Thursday, 10 March 2016

Blu-Ray Review: Owen Hart - Hart of Gold (Documentary & Match Compilation)

WWE's Owen Hart - Hart of Gold is out now on DVD and Blu-Ray, available from www.wwedvd.co.uk and all reputable home video stockists. The two disc Blu-Ray features The Hart of Gold Documentary looking at Owen Hart's life and career, as well as a number of stand-alone stories and matches. The Blu-Ray edition houses 21 of Hart's best matches from across his career in Stampede, WWF and WCW, with contests including the likes of Shawn Michaels, The Hart Foundation, Edge, Mr. Perfect and "Stone Cold" Steve Austin.




owen - hart of gold blu-ray match listing


Match 1 - Stampede British Commonwealth Mid-Heavyweight Championship - Viet Cong Express #1 vs. Owen Hart (C) - Stampede (Calgary, Alberta, Canada - 5th December 1986)

Match 2 - Stampede North American Heavyweight Championship - Owen Hart (C) vs. Makhan Singh - Stampede (6th May 1988 - Calgary, Alberta, Canada)

Match 3 - Singles - George South vs. The Blue Blazer - WWF Wrestling Challenge #161 (11th September 1988 - Hartford, Connecticut, USA) 

Match 4 - Singles - Mr. Perfect vs. The Blue Blazer - WWF on MSG Network (8th May 1989 - East Rutherford, New Jersey, USA)

Match 5 - Singles - Mark Kyle vs. Owen Hart - WCW World Championship Wrestling (16th March 1991 - Atlanta, Georgia, USA) 

Match 6 - WWF Intercontinental Championship - Owen Hart vs. Shawn Michaels - WWF Wrestling Spotlight (28th August 1993 - Alexandria Bay, New York, USA)

Match 7 - Singles - Owen Hart vs. Bret "Hitman" Hart - WWF WrestleMania X (20th March 1993 - New York City, New York, USA) 

Match 8 - King of the Ring 1994 Final - Razor Ramon vs. "The Rocket" Owen Hart - WWF King of the Ring 1994 (19th June 1994 - Baltimore, Maryland, USA)

Match 9 - WWF World Heavyweight Championship Lumberjack - Owen Hart vs. Bret "Hitman" Hart (C) - WWF Superstars #414 Taping (17th August 1994 - Portland, Maine, USA)

Match 10 - Exhibition - Owen Hart vs. Nick Barberri - WWF WrestleMania XI Public Workout (28th March 1995 - New York City, New York, USA) 

Match 11 - WWF World Tag Team Championship - Owen Hart & Yokozuna w/James E. Cornette & Mr. Fuji vs. The Allied Powers - WWF In Your House 2: The Lumberjacks (23rd July 1995 - Nashville, Tennessee, USA)

Match 12 - WWF World Heavyweight Championship #1 Contendership - Owen Hart w/Jim Cornette vs. Shawn Michaels - WWF In Your House 6: Rage in a Cage (18th February 1996 - Louisville, Kentucky, USA) 

Match 13 - Singles - Owen Hart w/Clarence Mason vs. Mankind w/Paul Bearer - WWF Monday Night RAW #191 (30th December 1996 - Albany, New York, USA) 

Match 14 - WWF European Championship Tournament Final - Owen Hart vs. The British Bulldog - WWF Monday Night RAW #199 (26th February 1997 - Berlin, Germany)

Match 15 - WWF Intercontinental Championship - Owen Hart w/Bret Hart & The British Bulldog vs. Rocky Maivia (C) - WWF RAW is WAR #207 (28th April 1997 - Omaha, Nebraska, USA)

Match 16 - Ten Man Tag Team - Goldust, "The World's Most Dangerous Man" Ken Shamrock, The Legion of Doom & "Stone Cold" Steve Austin vs. The Hart Foundation w/Diana Smith - WWF In Your House 16 - Canadian Stampede (6th July 1997 - Calgary, Alberta, Canada) 

Match 17 - WWF European Championship - Owen Hart vs. TAFKA Goldust with Luna - WWF RAW is WAR #244 (20th January 1998 - Davis, California, USA)

