wrestling / News

Jim Ross On the Tension Backstage After Owen Hart Dropped Steve Austin On His Head in 1997, Owen Feeling Embarrassed

August 4, 2019 | Posted by Jeremy Thomas
Owen Hart Steve Austin SummerSlam 1997

– Jim Ross recalled the tense atmosphere backstage when Owen Hart injured Steve Austin with a piledriver at SummerSlam 1997 during the latest Grilling JR. During their Intercontinental Championship match, Hart picked Austin up for the piledriver and dropped him on his head, resulting in Austin being temporarily paralyzed and putting his career in doubt. The accident was a source of legitimate conflict between Austin and Hart for a while, but Austin eventually forgave Hart over the incident.

You can listen to the full podcast and check out highlights below:

On the reaction backstage after the incident: “Very tense. Very tense, Conrad. A lot of concern. And it’s gonna sound bad if I don’t say this the right way, but you’ve gotta be first and foremost concerned about a man’s health. But at the same time, you’re looking at the guy that you see is going to be, unless injuries bite him in the ass, is going to be the biggest we’ve ever had. And now that may be over just as he got started. Took him seven years to get to WWE. Territories, missed booking, underutilized in WCW. We all remember all those stories. But you know, you just thought, ‘Well, this poor son of a b***h is not gonna live his dream.'”

On Austin’s recovery: “We’re all learning new things about neck injuries, and different kinds of surgeries and all these things. So he had a great surgeon luckily in San Antonio, a fellow by the name of Lloyd Youngblood. Good dude. I met him, I was down there several times. He’s a hell of a doctor, and he took care of Steve, and got Steve believing he could be healthy again. And he did. But boy, we didn’t know.”

On Owen’s reaction: “During Steve’s time off, I was in and out of San Antonio a few times. I’d see Owen at TV, he’s always pull me off to the side, didn’t fail, to ask about Steve. Because he knew I’d be talking to him. Not just because of my job, but also because of our friendship. And so I’d tell him how Steve was doing, but he never said to me, ‘Well, if you think about it tell him I said hello, or tell him whatever.’ He would never have got there. ’cause that’s kind of awkward. I know that Owen had been kind of reluctant about contacting Steve on the injury. And I don’t think it was anything mean-spirited. I think it was strictly a matter of, he was embarrassed. He was a Hart. And to many people, wrestling equals the Hart Family. And Owen, unlike Bret — Bret would tell you he’d never hurt anybody in his life in a match he had. That’s a great thing to say. And he meant it, and it’s true. Owen could never say that now. Because he’d not only hurt somebody, he may have ended the career of the biggest star we looked like we were ever gonna have.”

On Austin being angry backstage: “So it was tense moments there, ’cause Owen had his friends and Steve had his friends. But the old veterans knew that if Austin got hot and could stay healthy, they were gonna make a lot of money off the houses he drew. And that came to fruition. But boy, it was touch and go there for a while. I know Steve was very, very angry that night. I mean, almost to the point of ‘couldn’t be consoled.’ Because he, apparently his body was telling him, ‘This is over. I can’t do this anymore.’ Luckily, he got over the shock and the trauma of that, got his surgery. And got great care from Dr. Youngblood, and came back and was able to squeeze a few more years out of it.”

If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit the Grilling JR with a h/t to 411mania.com for the transcription.