Jeff Jarrett has opened up to talk about the tragic passing of his friend and tag team partner Owen Hart after a stunt went wrong in the Kemper Arena on the 23rd of May, 1999 during the Over The Edge pay-per-view.
An emotional Jarrett relived that horrendous night on his My World podcast [available at AdFreeShows.com] with co-host Conrad Thompson.
Jeff Jarrett began:
“So Conrad, prior to today, I’ve never really said some of these things publicly but this is part of my story that I didn’t process for so long. I only sort of took different bits and pieces but to get into the, I guess you could say, the event, we arrived at the building and I’m telling you the story to set up to that promo.”
The promo in question was when Jarrett and Debra McMichael had to give an on-screen interview just minutes after Owen’s fatal fall.
“Pay-per-view Sundays were packed, lots of production people, everybody on the roster was there. So, me and Owen would find different places to dress. I don’t wanna say away from folks but just where we weren’t 40 people in a locker room. Owen came to me early that day and said ‘Hey I’m up this hall, it looks like a public restroom but it’s not. […} That’s where we ended up dressing.”
“So I can remember the first match or second match, whatever it was but Matt Miller, us three were buddies and he wanted to know where we were dressing. And of course, Owen had to rib him that day but long story short is Matt knew where we were dressing. He came and said ‘Owen, they want you now because you have to go up top.’ You know, go up in the rafters. I knew I was on after Owen and so I went down to Gorilla and I’m walking then came back and Owen was taking off with his garb and his outfit and all that. I went in the dressing room, I already had boots and tights on but no shirt, no glasses, and probably baby oil – I always had a ritual. I am very peculiar in preparing for a match mentally all throughout my career, getting dressed, when I got dressed, how I got dressed, the timing of it so I knew I had whatever it may be.”
According to Jarrett, his first indication that something had gone wrong was when they came looking for him to do a pre-match promo during what should’ve been Owen’s match:
“I can remember this type of stuff literally like it was yesterday. Matt came running up the hall saying ‘Jeff you’re up, you’re up, you’re up’ and I looked at him like ‘What?’ thinking he’s ribbing, he goes ‘No, you’re up.’ And I’m like ‘Owen’s match…what are you talking about?’ And he goes ‘No, no, no, no, Owen fell.'”
“Ok, that convinced me that I’m up. Then I heard several screams ‘JEFF!’ like through the halls ‘JARRETT!’ whatever it was. All of a sudden I’m taking off and I go. People in production are like ‘Hey, we’re gonna do a promo’ and I’m thinking ‘Do a promo?!’ And I can tell you if you’ve ever been to a car wreck or even hospitals but the heaviness of the room, of the area. But they said ‘You gotta do a promo’ and that’s when I kinda like [thought] he didn’t fall and blow out a knee. I didn’t have that conscious thought but this is a lot more than Owen quote-unquote fell. I just couldn’t fathom, my immediate thought was [he] blew out a knee, I’m not saying I had that thought but nothing serious, I’ll just say that.”
It was just before the promo went live that Jarrett got an idea of just how serious the situation was:
“When they pulled me on over that and the interviewer and where it was at, it was 30 feet from Gorilla and as they’re going, Francois [a WWE trainer], I have a vivid memory there is a mass of people and it is a gurney and Francois is up on top and giving chest compressions. He’s doing that and just the mass of people, and the feeling – to this day I’ve never watched any of this event back, I never watched the promo, none of that. But I vividly remember the feeling of ‘Whoa’ and [then] 3…2…1 and the promo rolls and I finish it and off we go and they grab me and say ‘Go right to the ring.'”
“Walking down that ramp and getting up – again these are thoughts that I stuffed for 20 years – but getting up in that ring and walking around like I do before matches knowing if I’m first entrance or second entrance and going to the place where Owen had fell and feeling the ring. Again, you could say I’ve had the luxury of processing things that to this day it’s like when you hear about – I never thought about this but in treatment, I was taught, PTSD – I always thought that was for folks that went to war and all this and that. But being up in the ring and feeling that. That’s when the heaviness came over. It’s therapeutic now for me to process the feelings and talk about it.
Jeff Jarrett was to team with Debra against Nicole Bass and Val Venis, Jarrett obviously had his mind on other things:
“That memory and the match was come on, mixed tag and Nicole Bass and whatever it was. But coming through the curtain and Matt standing there and I said ‘Get me a car now.’ He said ‘We’ve got it for you.’ Whatever came over me, my OCD brain I ran up and grabbed my bags and come down and Matt says ‘Here’ and they had me a cop car and when I think back over it now, what was known and what wasn’t known, how Matt took care of me and had the cop car and the car was backed up so it ran up the ramp.”
“They put me in the car and the car takes off fast and I immediately start bowing my head and I start asking the officer ‘What do you know?’ No answer. ‘What do you know?’ Nothing. Then I banged on the window because it had the police partition, I said ‘Hey sir, I know you probably can’t tell me a lot, can you just please give me a heads up, we gotta be getting close’ and he didn’t say anything. Whatever I said I can remember him looking over the corner of his shoulder and basically just saying ‘It’s not good Jeff.’ And that’s when I was like wow. Did I know he had passed? No, but it was a lot different.”
Jarrett says it was his reception at the hospital where he was greeted by two nurses is when he found out the worst:
“He pulled in there and out walks a nurse and out walks another nurse and that’s when the news broke to me and I can remember them saying ‘Do you wanna got in?’ and I immediately said no. I said Martha [Owen’s wife] needs to be here and family. I just stood outside and that felt like an eternity but I just sorta stood out there and to this day I don’t recall who came and got me. But I stood out there and sobbed, wept, and couldn’t really wrap my head around it. Then the doctor came out and started talking to me and yeah, that was a heavy, heavy day.”
Thompson asked Jeff Jarrett about being able to feel the broken boards in the ring under his feet from where Owen had fallen, Jarrett replied:
“To drill down into it, that is when consciously I didn’t know but subconsciously so I’m told and now firmly believe I knew he was no longer with us. Maybe not intellectually but walking over there and piecing [everything] together. […] There was a big part of the ring that was sunk down in over in that corner. I knew but I didn’t know that I knew.”