Friday, June 11, 1999
The Hart family is expected to launch a multi-million-dollar lawsuit against the World Wrestling Federation over the death of Owen Hart.
Having retained civil litigation and personal injury lawyers in Calgary and Kansas City, Mo., Martha, Bret (Hitman), Stu and Helen Hart are going to Kansas City this weekend, said one of their Calgary lawyers.
"There will be a worldwide press conference on Tuesday in Kansas City," said Pamela Fischer of Pipella and Co., one of four lawyers acting on behalf of the family members.
The lawsuit will be in the multi-million-dollar range, confirmed a wrestling community source.
An impending lawsuit is news to WWF owner and chairman Vince McMahon. "I don't know anything about it," he said yesterday, refusing to comment further about a lawsuit or Owen's widow Martha, who recently blasted the WWF boss for airing funeral footage on a wrestling show. "I'm not going to engage Martha -- it's such a sensitive subject."
Meanwhile, investigators in Kansas City are conducting a criminal investigation into the tragic death of the popular Calgary-based wrestler, which could bring a charge of involuntary manslaughter due to recklessness under Missouri law.
Hart, 34, died May 23 when he fell nine storeys from a cable as he was being lowered into the wrestling ring during a planned stunt. "I have some concerns that the material was the right stuff to use to lower a (large) man," said Maj. Gregory Mills of the Kansas City police department. Mills, who met with Martha and Bret last week, said the harness used to lower Hart had only one release mechanism. "We have to answer if that was enough," he said.
In order to lay charges, Mills said investigators must provide enough evidence to prosecutors and that evidence must point to one person. "We also need to find out who decided to use that equipment and why," said Mills, who found the harness had not been tampered with in any way and said his team is not yet focusing on one particular suspect.
A crime lab in Kansas City determined Hart fell at a speed of 80 km/h and the impact on a turnbuckle ruptured Hart's aorta, causing him to bleed internally.
Date: 06/09/99 22:15
Police now are conducting a criminal investigation into the death of professional wrestler Owen Hart because they wonder if the equipment he was using was appropriate for the stunt. Hart, 34, died at a World Wrestling Federation show May 23 at Kemper Arena. He was preparing to descend into the ring when a quick release mechanism on the back of a harness he was wearing opened prematurely. Hart dropped 78 feet to the ring below. Police initially said the drop was about 90 feet but have since revised their estimate.
"In looking at the rigging, I have a concern whether this was the safest way to do this stunt," Police Maj. Gregory Mills said of the equipment.
Mills said detectives will try to answer several questions in the criminal investigation, including:
If so, was it being used in the right way?
And was Owen Hart properly trained to use the equipment?
"We will be seeking expert advice to help us draw some conclusions," Mills said. "We can't say if it was right or wrong or if due caution was taken. What we do know is that in attempting to do that stunt, Owen Hart died."
Mills said the investigation is not focused on a particular suspect. "The investigation at this point is focused on a particular set of circumstances and we have to figure out who was involved in those circumstances," Mills said.
If someone is charged in the case, the charge likely would be involuntary manslaughter, which involves reckless conduct that causes a person's death, police said. Prosecutors would have to prove the defendant disregarded a substantial risk and deviated from what a reasonable person would do under similar circumstances. The charge carries a maximum prison sentence of seven years, said Jackson County Assistant Prosecutor Michael Hunt.
Hart's family did not want to be contacted, said family attorney Gary C. Robb. "The Hart family is following with interest this ongoing criminal investigation," he said. "We are proceeding with our own investigation into a civil wrongful death lawsuit." No civil lawsuit has been filed.
The stunt that led to Hart's death was intended to slowly lower Hart by rope into the wrestling ring from a catwalk just below the ceiling at Kemper Arena. Once in the ring, Hart was supposed to trigger a quick release mechanism that would detach him from the rope. Three workers were on the catwalk with Hart before the stunt: two stagehands from the Kansas City area and a rigger from Florida, all hired by the wrestling federation. The rigger told police he connected a ring on Hart's vest to a snap hook, and connected the snap hook to a ring on the end of the rope. Then Hart stepped off the catwalk, putting his full weight onto the rope. The rigger lowered Hart until Hart's head was about even with the rigger's knees. The rigger told police he saw Hart adjusting his vest and "Blue, Blazer" costume as he dangled in midair, waiting for music to cue his descent. Then, the rigger said, he heard the distinctive "snap" that the quick release mechanism makes when it opens. The rigger peered over the catwalk and saw that Hart had landed in the ring below.
