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  #1  
  04-08-2011, 06:41 AM
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I got sidetracked tonight, "surfing" the web, jumping from page to page, when I came across a page discussing the Owen Hart tragedy. Being a WWF fan since the 80s -- and especially in the late 90s -- I stayed on that topic for the rest of my time wasting.

On quite a few forums, I kept running across posts insisting that a video of Owen Hart plunging to his unfortunate death did not exist. Well, I'm sorry, but that's crap. Most of the "reasons" for it to not exist are conclusions based on logical fallacy -- reasons as misguided as those who assert global warming is a hoax because it snowed a lot (which is actually a RESULT of warming, but I digress...). This guy claims to be an expert on the topic, but in reality is just another fan in the stands -- also with a camera, but still instead of video. (How narcissistic to think you're the ONLY one to have been special enough to have a camera that day!)

And no, I'm not confusing it with one of the fake videos that seems to have popped up in more recent years -- most of them simply scary-looking stunts from other wrestlers.

One of the popular fallacy reasonings is that "once it gets on the internet, it's there forever." That's simply untrue. For one thing, all legitimate sources would have had the video removed long ago, because WWF (now WWE) would have sent takedown notices to those sites. That pretty much leaves underground sites.

Now, the Internet is not a library -- stuff disappears. I can name dozens of software packages, firmware hacks, anime music videos, and all sorts of content that is -- POOF! -- gone. In the earliest days of the web, a girl I knew in college had posed nude, and an apparently pissed-off ex-boyfriend posted the photos on the newsgroups. I heard about it from a friend, who had downloaded the GIFs to a floppy. (Yes, floppy.) And those images are long, long, long gone from the ol' interwebs, last I had heard about 5 years ago.

When I heard about Hart dying, I went online to see what happened. The video appeared within just a couple of days, max. I had naively expected something else -- not the disturbing video that it was.

The Owen Hart death video:
  • Existed before Youtube, before torrents, before Limewire/Morpheus/Kazaa style P2P, before Napster was created, and before Google was the #1 search engine (remember Altavista?)
  • Was circulated on the now-gone Hotline Client, the best P2P of the era. It's where people went to get software and multimedia files, and was almost IRC-like. (Technically speaking, I don't think it was actually a "P2P", either.)
  • Was maybe 3-4 seconds long at most.
  • Was very crappy and grainy, with itty-bitty resolution. If I had to guess, I'd say it was probably 160x120 resolution. The video was very muddy gray, with almost zero color of any kind. It was simply underexposed amateur footage with a video camera of that generation. Yet it was still clear enough that you could see it was the 'Nugget' / Blue Blazer.
  • Was incomplete. You could see the wires break, but because everybody in the stands was standing at the time (or at least from the vantage of the person who recorded it -- likely watching a video on a big screen in the arena, as is known to have been going on at the time), you never saw the landing. The video shows the lines break, Owen falling in near darkness, what appeared to be a person in the way, and that's it. Clip over.
  • Was a RealVideo file. Remember that super-crappy video compression format of the late 90s?
  • Had no sound. At least I don't remember any.
  • Did NOT come from the PPV recording -- that was dumped from delay. This was an amateur film of some sort, shot from the crowds. At most, it was a horrible copy of B-roll professional footage, but the bad angle doesn't make it likely. I used to have a copy of that, too.
I had saved the file some many years ago, but ultimately deleted it from my hard drive because it just felt ghoulish. I saw it appear again around early 2002 on ogrish.com -- a now-gone site that featured really disturbing videos. I was there to see the 9/11 videos of people jumping from the twin towers -- something I was doing for media research, not because I wanted to see something so horrific.

(Ogrish.com: A place that I only went once or twice, because it made Faces of Death look like a cute kitten show for preschoolers. It specialized in death videos, including many live events that were also quite rare and often considered "lost" to time. For example, that politician that blew his brains out on live TV -- stuck a gun in his mouth and pulled the trigger -- in the 1980s. I wish I could fully un-remember ever having seen that.)

At this point in time, I don't believe video-capable cell phones yet existed. And I had some pretty advanced phones at that time, because of my job. However, DV cams were pretty small, as were some obscure cameras that wrote to CompactFlash. While the assertion is often that WWF would not have allowed a camera -- it was dark in the fan area. And in this pre-9/11 era, it was easy to sneak a small camera (still or video) in cargo pants. I used to use an all-plastic ultra-compact camera to get by metal detectors, and shoot images in places where I "wasn't allowed" to use a camera.

I just checked old backups CDs going back 15+ years, and I didn't see it on there. Given the cost of CDs back in 1999, I probably deleted it BEFORE backing up the system that December. (Yeah, I was being cheap, but I also didn't see the point in backing up crap. Still don't.)