Match 18 - Hart Family Dungeon - Owen Hart vs. Ken Shamrock - WWF In Your House 23: Fully Loaded (26th July 1998 - Calgary, Alberta, Canada)


Match 19 - Singles - Edge vs. Owen Hart - WWF In Your House 24: Breakdown (27th September 1998 - Hamilton, Ontario, Canada)

Match 20 - Singles - The Red Rooster vs. The Blue Blazer - WWF on MSG Network (30th December 1988 - New York City, New York, USA)

Match 21 - King of the Ring 1994 Semi-Final - "The Rocket" Owen Hart vs 1-2-3 Kid (19th June 1994 - Baltimore, Maryland, USA)


disc one


documentary


A highly anticipated release, this documentary had to hit a home run and the 65 minutes presented here did just that. From the opening when a variety of talking heads discuss Owen Hart's personality through to the closing moment discussing his untimely death and legacy on the industry this is an entertaining watch, for both fans of the WWF in the late 80's and 90's and newer fans looking to find out more about Hart. The set flies along at decent pace, making stops on all the major landmarks within The Rocket's career, mainly sticking to Hart's tenure within the WWF, whilst skimming over his time spent outside the US. The film keeps things fairly postitive with lots of praise for the former IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion as both an in-ring performer and a human being, with hardly a bad word said about him, however we don't shy away from times when Hart struggled with the company, including his initial run as The Blue Blazer and when the film reaches Hart's death in 1999 it's time to reach for the tissues.



At various times throughout the documentary, one or two interviewees tell stand-alone stories about their time spent with Owen, these are usually based on the fun ribs that he would pull on his colleagues. Alongside these there's a strong variety of interviewees with a large contingent of Hart Family member involved, as well as Hart's comtempories like Lex Luger, Mick Foley and Edge and more recent performers that Hart inspired like Chris Jericho, Beth Phoenix and Daniel Bryan, which allows the film to give a strong overall of how Owen was viewed. Obviously, the one major name missing from the interview is Owen's wife, Martha, as he is quite often described as family man throughout, but we never get the chance to hear just how good a husband and father he was directly.

stories



As well as the stories that are told within the documentary, there is 45 minutes of extra stories included within the first disc, ranging from 30 seconds, up to 2 and a half minutes. A variety of faces tell a mixture of tales of either their personal memories of Owen, or just exactly how he effected their career. This seems like a new feature WWE is including along with it's documentaries (it was also used on Sting's recent WWE release), potentially as a way to make the home video releases more appealing, seeing as most of the documentary find their way onto the WWE Network within twelve months. Whilst there's no crazy revelations to be found here, there's plenty a funny story about Owen ribbing one of his colleagues and even his boss. Younger performers also offer a great look at just how far Hart's influence has traveled within the business, with former WWE Women's Champion Beth Phoenix in particular standing out as someone you might not initially associate with Hart.


matches


A technical showcase to start as Hart faces Viet Cong Express #1 in a lengthy first bout. It's clear that he still has a long way to go here, but after just a few years in the industry it's clear that Hart has a raw potential. While the footage is a little shaky, a bout with Makhan Singh prooves to be anything but as the two put on a rock solid David vs. Goliath style match. Under the Blue Blazer mask, Hart has a technically sound contest with Mr. Perfect, but at this point it's clear that he's being held back by the WWF style, as well as his position within the company.



After losing the mask, Hart shows chemistry in the ring with Shawn Michaels over the WWF Intercontinental Championship, in front of a hot Alexandria Bay crowd, in a match that is let down by a poor finish. A WrestleMania classic follows, as in the first great match of the set, Hart puts on a clinic with his brother Bret. Considered on of the best matches in the history of WWE's centre piece event, this is a technical and storytelling masterpiece. The finish tops of the long bout perfectly as the action builds to a crescendo and whips the crowd into a frenzy.



