December 21, 1998
Owen Hart interview concluded
By GREG OLIVER - Producer, SLAM! Wrestling
Well, it took nine months, but SLAM! Wrestling's Greg Oliver
finally concluded the fan interview with Owen Hart. Thanks be to the WWF
Canada for re-connecting the two Canadian powerhouses.
Below is the transcript of the 30-minute interview, not including
the brief story on the lead-up to the Rock Bottom PPV. I've given credit to
the readers who sent in questions.
Q: Back in the late-80s, early 90s, you had some great matches in
Japan with Jushin Liger, the Great Muto and Chris Benoit. What was your
favourite stand-out match in Japan? [Hesham]
A: I have two. One for the IWGP title versus Hiro Hase, and he
was the champion. I remember I fought him a few times. He was really stiff.
Any time you fought him, it was not a cakewalk. You earned every penny you
made that night. He'd even slap you in the eardrum and pop your eardrum,
kick you in the face and bust your teeth. So, I'd had a lot of hard-fought
matches with him. I don't remember if it was the Toyko Dome, but it was a
big arena, the IWGP championship, and I beat him for it. And at that point,
the only other foreigner -- they call them gaji -- to have a title at that
time was Dynamite Kid, the junior heavyweight title. It was kindof a
significant win for me to really put me up at a higher level. Since then,
Chris Benoit has won the belt, some other guys I'm sure have won it, but
when I won it, it was kind of a precedent. The only Canadian to have ever
held it. ... So that was one big match. The other was fighting against
Benoit. He was fighting under a mask as Pegasus Kid. We had a fight, I think
it was at Budokan, and it was pretty hard. I know it was entertaining. I
watched it back about a year ago, and said 'geez, I can't believe I was
doing all that stuff.'
You know, I watch these Mexicans, they work on our show and on the other
network's show, and they do a lot of high-flying, entertaining things, but
it looks so choreographed. It doesn't have a lot of impact to it when I
watch it. I find it easy to change channels when I watch those guys, because
it looks so routine. I doesn't look believable to me. And that's part of
doing it. If you can do the acrobatic stuff, throw in a back flip or
something that looks good but it's got to be at the right time, you know. I
see these guys, they throw a guy into the ropes and they do a back flip and
then clothesline the guy and it looks stupid. Why don't you just clothesline
the guy? A back flip or a cartwheel or whatever, should be done out of a
defensive manoeuver. Someone throws you in the corner, and you jump up and
flip and you counter something. If you're going to throw a guy in and
clothesline him anyway, what do you need to do a fancy cartwheel for before
you hit him? It just looks stupid.
Q: Who's better, Dynamite Kid or Chris Benoit? [Hesham]
A: Well, you know, they were like clones of each other. They were
very similar. Dynamite, when I was a kid growing up, he might of set more of
an image for me because I was younger, watching this older guy work. Chris
is even younger than I am. So the differences when you're a young guy
watching this guy, he's like on a pedestal, Dynamite Kid. When I was a kid
watching, I'd go 'Wow, that guy's awesome.' And then you get older and see a
guy like Benoit. He's really good and a lot like Dynamite. What Chris has to
battle with is that he's fighting a similar style as someone that's already
established. That looks like he's imitating someone. But Dynamite, just
because he was the original, was the best. But, you know, Benoit now is by
far better. Dynamite Kid is nothing now. It's a shame to see him like that.
Chris has got a lot more going for him. A lot more longevity. If you could
have frozen them and put them together, time lapse where Dynamite was at his
peak and with Chris now, they'd be an awesome team.
Q: How did the Blue Blazer and Battle Kat first come about? Who's
idea were they? [Liam P.]
