Owen Hart: Hart of Gold review
Format: Much in the same vein as recent WWE Home Video releases (Attitude Era, nWo etc), this release is replete with a montage of talking heads with short snippets saying generic compliments “He was always a good guy”, “just a great wrestler” etc.
Running Time: Even though Owen’s entire career was 13 years, this documentary clocks in at 1hr 7m, like the recent Macho Man: The Randy Savage Story, is just a superficial look at the wrestler’s most notable milestones.
Production: There’s heavy use of Nitro stills (panning still photographs) throughout, making the documentary feel rather cheap and quickly put together. (Q3 had Home DVDs as 1.8% of WWE’s revenue, as opposed to WWE Network’s 24.6% i.e. put money into Network docus and fuck Home Videos). Anecdotes are displayed picture-in-picture like they’re avoiding YouTube copyright, STATE of it! Part of the cheap production is WWE’s fault (they could’ve spent much more time on his WWF career) but it’s also Owen’s widow Martha Hart’s doing, as Bret told The LAW’s John Pollock back in September:
“I’m looking forward to [the DVD] but I’m not really optimistic that it’s going to be a great job. Martha handcuffed them so much. I don’t know if they’re even allowed to use any pictures from the past. It’s a poorly done DVD because of all the restraints and the limitations that Martha put on it. […] Even the interviews, the questions that they did with me were so bullshit. The whole thing was so bullshit that sure, there’s an Owen Hart DVD, but it’s the shits.”
Archival Footage: It’s great to see previously unseen footage of Owen behind the scenes. It’s mostly from when WWF are on tour (eg him playing volleyball with WWF superstars). We do get one ‘candid’ (kayfabe) interview from 1996, which looks to be before a WWF dinner, like a Slammys or press event. It’s mostly WWF footage and stills, very little Stampede and WCW (and they didn’t pay for NJPW). Between the milestones are anecdotes about Owen which are hit and miss. Given the frequency of them it feels like padding of a very short docu.
Interviewees: Most of Owen’s extended family are interviewed – brothers, sisters, and past and present wrestlers (Hart Dynasty, Canadian wrestlers). Glaringly notable by her absence is Martha Hart (who didn’t approve of the home video and has blocked WWE celebrating Owen’s career via previous attempts at an Owen docu, and also a Hall of Fame induction). Worth noting she has her own Owen docu called “The Owen Hart Foundation: A Look Back”.
Growing up: Owen used to book his stuffed monkey and the cat to wrestle. Hilariously WWE remake B-roll to re-enact these matches. Also laughed showing animals in the Hart house as people would say that there were many animals in the house and it reeked of piss!
Stampede: Footage showing Owen doing lots of smooth high-flying moves and transitions, way ahead of what you’d expect in North America. Bret noted that on the road in the WWF, he never got to see Owen but rather just heard how great he was going. Always cool to hear wrestlers talk as fans, with Edge and especially Jericho, as we see a drawing he did of his dream to be tag champions with Owen in Stampede.
1st WWF Run as the Blue Blazer: Great bit of trivia, he actually wrestled as The British Bulldog and then as “Rodeo” Owen Hart before the Blue Blazer! I can’t find any evidence of either, though. Bret mentions being under a mask was an idea he had for himself, in case the Hart Foundation tag team bombed. His workrate style completely bombed in the steroid-infused Hulkamania big man era. Daniel Bryan’s contribution is being a huge smark (!) saying he saw him wrestle in other places so he was disappointed in this run. WWE splice a great clip of Alfred kayfabe explaining why Blazer was a jobber “he deals with quick moves with little damage and tries to out wrestle as opposed to beat them down”.
Independent Circuit: They lump pre-WWF japan in here (no footage) saying he was rebuilding his name here and Mexico after his failure in the WWF. Worth noting he returned to Stampede in 89 but it closed in December. They don’t mention that Vince bought Stampede, then stalled by delaying payment saying he couldn’t afford it (thereby killing the company during the downtime) and offered it back to them after the damage was done. Bastard.
WCW: Yes, Owen spent a cup of coffee there! JR insults WCW for not knowing what to do with Owen, moments after the docu shows WWF didn’t know what do with Owen.