The Owen Hart tape (lost death footage of professional wrestler; 1999)
On May 23, 1999, professional wrestler Owen Hart fell from the rafters of the Kemper Arena in Kansas City, MO during a Pay-Per-View taping of WWF Over The Edge 1999.
The filmed fatal accident occurred while doing a stunt where he was to be lowered into the ring by a harness (in his "Blue Blazer" persona) before his Intercontinental Championship match against fellow wrestler The Godfather.
He was supposed to unlatch his harness when he was a few feet above the ring, causing him to fall flat on his face for comedic effect (as his wrestling persona was a bumbling superhero). The harness was accidentally unlatched prematurely, causing Hart to fall 24 meters, chest-first onto the top rope, flinging violently into the ring. The impact of the fall severely wounded him, and he later died at the hospital from blunt force trauma to the chest.
The fall did not occur on live Pay-Per-View. An interview with Hart as The Blue Blazer that was recorded in the backstage area earlier in the day was playing as the tragedy occurred. Once the cameras cut back to the arena, ring announcers Jerry Lawler (who left the announcer's table to check on Hart's condition) and Jim Ross explained to the audience what was happening, and the arena's cameras were pointed away from the ring in respect to the paramedics working to stabilize his condition.
The event was postponed for 15 minutes before WWF CEO Vince McMahon made the decision to continue the event. One hour after the event resumed, Lawler and Ross appeared on camera once more to deliver the news that Hart had passed away from his injuries.
A YouTube user by the name of Chris Breseman said that he was in attendance and witnessed the fall, who said that Hart's "body folded like a fucking accordion."
Existence and Availability
Since WWF cameras were rolling at the time of the accident, footage of Hart's fatal fall exists on tape. This was confirmed in a column written by former WWF announcer Kevin Kelly in May 2013. According to Kelly, the tape sits in the WWE Archive in Stanford, CT with instructions "never to destroy, view or duplicate". Footage from the 1999 match where Darren "Droz" Drozdov got paralysed accidentally is apparently in the archive with the same instructions.
The remainder of the event was only available online in the form of bootleg VHS recordings made during the event until the launch of the WWE Network in February 2014. While the PPV is available on the service, it was edited to not include the aftermath of the fall and the announcement of Hart's death by Jim Ross.
- 2013 column on Owen Hart, written by former WWF announcer Kevin Kelly on the 14th anniversary of Hart's death. Retrieved 23 May '13.
- A list of events aired on the WWE Network service. Retrieved 4 Feb '14.