Veteran WWF/WWE Referee Jimmy Korderas spoke about being in the ring when Owen Hart fell to his death on May 23rd 1999 at the Kemper Arena in Kansas City, Missouri.
Here’s what Jimmy had to say:
“I was in the ring because prior to this match was a hardcore match, so I was out there helping the team clear out some of the debris out of the ring that was used in the hardcore match.
I was holding the top rope, and I was kicking stuff out, and I was moving towards that corner, that dreaded corner.
On the screen was playing the pre-recorded interview he did. I think it was with Kevin Kelly if I’m not mistaken.
There’s the promo on the screen so I’m kind of half watching the screen, kicking this stuff out of the ring as I’m facing that direction and I hear the crowd screaming.
I don’t know what’s going on. Almost instantaneously, I felt something very lightly brushed by and the top rope that I was holding flung out of my hand and came back and jammed my fingers.
I thought the rope had snapped. It can’t happen. WWE uses real rope, not the steel cable stuff. I’m kind of ducking and holding my hand going ‘What the heck was that?’.
I looked down and I saw Owen. I couldn’t put two and two together. You’re confused. I called out a couple of times, nothing, no response, and I just started flipping out saying ‘We need help, we need help’.
I stood back while they did their thing. They took him out and I followed. I was out back and I watched them load them into an ambulance and at the time, I was a smoker, so somebody handed me a cigarette.
I was kind of shaking and smoking a cigarette and stuff like that. John D’Amico is one of the production guys. He goes ‘They want you to go to the hospital to get checked out’.
I said ‘What?’. ‘Just go, make them happy’, stuff like that. He took me there, they checked me out, and I called my fiance at the time, my wife now.
He told me what was going on, but I still didn’t know anything until the nurse came in and said ‘Are you the fellow who brought in the wrestler who fell?’. I said ‘Yes’.
He said ‘Have they told you anything yet?’. I said ‘No’, and that’s when they told me.
It was just rough. I still don’t remember leaving the hospital to this day. John got me. We went back to the hotel. He’s telling me all this stuff.
I packed up my stuff and drove to St. Louis. I still don’t remember all that until the next day when I got to TV the next day in St. Louis. I didn’t know they continued to show.
I didn’t know any of that stuff until we got to St. Louis and I talked to certain people and talked to JR and talked to Taker. They were like ‘If you need anything, you come to us’.
I didn’t find out how close he was to me until I talked to Jerry Lawler. He told me he saw the last maybe 20 feet of the fall and thought I was gonna be a more unfortunate part of this tragedy.
Then I started feeling guilty after King told me that. I felt lucky, but at the same time, here’s a family who lost a father, a husband, a son, and I felt guilty thinking that I was lucky that I made it out of this.”
Owen Hart wrestled for the World Wrestling Federation (1988-1989 & 1991-1999), Ted Turner’s World Championship Wrestling (1991), Calgary Stampede Wrestling (1986-1988 & 1989), Catch Wrestling Association (1990 & 1991) and New Japan Pro Wrestling (1988, 1989 & 1990), before passing away from a tragic accident during the WWF Over the Edge 1999 pay-per-view.
On the season 2 episode of Dark Side of the Ring titled ‘The Final Days of Owen Hart’, legendary WWF play-by-play commentator Jim Ross revealed that Owen raised some concern about doing that unnecessary stunt, that ended up costing him his life.
Here’s what J.R. said:
“I had a feeling that day, that Owen was not his normal exuberant enthusiastic self about what he was doing that night.
I remember saying something like, you know ‘better you than me, I don’t like heights’. He said ‘I don’t either’.
I think he was a little concerned, and look, he’s the one who’s gotta do it. Nobody could do it for him. There’s no stunt double.
There’s a couple little things he said and maybe more specific what he didn’t say led me to believe that he’s not totally down with this thing.”
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