Easter with Owen in Israel

It seems like every year at Easter I was on the road somewhere instead of being home with my kids hunting down Easter eggs.

When I was a kid Easter was a shoot. I remember my mom and dad went to great lengths hiding little Easter baskets throughout Hart house before the younger kids woke up. And then there were times when my older brothers “helped out” with hiding them and they were hidden so well that they were sometimes never found! All I know is that the Hart kids would go foraging like an army of ants. Sitting through hours of Easter specials on TV each year depressed me and it seemed to defeat the fun of finding one little chocolate bunny anyway.

During Easter 1994 I was WWF World Champion and I was in Jerusalem. for a main event tag team match teamed up with Razor Ramon against none other than Shawn Michaels and my hilarious brother, Owen. The crowd was filled with Palestinian and Israeli kids, teenagers and younger, many of whom were wearing Hitman sunglasses and tee shirts. I could tell going into the ring that Owen was up to something. He had a smirk on his face that he couldn’t wipe off.

As soon as the match started Owen set about cracking me, Shawn and Razor up - and he wasn’t concerned about if anyone in the audience was aware of it or not. While he wrestled he walked around with ridiculously exaggerated dinosaur steps. I can remember Razor Ramon holding Owen in an arm bar on the mat and Owen going through the motions of casually pretending he was smoking a cigarette. Razor tried to pick Owen up but Owen was flat on his back and went dead weight like a 220 pound starfish. As hard as Razor tried over and over he couldn’t budge Owen as Shawn and I nearly fell off the corners of the ring laughing. Owen proceeded to take the most absolutely phony, cartoon like bumps all over the ring. He seized a hapless Razor in a bear hug which looked more like a romantic embrace. From there he eventually wound up on the ring floor with Razor where he acted like a complete lunatic and began choking Razor with a microphone cord. Little did Razor know that Owen completely tied him up like a rodeo calf from hoof to head and climbed back into the ring leaving Razor leaning there completely entwined! If it hadn’t been for Shawn that would have been the end of the match right there! Under the guise of beating Razor up Shawn somehow got Razor untied without the crowd noticing. Razor tagged me in to a big pop and I ended up getting the win on Owen with the sharpshooter, who was laughing so hard I could barely turn him over!

It struck me at that moment that the crowd was having an even better time than we were. The Palestinians and Israelis, at least those who were there, had called a truce for the time being, uniting to cheer their TV heroes on to victory. I’ll never forget the smiling faces as I walked around the ring and they’d reach out and kiss me on the hand.

Sometimes in wrestling it can be hard to find a sense of purpose but I’ve always thought that it was the perfect outlet for those kids and for so many others with pent up aggression. In that way pro wrestling, always considered to be gratuitously violent, is often actually a purveyor of good will.

Happy Easter.