Released back in 2003, the book's focus is the aftermath of the events that followed the infamous Over the Edge PPV on May 21st 1999. This was the night Owen Hart died after a horrendously botched stunt entrance; a stunt which was meant to see him, as his Blue Blazer gimmick, descend from the rafters, and into the ring. It was a stunt which cost him his life and leave Martha Hart a widow at just 32 years old.
The book is 260 pages long and is written in the 1st person from Martha's perspective. It contains numerous colour photos of both a personal and professional nature. It begins essentially where Martha feels her life ends— the day before the Over the Edge pay-per-view and the very last night she spent with Owen. This part makes for a bittersweet read and lays out the tone for the rest of the book—an overwhelming loss and feeling of injustice.
The book lays a picture of a very content family unit who adored one another. It helps us see the man Owen Hart was. We learn that Owen used to schedule his flights so that he was able to spend every single possible minute with his family. Martha accounts one such example where Owen flew back to Canada from the States solely to catch his son Oje's Christmas play. The fact he would have to head straight back after the show to catch a plane was no deterrent to him. She also accounts numerous examples of Owen's well renowned sense of humour, his love of goofing around in the ring and "ribbing" other wrestlers, though as we discover, it was not always wrestlers he caught out—even she was not safe!
Owen's rise as a wrestler is covered in some brief detail. From Stampede to WWE, to Japan and back to WWE again, it is done a little too sparsely to truly do his illustrious career justice. However, what we must bear in mind is Martha is no fan of wrestling, never has been, never will. While I wish it went into a little more detail here, I can understand her reasons for not seeing this as important measured against the real story she is wanting to tell.
The whole back story for the most part is light reading. Yes, it has a sad undertone to it, but there are also feelings of warmth and joy from the happy memories she recalls.
After the back history comes the books central focus—Owen's fall and the aftermath. Here is where the writing becomes darker and thought-provoking. Given the theme, this is understandably so. Martha talks us through the saddening moments of exactly what happened to Owen just moments before and after the fall. She draws extensively from witness accounts and police investigation records in order to make us able to visualize the entire incident.
By this point I found myself truly gripped by her writing. You get a real feel of the sense of urgency and panic that ensued as Owen lay in the ring. She details the terrible phone conversations from family, Vince McMahon and finally, the doctor who told her that Owen had died.
The last third of the book is dedicated to the police investigation and her lawsuit for negligence against WWE. Martha brings us on her journey into a world of callous neglect, legal warfare and her constant battles with Hart family members determined to undermine the lawsuit.
Through the course of this part, I learned a great deal more about the stunt itself, and it is honestly quite horrifying to discover the back story. Martha accounts how the WWE first spoke with an experienced stunt rigging firm, but then turned them down based upon price and their unwillingness to use quick release hooks. They instead, hired an inexperienced unknown who lied about having done the same stunt with Sting in WCW.
This part does get a bit heavy with the law and technicality behind it, so some basic knowledge of law procedure may help you fully comprehend it. This aside though, you will still not be able to stop reading.
Another point I enjoyed about the book was reading all the stories and characteristics that tally up about Owen—things I have learned from reading other wrestlers autobiographies about how he was the ultimate joker, and how deep his love for this family was. However, there is one rather glaring contradiction regarding Stone Cold Steve Austin.
According to Steve Austin's autobiography, Owen Hart was responsible for damaging his neck badly with a botched pile-driver in 1997, he never apologized about it or spoke to Stone Cold again. Austin claims Jim Ross tried to facilitate between the two, and Owen really badly wanted to say sorry, but could not find it in himself as was so upset he had messed up the move and injured Steve.
Martha however, claims that Owen did not like Austin one bit, Owen supposedly told Martha that Austin was lying and he knew that he did not mess up the move. This is something I guess we will never know the full truth behind now, but it was very interesting to see Owen had a polar opposite account of what happened.
The book is well constructed and the editing job is excellent. Martha's writing is powerful, and at times it even made me feel a little uncomfortable being a wrestling fan. As I mentioned earlier, there is no love lost between her and wrestling. She manages to make me almost ashamed that I love WWE so much!
Martha has every right to despise the industry, yet she concludes she does not have hate for Vince McMahon. Martha comes across as a highly intelligent, compassionate and an exceptionally strong woman. Her book is a must read for anyone with an interest on backstage wrestling politics, the full story of the tragic fall, and of course The King of Harts — Owen Hart.