Owen Hart talks to SLAM! Wrestling
Owen Hart talks to SLAM!
SLAM! Wrestling's Greg Oliver finally interviewed 'Black Hart'
Owen Hart over the phone from his Calgary home on Friday, March 6, 1998.
He's on the shelf at the moment due to injury, but enjoying the time
with his family. In fact, the interview was cut short because he had to
run out to take one of his kids to swimming lessons.
Below is the transcript of the 20-minute interview. Owen Hart
has agreed to talk to us again soon, and hopefully we'll get to the
many, many more questions that you, our readers, have sent in. I've
given credit to the readers who sent in questions. As always, we welcome
your comments at firstname.lastname@example.org
What's the details of your injury?
I just got it analyzed at the Calgary Stampeder clinic. I
have a severe tear in my right ankle ligament. I just really, severely
strained it mid-step coming off the ropes this Monday night on RAW
against Barry Windham. Just stepping off the second rope, I stepped onto
his boot and rolled my ankle and ripped, tore the ligament on the right
How long are you going to be out for?
This rehab that I'm going through is really intense. Geez,
every day since it happened Tuesday night, three days and I'm still in a
cast, but my mobility is much better. I could even try to be back for TV
tapings in Arizona next week.
So you didn't wrestle Tuesday night, I'm to understand?
That's where I hurt it, Tuesday night. In Wheeling, West
On Monday night, you faced Mark Henry. Do you prepare
differently for a big guy like that with not that much wrestling
Exactly. That's a big factor. His inexperience. The fact
that he is real big and real strong. And probably due to his lack of
experience, he gets real nervous.
Do you find it one of your roles to try and help some of the
I think so. I think the wrestling background that I have
and the limited number of experienced wrestlers in the WWF has right
now. I've been with WWF for eight or nine years. I've been in wrestling
for a dozen years. So I think it's kind of a compliment to be looked at
-- you're a leader rather than a follower.
Is it something that you've learned from your father? Training
Yeah. I think just from the environment that I've grown up
in. My father's the biggest factor in that.
Well, what we've done is we had the fans send in questions --
what would you like to ask Owen Hart. There's a wide variety of things.
We can save some for another time. But let's get to the ones people
really want to know, which is of course, why didn't you jump ship when
Bret did? [Ahmet, Jodi Feldman, MANY others]
Well, I think there's different circumstances for what
happened. We all know and are aware of what happened between Bret and
Vince McMahon and it's a sad affair because I don't think either party
benefitted. They had a 14-year relationship that was, until the end,
very very strong. Bret was one of the catalysts, who told me, when I
signed my deal, he said, 'you stay with Vince McMahon. He's reliable.
He's the best guy in the business to work for.' And I think he genuinely
meant that. Then this whole affair came with Vince McMahon and Bret --
that's their deal. They can talk about what happened between them. When
it all came down, the first thing I did, I called Vince that night,
right after it happened. I felt it was in my best interests not to go on
the road for a few days, because I didn't want to be around the other
wrestlers, I didn't want to be around the agents, and it wasn't
appropriate to go to work. I didn't think it was appropriate for me to
be around anybody until this all died down.
Then I negotiated with Vince over a period of weeks. I said it would not
be in my best interests to continue to work for him. When your brother
just punches the boss, the same guy I've got to work for, how am I going
to get a fair shake? He assured me I would be given a fair deal and
there would be nothing held against me. It had nothing to do with me.
I'm very close to Bret. Our relationship is very close. I was really
hurt by what they did to Bret. He assured me this isn't going to happen
to you. Anyways, then we re-negotiated. This went over two or three
times because I was too apprehensive to say 'Okay, that'll be great and
I'll continue working here.' I'd go back and think about it more and go
back and talk to Vince and say 'I just feel uneasy about everything.'
