“The King of Harts”: Owen Hart’s legacy continues through inaugural wrestling tournament

“The King of Harts”: Owen Hart’s legacy continues through inaugural wrestling tournament

The Owen Hart Cup is a series of tournaments annually produced by All Elite Wrestling in direct partnership with The Owen Hart Foundation in honor of the late, great Owen Hart, continuing his great legacy.

This tournament consists of two single-elimination tournaments, one each for men and women, and the winners respectively receive a trophy called “The Owen.” Established in September 2021, the inaugural tournament will conclude at AEW’s Double or Nothing pay-per-view on May 29, 2022. 

Owen Hart was a Canadian professional wrestler who worked for numerous wrestling promotions including, New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW), Stampede Wrestling, World Championship Wrestling (WCW), and the World Wrestling Federation (WWF). The World Wrestling Federation is now known globally as World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE). 

He received the most success in the WWF, where he worked under his real name and the ring name The Blue Blazer. 

Owen was a member of the famous Hart wrestling family and born in Calgary, Alberta, Canada as the youngest of twelve children of Stampede Wrestling promoters, Stu and Helen Hart. 

Hart received much success, becoming a one-time USWA Unified World Heavyweight Champion, a two-time WWF Intercontinental Champion, a one-time WWF European Champion, a four-time WWF World Tag Team Champion, as well as the 1994 WWF King of the Ring. 

Hart was also very well regarded outside of the ring, just as much as he was in the ring.

He was regarded as a big prankster in the backstage area and many claim there hasn’t been one person that met him without leaving with a smile on their face. To this day, it’s almost impossible to catch anyone ever saying anything bad about him.

He was also a well-known family man outside of the ring as well. Hart met Martha Joan Patterson in 1982 when they were in high school, and they married in 1989. They had two children together, Oje Edward Hart, and Athena Christie Hart. 

Unfortunately, Hart’s life was cut short when he died on May 23, 1999, at the incredibly early age of just 34 years old. 

His death tragically occurred live during the WWF Over the Edge pay-per-view in the Kemper Arena in Kansas City, Missouri. 

Hart was in the process of being lowered via harness and grappling line into the ring from the rafters for a scheduled Intercontinental Championship match against then champion, The Godfather. 

At the time he was performing under “The Blue Blazer ” character, which resembled a superhero, therefore ziplining to the ring to resemble him flying. 

While being lowered to the ring, Hart fell 78 feet into the ring landing chest-first on the top rope, throwing him into the ring. 

In very controversial fashion, the WWF ordered announcer Jim Ross to explain to the fans that Owen Hart had died as soon as they got word from the hospital, and decided to continue with the pay-per-view. 

Ross was speaking directly to the fans watching live while the fans in attendance that night had no idea what was going on. 

Owen’s wife, Martha Hart, sued the WWF four weeks after the event over how dangerous and poorly planned the stunt was, and the defective harness. 

After a year and a half in the case, a settlement was reached which saw the WWF give the Hart family $18 million. 

Martha used millions of this settlement to establish The Owen Hart Foundation. She also gave $2 million to Owen’s family and to this day stays connected with Keith, Wayne, and Bret Hart, out of Owen’s ten living siblings. 

Owen’s brother, Bret Hart, went on to say how much he regrets not being in the WWF at the time as he claims he would have talked his brother out of this stunt. 

To this day, Martha Hart still doesn’t allow WWE to use Owen’s name or likeness for merchandise, or for any purpose at all.

 In September 2021, All Elite Wrestling announced the establishment of the Owen Hart Cup. 

The finals of both the men and women’s tournaments will take place at AEW’s Double or Nothing pay-per-view on May 29, 2022.

As of this writing the following wrestlers have qualified for the women’s tournament: Toni Storm, Jamie Hayter, Hikaru Shida, Red Velvet, Ruby Soho, and Dr. Britt Baker D.M.D.

Only seven of eight women have qualified for this tournament so far. 

Also, as of this writing the following men have qualified for the men’s tournament: Samoa Joe, Kyle O’Reilly, Adam Cole, Dax Harwood and Darby Allin. 

I’m personally very much looking forward to this tournament as it continues. I’m also extremely glad AEW is deciding to honor the legacy of Owen Hart that will truly live on forever.