In 1987 (just before the WWE made its way to the United Kingdom), the late-great Owen Hart — youngest brother of WWE Hall-of-Famer Bret “Htiman” Hart — was supplementing his time in Canada’s Stampede Wrestling promotion with tours of Japan and Europe. On April 25th of that year, he and Marty Jones wrestled for Joint Promotions’ vacant world mid-heavyweight championship title on the popular World of Sport program. Competing under British wrestling rules, the wrestlers could go 12 three-minute rounds until one of them either scored two falls or submissions, or was knocked out. Each wrestler carried their country’s flag to the ring, and due to Hart’s hometown of Calgary’s western tradition, he wore a cowboy hat and came to the ring as “Bronco Owen Hart.”
Similar to Owen’s 1994 WrestleMania match with his brother Bret, this match went back-and-forth as both men appeared to be evenly matched with one another. When the match entered its fifth round, Hart leaped into the air, hooked his legs around Jones’ shoulders and rolling him onto the mat for the first pinfall. However, Jones (a native of the UK) would score the second fall in the tenth round to rally and win the match. When Marty was handed the Joint Promotions World Mid-Heavyweight Title belt, Owen took the microphone, told the crowd that the better man won, and the two shook hands as Jones raised Owen’s arm.
Marty Jones reflected back on the match and the British wrestling wrestling audience:
“You know the crowd, they want their money back before the show’s even started. But with Owen, you knew you’d seen a match. He was a hell of a grafter—someone who could work as a heel or a babyface, a good workman, like a carpenter. For any foreign wrestler to be put on the TV, the punters knew it was something special. They showed the entire match. Usually, they might show Round 6 to Round 8.”
On the match and working with Owen:
“I’d wrestled Owen a few times in Calgary, so we knew each other and it was good. It was technical, pure professional wrestling. No gimmicks. Bless his soul—I know he did go into the Blue Blazer later, but Owen was a wrestler, not a gimmick man. I’d nail him, he’d nail me, we wanted it to look good. But there was nothing wrong with giving someone a stiff arm or stiff elbow. There was respect. If (play-by-play announcer) Ken Walton said anything on TV, the British public believed it, and he said it was the best match he’d commented on, and that’s stuck in people’s minds.”