A: Vince McMahon had a marketing idea. Now, it's getting that
they have so many guys that do the high flying and stuff, but when I came
into the WWF, the first thing I really didn't want to have was 'Bret Hart's
little brother'. He thought, Owen Hart, he's got a lot of ability, a lot of
acrobatic manoeuvers, young. And they thought they could market me as a
Mighty Mouse, Superman kind of character that was young and fighting evil,
justice prevailing, but was doing all this high-flying, acrobatic stuff that
was entertaining. So they came up with the idea. It was not a big priority
to them. Well, whatever, get a costume put together. They said they wanted a
lot of feathers, glitter, colourful colours. So I had a lady here in Calgary
make it. She just kind of put together what I had in mind. Then I took it to
Vince McMahon, and said this is what they made me. He said alright, we're
going to call you the Blue Blazer. And now, if I was doing things different,
I would have had a more sleeker, more dynamic costume. Feathers aren't
rugged. The sick-looking chicken they had as an emblem or logo was kind of
weak. It was Vince McMahon's idea, and a lady here incorporated the design,
style. And all I had to do was go out and perform. One of the hardest things
was doing those back flips, where you had to jump up and land on the top
rope. It's precision movement. To execute that night after night, for three
years, and you're under a microscope -- you're Bret Hart's little brother,
everyone want to see if you're going to make it. I managed to sustain
myself, do everything right and keep my feet on the ground, weather the
storm when the Blue Blazer finally gets to unveil the mask and become who I
really wanted to become.
Q: You wrestled Bret at WrestleMania X. What did it feel like to beat
Bret then? [Mark Knutson]
A: That was an unbelievable experience to be in a significant,
main event calibre match, because I'd come from the bottom of the barrel
pretty much on the card. Just Owen Hart getting out of the shadow of 'Bret
Hart's little brother'. That was my first real big match. Everyone figured,
this is a joke, Owen's going to get squashed. And then when I beat him, it
blew everyone away. Not only was it that I surprised people by beating Bret
Hart, but it was a great match. They still rate it as one of the best
wrestling matches of all time. It's good to go out and entertain these
people, and you've got them on the edge of their seat, they're standing up.
Then you know that you've done your job, you've entertained them. My way of
entertaining them is going out and wrestling. Everyone's got their different
ways. Some guys can do more talking in the ring, other guys do posing, body
building, whatever the hell they do in the ring. But I don't have the big
body, and I'm not the big smooth talker, but I can get in the ring and
Q: Who's a better wrestler, you or Bret? [John Jackson]
A: Well, technically, Bret's pretty sound. In a more diverse way,
I do a lot more acrobatics, I use the top rope and a lot more aerials than
Bret. I think technically, I can go with any move Bret can do.
Acrobatically, I do more. Bret's a little bigger, and that weight's to his
advantage because he can fight a lot bigger guys, be more compatible in the
ring than I am.
Q: How much of your success do you owe to your father, and how much
do you owe to your brothers? [John Jackson]
A: I owe a lot to my dad, just for having provided the wrestling
business for us to get into. My brother Bruce was one of the original guys
that I hung around with, and learned a lot from watching him train guys. So
he's a significant factor. And then Bret was really the big one though
because he took me from the small ranks of Stampede Wrestling and helped me
get into the WWF. He helped me just by doing well himself. He opened the
door by being successful in the company, where it's, 'Bret Hart's good,
let's try his little brother'. If Bret when in there and he stunk the place
out, then they probably wouldn't have brought the little brother in. So just
by being successful himself, it opened the door for me. And he set a good
example for me to follow and I looked up to Bret as a wrestler. It enabled
me to strive higher, do well, but then it did cast a shadow on me because
it's like, 'oh, it's his little brother.' It was a hard time fighting out of
that shadow that Bret had cast on me, showing that I was not just Bret
Hart's little brother. I'm Owen Hart and I have my own identity and my own
Q: That segue ways nicely into Wrestling With Shadows, the Bret Hart
documentary. What were your thoughts on that? [Greg Oliver]
A: I thought it was a good documentary. There's so many
documentaries out there right now and everything's exposing wrestling. It's
kind of beating a dead horse if you're talking about going out and saying
wrestling's fake, or this or that. People don't want to hear that. They want
to hear, they wanted to find an inside story about Bret Hart, and that's
what they got. They cut through all the red tape garbage, and got to see
Bret Hart's family life, they got to see the details of what happened
between Bret and Vince, and they got to see how a relationship of 14 years
was established in the WWF with Bret. It's still emotional, I think, for
him, and for Vince, and for anybody watching. To see a friendship like that
end in such an ugly way. I've said there was a bit of a comparison that Bret
was making between Vince McMahon and my dad. He looked up to Vince as a dad
and stuff, and it was a shame to see the whole thing end the way it did.
