Growing up a fan of wrestling in Canada during the late 1980s and early 1990s, one performer reigned supreme among the greater fandom: Bret “The Hitman” Hart. The son of Stu, brother-in-law of Jim Neidhart, and older brother of Owen, Hart brought everything to the table that a young fan like Edge, Sami Zayn, Kevin Owens, and Chris Jericho could hope for, with many naming “The Hitman” as their favorite wrestler ever.
And yet, for KO specifically, there's another member of the Hart Foundation that captured his attention more when he first started watching wrestling as an 11-year-old kid in Marieville, Quebec, who, like him, was a younger brother with a good moral compass.
“So for me, a lot of it happened when I first started watching wrestling, I started watching WrestleMania 11 was the first date I watched with my dad and then I started going backwards and watching shows before that that I missed. And I watched the Royal Rumble and Bret Hart was wrestling Diesel for the title and at one point in the match, you know, I knew the backstory of Bret being the older brother and Owen being the younger brother and I was the younger brother, my brother was 10 years older than me, and of course in that dynamic, my brother was stronger, faster, you know, everything, right? And, you know, if we got into an argument, obviously my brother would win, if we got into a tussle, my brother would win it, it was like the little brother complex, you know? And then when I saw Bret in that match trying to cheat, trying to use cables to wrap them around Diesel’s legs, and I, at that point, was a kid with a lot of morals, and I couldn’t believe that Bret Hart was cheating, I was like ‘what the h*ll is that?’ And then Owen came out to try to stop him and, of course, at the time I didn’t know the dynamics of the story, with the bad guy and the good guy, who did what, I just knew that Owen Hart, the valiant younger brother was trying to stop his older brother from cheating,” Owens said on the Love Wrestling podcast.
“So I immediately latched on to Owen as being, like, ‘He’s me! He’s nice like me! And Bret’s like my big brother,’ and that was it for me man, you know? Beyond that, Owen was an absolutely incredible competitor, a great character, entertaining as h*ll, so obviously he had all of the qualities for me to become a huge fan right from the get-go, and he had the younger brother similarity with me, so that’s still the deal.”
While Owen may not be remembered for being the same level of technician as his brother, his style remains incredibly relevant to this day and helped to inspire many of the moves used by performers on the indies over the last 20 years, including in PWG, where both KO and Zayn famously cut their teeth. Though that wasn't the reason an 11-year-old Owens became a fan of the “Blue Blazer,” it's a fun coincidence in hindsight.
Kevin Owens learns a very interesting similarity between himself and Owen Hart.
Elsewhere in his interview with Love Wrestling, Kevin Owens was informed that he and Owen Hart actually share a pretty interesting similarity in their WWE careers in that both of the Canadian Superstars have had two reigns with the Intercontinental Championship for the exact same 132 combined days.
Clearly intrigued by the new information, Owens noted that while he would like to get the title back from Gunther at some point down the line, he may have second thoughts now because of the Hart connection.
“Yeah, it means a lot and it’s actually, it’s funny because I’d love to win the Intercontinental back but I also don’t want to win in back because I don’t want to break that similarity, I want to share that with Owen. Also, it’s a real conflicted feeling but it’s really cool to have that for sure.”
From choosing the last name Owens – his real name from non-indie fans is Kevin Steen – to naming his son Owen in tribute to the “King of Harts,” it's clear KO is doing everything he can to keep the late Hart's name alive and well in the WWE Universe, even if his family has opted to instead put their lot in with AEW due to the circumstances surrounding his death. From one younger brother from Canada to another, it's the least Kevin can do.