STEVE AUSTIN and OWEN HART Each Tell Their Own Story of the Botch That Almost Left Austin Paralyzed
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Published on January 16th, 2016 | by Pro Wrestling Stories

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August 3rd, 1997, a day Steve Austin will never forget. An Intercontinental Championship matchup was lined up between two seasoned greats, Owen Hart and Steve Austin, two men who knew how to dance in the ring. What was supposed to be a reverse that fed into a pile-driver, led to an amazing gaffe that changed Steve Austin’s life forever. The original plan was for a Tombstone piledriver which is why many speculate Austin positioned his head so. Instead, Owen turned the move into his Hart Driver and the rest is history.

Read about the infamous botch which resulted in a bruised spinal column and temporary paralysis for Austin, from the men involved.

(Side note: Despite what is often reported, Steve Austin did not actually break his neck during this match. Austin himself has cleared this up numerous times on his Podcast.)


STEVE AUSTIN and OWEN HART Each Tell Their Own Story of the Botch That Almost Left Austin Paralyzed

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The botch that almost paralyzed Austin. Summerslam ’97. [Photo courtesy of WWE Network]

OWEN HART:

“The crowd was right where we wanted them. Everything was perfect. I could do no wrong…

Everything [Steve] did, the crowd responded to. He was the fan favorite and I was the bad guy.

It’s like [having] a dance partner. You go out there and you do your stuff and everything is going well…and then all of a sudden in a split second…” [snaps fingers]

STEVE AUSTIN:

“I remember we went into the pile-driver deal…I picked him up and then we reversed that and he picked me up… “

OWEN:

“I saw his neck – there was a bit of a push; an impact on my thighs – and his neck is so vulnerable… I knew that Steve had a bad neck prior to us going in the ring. He’d had a trapped nerve for awhile…a few months…it was really bugging him. Even if you just shoved him from behind, if his neck kinked back he would get lightning bolts [of pain]…”

AUSTIN:

“My head was about, I dunno, six or eight inches below the bottom of his legs and he jumped up and spiked me.”

OWEN:

“I dropped him on his head. The match went from utopia to hell in a second. I knew right then; there’s something wrong…”

AUSTIN:

“As soon as my head hit that mat, I was thinking Christopher Reeve. Cause I thought I was never gonna walk again, ever.
I couldn’t feel anything from my neck down…”

OWEN:

“He said, ‘I can’t feel my fingers.’

All of a sudden my first concern became ‘Is he paralyzed?’

That twenty seconds…it felt like forever. Slow motion, you know? What do you do? Do I look at the promoter and tell him this isn’t part of the match? There’s a point where you’ve gotta say, ‘What’s more important?’ – The guys health, or satisfying this crowd and the cameraman and everybody else…”

AUSTIN:

“Man, I’m laying there…and now pain’s starting to set in…

I couldn’t use my hands yet but I could turn over and I could use my forearms to crawl. It took me a long time to straighten my knees to be able to… [but] there was no way I was gonna lay there and let some ambulance or bunch of paramedics carry me out of that ring.

And then finally, I can start using my hands…I hit him with the roll-up…it looks like shit…”

OWEN:

“My two-year-old daughter could have rolled me up better… he didn’t have the strength to do anything else. He grabbed me and pulled me down and pinned me 1-2-3…”


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