Experts at the Kansas City Crime Lab told Mills that Hart plunged into the wrestling ring at a speed of 50 mph. The impact ruptured Hart's aorta, causing him to bleed to death internally. "He was not pushed and the equipment that was to lower him to the floor does not appear to have been tampered with," Mills said. "We know someone else did not pull the ring to trigger the quick release. "It happened while Owen Hart was hanging there. He was the only one there when it happened. His fall had nothing to do with an overt act by someone else."
Officials from the wrestling federation did not return telephone calls Wednesday. The rigger who oversaw Hart's stunt could not be reached for comment.
Keith Woulard, a professional stunt man who lives in the Los Angeles area, said the stunt Hart was attempting was not unusual. He said, however, that when he performs similar stunts, he uses a secondary rope as a precaution. "You release the secondary rope just before they say, `Action,' " said Woulard, who is a member of the International Stunt Association. "Then you release the primary line when you're ready to detach from the rope." Woulard said being suspended by a vest and rope is cramped, which is another reason to have a secondary rope. "People get restless," he said. "Why take chances?"
Another stunt man, Henry Kingi Jr., who lives in the Los Angeles area, said when he has performed similar stunts, he waited until the last minute to put his full weight on the rope. "A few minutes in the harness is uncomfortable," he said. "It can cut the blood supply off to your legs if you're there too long."
Woulard and Kingi said the performer's weight is a factor in what kind of equipment to use. Heavier performers need stronger quick release mechanisms. Hart weighed about 230 pounds. Both men said it was not unusual to have the quick release triggered by a single motion. Kingi, however, said there are different kinds of release mechanisms available. Hart was using a tear-dropped shape mechanism that opened like handcuffs. Kingi said he prefers a three-ring mechanism. "With the 3-ring, if you pulled the trigger out an inch, you wouldn't go anywhere," Kingi said. "You'd have to completely pull it out for the rope to detach."
A white limo disgorges Master P and some friends. Curt Hennig greets them and starts sucking up to the rapper. MP autographs a CD for him . Hennig says, "This is how much I respect you..." and breaks the CD. MP and his friends swarm towards Hennig and we cut to promos for the PPV.
The Great American Bash is on the air from the Baltimore Arena in Baltimore, Maryland. Tony, Tenay and the Brain are our hosts.
The announcers are talking about the fact that Kevin Nash will face Savage with injured ribs - and he has requested that the ban on Savage's elbow drop be lifted.
Mean Gene is on the ramp to hawk the card...and the hotline, of course.
Brian Knobbs vs. Hak - Kendo Stick Hardcore match - Knobbs brings a trashcan to the ring. Knobbs tells us that it's "Mrs. Nasty's" birthday today. He challenges Hak to throw away the sticks and other accouterments and just go at it with taped fists. Seems a little late to change the rules. Chastity is fetching in a black sequined sheath tonight. Hak takes his time getting into the ring. Again, Knobbs demands that they dispense with the weapons. Hak turns to talk to Chastity about it and gets canned! The challenge was a swerve... Knobbs continues his assault and firmly holds the advantage. He buries Hak's face in his pit in the corner. Hart throws a chair to Knobbs and he runs at Hak with it - but the latter kicks it into his face and now Hak is in charge. He leaves the ring and grabs a ladder from underneath it. He tosses into Knobbs face before re-entering. He places knobbs leg under the ladder and drops a leg on it - then he repositions Knobbs and strikes the ladder with the chair.Knobbs recovers quickly and turns the tables by whipping Hak into the ladder. Another trashcan shot is followed by Knobbs swinging the ladder like a propeller and catching Hak with it. Hak manages to turn the tables and places Knobbs on the ladder then lauches himself from the top rope...and misses a somersault splash. Jimmy Hart holds a chair for Knobbs to run Hak into but Hak slips away and Knobbs takes the shot. A final whack with the stick gets him the pin. Hugh Morrus hits the ring and Hak is subdued. The ladder is put on top of Hak then Morrus hits his moonsault. Knobbs finishes the carnage with a trashcan splash.
Roddy Piper is backstage and meets Buff Bagwell who thanks Piper for giving him "the ball" - he suddenly seems happy about his match with Disco and promises to watch Piper's back.