Now, anybody that wants to go on a denial binge is still free to do so, but I know what I saw.

Given the relative obscurity and nuisance of using something like Hotline -- at a time when most people were still largely computer illiterate -- I'm not surprised most people have never seen it, or think it never existed. But sadly, it did.

Anybody that knows anything about me understands I despise myths.

An Owen Hart death video, available online? Yeah -- that ain't no myth, folks. But in the interest of civility and decorum, I can't say I'm sad to see it disappeared. The whole concept of "snuff films" is vulgar and disturbing -- a type of gonzo porn that doesn't even involve nudity or sex.
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  #2  
  04-08-2011, 07:59 PM
 
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I remember a seeing a file with names like "owen hart death" being passed around on soulseek (p2p mainly from music but you can search for other files) or it was kazaa around 1999/2000, but I never downloaded it
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  #3  
  04-09-2011, 09:43 PM
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Kazaa did not exist until March 2001.

Most P2P that people associate with that video, as reasons for it to not exist, did not exist in May 1999, when the tragedy occurred. File sharing was still very underground in those days. Not to mention very slow, due to most people being on dial-up connections. There also were not many digital a/v codecs and formats back then.

Even Napster didn't yet exist when Owen fell.

Soulseek didn't exist until 2002.

I would be surprised if the file was still around in the "Napster-Kazaa" era.

This video's leak would have predated all commonly-considered venues.
Hotline was viable, as were binaries newsgroups (alt.binaries.pro-wrestling, among others), IRC channels (bots files), or even the underground FTPs or BBS file servers.

Not that I care to see it, and would questions non-academic viewings of it.
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  04-09-2011, 10:04 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kpmedia View Post
Kazaa did not exist until March 2001.
Most P2P that people associate with that video, as reasons for it to not exist, did not exist in May 1999, when the tragedy occurred. File sharing was still very underground in those days. Not to mention very slow, due to most people being on dial-up connections. There also were not many digital a/v codecs and formats back then.
Even Napster didn't yet exist when Owen fell.
Soulseek didn't exist until 2002.
I would be surprised if the file was still around in the "Napster-Kazaa" era.
This video's leak would have predated all commonly-considered venues.
Hotline was viable, as were binaries newsgroups (alt.binaries.pro-wrestling, among others), IRC channels (bots files), or even the underground FTPs or BBS file servers.
Not that I care to see it, and would questions non-academic viewings of it.

Actually Napster goes back to June 1999, but regardless even if it was a year or two later I recall seeing it on something. I know I was still on dial up and I know it was not in any of the mirc groups (a friend with a MAC introduced me to that kind of "trading" before the more PC client friendly p2p apps). So whether it was an actual clip or fake of the one previously mentioned being on hotline I cannot confirm, but the fact is, is that it was out there at one point.

People have a morbid curiousity for such things. It may not be subjects they actually like to view, but like a car crash on the side of the road we all glance at it whether we want to or not
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  #5  
  04-09-2011, 10:12 PM
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All good points.

Although I'd mention that Napster largely went unnoticed until the December 1999 lawsuit (no, not the Metallica one -- that came about a year later). However, it had videos, and may have re-surfaced on there, for a short while.

I think most of the fakes are newer videos, from the torrents/Rapidshare generation, nothing from that era.
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  #6  
  04-09-2011, 10:20 PM
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I would never want to see this. He was one of my favorite wrestlers growing up and I was very sad to find out that he died when I went to middle school the day after. This was one ppv that I am glad I didn't order it and to this day refuse to watch.

On a side note, I remember on 9/11 my mom was watching the spanish channel and they were showing people jumping off and body parts that landed on other buildings. Never watch the Spanish news if you can't handle the harsh realities. They did the same thing with the Iraq war.
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  #7  
  04-09-2011, 10:51 PM
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If any video exists it is the most shitty video you could imagine (by even amateur standards), when it happened during the PPV the WWE made sure that none of the official video would ever get out (due not only to the bad press it would receive but also from numerous legal threats made by the Hart family).

I am sure video exists just because people have been camming video events for decades, but this specific incident is going to be very guarded. As a wrestling fan and a human being I would think the person wanting to see this footage has no respect for the dead.