Q: A lot of people, after seeing the documentary especially, are
saying it seems even more like a work. What do you say to that? [Greg
A: Well, it definitely is no work. I've had people say it was all
a big work. If they really saw the inside... I know I met with Vince McMahon
after his jaw and cheek was all swollen. It was no work. And Bret's knuckles
all fat and broken. The emotions were, I don't think anyone realizes how
intense that whole situation was. Bret, the way he left WWF, wasn't like he
was the Ultimate Warrior come to the WWF for a few months and then he just
left, he really wasn't rooted in the company. And there's been a lot of guys
who've come to the WWF, and they really didn't have the roots, feelings for
the company, and the people they worked with. I run into a lot of people
that work in the WWF and say 'your brother Bret really cared.' He's not just
some guy killing time in the company. He was rooted in the company and was
one of the fixtures of WWF. When he left, there was a part of the WWF that
left. So it was cause for a very emotional descent for Bret. There was such
hatred there between him and Shawn Michaels, it just caused Bret to be real
intense. But anyway, there was no work to that. I wish I could say that it
was the greatest angle of all time.
Q: What's your favourite hockey team? [Doug McGregor]
A: I like the Flames. I just took my son last week to a Flames
game. I like Fleury, he's a good player. He's come down to wrestling a
couple of times. Matter of fact, I challenged him one time and he managed
Bret at the Saddledome. Far as I know, one of the Rougeaus, Joanne Rougeau,
is one of the Flames. Her son, Denis Gauthier, is playing for the Flames.
He played there at the game against Tampa Bay last week. So I see him all
the time. I used to see him in Montreal, sitting in the penalty box [at
wrestling], and now I see him all the time.
Q: Do you still keep in touch with any of the old wrestlers from
Stampede? [Liam P.]
A: When I go to the gym to work out, I see Leo Burke. He was
always a good technical wrestler, and he trained some of the guys at the gym
there. Bad News Allen comes down to the shows in Calgary. Cuban Assassin,
and some of those guys. But I really don't see too many. Some of them have
to get down to reality when they get out of wrestling. There's not much for
them. Laymen's jobs, pumping gas, whatever, it's kind of sad. You see
wrestlers were big time stars and they get out of wrestling and there's
nothing, they don't have the proper education and the proper fundamentals to
get into the real world.
Q: Which you had both of before getting into wrestling. You went to
school. [Greg Oliver]
A: I went three years to university, and I wouldn't have done
anything differently. Because I certainly would have regretted not getting
into wrestling. It's been very lucrative for me and I've been fortunate to
get into it and make money and not do anything stupid where I invested in
something that collapsed. I've been fortunate to still have something to
hang on to. But if I could do anything differently, it would have been a
couple more years to further my college and stuff, it would have been ideal.
You know, that's the thing, you get on TV and you become more of a star and
it makes it real hard to go back to school and sit in a classroom, put your
hand up if you have a question or something. They say 'hey, that's Owen
Hart'. You kind of want to go incognito. That's the thing. You can make all
this money in wrestling and then I would like to kind of just disappear,
from wrestling fans and stuff. I don't want to forget the fans and what
they've done. They've supported me and stuff, but at the same time, I'd like
to just ... I don't want to be hanging on like one of these wrestlers who's
sixty years old, saying 'hey, I'm a wrestler.' Let it go. Make your money
out of it and get on. I really want to devote a lot of time to my family.
Q: How much time do you spend with your family these days? [Dr.