Mikey Whipwreak vs. Van Hammer - It's interesting that we seem to see more of Whipwreak on PPD's then otherwise. Stature-wise this seems like a mismatch. Hammer asserts his superior size immediately. Whipwreak is floored a couple of times then responds with a couple of armdrags. He is stopped in his tracks after the third exchange and Hammer goes to work on him. Whipwreak comes back with punches but is shrugged off by the big guy who then places Whipwreak on the corner and beals him across the ring. Mikey is whipped to the corner and goes down hard. Hammer sets hhim back up there then gets a vertical suplex off the second rope with mucho hang time. He grabs an abdominal stretch and uses the ropes for leverage. Whipwreak is in a lot of trouble as he is tossed to the floor. Hammer follows him out and moves the steps so he can climb them and drop Whipwreak onto the railing. Whipwreak goes for the eyes then positions Hammer on the apron so he can drop a leg on his neck then follows with a splash from the inside out. Back in the ring he splashes Hammer again and gets a two-count. He climbs the top again and throws himself right into Hammer's arms. One good cobra slam does the trick for Hammer.
Disco Inferno vs. Buff Bagwell - Disco stops and poses with a gorgeous blonde on his way to the ring. The match starts with a pose off for the fans, which Bagwell wins handily. Disco takes the first couple of shots then turns the tables...then stops to showboat. Bagwell rolls to the floor to regroup. Back in the ring he is all over Disco and takes control of things immediately. Moments later he sets up for a Blockbuster but Disco sees it coming and bails. Back in the ring they trade wristlocks then a whip and Buff's neck is dropped on the top rope. Disco applies an atomic drop then chokes his opponent under the bottom rope. It is all Disco now for a while. Disco throws a elbow from the second rope and connects. He goes to the well again and misses. Bagwell follows up with a back body drop then decks him with a forearm smash. Buff tries to set-up the Blockbuster again but Disco stumbles into the rope and upsets Bagwell's balance. They tumble to the floor and Disco hits the Last Dance on the concrete. Back in the ring Disco takes his time to continue the attack. He sets up a piledriver but is back dropped instead. Both are down then get to their feet for a slugfest, which Buff wins. Then Bagwell stops to celebrate which proves to be an error. He recovers however and moments later gets the Blockbuster and the pin.
Curt Hennig/Bobby Duncum, Jr. vs. Konnans Sr. and Jr. - oh gawd...the DJ is back...lose this guy...puleaze!!! He introduces Master P and his entourage who enter like they have a match or something and take ringside seats. Hennig and Duncum have new entrance music called either "I Hate Rap" or "Rap is Crap"...take your pick. The Konnans enter wearing gas masks...what is that all about? They stop to gab with MP and his minions. Konnan and Rey do their schtick then the competition enters and make a statement of their own - an insult thrown at MP. All four start the match and the country boys are ejected posthaste. Konnan works Henning over to where MP sits and lets him get in a slap to the back of Hennig's head. It sorts out to Konnan vs. Duncum for the beginning of the official match. Konnan dominates and tags in Rey who launches himself into Duncum's arms. He is powerbombed and then isolated as the country boys go to work with quick tags in and out. Konnan enters the ring prematurely and costs Rey some shots out on the floor. Master P rallies the fans at ringside. Hennig gets a magnificent standing drop kick right in Rey's mush. Rey has been on the recieving ends for several minutes now. Konnan comes around on the floor to try and fend off Duncum so Hennig takes Rey over and works on him in his own corner! He stops and swivels his hips in tribute to his late friend, Rick Rude. Konnan finally gets the tag and starts to clean house but the referee didn't see it and orders him to leave the ring. Rey is in real trouble now. He manages to get an Asahi moonsault but Hennig catches him in mid-air. But then Rey wiggles off his shoulder and forces Hennig into the corner buckle. Konnan comes in at the same time as Duncum and it starts to break down. Suddenly Barry Windham runs in and attacks Konnan on the floor. MP's bodyguard jumps the rail and lays Hennig out from the apron then goes after Windham. Rey gets a slingshot legdrop and the pin as a melee breaks out at ringside. Security rounds up MP's guys which allows the country boys to ride roughshod over the rappers.
