Owen tragically passed away at WWE Over The Edge 1999 in a stunt gone wrong. Martha has held WWE responsible for his death and the two sides were involved in a two-year legal battle with Martha filing a wrongful death lawsuit against the WWE and WWE suing her for breaching Owen’s contract.
The issue was settled out of court for approximately $18 million. Hart sued WWE again in 2010 for wrongfully using Owen’s name and likeness in numerous DVDs under the WWE name. The lawsuit was settled in 2013.
Due to the feelings between both sides and legal complications, Owen Hart merchandise is rather rare, but Martha plans to change that in conjunction with the upcoming “Dark Side of the Ring” episode focused on Owen.
“Owen really appreciated his fans and I do feel bad for the fans because, for example, there’s not a lot of merchandise available in regards to Owen for obvious reasons,” Martha told Chris Jericho on Talk Is Jericho. “That’s something that — working with Dark Side of the Ring, we talked about doing something to commemorate the episode. We’re going to put out some nice t-shirts of Owen for fans. Owen adored his fans.”
Martha didn’t go into detail on when or where the shirts would be available.
Jericho mentioned to her that there are now more outlets to produce Owen merchandise, which she was not aware of as she hasn’t kept up with the business over the years. She explained, “In the past, people have approached me, but it always turned up that somehow there was a link with WWE.
I’ve always steered away from anything related to them, so it’s always squashed opportunities. Any sort of merchandise venture, we give all proceeds to the Owen Hart Foundation. I didn’t think it was right that a company like WWE would make money off of his name when I hold them responsible for his death. I never wanted to do any projects with them. Unfortunately, forever, they were the only game in town.”
While Martha Hart and WWE are unlikely to ever work things out, WWE wasn’t the only company Owen worked for. Owen spent the late 80s and early 90s in NJPW where he won the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion.
When asked by Jericho if she would consider returning to Japan to honor Owen, Martha said, “If I got an invite, I would definitely entertain it, but I haven’t. It’s not like I’ve turned anything down. Nobody has ever approached me about something like that and I never gave it much thought. But, you never know.”
The Owen Hart episode of Dark Side of the Ring premieres brought so much light to the life and death of the wrestling legend.