For years, I was kind of annoyed at Martha. Yes, I understood that the wrestling business, which she had so many reasons to loathe, took her husband and destroyed her family but there were countless fans of Owen’s (including myself) that wanted a DVD retrospective of Owen’s career. However, without Martha’s blessing, this was never going to happen. After reading this book, I can fully understand why she would never want to associate her husband with the product again.
In the first half of the book, Martha briefly takes you through Owen’s humble beginnings as a part of the most insane wrestling family I’ve ever read about (with this book, marks the 4th exposure of I’ve had to the Hart family – not counting the first 5 pages I read of Diana Hart’s tell all book which is mostly regarded as complete garbage) to his attempt to distance himself from the business time and time again yet only to get pulled back in. The second half is spent on the death of Owen, the investigation that followed and the massive lawsuit issued by Owen’s family.
Martha paints a picture of Owen as the ultimate devoted husband and the absolute epitome of perfection. While it’s clear to Martha that Owen loved his family, she describes Owen as someone who hated his job about 80% of the time. While its been noted in the past that Owen never wanted to pursue professional wrestling as a full time career, several others have gone on record to state that Owen was generally having a great time more often than not when on the road. Part of me would have to give the benefit of the doubt to the man’s wife but the negative attitude Owen seemed to have against the business at times seemed a little surprising as the reader might begin to wonder if Martha’s feelings are leaking into Owen’s perspective.
Regardless, Owen did have many reasons to hate the product in the late 90’s. While some wrestling fans may consider that of the Attitude Era to be the most compelling television the “sport” has ever produced, the exact opposite of Owen’s character was pushed to the top of the food chain leaving the devoted family man square in the middle or near the bottom. Add that to the fact that his entire family had left the company following the infamous “Montreal Screwjob” leaving Owen to fend for himself. Martha does go into detail about Owen’s frequent calls home describing his disgust for the late 90’s product we all know and love.
The book at times made me angry at how this whole thing occurred, that this ridiculous and completely unnecessary stunt destroyed a family. While I can understand the ratings war and I can understand the storylines needed to drive the emotion within any given feud, the fact that the production team wanted Owen to be able to snap loose from his harness in a matter of seconds rather than fumbling to try and get it off for a tad bit longer is ridiculous; would it have really made a difference?
Martha’s description of the Harts and how they basically turned their backs on her in order to procure jobs for their husbands was awful, a fact echoed in Bret’s book released in 2007. In the early stages of the reaction to Owen’s death, the Hart brothers and sisters lashed out at Vince and the current state of professional wrestling. Shortly after however, they (aside from a select few) were seen as being very cordial to Vince in an attempt to convince McMahon to hire Jim Neidhart and Davey Boy Smith for another WWE run, a turn of events that sickened Martha.
The book goes on to take you through the eventful and lengthy lawsuit that followed as both sides bickered back and forth on a settlement. Following that, Martha goes on to cover how her life had changed several years later. Following Owen’s death, Martha created the Owen Hart foundation, an organization used to benefit several charities as well as pursuing her goal to work in the field of psychology.
I can’t believe how hesitant I was to read this book, at times, I was annoyed as it wasn’t what I thought it was going to be as it only coveres a small portion of Owen’s life and focused mainly on the death, funeral and lawsuit more than anything – which still ended up being very interesting to say the least. Just as long as you’re well aware of this before reading it; it’s not a bad read.