Ernest Miller (w/Sonny Oono) vs. Scott Norton - Horace comes out in lieu of Norton and has a mic. He accuses Miller of hitting him with a tire iron on Thunder. Miller says he wants Norton but Horace has other plans and attacks. He grabs the advantage immediately using his superior size to good advantage. He tosses Miller to the floor and follows him out to beat on him some more. Miller turns the tables back in the ring with a side kick, a choke and a scoop slam. Then he stops to run his mouth before dumping Horace to the floor and into the tender mercies of Sonny Oono. Horace recovers and gives chase, which exactly what Oono wanted him to do. The Cat blindsides his opponent. Horace recovers and turns the tables again then tosses Miller back into the ring. Miller has to hit a low blow to recover then chokes on him some more. Miller gets a whip but Horace reverses the field with a boot to the face then a splash. He gets a two-count. Miller rolls to the outside where Oono puts a rather effeninate looking red shoe on his foot. It is obviously loaded because one kick puts Horace out for the count. Afterward, Miller carries his "Godfather of Soul" impression to new heights with a sequened cape ala James Brown.
Roddy Piper vs. Rick Flair (w/Aysha/AA) - the geezers battle for control of WCW - I am surprised to see AA accompany Flair to the ring after what happened Thursday. He does look a bit dispirited. Flair has trouble getting back into the ring after Piper's entrance. He finally gets in and back Piper into the corner for a chop. Piper spins him around and chops him 9 times then lashes out with his fists. Flair falls on his face then gets up and is chopped in the corner some more. Piper gets a backslide ans a two-count which causes a shoving match between Flair and Pee Wee Anderson. Piper gets in a shot to the jaw and Flair goes down again. This match is nothing but a brawling fistfight so far - which favors Piper. Flair suckers Piper into the corner and hits a low blow to turn the tables. He tosses Piuper to the floor where Arn pummels him then rolls him back inside. Flair distracts the referee so that Ashya can get in a shot as well. Piper is out of it on the mat and Flair is taking his time about continuing the assault. Piper grabs his trunks and nearly disrobes his opponent as he pulls him into a roll-up. Piper is out on the floor again but beats Arn to the punch this time. Back on the apron he goes for a sunset flip but fails. He gets a whip and grabs a sleeper. Flair shoots him off. Arn distracts the referee then throws a set of brass knucks to Flair who uses the weapon but still fails to get the pin. He grabs a figure four and gets assistance from Arn. Buff Bagwell runs in and attacks Flair. Piper watches for a while then suddenly whacks Bagwell! Arn runs in and attacks Bagwell as well. He a Flair hold Bagwell down and Piper whips him with his belt!! This was completely unexpected for sure.
More DJ crap...
Sting vs. Rick Steiner - anything goes, falls count anywhere, no DQ match - Sting hauls off and decks Steiner right on the bell. They tumble to the floor and the match is on. Steiner turns the tables then rolls Sting back inside. Sting recovers and returns with an atomic drop to turn the tables for himself. They go out ot the floor again where Steiner is tossed over the railing. He grabs a drink and tosses it in Sting's face to recover then follows back toward the ring where he finds a chair and uses it. Sting seems unfazed and recovers instantly. He goes for a Stinger splash against the railing but Steiner moves aside and Sting is on the defensive again. Steiner moves the padding aside and gets a piledriver on the concrete. Sting kicks out at two. Back in the ring, Steiner is still in control with a released German suplex. He grabs a head vice as Stings lays on the mat then swtches to a reverse chinlock. It's strange to see this match because I remember when Sting and Steiner made their respective reputations as a tag team under the tutalage of Eddie Gilbert. In the ring, Syting is loose and gets two big splashes off the top rope. He gets a two-count and seems surprised when Steiner kicks out then comes roaring back to grab a surfboard. Sting regains his verticle base and kicks his way free then gets a Stinger splash then a second one. He gets the Scorpion Deat Lock but Steiner crawls to the ropes to escape. The fight goes back out to the floor where Sting maintains his advantage as Steiner retreats. He gets a suplex on the ramp then takes Steiner over to the Internet table where Chris Jericho is doing commentary. They stumble backstage where Scotty Steiner and Tank Abbot are waiting with two doberman pinscers and a rottweiler!! Sting is attacked by the dogs as security runs in to save him and the cameras pull away. The Steiners make their way back to the ring where they grab the mic and declare victory.
What follows are a series of video recaps of events leading up to tonight's Tag Team Title match.
