One thing you may not remember seen in the WWE was Owen Hart holding the WWE Championship.
He tops numerous lists of the best wrestlers to never hold the world title, lamenting his early demise in the ring at Over the Edge 1999.
Even though he was set to retire soon after to become a firefighter, fans often wonder about what riches the future could have held for a supreme talent like Owen Hart.
Well, as it turns out, he did win the WWE Championship, from his brother Bret Hart, of all people!
…well, sort of.
Owen Hart Won The WWE Championship
On August 17, 1994, the WWE had a house show in Portland, Maine. The main event was a brother vs brother clash between Owen Hart and the WWE Champion Bret Hart.
Unusually, the TV cameras were all present for the show, ready to film the main event. This was strange for a house show, and surely signified something big was going to happen.
The match was a WWE (then WWF) Championship Lumberjack match between Owen Hart and Bret Hart, with a host of fellow WWE talent at ringside.
A lumberjack match sees a number of wrestlers at ringside, ready to attack anybody who leaves the ring before throwing them back inside. This ensures a fair fight, and keeps the action inside the ring.
It was a fairly standard match between the Hart’s (meaning it was very, very well worked) with a very controversial ending.
Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart came into the ring to attack Bret Hart, giving Owen the chance to roll him up for the three count to win the match.
The referee awarded the count, before handing Owen Hart the WWE Championship for the first (and only) time in his career.
The Lumberjacks all filled the ring before lifting Owen Hart up on their shoulders, celebrating a well-deserved and long-awaited title victory for the young Canadian.
However, the celebrations didn’t last long. Upon further reflection, the referee ruled the match would be restarted due to the illegal interference, allowing Bret Hart to take his victory back and retain the WWE Championship in less than a minute.
This was the only time that Owen Hart would hold the WWE Championship, with these photos the only chance fans have to see him holding the WWE’s top belt.
The title change was never really meant to happen, of course. The TV cameras filming the matches were not to capture a WWE title change, but merely to film material for the latest WWF Coliseum Home Video release, named “Wham Bam Bodyslam”.
It is likely Vince McMahon used this match as a chance to see if the crowd responded well to Owen Hart as champion. He did the same with Chris Jericho on Raw in 2000, having him win the WWE Championship thanks to a fast count before dropping it back to Triple H later that night.
Dave Meltzer also reported that house show business was down with Bret vs Owen as the marquee match, so Vince added the title change to help drum up business for his live events.
Sadly, Owen Hart would never win the WWE Championship. He bounced around the midcard for many years, before dying due to a stunt gone wrong in the ring at WWE Over the Edge 1999.
Hamish is a writer and podcaster and wrestling fan who is a key part of the Atletifo team.
After playing countless hours of WrestleMania X8 on the Gamecube, he discovered Rey Mysterio getting his head crushed by The Great Khali, and thus a love for professional wrestling was born.
He is also a Media Graduate, as well as writing for multiple sites about Premier League football and the culture of Wales – his home country.