If it was released then it would have hit the newsgroups first then IRC and things like Hotline (where MP3 was the "in" thing to trade). But over time it would have faded from those arenas. I doubt we will ever see real video of it, anything offered now is most likely fake. The buzz it would create if it was the honest to gods real video would likely bring in the FBI (just as the recent leak of nude photots of celebrities has brought in the FBI to track down the leakers and traders).
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  #8  
  04-15-2011, 01:11 PM
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Quote:
politician that blew his brains out on live TV -- stuck a gun in his mouth and pulled the trigger -- in the 1980s.
I watched this video back in college. We discussed it in a media ethics class and how stations chose to air or not air the video. Of course, I looked it up and watched it. Definitely the most disturbing this I've ever seen. Makes me shudder anytime I think about for too long.
  #9  
  04-15-2011, 01:24 PM
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Budd Dwyer, 1987: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/R._Budd_Dwyer

They made a movie about it last year --
Honest Man: The Life of R. Budd Dwyer, http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1623777/
DVD from the official site: http://eightyfourfilms.bigcartel.com...budd-dwyer-dvd
Too costly for me, not worth $20. I'd buy it, if it were about $7.50 shipped.
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  #10  
  07-07-2017, 03:59 AM
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It's been 6+ years since I wrote this. Every now and again, I still get contacted about it. I wanted to reply, clarify a few things, having re-read again just now.

It's now been about 18 years since I saw this, and it's still a vivid memory. I want to unsee it. I remember watching it on a crappy 17" CRT (which was amusingly large at the time). I remember it being quiet in the house, no sounds at all. That alone made it more creepy to watch.

Although nothing gory was shown, just a man on his way to death, it was disturbing.
Like the 9/11 suicide jumper videos.
Or the gruesome Budd Dwyer gun-in-mouth (and pulling the trigger) video.
Or the gory Daniel Pearl beheading video.

I can't unsee it.

To clarify:

- The B-roll I saw from the PPV night had no falling footage. That camera was shooting the crowd at the time. I don't remember when I saw that (pre-9/11 sometime), but the quality was almost unviewable crap full of digital artifacts. Terrible stuff, not even VCD quality. The typical quality choices we had back then were Quicktime (low-res, low-fps), WMV, ASF, MPEG-1 and Real. It was probably ASF or Real, maybe low-bitrate sub-VCD res MPEG. Given the quality, I'm not even sure if it was official B-roll. Maybe another attendee? One that was so busy playing cameraman that he/she didn't even notice the accident? That happens. It was labeled as "Owen Hart PPV death" or some-such, but was mislabeled/fake. It was the right night as seen from signs being held.

- The video on Ogrish wasn't labeled with Owen's name, probably was part of a compilation of death clips, and may have been linked in the forum. I don't recall the details. You wouldn't have even known what it was if you had not seen it before. It was before their 2002 redesign, and I may have accessed it back in late 2001 (and not early 2002 as stated in the first post of the thread). It was within 6 months of 9/11. I've looked on the Archive.org Wayback, but don't see anything. Notice that late 2001 and early 2002 have huge gap in the snapshots.

Myth busting, again:

- Cameras are not human eyes. Your eye is a complex masterpiece that sees in stereo, and has amazing realtime apertures equivalent to about f/2 (35mm film/full-frame dSLR body). The arena lights were just dim, not overly dark or "pitch black". To humans, it was plenty bright to see. Whatever video camera was used was probably had at least f/4-5.6, and was severely underexposed to the point of being more muddy and grainy than not. That craptastic lens spec is most consumer cameras. These arena lighting conditions have been reported by many (most, all?) attendees of the live PPV event. The video shot and uploaded to Hotline is the sort of video quality that would have been expected given the lighting.

- People are still repeating the myth that "WWE confiscated all cameras in the arena!" Pfft. No. That's laughable. Didn't happen. Again, small camera + cargo pants. Seriously. You'd probably be in disbelief at the places where I got cameras in the 90s. Not everybody advertises the fact that "I HAVE A CAMERA! SEE! <waves it around>" (morons do that), and not everybody plays by the rules. Don't be nave. No different than sneaking "outside" drinks/snacks into a movie theatre.

Parting thoughts:

I'm all for finding lost footage...

... but not of something like this. History ate it. Good riddance. Let the man rest in peace, to live in the fond memories of wrestling fans, not to be the unwilling star of a snuff film.

I saw it, and wish I didn't. It's ruined my final memory of the Nugget.
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  #11  
  07-07-2017, 03:00 PM
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WWE has cracked on security since then too. I took my niece a few months to a show. You are not permitted to take a purse , back pack, etc into the arena , or anything over a certain size limit - they pat you down like air port security. So good luck getting a camera in a show now.

Btw Monday night Raw was God Awful..You see the best stuff at larger scale arenas and talents .

The Bella twins kept missing their mark Nat Hart was unused all night except the try to keep the bellas from messing up the script. I was high up I could see the were not even touching within 4 feet of each other.
Fumbling in places ...It was terrible.
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  07-07-2017, 03:42 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cp32 View Post
WWE has cracked on security since then too. I took my niece a few months to a show. You are not permitted to take a purse , back pack, etc into the arena , or anything over a certain size limit - they pat you down like air port security. So good luck getting a camera in a show now.
That's how it is everywhere now -- ball games, concerts, etc. And that's also one reason I no longer care to go to live events, as it's a hassle. With prices of tickets being ridiculous these days (5x+ the cost in the 90s, yet wages haven't even 2x), it's double punishment. You go broke to get treated like crap by security goons. No thanks. The modern venues are also too big.

