Bad News Brown was a short-lived character played by “Bad News” Allen Coage in the WWF, and while he wasn’t a bully, he was an Olympic Bronze medalist judoka who always stuck up for himself and refused to let anyone disrespect him.
Fight: Owen Hart vs Bad News Brown
Date: May 28, 1989
Location: Northlands Coliseum in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
Source: Killing the Town podcast with Lance Storm and Cyrus, RFVideo, Wrestling Observer Newsletter
Coage joined the WWF in 1988 on the recommendation of Bret Hart, who had worked with him extensively in Stampede Wrestling. 1988 is also when Owen Hart joined the WWF, doing a masked gimmick as the athletic Blue Blazer. Hart was allowed to do moonsaults and other moves nobody else in WWF was doing at the time, but he still never got a big push despite positive reactions from the fans.
Vince McMahon wanted an inner city street fighter type of heel to work with Hulk Hogan, and that’s when Bret told Vince that he knew the perfect guy for the role. Bad News Allen was hired as Bad News Brown, and by this point he was in his late 40s. As Brown was being groomed for Hogan, one of the babyfaces who was to put him over was Owen Hart as the Blue Blazer.
The two were no strangers to each other, having worked a hot feud in Stampede Wrestling when Owen was new to the business. Even though Owen was green, he was a good worker even in his rookie year. To this day, people regard Owen, Kurt Angle, Jun Akiyama, and Matt Riddle as perhaps the four most natural wrestlers to ever get so good in the ring so quickly.
On their house show run, Bad News was put over every night. But when they did a stop in Calgary, Owen asked not to lose because it was his hometown and his friends and family would be there. Problem was, Bad News was from Calgary too. He thought it was disrespectful that Owen would ask not to lose, since he (Bad News) was being groomed for Hogan and Owen was there to put him over. They agreed to a DQ finish, which appeased Owen, but Bad News wasn’t happy.
In later interviews, Bad News claimed this run with Owen took place on house shows Hogan was not on. But the results show Hogan was on this show in Calgary, working on top with Randy Savage in rematches from WrestleMania V. In those days, WWF put the main event on in the middle of the card. Bad News and Owen worked the opening match.
It should also be noted that the WWF was on fire at this time, especially just before Mania when heel Randy Savage was drawing strong crowds on B shows while Hogan was drawing strong crowds on the A shows.
The finish in Calgary went as planned. But as Bad News walked back to the dressing room after the match, Owen climbed the ropes and raised his hands to get a pop. Once again, Bad News found this disrespectful because it took away the heat Bad News needed for his program with Hogan.
The following night (May 28, 1989) in Edmonton, Owen again asked for the same DQ finish they did in Calgary the night before. Bad News said no way was that happening, so they went back to the original plan of Owen losing clean.
Furthermore, Bad News told referee Earl Hebner to tell his twin brother Dave to tell Owen not to climb the ropes for a pop this time, or else he’d beat the crap out of him.
The match took place and Bad News went over as planned. In a funny twist, fans chanted “Owen, Owen” in the beginning until they realized he wasn’t going to be allowed to do any of the old Owen Hart moves he did in Stampede.
Bad News went over with a clean pin. As he walked to the back, Owen didn’t climb the ropes… yet.
As soon as Bad News went through the curtain, he heard a pop. He looked back out to the ring, and sure enough, Owen was on the ropes raising his hands. Bad News was pissed and felt even more disrespected than before, because he had explicitly sent word to Owen not to do that. And Owen, who was very well aware of Brown’s reputation as a tough guy who backed down from nobody (not even Andre the Giant), should’ve known better. After all, here’s a guy who had a violent parking lot brawl with his wife against the Cuban Assassin and his wife.
As Owen walked to the back, Bad News charged at him. He knocked him down with one punch and started kicking him before he was pulled off. It’s not clear if this took place backstage or in the aisle in front of the fans, but from the way Bad News described it, it was in front of the fans (who probably thought it was an angle).
Earl Hebner screamed, “Allen, you’re gonna kill him!” and was one of the people who pulled Bad News off. Bad News screamed “Let that be a lesson to you!” and walked back to the locker room.
Later on, Bad News confronted Owen again and told him that if it wasn’t for his dad (Stu Hart), he would be selling programs instead of wrestling. He told Owen that we all have to put everyone over in this business, and that he put his brother (Bret Hart) a million times and that it was nonsense what Owen did.
Things must’ve soothed over because Owen and Bad News continued to work their program, with Bad News going over clean. Bad News said that years later Owen eventually learned about the business and became a decent person, so there was no long lasting bad blood between the two.
Sadly, neither Owen nor Bad News are with us any longer. This was an ugly incident, and we’re glad cooler heads prevailed and the two were able to work together again. It’s still surprising Bad News would get physical with a longtime family friend, especially since Bret had got him his job in the WWF and the two had such respect for each other. Bret never sought vengeance against Bad News, and we’ve found no record of Bret ever commenting on the incident (he was not on the card of the Edmonton show).