Martha Hart was recently a guest on Talk is Jericho where she talked in detail about her late husband Owen Hart, including opening up about him remaining with WWE after the infamous Montreal Screwjob.
"That was a really difficult time for Owen, because even though he didn't share the same philosophy as Bret, as far as wrestling goes, he knew that was really crushing for Bret, what happened with Vince and everything," Martha explained. "He felt bad for his brother, of course. But he was also beholding to a contract at that time."
The Montreal Screwjob happened at Survivor Series on November 9, 1997 during the show's main event, where Shawn Michaels defeated Bret Hart for the WWF World Heavyweight Championship. Vince McMahon infamously ordered referee Earl Hebner to call for the bell, even though Hart had not tapped. Shawn won the title in 12:19 when Hart was led to believe he would be going over in the match. Bret was furious and felt betrayed.
"WWF, they just had introduced a few years before that, contracts, where you were locked in for 5 years. Owen was locked into his contract," said Martha. "He requested he be let go to when everything happened with his brother. They said no. They weren't going to let him go. The way the contract worked was that if you don't work, you can't work for somebody else. You don't necessarily have to work, but then you aren't making any money and you can't work somewhere else. It was a very onerous contract where it only benefited the company, not the wrestler.
"Owen was really in a tough situation. He didn't have a choice. You either stay here or go nowhere. It was emotionally difficult to see his brother so upset and betrayed, and yet have to stay and fulfill his commitment that he made to the company."
Owen remained with WWE until he died at the company's Over the Edge pay-per-view on May 23, 1999. Since then, Martha has sued WWE twice. Three weeks after Owen's death, she filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the company and settled out of court for approximately $18 million in November 2000. In June 2010, she filed another lawsuit against WWE for using Owen's name and likeness. The suit included WWE using personal photos in the Hart & Soul DVD and failing to make royalty payments. The lawsuit was settled out of court in April 2013 for an undisclosed amount. In her interview with Chris Jericho, Martha spoke on her relationship with the Hart family today.
"Unfortunately, I don't [have a relationship with them]. I don't know if people are aware of everything that transpired with my lawsuit. The family, they weren't that supportive of my lawsuit against WWE," said Hart. "The worst part of it was that some of the family actively worked against me. Other ones just remained silent. That was almost as hard as the ones that worked against me.
"When you break the trust, and I felt really betrayed and left alone and without any support, then although I've forgiven them, I'm totally passive. I wish them well. Trust me, my life hasn't been easy and I certainly wouldn't wish harm on anybody, I hope life has been kind to all of them. But, you know, somethings, the damage is done and you just can't repair it. That's one of the unfortunate causalities of war. The damage is irreparable and it can't be repaired, but I let it go and I wish them well. I really do."
Chris Siggia contributed to this article.