Whether or not you agree or disagree with the release of a DVD about Owen Hart is a debate that will rage on and on. Falling on the side of the former, I admit that I was still intrigued as to what they would do with a documentary about Hart’s life given the relative lack of footage and sit-down interview material available from the man himself.
This is essentially a tribute DVD. You’d have to be made of stone not to find it emotional and they make no bones about the fact that Owen was one of the best guys to be around that ever worked in the company and the reactions to his death, to this day, still stir many a sentiment.
Ultimately, however, this is not a startling DVD set. What is emotive and bound up in the circumstances surrounding his death is not what your average wrestling fan wants to spend their cash on. My litmus test is often a) have I learned anything and b) would I watch it again? In this case: a) not that much and b) no.
The wrestling on display is obviously the DVD collection’s strength, however, and you can find a full match listing here. If you haven’t ever seen his matches with Bret from 1994-05 or, more likely, the amazing 10-man tag from In Your House 16: Canadian Stampede you will not be disappointed and, unlike the above, you will want to watch them again and again.
The documentary runs at just over an hour and, although dredges up some footage of Owen in a restaurant in 1996, which constitutes somewhat of a sit-down, most of the material comes from his family. Bret, Alison, Georgia, Keith, Diana, Ross, Bruce and even Ellie all feature here and provide some real insight into what he was like from birth to death. Bret is always a welcome presence on any WWE documentary, but here feels like the advocate and confidante of his brother; probably providing us with the closest insight that we could have, bar his wife, who is of course against the release of this DVD.
Through short inset segments entitled ‘Owen tales’, we hear road stories from a variety of modern-day WWE superstars as well as backstage talent. These are hit and miss in terms of their quality and sometimes just either aren’t that funny or worthy of remark. What is remarkable, though, is just how gifted Owen was in the ring and how regularly he was overlooked by both WWE and WCW. He was in mid-card mediocrity for some time until he feuded with Bret and subsequently honed a heel character that could go on and carry around Slammy awards and stake a serious claim to be involved in title programmes.
His moral stance on the attitude era is covered, albeit briefly – and without really noting that characters like him providing the contrast to what was commonplace were vital to that period working for the company – but there is some wonderful video of he and Davey Boy Smith together inside and out of the workplace. Ditto, his work teaming with Yokozuna is discussed and to what end they were strange bedfellows.
What is probably most difficult about this collection is probably not the debate about whether or not it should have seen the light of day. For me, it is the unfortunate fact that this man’s life story is always going to be intrinsically linked to and caught up in his death. The company are cashing in on a mid-90s wrestler who normally wouldn’t have had this kind of documentary made about them.
What’s here, then, is an elegy of a family man who loved to wrestle and loved to joke around, but there isn’t too much else. If you want to watch Owen Hart wrestle, there’s plenty of that here. But if you want to really get inside the mind of the man, to learn what he was like, what influenced him or what excited him, you won’t find it on this DVD release.
The DVD and Blu Ray were released today!