Rare Matches: Owen Hart – Born To Wrestle

For Owen Hart Week here at We Talk Wrestling it was a little difficult to come up with a blog concept for me. Addie had already shared his memories, and I didn’t just want to repeat the same stories. My next thought I’ll post a blog on my favorite ribs from Owen, but I soon found out numerous similar articles were already out there (which you should Google, seriously). So looking for an idea I was watching some of the matches Owen had, and came away as amazed at ever at his ability. Owen Hart really was as natural and pure in the ring as anyone I ever saw right from the beginning. Watching him, I muttered to myself that he was Born To Wrestle, and then it hit me, why not share some of these great Rare Matches, barely seen and woefully under appreciated.

World Of Sport – Fit Finlay & Rocky Moran vs Owen Hart & Ross Hart

Owen ‘s in ring ability was evident right from the start. In this match he and his brother Ross compete on World of Sport in England against Fit Finlay and Rocky Moran… Yes, That Fit Finlay. While it’s interesting to see a young Finlay here years before he became the grizzled veteran most fans know him as in the WWE the real story here Owen’s performance. Ross wrestled infrequently, and it was obvious this match was designed to highlight the extremely talented, 18 year old potential star, as he works the majority of the match with Finlay, already an established star, and Moran.

Great Gama vs Owen Hart British Commonwealth Mid-Heavyweight Championship – Stampede Wrestling 1987

Owen’s first great success of course came in his father Stu Hart’s territory Stampede Wrestling, first winning the British Commonwealth Mid-Heavyweight Title from Les Thornton. This led to a feud with the evil heel The Great Gama, a man who dominated the division in Western Canada for years, holding a Mid-Heavyweight title in the territory a remarkable 8 times.

Owen Hart vs Makhan Singh North American Heavyweight Championship

The Karachi Vice was the lead heel stable in Stampede Wrestling at this time, and the core of the group was manager Abdul Weazal, the aforementioned Great Gama, and the North American Heavyweight Champion, Mike Shaw aka Makhan Singh. If you didn’t watch the territory regularly and are just familiar with Shaw from his WCW stint as Norman the Lunatic or Bastion Booger in WWF you likely don’t have an appreciation for how great a talker he was and how effectively he got under the crowd’s skin. And could Owen Hart combat this super heavyweight, who was nearly double his size.

 

Owen Hart vs Marty Jones – (World of Sport 04/25/87)

With his new found success, confidence and maturity “Bronco” Owen Hart once again traveled the world, returning to England. In this bout he took on one of Fit Finlay’s fiercest rivals, Marty Jones. A popular and solid hand who competed with and against such legends as Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant, it does appear here that Owen has to hold back a little. Note the presentation here as well, the British Rules feature rounds and a pure sport presentation.

Owen Hart vs Danny Collins – 2nd Nov 91

The final match I’m putting up from England is Owen vs Danny Boy Collins. While the video quality on this one isn’t very good, the match is fantastic. Once again under British Rules, the athletic style employed by Collins is a much better fit for Owen, and worth a look.

Owen Hart & Keiichi Yamada Vs Mukhan Singh & the Great Gama 1987

Owen Hart wasn’t the only budding international star in Stampede Wrestling at the time, and one who came to Calgary early in his career was Keiichi Yamada, who Owen would proceed to run into multiple times over the years. So we’re putting it up for that reason, and because we had the promo for this match from Owen and Keiichi in our podcast HERE.

Owen Hart, Keiichi Yamada & Hiro Hase vs Mukhan Singh, The Great Gama & Gerry Morrow

Another Japanese mega star who cut his early teeth with Owen in the late 80’s was Wrestling Observer Hall Of Famer and Japanese Parliament member Hiro Hase, here teaming with Owen and Keiichi once again against the despicable Karachi Vice.

Hiroshi Hase vs Owen Hart – (NJPW 01/04/88)

With the talent exchange between New Japan Pro Wrestling and Stampede allowing for some of the most talented young Japanese performers to compete in Western Canada, Stu needed to send some of his best over too, and Owen found himself having several classic matches in the land of the rising sun. Here he and Hase tear it up in the Top of the Junior Heavyweights tournament.

Owen Hart (c) vs Keiichi Yamada – (NJPW 06/10/88)

Owen would eventually capture the IWGP Junior Heavyweight title from Hiro Hase, impressively becoming the gaijin to win the title, a tremendous honor. Here Owen defends against against a familiar face, Keiichi Yamada

Inoki & Takada vs Williams & Hart – (NJPW 01/11/88)

How highly was Owen (deservedly) thought of in New Japan? Here he hits the ring with 3 of the biggest stars in the country in tag team action, teaming with the awesome Dr. Death Steve Williams, the man who created Pride Fighting Championships and Hustle the iconic Nobuhiko Takada, and the founder of New Japan Pro Wrestling and arguably the most famous athlete in the country’s history Antonio Inoki.

Jushin “Thunder” Lyger vs. Owen Hart

Remember Keiichi Yamada? The upcoming star in Stampede and Japan that Owen competed with and against so many times? Well eventually he was given the gimmick of a popular anime character, and debuted a spectacular new move he created known as The Shooting Star Press leading to an amazing career still going today. It’s Owen and Liger showing how wrestling should be done.

Canek vs. Blue Blazer (Owen Hart) Mask vs. Mask

We’ve spent a lot of time on Owen’s Japanese career, and in Europe too, but one reason Owen was so great was that he honed his craft everywhere. After leaving the WWF where he was unfortunately used as The Blue blazer, a character that had little true upside, Owen traveled to Mexico, where he worked a mascara contra mascara match against a man who is every bit as legendary in Mexico as Inoki is in Japan, all time great El Canek.

Main Event ’91 – Owen Hart & Ricky Morton squash

How many of you knew Owen Hart competed in WCW? That’s right, after his original Blue Blazer stint Owen joined the WWF’s biggest competitor for a very short stint. This is one of 5 televised appearances he had, and his only non singles match. He teams with Rock N’ Roller Ricky Morton. Also in this match, WCW star and fellow Stampede Wrestling alum Flying Brian Pillman cuts an inset promo introducing you to his friend Owen Hart.

WWF Ultimate Warrior vs. Owen Hart – May 19, 1996

The Ultimate Warrior certainly was not the most popular guy with the boys in the locker room, but one guy who did have a good relationship with him was Owen. This footage is from a house show in Warrior’s brief 1996 run, so the quality isn’t great, but it’s fun to see anyway.

Bret Hart vs. Owen Hart – 60-Minute Marathon Match (7-9-94)

Finally, this just seemed the perfect way to end this collection of Rare Matches. Owen’s struggle to be recognized by the WWF’s top brass is well documented, but one man who always believed in his talents was older brother Bret. After Wrestlemania 10, and well before the Mania 12 Iron Man Match, Bret and Owen hit the house show loop for a series of 60 minute time limit draws. This was eye opening, because while NWA / WCW fans were used to Ric Flair going 60 Minutes, Every Night (Whoo!) WWF fans had been given years of 8 minute Hulk Hogan main events, and this represented a serious change in philosophy. Another video from a house show fan cam, with much better quality luckily, this is one hell of a match to boot.

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