Owen Hart and Kurt Angle – Wrestling’s Current Holy Grail

When a young Kurt Angle faced Owen Hart on May 10th, 1999, he learned much more than a valuable lesson in the ring. Tragically, Owen would pass away 13 days later.

Kurt Angle slams Owen Hart during a WWF dark match before his television debut on May 10th, 1999. Tragically, Owen would pass away 13 days later.
Kurt Angle slams Owen Hart during a WWF dark match before his television debut on May 10th, 1999. Tragically, Owen would pass away 13 days later. [Photo: WWE.com]

Why Owen Hart vs. Kurt Angle Is Now Wrestling’s Holy Grail

The subject of dream matches is one of the most oft-discussed in wrestling fandom. Fans never tire of constructing their own cross-generational bouts, featuring wrestlers from different eras whose skills seem to match up perfectly.

One such match occurred between Owen Hart and Kurt Angle, arguably the most technically sound talent of the 1990s meeting perhaps the defining mat wrestler of the 2000s. It was a sure-fire recipe for wrestling nirvana.

However, where Owen Hart and Kurt Angle differ from your typical pro wrestling dream match, this fantasy match-up actually occurred.

Owen Hart met Kurt Angle in a dark match at a 10th May 1999 television taping. The bout fell at the start of Angle’s Hall Of Fame career, clashing with the legendary Canadian in only his 27th professional wrestling bout.

Tragically, the match would take place near the very end of Owen Hart’s journey. Less than two weeks later, at the WWF Over The Edge pay-per-view, Hart would pass away when his harness malfunctioned during an aerial stunt.

The crossroads nature of their respective careers, and the non-televised nature of the match, have led to many fans listing it as a dream clash without even realizing it took place.

The company has mined thousands of hours of footage to post on their WWE Network, including long-lost holy grails such as Bret Hart vs. Tom Magee and the Last Battle Of Atlanta between Buzz Sawyer and Tommy Rich.

However, despite being a far more recent match, nothing publicly exists from Angle vs. Hart beyond a photograph of the Olympian executing a powerslam on his foe (as seen above).

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First-Hand Accounts of the Match

To gain insight into what transpired between Owen Hart and Kurt Angle, we must rely on first-hand accounts. DDT Digest’s Ringside Report offers some fascinating details from fans who were in attendance that fateful night.

"Kurt Angle (came) out to Del Wilkes’ (The Patriot) old theme," one fan reported.

It is amusing to recall that the music that would become a central part of the Kurt Angle character (yet to gain the "You Suck" refrain) was actually a hand-me-down from the company’s previous stab at a flag-waving gimmick.

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This hidden gem was very early in the Olympic Hero’s career, as evidenced by the writer’s appraisal. "Angle looked alright, but he needs some polish before going on Heat or RAW."

Concluding that the bout was akin to a "cookie-cutter Nitro or Thunder match," the writer would have been unaware of the significance this match would hold to fans more than two decades later.

Kurt Angle Discusses His Match With Owen Hart

While the career of Owen Hart was about to be cut tragically short, nobody watching in the crowd in Orlando that night could have predicted the incredible journey ahead of Kurt Angle. At the time, this was a classic learning match, a rookie being shown the ropes by a veteran hand.

Kurt agrees with this assessment, crediting Owen’s guiding hand when recalling the match in the debut episode of his podcast, The Kurt Angle Show.

“The match was incredible. Owen carried me through the whole thing,” Angle admitted. “He came up with some great ideas, and the crazy thing was, he would audible during the match. He would switch moves around and let me know ahead of time what we were doing, but he would adjust.”

Angle continued, “He’s the first person I ever went in the ring with that would change the match and adjust just because of the fan reaction.”

“Owen was one of the best,” Angle concluded. “He was a great in-ring worker, and he could call the matches in the ring. He could plan then beforehand. He was so versatile, and he could wrestle any style. That’s what made him so valuable.”

With the above account in mind, we can start to piece together the nature of this real-life dream match. The match sounds like a well-executed example of a legendary talent meeting a hungry up-and-comer, showing him the ropes as he starts his journey in the business.

While far from the technical classic they could have constructed had they met at their respective peaks, Angle’s memories indicate this is an essential match to his development. For someone who reached the pinnacle of technical wrestling, sharing ring time with “The Rocket” appears to have been an invaluable experience.

Will the Dream Match Between Owen Hart and Kurt Angle Ever Be Seen?

There is no doubting the historical value and immense curiosity involved with this lost match. However, the question remains, will it ever be seen?

Since the advent of the WWE Network, WWE has trawled their immense archives to bring all kinds of rare footage to our screens. This has included the release of multiple dark segments, where the cameras have rolled before or after a show to capture the non-televised portions of the card.

Some of the bouts on offer have included a pre-Road Dogg Brian James clashing with Barry Hardy and a 2005 bout featuring Hanson of the Viking Raiders against Brian Black. Logic would dictate, if a headline Network addition such as Owen Hart vs. Kurt Angle were available, it would have made it to the service long before these less glittering matches.

With Kurt making a highly-publicized return to the company in 2017, the Hart match would seem like a lock for a themed Angle content drop. However, nothing emerged, and talk of the bout quietened when Angle left the company last year.

Another factor that could go against this buried treasure being unearthed is Peacock’s recent acquisition of the WWE library.

NBC’s streamer is currently wading through the thousands of hours of footage that was already freely available on the WWE Network to ensure it aligns with their standards and practices.

Reportedly, the entire library is not expected to be in place until SummerSlam 2021.

Excising unwanted content from the existing Network appears to be the priority, so it could be a long time before any additional classic content is uploaded.

We can take solace in the fact that the aforementioned Bret/Magee and Sawyer/Rich matches went unseen for even longer than Owen/Angle before eventually emerging from whispered legend into tangible reality, so hope remains.

WWE still heavily mines their Attitude Era heyday and eventually frequently repackaged highlights of DX invading Nitro in a tank, and Stone Cold Steve Austin’s beer truck will not be enough to quench fan’s thirst for better times. Perhaps then, WWE will delve into their archive in an attempt to find some unseen footage of the last wrestling boom and happen upon a tape of two of the all-time greats facing off.

Until then, those of us who were not lucky enough to be in Orlando that night can only speculate on what happened when Kurt Angle met the great Owen Hart.

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Joey Mills is a contributor for Pro Wrestling Stories. He also covers pro wrestling for SPORTbible and has written for Wrestling Travel, Boxing News 24/7, and BBC. Joey's work as a video editor has been seen on LADbible and the UFC Facebook page. He also co-hosts The Devils You Know, a weekly Manchester United podcast (@TDYKpod).