Even in the midst of the heat of the Monday Night War between WWF and WCW, WCW was not unsympathetic when it came to the tragic death of Owen Hart in 1999.
In a recent episode of his podcast, Eric Bischoff, one of the key figures of WCW at that time, said Hart's death, which came as a result from an early release from harness that plummeted Hart from the rafters to the floor at the Over the Edge pay-per-view, definitely made WCW think twice about Sting's Crow gimmick that saw Sting also hang from the rafters as well.
“Shock. People felt horrible. A lot of the people in WCW, especially on the talent side, knew Owen and Bret. For them it was more personal. Just remorse and the natural feelings you would expect. Even the people that didn’t know Owen or Bret, that was a horrible thing and it happened in the ring on PPV. It kind of made us all feel like, “Wow, there but for the grace of God go I.” Even more so with Sting. As you pointed out that gimmick was Sting’s gimmick. The truth is, as I remember it, you can’t hold me to this, but there was one of the guys who was on the WCW stunt crew. It was headed up by a guy by the name of Ellis Edwards who was a friend of Hulk’s. He worked on Thunder In Paradise. He knew Hulk really well. Ellis came over to work for WCW and he did all of the backstage car stuff that we did. If we wrecked cars or blew stuff up or had Sting coming down from the rafters all of that was coordinated and overseen by Ellis Edwards. One of the guys in Ellis’ crew or someone associated with Ellis with that Sting drop stunt ended up going to WWE to do the same thing with Owen. There was a little bit of a dotted line kind of connection there, which made it even more intense. It resonated even more with us. It was tough. There was the obvious question, “What’s the right thing to do? Do we react to it and acknowledge it?” I don’t mean creatively but do we look at that and go, “Wow, that’s a message to the industry and we just have to stop doing that because it’s too risky.” Or do we double down and make sure we go the extra mile? Make sure that couldn’t happen here? There was a period of maybe a week or however long it was where there was a pretty intense debate about that. Ultimately we decided we knew what we were doing. We had the right people doing it. Ellis was confident. It was ultimately Sting’s decision but we kept on.”
Hart was wrestling as The Blue Blazer and was in the process of being lowered via harness and grapple line into the ring from the rafters. He was supposed to wrestle The Godfather for the Intercontinental Championship at the pay-per-view. The show went on after Hart's death and the company dedicated the following Monday Night RAW to Owen Hart, calling it RAW Is Owen and having shoot interviews with several wrestlers about Hart.
You can listen to the full podcast below:
View the discussion thread.