There's nothing wrong with the 1994 King of the Ring Final with Razor Ramon, but for me it's The Rocket's coronation ceremony that was the real money moment as he proclaims himself to be the King of Harts. A curious Lumberjack match with Bret Hart over the WWF World Heavyweight Championship is included, instead of the more famous Steel Cage match from SummerSlam. The match features the brothers stringing together great strings of action with ease, but definitely lacks the big feel of the bout that proceeded it on the disc. A squash match with Nick Barberri is surrounded by two strong promos, but seems mainly to have been included because it took place in the unique location of Times Square!


disc two


matches


Disc Two begins with a decent tag team clash, as Owen helps to carry Yokozuna against The Allied Powers in a match over the WWF World Tag Team Championships. A second contest with Shawn Michaels manages to trump the first one, and provides this set with another world class match. An electric Louisville crowd is treated to some brilliant wrestling, that makes the WWE World Heavyweight Championship (the two were fighting to become #1 Contender) look amazing. A different for style for The King of Harts is next, with a well-done brawl with Mankind, with lots of action taking place around the ringside area and the commentary team constantly pushing it as "Hard Man Contest"



A glorious European style match to crown the first holder of the WWF European Championship is next, as Hart faces The British Bulldog. The developing relationship between the two is handled very well, with both men bringing little touches to their game that manage to keep the story building as the match goes on. Hart then helps a still-green and floundering Rocky Maivia to a decent bout over the WWF Intercontinental Championship.



After the documentary spent a good chunk of time talking about this ten-man tag team match I was glad to see it included in full here. Owen teams with the rest of The Hart Foundation against a team lead by "Stone Cold" Steve Austin in a physical match with a partisan Calgary crowd. Whilst Owen spends a long time outside of the contest, his story throughout the bout is the glue that holds it together as the narrative twists and turns and the action begins to heat up. For me, the only thing that let's this downis an over-booked finish, but even with that it's a brilliant WWE main event and a welcome change of pace on the disc.



A goofy contest with TAFKA Goldust (dressed as Triple H) isn't a favourite of mine, but I did get a kick out of the segment with D-Generation X and Sgt. Slaughter that immediately follows it. An utterly ridiculous "match" with Ken Shamrock takes place within the Hart Family Dungeon and is certainly one of the more unique matches WWE has ever put on. The final match on the main feature sees Hart opposite a young Edge, with the two putting a pleasant rookie vs. veteran style contest, with the younger performer showing signs of what would become a Hall of Fame career.

blu-ray exclusive special features


matches


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Only two matches are included as Blu-Ray exclusives, but the first one is a lengthy encounter with The Red Rooster with Owen under The Blue Blazer gimmick. The pair struggle to hold the crowd for the allotted time, but there's still plenty of nice back and forth wrestling on display here. A sprint with the 1-2-3 Kid on the other hand is almost an indy style "get your shit in" sprint, going just a few minutes but managing to produce more thrills than some matches do in double the time.


tributes



Also included as Blu-Ray exclusives are a number of the tribute videos that were filmed for Monday Night RAW #313, the night after Owen's passing. There's 42 seperate videos in total ranging from 20 seconds from Gangrel, up to almost 4 minutes for Triple H & Chyna. Major tributes include the aforementioned Triple H & Chyna, as well as Jeff Jarrett, Debra, Hardcore Holly and Edge who's instant reactions to Hart's passing are genuinely upsetting to watch at times. A worthy inclusion in my opinion, with a cool cross-section of WWF's employees at the time being involved, you get a great look at just how much everyone in the company was effected at that time.


finally...

Blu-Ray Rating - 7.08/10





This would be a very good addition to any wrestling fans' home video collection, with a strong documentary as the main feature, backed up by a mixture of brilliant wrestling matches and intriguing, unique bouts. I feel even the newest of WWE fans would find this release to be a fascinating watch, as Owen Hart appears to have been just as much of a larger than life character off-screen as he was on it. There is, of course, universal themes that would make the documentary portion interesting to pretty much everyone, as the story of Hart's struggle to reach the top of his industry and his love of family can be understood by all. 

Get your grubby mits on a copy of this, whether you're a weather beaten fan from the 1990s looking for a nostalgia trip (even then I bet you there's some matches you won't have seen on here) or someone who's only just started to delve into the world of pro wrestling, you won't regret it. 

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