Owen Hart’s Widow Recounts the First ‘Fracture’ in Her Relationship With Bret Hart

Martha Hart tells TheWrap there’s no dollar amount Vince McMahon could donate to her charity that would make her approve Owen’s induction into WWE Hall of Fame

Owen Hart

Martha Hart, the widow of late WWE Superstar Owen Hart, has “no relationship” with her brother-in-law Bret “Hitman” Hart, she told TheWrap. But it wasn’t always that way.

“Unfortunately, I have no relationship with Bret,” Martha Hart told us ahead of the premiere for Vice’s “Dark Side of the Ring” Season 2 finale, “The Final Days of Owen Hart.”

“Bret was supportive throughout the lawsuit, but there were a few things that were a problem with Bret,” she said. “First of all, when we were going through the lawsuit, he really was hoping that I would be able to help him get his wrestling footage. Because at the time, he had no relationship with WWE and he was hoping somehow — if we ever had a settlement — that we could work it in.”

In having control over one’s WWF footage, a wrestler would not only be able to use the materials for his or her own future projects, it would have theoretically prevented McMahon from releasing an unflattering DVD, like the company did with the Ultimate Warrior in 2005’s “The Self-Destruction of the Ultimate Warrior.”

“When that didn’t happen, he was very upset that he didn’t get his footage,” Martha — the founder of The Owen Hart Foundation — continued. “It prompted him to befriend Vince [McMahon, the chairman of WWE] again so he could have access to his footage. That was the first fracture in our relationship.”

Bret Hart had a very public falling out with WWE (then WWF) and boss Vince McMahon in late 1997, when he left the company and went to go work for chief rival WCW. For those not in the know, just Google the “Montreal Screwjob,” or do a Google Image search for the very real black eye Bret Hart left on McMahon’s face.

Had Hart gotten his wish, he would have also commanded a license fee for any such release, positive or negative, that relied on the footage. (Hart would not have a say in or a share of the profits from the home-video release of a WWE event he participated in, like a WrestleMania X DVD, for example.)

Martha says Bret became “really nasty” after she wouldn’t allow his little brother Owen to be inducted in the WWE Hall of Fame. That’s when she says Bret “seemed to turn.”

In a statement to TheWrap, Bret Hart said: “While I am not interested in engaging in any more media mudslinging between Martha and myself especially in light of a global pandemic, I will say that our fallout is multifaceted. To say that it only involved being able to access and use my WWE footage and photos for future projects would merely be an oversimplification and inaccurate. I will not comment any further on the matter.”

WWE did not reply to our request for comment on this story.

Martha will not allow Owen to be posthumously inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame because she blames the wrestling company for her husband’s death. In 2000, she was awarded an $18 million settlement after suing the sports entertainment company for negligence. Martha used the settlement to start the Owen Hart Foundation, which provides college scholarships and opportunities for low-income families to afford housing.

“I’ve forgiven Vince, for everything. I don’t carry any of that with me,” she said. “But at the same time, you can forgive people, but that doesn’t mean you have to befriend them. If he wanted to donate to the foundation, that would be great — but I would never allow them to honor Owen when they were responsible for his death.”

Owen, wrestling as The Blue Blazer, plummeted to his death when the locking mechanism on his harness failed during WWE’s “Over the Edge” pay-per-view on May 23, 1999. Hart, who was supposed to slowly descend from the Kemper Arena’s catwalk for his match with The Godfather, fell from the rafters to the ring. Owen was later pronounced dead at a Kansas City hospital.

Despite the accident, WWE continued on with the pro-wrestling event. Hart’s blood was still on the mat.

“They didn’t take care of Owen, and that’s always going to be my issue with them,” Martha Hart said.

“The Final Days of Owen Hart,” the “Dark Side of the Ring” Season 2 finale, airs Tuesday at 10/9c on Vice. Readers can check out — and donate to — the Owen Hart Foundation here.