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Oh(wen), What Could Have Been…

Owen Hart holds The WWF Championship, taunting his brother Bret.

Tragedy is nearly too abundant within Professional Wrestling’s past. Former stars lost leave million of fans and their loved ones behind. Perhaps, the most tragic of them all however, was the loss of the late Owen Hart. Not just in the way he met his untimely fate, but what could have been… The more he definitely would have been able to accomplish in his famed career. This article takes a look at just what opportunities, we and he, may have unfortunately missed out on:

Well, it is common knowledge that Owen Hart was no stranger to championship gold. In the WWF alone, he was able to capture over seven championships and titles:

  • Former 4-Time WWF World Tag Team Champion
  • Former 1-Time WWF European Champion
  • Former 2-Time  WWF Intercontinental Champion
  • 1994 King Of The Ring winner
  • 1996 Slammy Award winner
  • 1997 Slammy Award winner

Really, the only noticeable omission on Owen’s WWF  championship list, is the WWF Championship itself. It is a real shame because I believe he could have been WWF Champion on two separate occasions…

So, before I get into what I think could have been, let’s talk about what was:

After suffering a knee injury and taking some time away from the company, Owen returned to the WWF in the fall of 1993.  After tagging with his older brother Bret after he returned, Owen would soon become frustrated. Being encased within his brother’s shadow, Owen became angry with Bret and even began having heated confrontations with him during their matches. By January 1994, their team had finally crumbled and Owen decided to send his older brother a message. In an attempt to step away from his brother Bret’s shadow, Owen issued a challenge which Bret declined.

Owen had accused Bret of being selfish and holding him down. The brother faced for the first time at Wrestlemania X, where Owen was able to cleanly pin his older brother. After this, the two would find themselves doing battle throughout the summer of 1994. Unfortunately,  no main picture included Bret Vs. Owen and no ultimately satisfying ending occurred, though a small handful of WWF title opportunities did arise for Owen. The two met in a cage match at SummerSlam that would mark the end of their feud before 1995.

Owen applying the Sharpshooter on Bret at Wrestlemania X.

Now, bear with me. Here’s what I think could have been:

After being rewarded the feud of the year (with Bret Hart) by Pro Wrestling Illustrated and garnering great praise from Wrestling Observer Newsletter, it isn’t hard to agree that Owen as a heel and his work with Bret was being pretty well received. I firmly believe that following their classic bout at Wrestlemania X and Bret’s victory over Yokozuna for the WWF Championship the same night Owen Hart could have chased his brother Bret for the title until they met at SummerSlam. Instead of Bret successfully defending his belt, Owen should’ve captured the gold on that night. This would of lead them to Survivor Series of that year, pitting Owen and Bret in a submission match to finally determine the better brother once and for all( instead of the match being Bret Vs. Bob Backlund for the championship). Owen would loose the match and Bret would go on to be shockingly defeated by Diesel three nights later after Owen would interfere and distract Bret, exacting his final revenge.

This would’ve given Owen his first WWF Championship reign under his belt and Bret a set-up for a grudge bout with Diesel at a later date, perhaps as a special attraction match not necessarily for the championship (at the time, I realize both Bret and Diesel were faces but, I think this approach could have worked).

Okay, I know how this must sound. King of The Ring, feud of the year, WWF Champion and a classic ‘mania match all in one year? A bit far-fetched for just one man to accomplish. All a matter of opinion I suppose.

Now let’s fast-forward to what was 1997:

Owen Hart had not been seen on WWF Programming for some time before he made a shocking appearance at In Your House: D-Generation X. At the event, Owen blindsided then-WWF Champion Shawn Michaels after his match with Ken Shamrock ended in a disqualification. The attack sent shock waves and answers were demanded by HBK as well as the WWF fans. An edgier Owen Hart emerged, now as a favorite and it almost seemed as if “The Black Hart” have set out on a vendetta against D-Generation X. Owen would soon challenge Michaels for the title on the December 29th, 1997 edition of Monday Night Raw. Owen would however be unable to capture the title that night due to an interference by Triple H. Owen would lose focus on Shawn and shift his attention to Triple H and the European title in the coming months and farther on, join up with The Nation of Domination to battle D-X. This would be his final WWF Chmapionship opportunity before his untimely death in 1999.

According to many, Owen and Shawn had nearly as much chemistry in the ring as Bret and Shawn did.

Now, what do I think could have been? A far more interesting situation:

Bret Hart had just departed from the WWF  in November of 1997. By the time In Your House: D-Generation X rolled around it had been December of 1997. You would think that after a fresh, controversial exit the last Hart standing would be penned as such. Why not have Owen try and avenge the screwing of his brother in Montreal? Say Owen holds D-X directly responsible for the event and looks to exact his ultimate revenge by dethroning the WWF Champion, Shawn Michaels… Now we’re talking good TV! Owen had A TON of momentum returning in 1997 with a fresh, edgy new attitude. He was a good guy who didn’t mind being bad when he had to. Truly a perfect foil, just like Bret was, to HBK. Do I think Owen could have easily melted into the shoes Bret left behind in the WWF? YES. He could have been the big “face” at the time against the cruel and Merciless D-X. Owen could have easily won the belt on Raw from Michaels that night. Later on, instead of Micheals against Stone Cold at Wrestlemania XIV, imagine if the breaking of Stone Cold’s neck was reborn! Turning Owen once again into a hated heel who would drop the belt to Austin just as Michaels did.

Owen Hart circa 1997 with the WWF Championship (Photo credit: Dallas Gridley)

Thus, two WWF title reigns under his belt by 1997. As simple as that and who knows, perhaps he may have won it again sometime after 1999, had he not tragically died. With a little imagination, it is not hard to believe that Owen most definitely may have made a great and compelling WWF Champion. He is just like the Roddy “Rowdy” Pipers and the Razor Ramons, etc. who (for some reason or another) never captured the WWF title in their career though they may have deserved it and could have carried it quite well…

It is fascinating to think what wrestlers who passed suddenly would have been able to accomplish, had they lived longer than they did. Owen Hart is no exception and in a way, perhaps he may have been able to outshine them all. WWF championship reigns or not, the man accomplished a lot of great things in the short time he had. He is an inspiration to many (including myself) and that alone may just be The King of Harts’ crowning achievement.

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