And I told him that 'I've been talking to Bret and I told him that you
said I could trust you. Then again, Vince. You told Bret he could trust
you. And after fourteen years, look at what you did to him. So how can I
take your word literally, Vince?' And he said, 'don't worry. I assure
you we'll be good to you.' The bottom line is he said 'we are not
willing to let you go. You're under contract. And you're young. You're
much younger the rest of the Hart Foundation guys and we see that you've
got lots of talent, you've got lots of experience, you've got no
hang-ups.' I've never had any problems with the company. I wasn't
injured at the time. I don't have any drug afflictions or whatever. He
said 'you're perfect, you're a role model guy to have in the company. I
just cannot afford to lose you.' I guess their loss and Ted Turner's
gain of getting me would have been very detrimental to the company or
something like that. 'I'm not willing to let you go.'
How did that make you feel?
It made me feel good in a lot of ways. It would be
disheartening if he said, 'we don't want you. You can go.' That would
make me feel like I didn't have any value. And we talked about being the
big fish in a little pond, kind of thing. I think it's a factor. WCW has
so much talent there, they get lost in the shuffle. Basically I didn't
have much control in the situation anyways. Because of my contract, I'm
committed to the WWF unless they breach. They hadn't done anything to
breach my contract. With what they did to Bret, I might have had a small
leg to stand on, if I said, 'hey, he contradicted my brother's
contract', but that doesn't really involve me.
So did you get a raise out of the deal? [Jason Davoodi]
Well, I don't really want to disclose whether I did or
not. It's supposed to come in due time.
Is there any pressure for you to leave the WWF by your other
family members? [Jessica Pelish]
Well, I don't think that anyone's trying to convince me. I
do think there's a lot of emotion in what happened with Bret and Vince.
There's more just cautioning, be careful. Because of all the years,
fourteen years for Bret and for that to happen to him, hey be careful,
because if it happened to him, it could happen to me.
Do you want to leave one day when your contract is up? [Jason
Davoodi, MANY others]
Well I'm hoping that when my contract is up, I'm out of
wrestling. I've been smart with my fiscal affairs. At the end of the
tunnel, I've kindof made plans. My contract expires, if I wrestle, it's
strictly for my own recreation. Financially, I'll be set.
Is that five years down the road? Ten years down the road?
It'll be less than five. No more than five years down the
Do you have in the back of your mind to try and get involved
with local promoting, perhaps with your brother Bruce? [SoRock]
I don't think so. Although this business is very
addictive. I've seen many people say I'm quitting or I'm getting out of
it and just can't. My aspirations is to spend all my time with my
family. I've paid my dues for twelve years now. If I continue for five
more, that's seventeen years working at a pretty hard clip. I think that
at that point my family, my wife and kids, have been compromised enough.
I need to start focusing on my family and letting go of wrestling.
What kind of things do you want to do once you're out?
I've bought some property on a lake. I plan on doing a lot
of boating and fishing. I want to continue to stay in shape. And who
knows, I might do ten weeks a year in Japan. Something just to motivate
me to keep in shape, keep involved a little bit but not have to deal
with the politics, pressures that are so intense right now.
Well, one last question right now. You've started to use
Bret's signature line. 'The best there is, the best there was, the best
there ever will be.' How did that come about and why?
I guess that I've been using that more lately because
Bret's not there. I was actually using that long, long ago when I was
rivalling with Bret. The 'Excellence of Execution', 'The best there is,
was and ever will be', that was more of a spoof back when I was fighting
Bret. Now it's kindof, I don't know if it's a tribute to Bret or what.
One time I was in the interview room and I was trying to think of a way
of ending it, and I said 'I'm the very best.' I followed it up the next
time. The first time I did it was for a show in Canada. It was Toronto
or Winnipeg and I was getting my dig back at some of the other guys in
the company. The Harts are the best there is, the best there was, the
best there ever will be. They really went crazy. Canadian fans are
pretty smart to what happened in the WWF. So when I said it, they said
'he was putting his brother Bret over'. It's good terminology and when
people hear it, they think it's synonomous with Bret Hart. Maybe it's an
indirect way of them remembering Bret. And it is not the same. No matter
what we do on the road, or whatever, without Bret -- especially Bret.
Bulldog was a factor too, but he didn't have the magnitude that Bret
had. There's an obvious void in the locker room without Bret. He brought
experience and respect to the company. They miss him, you know.
Thanks for taking some time to talk to us, Owen. Hopefully
we'll talk to you again next week.
Okay, good enough.
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