A: Every second that I'm home I spend doing something. Taking my
son to hockey practice, my daughter to swimming, ballet or music, little
gymboree classes. My son's into piano. So, between all that, just taking
them out and playing in the yard or tobagganing. I've kind of been
overcompensating for all the days I spend on the road. It's unacceptable to
just sit on the couch and say I'm not doing anything. You've got to get out
and do everything you can.
Q: How do you feel that Bret has a newspaper column and you don't?
A: Oh, that's fine. I couldn't care less. I don't have time. Like
I said, I spend too much time away from my kids and stuff, and when I come
home, I want to spend it with them. It's full-time work, wrestling,
appearances and stuff. I couldn't put my full effort into a newspaper column
and I'd probably do a lousy job at it.
The WWF 'Canadian contingent'. -- Trisha Hickey, Toronto Sun
Who are some of your good friends in wrestling? [Rodney Pawn]
I would talk about Double J. (Jeff Jarrett) Edge is a nice
guy. The Canadian contingent. You've got Edge, Val Venis, Kurrgan, Tiger Ali, we've gotten to know each other pretty well because we're always flying
together. I'll fly through Toronto and hook up with them. But right from top
to bottom, there's guys in the WWF, that's one good thing about the WWF
right now is the harmony is very good. There's no dissension or tension. I
feel real comfortable. I get along with everybody. I was kind of worried
after the Hart Foundation left. I had all my family, it was kind of a big
faction, and they all left one by one. I was the last one. And it really
didn't have any bearing. I'm still the same and everyone else treats me
still the same. I wish they were back with WWF, the rest of the Foundation.
By me staying in the WWF, I can keep an anchor there and somehow get them
back in the WWF if they ever choose to come.
Who's your favourite wrestler, excluding yourself? [Rodney Pawn]
I don't know. It's hard to pick out one particular wrestler.
Who do you find yourself trying to watch in a match?
I only watch the upcoming guys that I'll be fighting. I
started scouting Blackman, because I'll be fighting him soon enough. Before
that I was fighting Shamrock. It's too much to focus on everybody on the
card, there's too much going on, so I try to focus on whomever I'm fighting
against. If I happen to be fighting D-X or something, I'll watch their
matches, focus on them, not on the matches I won't be involved in.
Do you read any of the so-called 'dirt sheets' like the Wrestling
Observer? [Shujah Agha]
Not as a rule, but if someone's got it in the locker room I'll
read it. But I bet it's been about six months since I've read one.
In your youth, what part-time jobs did you have? [Liam P.]
I wanted to be a fireman, so I tried to get on with the fire
department. And to get on with the fire department, you need to put together
a resume working with high-pressure hoses, working at heights, stuff like
that. I went and got jobs like irrigation work, pipe lining, working laying
sod where we had to spray this high-pressure peat moss on the ground. I even
got a job working on roofs. It showed that I wasn't scared working at
heights. I've done it all. I had paper routes when I was a kid. Did a lot of
manual labour and stuff to help pay my way through university. The
scholarships you get in university are pretty lame. I had all kinds of jobs.
And of course wrestling, I sold programs, set up rings, I used to be the
music man for years.
I heard you played in a band called 'The Rattlesnakes'. Did you
ever release a record? [sychomichael]
It must have been another Owen Hart as I was never in a band.
Being the youngest of 12 children, did you have any special
privileges? [Jaime Cole]
I don't think so. I think by the time I was born, my parents
had pretty well run the gauntlet with their kids. The novelty had kind of
worn off by the time the twelfth child was born. I was lucky to get fed and
changed, picked up and taken to school. Most of the time, I was on time.
If you had the chance, would you go back and work for New Japan or
one of the other Japanese promotions?
I wouldn't mind doing it when I've reached my maximum with the
WWF. But I don't have any aspirations of working in Japan for a few years
yet. They're hard-fought, stiff matches in Japan but they're gratifying. I
still feel I can go out and wrestle those, and technically settle down and
do good holds and stuff like that. The perks of working in Japan are that
you might go for two weeks every three or four months, so you do work an
abbreviated schedule. But you really make up for the abbreviated schedule by
how hard you have to fight, how much you've got to be in shape.