I've honestly not had fun at a wrestling event since WCCW was at the Sportatorium. That was always a great time. Intimate venue, great seats, great crowds. Fond memories in the 80s, and many of those guys later became 90s stars we all know now (Undertaker, Stone Cold, Freebirds, Ultimate Warrior, etc). I especially remember Dingo Warrior matches. And, of course, the legendary Von Erich family.

Quote:
Btw Monday night Raw was God Awful..You see the best stuff at larger scale arenas and talents .
I've not really cared for WWE since it was WWF.

Quote:
The Bella twins kept missing their mark Nat Hart was unused all night except the try to keep the bellas from messing up the script. I was high up I could see the were not even touching within 4 feet of each other.
Fumbling in places ...It was terrible
It's too scripted now. Too much blah-blah, not enough actual rasslin'.

But, of course, it was always scripted. A zany scripted stunt is how Owen died. Yet, at the same time, there was a lot of real-life that spilled onto the screen in the 90s. At times, and quite often, $hit got real.

Most people do not realize that on-screen persona may not match off-screen reality.
- The modern Bella twins are sweethearts in real life, not little divas.
- Bret Hart was a complete asshole in real life (and still is).
- The entire Hart family is/was about as likeable as a skunk at a picnic ...
- ... with the exception of Owen. He was a class clown type, which didn't always appeal to everybody. His on-screen pre-Blazer persona was as a twat. The Blazer was a mix of good guy and goof (sort of like he was in real life). I never really liked him, but he was a loyal jobber. I always had respect for jobbers (even if Vince didn't, which is why they were jobbers back then).
- Stone Cold was an exception: he's butthole both on screen and in real life! (Yet he's one of my favorites from the Attitude era.)

Times changed. If I want to watch a good match now, I watch the Raw Replays on WWE Network. A few WCCW matches are archived there as well.
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  #13  
  07-07-2017, 08:55 PM
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Yip Old school only way to enjoy rasslin. ALthough I do like CZW ( Combat Zone Wrestling) those kids are nuts lol
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  07-17-2017, 06:13 PM
 
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I remember seeing a file on Napster in late '99. I don't know if it was legit or not - the thought of downloading it was way too morbid for me.
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  07-19-2017, 08:37 PM
 
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I always assumed footage existed. I'm pretty sure WWF filmed it since they had to have their marks set for the ascension since they've done that repelling before and they must have had their cameras set in the right place to get everything. Plus it was probably used in the lawsuit with WWF and Owen's wife. I remember watching that show live on PPV and I was glad to be spared from seeing that live. Instead we got Owen as the Blue Blazer doing his pre-recorded promo. Two things that always bothered me about the incident. 1) Why was there only one release button for the harness. I know it was so he could get out of it quicker, but I remember Sting taking his time to get the harness off because it would take a minute of two to remove. A thought I always have is how can they keep a structure like Hell and a Cell which must weigh a ton suspended in the air and they couldn't keep a 230 pound man safe? 2) Why did that show continue? I know they had that show must go on mentality or you could use the racing analogy that when a car crashes and there is a death the race has to continue. To me it was very painful to watch that show at home. I can only imagine how tough it must have been to watch the show live at the arena after what happened with Owen so early in the show. I remember there were still photos of Owen on the news and on magazines at the time and that was more than enough for me to see. I never had an inkling to see such a thing or any desire to look for a copy of this because to me the two blackest marks to the WWF was this and the Benoit incident. I can still enjoy watching an Owen Hart match, but as many great matches that Chris Benoit had I just can't watch a match and separate how his life ended and how the lives ended of his wife and child.

Last edited by WEW3; 07-19-2017 at 10:08 PM.
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  #16  
  07-19-2017, 09:14 PM
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I also cannot watch the Benoit matches.

(Raw Replays skips the tribute episode to Benoit, before it was known to be a murder suicide. I have that episode recorded onto DVD.)
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  07-20-2017, 05:28 PM
 
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I remember watching that tribute episode for Benoit. I only ever saw it the night it aired. All of the wrestlers were very upset. I seem to remember William Regal saying something seeming not right about what happened or that there was more to it than we think or something like that - I forget.

Benoit was one of my all time favourites, but I can't watch his matches the same way I used to. If I am rewatching an old PPV I won't skip them, but it is always slightly disturbing to watch them (especially when you see him do something like the diving headbutt or take a chair shot to the head).
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