Former WWE Referee Jimmy Korderas Reveals What Owen Hart Was Like In Real Life

On May 23, 1999, Owen Hart, performing as The Blue Blazer, was slated to challenge The Godfather for the Intercontinental Championship at WWE's Over The Edge pay-per-view. Unfortunately, this title match never materialized as Hart tragically died from a fall – later attributed to a malfunctioning harness rig – during his entrance from the rafters. On the 25th anniversary of Hart's passing, former WWE referee Jimmy Korderas, who was present in the ring at the time of Hart's fall, spoke with Wrestling Inc. about some of his fondest real-life memories with the late icon.


"Of course, he's famous for his ribs," Korderas said. "And the great thing about Owen's ribs was they were never harmful. They were all harmless and just made everyone laugh. I've gotten ribbed a few times where late evening at the hotel, where I get a call in my room, and it's allegedly from the front desk where the guy would say, 'Excuse me, sir, Mr. Korderas, your credit card has been declined. You have to come down to the front desk and clear this up.' And I'm saying, 'Can't we do this in the morning?' 'No, Sir. It has to be done right now.' Okay, so I put on sweats and go down to the front desk, and I talked to the guy who's doing overnight duty at the front desk, and I said, 'Yeah, I'm here to clear up the issue with my credit card.”'


Upon speaking with the front desk clerk, Korderas was informed that there was no record of an issue with his credit card. Naturally, Korderas then questioned the clerk's findings, noting that someone had just alerted him to an issue just minutes before. Once more of his WWE colleagues raised the same concerns, however, Korderas noticed a giddy Owen Hart laughing in the corner.

"When you saw [Owen], you weren't angry," Korderas said. "It was like you started laughing going, 'He got me.'"

Pigs Fly In The Chairman's Office

In addition to Hart's recurring hotel shenanigans, Korderas also recalled one of his most infamous pranks, which took place backstage at WWE's 1995 In Your House: Seasons Beatings pay-per-view in Hershey, Pennsylvania.


That night, Hunter Hearst Helmsley and Henry Godwinn were scheduled to compete in an Arkansas Hog Pen Match. With this particular stipulation, WWE reached out to have several pigs delivered via truck on the day of the event. As the truck driver prepared to unload the pigs, however, an opportune Hart rerouted the animals to the office of WWE chairman Vince McMahon.

"[Owen] led the guy down the hallway and it was Vince's office," Korderas said. "Vince and all the production people were at the production meeting. So all these pigs were just led into Vince's office, and Vince comes back from the meeting, he opens the door, he looks in, he sees all these hogs in his room. I don't know what the heck they were doing, but he comes out like three seconds later screaming, 'Owen!' He knew it was him right away, but even he was laughing. It was just that funny."


Owen Hart's Legacy

During his near-decade WWE career, Owen Hart claimed a number of titles, including the WWE Intercontinental Championship, WWE Tag Team Championships, and European Championship. Aside from the championship accolades, Korderas points out that Owen also carried forth captivating in-ring abilities and character.


"[Owen] was fantastic in the ring," Korderas said. "He was fantastic as a wrestler. He was fantastic as a persona. He can do it all. When you talk about guys who click all the boxes, he ticked all the boxes as far as a pro-wrestler-slash-sports-entertainer goes. There are a lot of people of the opinion that as great as his brother Bret was, Owen had the ability to surpass him even in the ring if he had that opportunity. With no disrespect to Bret, he had the one thing that Bret didn't have. Yes, he had all the in-ring ability and all that. He can do it all, but he also had a persona, a character that just translated and was infectious to the audience where he gravitated."

According to Korderas, Owen Hart boasted a presence that was beloved by fans in both his babyface and heel form. As an example, Korderas referenced Owen's WrestleMania X singles match against his brother, Bret Hart, in which Owen emerged victorious. While Owen portrayed the heel in this particular face-off, Korderas believes his magnetic personality and in-ring prowess really won over the audience. 


"When they wrestled each other, as good as Bret was, people said, 'Man, Owen, he's got it. He's really good.' And I think his legacy is that if given the opportunity, he would've been top-tier, really incredible."

Overall, Korderas remembers "The King Of Harts" as a highly-respected man, both in and outside of the ring. "Nobody ever had a bad word to say about Owen ... He made you smile. He made you laugh all the time. That's just the way he was," Korderas said.