Speaking of not in shape, what's the status of Yokozuna and is
there any chance of you two ever teaming up again? [Abraham J. Lee]
I don't know. I've heard Yokozuna is real heavy right now and
so he's got to watch his heart-rate. It was an unique contrast, the big, big
monster and the littler high-flyer. So I wouldn't mind [teaming up], we got
along real good. He was a nice guy and a fine, fine guy to tag up with. I
just hope that his weight can get down before he can get back in the ring.
You two held the tag titles together. Of all the promotions you
wrestled for, what title is the most cherished one? [Liam P.]
Probably the Intercontinental belt in the WWF. ... The initial
title, I had lots of North American belts, different titles in Germany,
Mexico but I don't know what the hell they were.
Where did you enjoy wrestling the most? [Dr. Placid Lasrado]
You know, it's funny. I liked working in Germany and Austria.
The money was horrible but what was good about it was, I was with my wife.
We lived out there for nine months. We'd do a tour for six weeks in the same
cities, Austria, then we'd go to France for a week's vacation, then work for
another six weeks, then go to Venice, Italy for a week's vacation. So I was
making not much money, but we were together and it really enabled us to
bond. It gave me a lot of good memories. I find too often in the wrestling
business, you just wrestle, get to the hotel, make your money -- and I'm
making a lot more money than I ever had anywhere else. Sometimes I have to
stop and remind myself to enjoy my life and not just rush through.
Do you prefer to be a heel or a fan favourite?
A heel for sure. A lot of anxiety off you, stress-release of
telling people to shut up. You can tell it like it is. Where as a good guy,
you have to smile. If a fan mouths off to you, you have to pretend like you
didn't hear it.
Some would say you don't have to smile anymore as a face. Austin
doesn't really do that.
Really, there's a lot of grey area now. A babyface isn't cut
and dry like it used to be. A good guy and a bad guy now, the good guys are
booed more than the bad guys. If you're too much of a bad guy, they start
cheering you anyway, so you're better off being a rebel-tell-it-like-it-is
That brings up Steve Austin. What went through your mind with the
piledriver incident? [Dean C.]
Well, when he fell on his neck, and said 'geez, I can't move',
it was shocking to me. I felt terrible. I didn't want to hurt a guy. I knew
that Steve had a bad neck prior to us going in the ring. Probably it's just
hindsight now, I would never have piledriven him knowing what was going to
happen. But I certainly didn't mean for it to happen. I felt terrible that
it did happen. I'm glad that he's back in the ring and successful as he's
Who haven't you wrestled that you would one day like to wrestle?
Geez, when you've been wrestling for 14 years, you've pretty
well fought everybody. Everybody in the WWF, one way or another, I'm sure
I've fought, whether it's Shawn Michaels or Hunter or Stone Cold or
Undertaker. I've fought them all. Shamrock, The Rock, I can't think of
anyone I haven't fought.
How do you want your fans to remember you? [Jessi Johnson]
How do I want them to remember me? Well, I don't want to
become one of those watered-down guys, who just walked and talked in the
ring. I want them to remember me as a guy who was diverse in his talents,
could fight anybody and have a good match, whether it was Undertaker, or
Vader. These big giant guys, I remember thinking, how can I have a good
match with them, and coming back and saying, wow, those people were really
entertained. They really thought that I had a chance to beat Vader or beat
the Undertaker. And that's going against the odds, when you're 5'10", 220
pounds fighting a guy that's 6'7", 320 pounds, or Vader that's 6'4", 400
pounds. How am I going to go up there and convince these people that I've
actually got a chance of winning? When you go out there and even beat them,
people believe it, that's unbelievable, you know. It's kind of an art to
going out and performing. I'd like fans to remember me as a guy who would go
out and entertain them, give them quality matches, and not just the same old
garbage every week.
Owen Hart bio and story archive