Earlier this week I was saddened to learn that another wrestler that I used to love watching as a teenager has died. This time it was the legendary Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart. He was 63 years old. His daughter Natalia currently wrestles in the WWE today. Jim was an American wrestler who married into Canada’s first family of Wrestling, the Harts when he married Elizabeth Hart, the sister of Bret and Owen Hart. As many fans of wrestling know Bret Hart had seven brothers and four sisters. All eight of the Hart men became wrestlers and all four Hart women married wrestlers. The most successful of the Hart men being Bret and Owen Hart, and their most successful brothers in law being Jim Neidhart and the British Bulldog. Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart was most well known to WWF/E fans as one half of the Hart Foundation. The original version of the Hart Foundation comprised of Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart, Bret “Hitman” Hart and their manager “The Mouth of The South” Jimmy Hart. During their run from 1986 till 1991 they won the WWF/E tag team championship twice. This was at a time when the tag team championship meant something, and tag teams were important too. The Hart Foundation were unique as a tag team in that both wrestlers had different styles. Bret Hart was a smaller, athletic technical wrestler, where as Jim Neidhart was strong, powerful athletic wrestler. Generally, in the 1980’s both members of a tag team had the same wrestling style. He might not have gone on to have the success of Bret Hart, however Bret Hart has stated in interviews that in the early days of the Hart Foundation Jim Neidhart carried the team and deserves more credit than he got.
In 1991 the Hart Foundation was split up, Bret began his successful singles career and Jim Neidhart was partnered with his youngest brother in law, Owen “The Rocket” Hart to form the New Foundation. Owen Hart had a similar wrestling style to Bret Hart, he used more aerial moves then Bret did. The New Foundation didn’t last long or have the same success as the Hart Foundation. Owen Hart formed a new tag team before he began a successful singles career. Jim Neidhart would go on to wrestle for WCW, ECW and New Japan Pro-Wrestling, before his WWE return in 1994 and 1997. In 1997 the Hart Foundation reformed, this time as a stable comprising of Bret Hart, Jim Neidhart, the British Bulldog, Owen Hart and “Flying Brian” Pillman. They were successfully able to turn the American wrestling fans into the villains by pushing an anti-American agenda. In 1997 the Hart Foundation were the bad guys in America, while at the same time were the hero’s in the rest of the world. The best thing about it was that everything they did to get cheered in the rest of the world got them booed in America.
Following the 1997 Survivor Series Jim Neidhart and the British Bulldog followed Bret Hart to join WCW. In WCW the British Bulldog and Jim Neidhart would team up on a regular basis. Sadly, all three of them were misused by WCW and the back-stage politics of the company.
Only two members of the Hart Foundation are still alive today. Bret “Hitman” Hart and “The Mouth of The South” Jimmy Hart. My thoughts are with the family and friends of Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart. A great wrestler and family man gone too soon.