Owen Hart’s death at the 1999 PPV event Over The Edge in Kansas City is one of the most tragic moments in wrestling history. Allegations of negligence on WWE’s part, and criticism of the decision to continue on with the show after an equipment malfunction caused Hart to fall to his death while making his entrance, followed. A lawsuit filed by Owen’s wife Martha related to WWE’s use of his name & likeness was settled out of court in 2013, and has resulted in the beloved wrestler being relegated to the margins of the company’s version of pro wrestling history.
A new arrangement between AEW and the non-profit Martha runs in Owen’s name looks to change that.
As part of the arrangement, AEW will be able to develop Owen Hart merchandise like toys, and use him in other licensed efforts such as their upcoming console video game. Within their televised wrestling product, the company will hold an annual Owen Hart Cup Tournament in his honor.
Both AEW head honcho Tony Khan and Dr. Martha Hart comment on the partnership in the full press release describing it:
AEW and The Owen Hart Foundation Enter Into A Relationship to Honor World Renowned Wrestler Owen Hart’s Legacy
September 20, 2021 – All Elite Wrestling (AEW) and The Owen Hart Foundation (OHF), a nonprofit charity which provides a vast range of assistance and opportunities to individuals in need across the world, are collaborating to honor the legacy of late wrestler Owen Hart, a beloved figure in the professional wrestling community and beyond. This collaboration includes launching the annual Owen Hart Cup Tournament within AEW, which will see the winner receive a Cup known as “The Owen,” as well as the production and distribution of unique and original Owen Hart merchandise, including specified retail goods as well as the upcoming AEW console video game.
This alliance incorporates opportunities to develop Owen Hart action figures via AEW’s partnership with Jazwares, apparel, posters, and additional collectable merchandise. Owen Hart is survived by his wife, Dr. Martha Hart, who spearheads The Owen Hart Foundation with a mission of providing global aid to at-risk communities (e.g., scholarships, housing, various forms international assistance, food drives, backpack giveaways and Christmas projects).
“AEW’s relationship with the Hart family dates back to our inaugural pay-per-view event, Double or Nothing in 2019, and Owen’s influence is still felt today,” said Tony Khan, AEW CEO, GM and Head of Creative. “To extend his memory and his legacy even further through this agreement is a powerful and meaningful moment for the entire wrestling community.”
“The Owen Hart Foundation is extremely pleased to partner with AEW in this wonderful joint venture to honor Owen’s substantial international wrestling career and the lasting influence he and his craft has had in the sport. AEW’s Owen Hart Cup Tournament serves as a tremendous tribute to Owen and provides an incredible way for professional wrestling enthusiasts to celebrate his work in a most fitting way. We trust that Tony Khan and his amazing AEW team will do a brilliant job with this highly anticipated project. This OHF/AEW partnership is my special gift to all of Owen’s magnificent loyal fans who forever remember him and his inspiring repertoire of talents,” said Dr. Martha Hart.
The move is both a public relations coup for AEW and the diehard wrestling fans that make up a significant portion of its audience, and a great way to ensure Owen’s place in history is maintained despite the issues between his former employer and his immediate family. It also seems some in-need people will benefit, which makes the whole thing even better.