bret, as far as wrestling goes, he knew that was really crushing for Bret, what happened with Vince and everything.  He felt bad for his brother, of course.  But he was also beholding to a contract at that time.  WWF, they just had introduced a few years before that, contracts, where you were locked in for 5 years.  Owen was locked into his contract.  He requested he be let go to when everything happened with his brother.  They said no.  They weren’t going to let him go.  The way the contract worked was that if you don’t work, you can’t work for somebody else.  You don’t necessarily have to work, but then you aren’t making any money and you can’t work somewhere else.  It was a very onerous contract where it only benefited the company, not the wrestler.  Owen was really in a tough situation. He didn’t have a choice.  You either stay here or go nowhere.  It was emotionally difficult to see his brother so upset and betrayed, and yet have to stay and fulfill his commitment that he made to the company.”

On the topic of new Owen merchandise being in production, Martha stated:

“Owen really appreciated his fans and I do feel bad for the fans because, for example, there’s not a lot of merchandise available in regards to Owen for obvious reasons. That’s something that — working with Dark Side of the Ring, we talked about doing something to commemorate the episode. We’re going to put out some nice t-shirts of Owen for fans. Owen adored his fans.

In the past, people have approached me, but it always turned up that somehow there was a link with WWE. I’ve always steered away from anything related to them, so it’s always squashed opportunities. Any sort of merchandise venture, we give all proceeds to the Owen Hart Foundation. I didn’t think it was right that a company like WWE would make money off of his name when I hold them responsible for his death. I never wanted to do any projects with them. Unfortunately, forever, they were the only game in town.”

On the topic of being open to the idea of honoring Owen’s wrestling legacy in NJPW, Martha stated:

“If I got an invite, I would definitely entertain it, but I haven’t. It’s not like I’ve turned anything down. Nobody has ever approached me about something like that and I never gave it much thought. But, you never know.”

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