The season finale of Vice’s “Dark Side of the Ring” airs on Tuesday and features the widow of former World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc. (NYSE: WWE) performer Owen, Hart, who tragically died in a 1999 stunt during a WWE pay-per-view event. Martha Hart blames WWE on Owen’s death, and she doesn’t pull any punches in speaking her mind about WWE, its CEO Vince McMahon, and even Owen’s brother, former wrestler Bret “The Hitman” Hart.
Martha Hart has accused WWE of hiring unqualified stunt professionals to rig the setup for a stunt in which Hart would be lowered to the ring from the rafters of the arena. Hart would fall roughly 80 feet to his death. After a 15-minute delay, WWE resumed the event.
What Martha Hart Said About Vince McMahon
Martha Hart said responsibility for the accident rises all the way to the top of the WWE.
“The fact that they didn't stop the show is just appalling. Vince McMahon was a poor leader, and he failed because that talent was looking for leadership and he failed them,” Hart told CBS Sports.
Martha Hart also accused McMahon of turning her own family against her when she filed a wrongful death lawsuit against WWE.
“Vince was manipulating Owen's family, which resulted in some of the family members working against me. The Hart family overall didn't support the lawsuit, but some worked against me,” she said.
Martha And Bret's Relationship
Martha said Owen’s brother Bret was initially supportive during the lawsuit, but accused him of participating for selfish reasons.
“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.”
Martha Hart said Bret was hoping to gain control of his past WWE footage as part of Owen's settlement.
“When that didn’t happen, he was very upset that he didn’t get his footage,” Martha said.
Bret Hart told TheWrap he has no interest in more public mudslinging with Martha.
“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,” Bret Hart said.
WWE lawyer Jerry McDevitt issued a statement to CBS Sports in response to Hart’s allegations about the company and McMahon.
“We went to the mediation, and her lawyers were demanding $35 million and some admission of punitive damages. Vince told her right there, 'Look, Martha, I feel so bad for what happened. I feel responsible because this happened on my watch. I want to take care of you and your family, I loved Owen.' He was almost crying. We offered $17 million to take care of her. How many times does a CEO walk in a room and say he feels responsible? 'I'm not going to argue, I just feel responsible for what happened.' They turned it down; they wanted to go to court for their $35 million,” McDevitt said.
Martha used the settlement money to launch the Owen Hart Foundation.
In the end, Martha said she forgives everyone who was involved in the tragedy, but her forgiveness only goes so far.
"The Hart family, Vince McMahon, I don't hold any grudges. I hope life has been kind to all of them,” she said.
It’s unlikely the Owen Hart documentary will move WWE's stock in any significant way given the tragedy happened 21 years ago. The only potential fallout for WWE will be if the details of the event tarnish the reputation of the company and its management.
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