The WWF management controversially chose to continue the event. Later, Jim Ross announced the death of Hart to the home viewers during the pay-per-view, but not to the crowd in the arena. While the show did go on, it has never been released commercially by WWF Home Video. In 2014, fifteen years after his death, the WWE Network aired the event for the first time. A small photo tribute is shown before the start informing fans that Hart died during the original broadcast. All footage of Hart was edited out of the event. The statement reads: "In Memory of Owen Hart May 7, 1965 – May 23, 1999 who accidentally passed away during this broadcast."
Hart first gained wrestling experience in the amateur wrestling division at high school, through which he met his wife, Martha. Wrestling was not Hart's first choice for a career; as Martha explained in her book Broken Harts, Owen tried numerous times to find a profitable living outside of wrestling. Owen is quoted as saying, in the WWEs Home Video "Owen Hart of Gold" that "during his time in the University, he wrestled incognito (under a mask) as the original British Bulldog. Then, after he graduated from the University, he wrestled as "Bronco" Owen Hart at Royal Albert Hall in London, England. As those attempts were unsuccessful, Hart was trained in his father's Hart Dungeon and worked for his father's federation, Stampede Wrestling and in England for Max Crabtree's Joint Promotions in matches that got broadcast on ITV's World of Sport. He remained with Stampede for the next couple of years while honing his skills. During 1986, Hart teamed with Ben Bassarab and won the Stampede Wrestling International Tag Team Championship. The success of the team and Hart's in ring skills earned him Pro Wrestling Illustrated's Rookie of the Year Award in 1987. After he and Bassarab lost the tag team title, he feuded with Johnny Smith and Dynamite Kid.
In 1987, Hart branched out to Japan where he wrestled for New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW) on several tours. In NJPW, he wrestled Keiichi Yamada, and later under the Jushin Liger gimmick. On May 27, 1988, Hart defeated Hiroshi Hase for the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship, becoming the first non-Japanese Wrestler to win the title. His reign would end nearly a month later, as he lost the title to Shiro Koshinaka on June 24, 1988.
He met Martha Joan Patterson in 1982. They married on July 1, 1989 and had two children. Oje Edward Hart was born on March 5, 1992 and Athena Christie Hart was born on September 23, 1995. On May 28, 2011, Owen was inducted into the Legends Pro Wrestling "Hall of Fame" by Jack Blaze in Wheeling, West Virginia at their "LPW Hart & Soul Tour" event. The award was accepted by his brother-in-law Jim Neidhart who was also inducted that night. Despite Owen spending the majority of his WWF career portraying a cocky, obnoxious heel, he was very well liked by his fellow Wrestlers backstage and was known for being easy to work with. Hart was very frugal with his money; he had planned to save enough to retire and live comfortably with his family. When touring on the road with the WWF, he normally would stay in his hotel room while other Wrestlers went out and partied on the evenings.
Hart debuted in World Championship Wrestling's self-titled TV show on March 16, 1991, the first of five TV matches he competed in, all of which were against preliminary talent such as Mark Kyle. One of the bouts saw him team with Ricky Morton.
Owen and Neidhart first feuded with the Beverly Brothers. They then had their only pay-per-view match at the Royal Rumble in January 1992 where they beat The Orient Express. Neidhart left the WWF shortly afterward, and Hart set out on a very short run as a singles Wrestler, including a match at WrestleMania VIII against Skinner. Shortly after WrestleMania, Hart was teamed up with Koko B. Ware to form the duo known as High Energy. They had only one pay-per-view match as a team, at the Survivor Series where they lost to The Headshrinkers. The team was quietly dropped at the start of 1993 with Hart starting a singles career.
Hart returned to the WWF ring in the fall of 1993, at a time when Bret's feud with Lawler was temporarily sidetracked. Bret, along with Owen and their brothers Bruce and Keith, were scheduled to face Lawler and his team at Survivor Series. However, Lawler was unable to make it to the show, and as a result could not appear on WWF television. Lawler was replaced with Shawn Michaels. During the match Owen and Bret inadvertently crashed into each other, causing Owen to be eliminated from the team. Owen showed up after the match and had a heated confrontation with Bret, while Keith, Bruce and Stu tried to calm things down. This confrontation resulted in Owen leaving the ring to boos while his brothers and father watched in dismay and mother Helen cried at ringside. The following night Owen adopted the pink and black tights, sunglasses and Sharpshooter finisher to send a message to his brother. Owen, angry with being in Bret's Shadow, challenged his brother which Bret declined. Instead the brothers seemed to reunite by the holidays.
Owen and Bret feuded throughout the summer of 1994, clashing many times both in singles and later in tag team matches (with Bret joined by the returning British Bulldog). Two prominent matches took place in this feud: first, their steel cage match in the co-main event of SummerSlam for Bret's WWF World Heavyweight Championship, which Bret won. This match later received a five-star rating from Dave Meltzer. The second was a lumberjack match on August 17 that Owen initially won and was announced as WWF World Heavyweight Champion; Bret won the match after it was ordered to continue due to interference. At the Survivor Series, Owen struck the most damaging blow against his brother as he conned his own mother Helen to throw in the towel for Bret. The ploy cost Bret the world title to Bob Backlund. Owen also prevented Bret from regaining the title at the Royal Rumble in 1995 when he interfered in the match between Bret and new champion Diesel. In the weeks after the Rumble, Bret and Owen clashed again with Bret soundly defeating his brother, thus putting an end to their feud for the time being.
