This is for the Dead

May 23rd, 1999.

Another normal day really. The St. Louis Cardinals walked on the Los Angeles Dodgers in a game at Dodger Stadium. At the conclusion of the game, a father would drive his son to a friends house. When that father picked him up four hours later, his son had a gloomy look. The car ride home was silent. I was 15 years old when I heard words that would haunt me for many days and weeks to come: “Owen Hart has died.”

I never knew Owen Hart. I never met Owen Hart. I only saw him wrestle live one time, at a WWF House Show just a month prior to his death. He and Jeff Jarrett defeated Edge and Christian and the New Age Outlaws in a three way tag match. I wondered why, then, did I have trouble sleeping that night? The next day, I watched Wrestlemania X and Summerslam 1994. Wrestlemania X featured an awesome match up between Owen and his brother Bret Hart, who at the time of Wrestlemania X, was my favorite wrestler. Summerslam 1994 featured the culmination of their intense feud in a steel cage match. I kept popping in tapes with Owen on it. When I got to Backlash 1999’s New Age Outlaws vs. Double J/Owen Hart match, I had figured it out.

Owen Hart was an entertainer. For many of my young years and all of my teen years up tot hat point, Owen Hart entertained me. He was the heel who was fun to hate. The guy who covered his ears when you chanted “nugget.” The bad guy in the goofy outfits who always managed to get a reaction from the crowd. That was Owen Hart.

I realized at that moment just how real wrestling is. Louie Spicolli, Andre the Giant, Brian Hildebrand, Rick Rude, Brian Pilman, and Bruiser Brody entertained us all. They played a part in our daily lives by giving us a reason to turn the TV on and get lost in two hours of wrestling. Suddenly, they aren’t entertaining us anymore. We no longer have any of the aforementioned to cheer or boo. Just the memories that will last a lifetime. I wish I could have met them before they died. I wish I could have told them how much good they’ve inspired me to do. I wish I could tell them how much what they do means to me. I wish guys like Owen Hart and Rick Rude could have seen, so they would know that someone appreciates what they do enough to honor it. Because that’s what this site comes down to anyway: paying tribute and appreciation to the sport we love and to the athletes who do it.

Owen Hart was one of the reasons I wanted to join their ranks. That dream stays alive to this day. I wanted to tell him that. On May 23rd, 1999, I lost the chance to.

For the rest of this week, I want you, the reader, to remember the people who changed your life and aren’t here anymore. Family, friends, wrestlers, thinkers, etc. In our rushed world, we never have time to stop and think about the past, when the past and the future will end up being one in the same. Our memories will play key roles in what we do with the rest of our lives.

Owen Hart, 1966-1999
Rest in Peace my friend, you will never be forgotten.