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Scott Rees



The Kanyon/Jim Ross/Owen Hart Controversy

The anniversary of Owen Hart's death is approaching rapidly. I've been waiting for the tributes to come out, for wrestlers, announcers, organizations, and internet sites to ask us all to take a minute to reflect upon his life. The death of Adam Petty, a nineteen year-old NASCAR driver, has only made the pain of Owen's death worse for me. Here's another of my favorite athletes in one of "my" sports dying way to young. Adam died in the sport he loved; that gives me some sort of way to put away the grief. But it doesn't change the fact that a nineteen year-old kid is dead.

Several months ago, I wrote about the differences between a tragedy and stupidity. Without question, I consider Owen Hart's death a tragedy. He died because of a stunt gone wrong. A stunt that he wanted nothing to do with.

Jim Ross, in his latest Ross Report, has taken a shot at WCW for the bump that Kanyon took at Slamboree, because it was in Kemper Arena and almost a year ago from the death of Owen. He's earned the wrath of Bob Ryder, a WCW employee, who exploded on him in his latest column. His comments garnered a lengthy discussion from Dave Scherer, an ECW employee, who agreed that the timing and place could be considered questionable, but that it was a necessary part of the business these days and Jim Ross has no right to judge WCW because of it.

Jim's comments brought about both rage and sadness from me.

Let's take a simple look at the facts of both situations.

  1. Owen had expressed serious concerns about doing this stunt on several occasions. It was Kanyon's idea to do his stunt. WCW wanted him to be powerbombed through a table. Kanyon said that wasn't good enough, so he came up with the cage toss.
  2. Owen had performed this stunt one other time. Kanyon practiced the stunt three times the day before.
  3. Owen was wearing his Blue Blazer ensemble, with flowing robe and other possible entanglements. Kanyon was in normal wrestling gear.
  4. Owen's stunt called for an eighty foot repel from the ceiling. Kanyon's stunt called for him to fall about fifteen feet to a gimmicked portion of the entrance ramp. That's about 100 times less risky than Foley's Hell in the Cell drop onto the Spanish announcer's table.
  5. Owen, once released, had no way of being helped if something went wrong. Kanyon had a stunt coordinator ready to jump and tackle him in mid-air, taking away from the blow, if he was off target.
  6. Owen Hart is dead. Chris Kanyon walked away.

Jim Ross has to live the rest of his life knowing he saw Owen Hart drop eighty feet to his death. He also has to live the rest of life knowing that Jim Ross, the man, went on and performed the rest of the show as Good Old J.R. like normal, never once mentioning Owen's death.

Jim Ross may be lashing out at WCW because of his own grief. He may take everything that has to do with this to heart. He may need some kind of scapegoat to make it easier to look in the mirror. I can understand that.

But Jim Ross is way out of line on this one. He's is taking a cheap shot at WCW through a WWF forum. This appears to me to be another attempt by the WWF to spin heat off of them. Only this one should backfire.

Jim, nobody died at WCW last week. No wife was widowed. No children were left fatherless. There were no casualties. A year from now, we won't remember this stunt. We'll remember Owen's death.

The WWF is really behind the eight-ball on this one, and they know it. I can't see how they won't lose the lawsuit brought by Martha Hart. I don't see how this won't end up in a multi-million dollar settlement.

Here's a thought for you. WCW can really help Martha in her case. For starters, Sting can explain how the stunt is supposed to work. He's done it dozens of times. Secondly, WCW can explain at length all of the precautions they take in their "high-risk" stunts. How would those look versus the WWF's? Did Mick Foley's bump off of the Hell in the Cell cage look safe to you? And worse, his fall through the cage wasn't even planned! The improper design of that cage could have caused Mick serious injury. Videotape exists with several wrestlers explaining how they knew something was wrong by the way Mick landed.

The WWF has acted like any other corporation when it comes to Owen's death and the lawsuit. They've tried to spin it as much as possible, otherwise they've kept their mouths shut and applied a gag order on their workers. They've fought tooth and nail to not have the case in Kansas City. Vince tried a quick settlement, before Owen was even in the ground, which Martha smartly shot down. Vince has shown himself to be the ruthless bastard he really is, ever since the press conference in Kansas City.


So Jim Ross wants to call WCW classless for their stunt. Fair enough.

But Jim, next time you look in the mirror, or think about Owen's death and how the WWF handled it, I hope you realize was classless is. I hope you have trouble sleeping at night, knowing that your company killed a husband and a father, and you stand behind that company. I hope you decide one day to show some class, and speak the truth about this situation, not the WWF's spin.

Until then, I guess we'll have a standard of classless to go by. A pretty low standard, at that.

Scott Rees
[slash] wrestling

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