In 1995, Owen's brother-in-law Davey Boy Smith turned heel and joined the Camp Cornette stable. During the summer of 1996 the two brothers in law started to team up more and more, sometimes alongside Vader who was also a member of Camp Cornette. Owen was also a color commentator for the 1996 King of the Ring (exhibiting clear partisan support for Vader and Smith) and during this time wore a cast on his right forearm for several months, feigning a nagging injury to subsequently use his cast as a weapon during his matches.
In September 1996, Bulldog and Hart earned a pay-per-view shot at the tag team titles at In Your House 10. Owen and Bulldog left with the gold after defeating the Smoking Gunns. They also left with a new manager as Clarence Mason had conned Jim Cornette into signing over the contracts of the new champions. Signs of dissension, however, slowly started to show. One occasion where this was evident was at the Royal Rumble when Hart accidentally eliminated Bulldog. After the Rumble, they had miscommunication in matches against Doug Furnas and Phil LaFon and Bulldog fired Mason after losing a match to Crush who was also managed by Mason, something which did not sit well with Hart. Another bone of contention between the two was the newly created WWF European Championship; both men had fought their way to the finals to crown the first champion with Bulldog coming out as the Victor.
Hart was not seen or mentioned on WWF programming until he made a surprise appearance after Shawn Michaels retained his title following a disqualification loss to Ken Shamrock at In Your House: D-Generation X where he attacked Shawn Michaels. Now a fan favorite, but with a new edgy, antisocial attitude, Hart became known as "The Lone Hart" and also "The Black Hart". Owen had a feud with DX and challenged Shawn Michaels for the WWF World Heavyweight Championship on the December 29, 1997 episode of Raw Is War: Hart had Michaels locked in the Sharpshooter when Triple H interfered in order to save Michaels' title, giving Hart the victory by disqualification. He later won the European title from Triple H, although not directly. Goldust dressed up as Triple H in an attempt to swerve Hart, but Commissioner Slaughter considered him to be a legitimate replacement. Hart later suffered a kayfabe ankle injury during a match against Barry Windham involving Triple H. When Hart joined the commentary at ringside, Triple H managed to draw Owen into an impromptu title match and regained the title. Chyna interfered while the Referee wasn't looking and while Triple H was distracting the Referee, she struck Hart behind the left knee with a baseball bat, picked him up and threw him back into the ring where Triple H put Hart in a reverse ankle lock to his injured right ankle to win the European Championship under referees discretion in controversial fashion.
The show began with all the Wrestlers, managers, referees and agents of the WWF (except WWF Champion The Undertaker and Kane) standing on the entrance ramp. Howard Finkel called for a ten-bell salute. Hart's former Nation of Domination comrades were emotional, most notably Mark Henry, who wept as he read a poem that he wrote in memory of Hart. A tribute video narrated by Vince McMahon then played on the Titan Tron. Throughout the broadcast, personal thoughts on Hart in the form of shoot interviews with various WWF Wrestlers were played. Before the first commercial break, such thoughts were aired from Mick Foley and Bradshaw. Foley noted that Hart was his son's favorite Wrestler and had proudly gotten a haircut like Owen's, although he also said his son did not quite understand that "nugget" was not a term of endearment. Bradshaw talked about how Hart spent less money on the road than most Wrestlers because he wanted to retire early and spend time with his family. Owen's friend and Nation of Domination partner The Rock also made a short speech before engaging in a short match against Val Venis. Test then spoke about a rib Owen pulled on him. The broadcast ended with Stone Cold Steve Austin coming out for a special salute to Hart by climbing the turnbuckle and performing his famous "beer-bash" routine, ending with him giving a toast to Owen (whose picture was displayed on the TitanTron throughout the entire show) and leaving one beer in the ring (for Owen). The only notable absence from this show was The Undertaker as he decided to visit his real-life friend, Bret Hart. The tribute show scored a 7.2 Nielsen rating, making it the highest-rated special episode in Raw history and the third highest-rated show overall. Shawn Michaels, in his Heartbreak and Triumph autobiography, notes that "Owen is the only guy you could have a two-hour show for, and no-one would say a bad word about him." The next day, WWF taped the episode of Raw for May 31, 1999. During that show, Jeff Jarrett defeated The Godfather to win the WWF Intercontinental Championship, the title Hart was booked to win for a third time at Over the Edge. Jarrett screamed Hart's name as the belt was handed to him.
In the weeks that followed Hart's death, much attention was focused on the harness Hart used that night, especially on the "quick release" trigger and safety latches. When someone is lowered from the rafters in a harness, there are backup latches that must be latched for safety purposes. Four weeks after the event, the Hart family sued the WWF over how dangerous and poorly planned the stunt was, and that the harness system was defective. After over a year and a half into the case, a settlement was reached on November 2, 2000, which saw the WWF give the Hart family US$18 million. The manufacturer of the harness system was also a defendant against the Hart family, but they were dismissed from the case after the settlement was reached. Martha used millions of the settlement to establish the Owen Hart Foundation. Martha wrote a book about Hart's life in 2002 called Broken Harts: The Life and Death of Owen Hart.
In 2001, Hart's sister Diana released her first book named Under the Mat which dealt with their family. The book was written partially in response to Owen's death and became very controversial. Owen's widow Martha Hart pursued legal action over the work and claimed that Diana made inaccurate and irresponsible statements about her and her family. She stated that the book was "filled with distortions, misstatements and unjustified slurs that attempt to destroy the reputation of my family and me, and undermine the memory of Owen."
In June 2010, Martha filed a lawsuit against the WWE over WWE's use of Owen's name and likeness as well as personal photos of Hart's family in the Hart & Soul WWE DVD, as well as the failure to make royalty payments. The matter was scheduled to go to trial in June 2013 before the settlement was reached in April 2013 for an undisclosed amount.
In December 2015, WWE released Owen: Hart of Gold on DVD and Blu-ray, which covers his career.