Diamond Dallas Page/Kanyon (w/Bam Bam Bigalow) vs Saturn/Chris Benoit - World Tag Team Title match - the champs enter to Malenko's music yet again (maybe that's what he is upset about...) Kanyon faces Benoit to start and is handed his head. He recovers and goes on the offensive but Benoit is too intense for him and retakes the advantage. Page tries to interfere and gets ejected along with his partner. Both teams switch members and Saturn faces Page - and bests him at mat wrestling then takes to the air. Page is at sea for a bit then Benoit tags back in and Page is double teamed. Page rolls to the floor then joins his partner in storming the ring - but the Champs are behind them and get a shot each on Bigalow before re-entering the ring. Kanyon and Page meet them coming in. Saturn returns to his corner and Benoit is on the receiving end for a while. Page has his way with his opponent then tags in Kanyon. Kanyon shows us some of that innovative offense of his much to Benoit's dismay. Benoit is being isolated and Saturn is not helping by distracting the referee. Page gets a 2 1/2 count. Benoit comes back weith a couple of suplexes and gets a two-count off a belly-to-back. Page rolls out then uses the referee as a sheild to turn the tables. He tags Kanyon who goes for a moonsault and misses. Benoit gets the tag and so does Kanyon. Saturn downs Page and gets a frog splash and a 2 1/2 count of his own. Page is on rubber legs and Saturn takes advantage of it but Page manages to tag Kanyon in and Saturn is back on the defensive. He is tossed out to Bigalow and Page while Kanyon distracts the referee. Page comes back in with Saturn and a doubleteam move almost gets him the pin. Kanyon punches Benoit in the corner to draw him in to distract the referee again. Kanyon and Page are really functioning well as a team now. Kanyon grabs a front facelock then swings it into a neckbreaker. He drags Saturn to his side of the ring then holds him while Page throws a top rope splash. Page pummels him in their corner. Kanyon runs over and nails Benoit to sucker him in so that they can double team Saturn. Page has the front face lock now and Saturn is trying to struggle to his corner. He gets the tag but the referee is distracted again abd doesbn't allow it. Page rushes Saturn in the corner and misses which gives Saturn an opening. Both struggle to thwir corners and make the tag. Benoit comes in and cleans house. He runs Kanyon into Page in the corner causing Page to fall into a low blow headbutt on his partner. Benoit gets a series of three German suplexes on Kanyon but Page prevents the pin. Benoit gets the dragon suplex and another 2 1/2 count - but Page pulls him off and prevents the pin. Benoit gets the diving headbutt on Kanyon but when Saturn tries for his splash he is caught and Diamond Cut. Here comes Malenko down to help Saturn to his feet which distracts the referee. Benoit has the Crippler Crossface on Kanyon but Bigalow and Page are in the ring and do a double Diamond Cutter on Benoit and the Page pulls Kanyon onto Benoit for the pin. The Triad are the new Tag Champs.
Kevin Nash vs. Randy Savage (w/the girls) - World Title match - Michael Buffer is on hand for the introductions. Nash walks gingerly to the ring and appears to be bandaged under his tights. Buffer also mentions a bum wheel (which I hadn't heard about previously). He clutches his ribs after entering the ring. Nash strikes aggressively to start the match and puts Savage on the defensive. He lays in the back elbows in the corner and Savage falls to the mat. He rushes in with a lariet but misses and hurts himself. He manages to retain the initiative and hits a sidewalk slam but hurts himself again. Savage attacks the ribs the first chance he gets but he is a little shaky from the initial assault of the Champion. He gains strength as the attack continues and takes Kevin out to the floor where Medusa gets in a kick to the ribs. Savage re-enters the ring then knocks Nash off the apron as he attempts to follow. Medusa gets in another kick then assists Nash to roll back in. Savage keeps up the attack on the midsection for a moment then switches to head shots in the corner. Now the girls mount the apron and Miss Madness gets her drop-kick off the top. Savage goes to the top and throws his elbow to the ribs...but only gets a two-count. He looks astonished. Nash is on the offensive now and Savage is reeling - but Nash is in pain. He pulls down his singlet and reeveals that he isn't bandaged. He gets the jack knife on Savage then the girls attack him. He fends them off handily but then Sid Vicious appears on the apron and attacks with a boot to the face. As Buffer is announcing the DQ, Sid is powerbombing Nash. The announcers are suggesting that Sid was the driver of the Hummer.
Good surprise for the finish - I don't think anybody predicted the arrival of Sid tonight,
At least that's the way I see it...
Editor, Solie's Wrestling Newsletter
This page is a personal tribute and is in no way connected to any of the wrestling promotions mentioned on it. It is dedicated to the Dean of Wrestling announcers, Gordon Solie.
Copyright 1999 - Jump City Productions