Growing up in Calgary as I have, you hear a lot about the Hart family. Back in the day, they were the city’s celebrities, and were placed on a pedestal. Not just in Calgary – Canada as a whole.
Over time, however, even Calgary has realized that the Hart Family DVD should have been hosted by Paul Bearer, with him just going from coffin to coffin telling a story, sort of like “Tales from the Crypt”.
As we all know, Stu Hart laughed sadistically at the notion of stifling his precious semen within any kind of latex enclosure. As time went on and more kids were born, Stu was in awe of how anyone could give birth to so many babies and still fucking live. After the twelfth child, Helen began to doubt Stu’s claim that he could “almost always pull out sometimes”, plus she was likely completely barren by that point anyway.
This is a series devoted to many of those children of the Hart Family, people close to them, and all the humor, dysfunctionality and destruction therein. They may not be the most dysfunctional wrestlers in the world per SE, but they’re close, and they’re DEFINITELY the most dysfunctional family in wrestling.
Example: You know what was awesome? When the British Bulldog divorced his wife, who was Bret’s sister, Diana, and then Diana released a bunch of stories about Bulldog drugging and raping her. Bret wrote in the newspaper about what scum Davey Boy was, and that he’d kick the shit out of him if he ever saw him again.
Then Diana spoke out against Bret and Martha’s attempt to Sue Vince MacMahon (Owen’s wife) after Owen’s death. Bret, still classy after all these years, threatened to burn her house down.
Then, BRUCE Hart’s wife left him… for the Bulldog… Bruce’s brother-in-law… who had just divorced Bruce’s sister.
Then the Bulldog died a terrible drug-induced death, and Bret gave a touching tribute for him.
The Ultimate Warrior made fun of Bret on his website for saying Davey was a good guy months after he threatened publicly to knock Davey Boy out. “Davey was a good guy? Why then, was he banging his brother-in-law’s bimbo ex-wife?” You know it’s bad when Warrior is the voice of reason.
Anywhoot, I am going to start with Jim Neidhart. I will most likely conclude the series with a bio of the last man to ‘wrestle’ Vince McMahon. You know him as ‘What’s Left Of Bret Hart’.
Hope you all enjoy.
In a relatively early episode of 30 Rock, one of the female stars of the show starts to gain quite a bit of weight. She is not QUITE morbidly obese, but is definitely obese. The guy in charge of the company tells the producer “She needs to lose twenty-five pounds – or gain sixty. Anything in between has no place on television.” For the most part, this is true – one of the only exceptions to the rule is the subject of my Hart family scrutiny today.
“The Anvil” is an appropriate name for Jim. The significance behind it is twofold:
Before he got into wrestling, Neidhart was a record-setting shot-putter. Unfortunately for Jim, no one in the world gives a flying shit about shot putting, so he tried to play in the NFL for the Raiders and the Cowboys. He never made it past practices and pre-season games, and never saw any actual field time.
After getting his release from the Cowboys, he travelled to Calgary to get the living shit stretched out of him by the sadistic old giant that lived in the basement of a mansion in northern Calgary. (Also known as Stu Hart.) He ended up working for Stu’s Stampede Wrestling promotion. He also married Ellie Hart, one of Stu’s daughters. Somehow, these two lepers gave birth to Natalie Neidhart. It’s a topsy-turvy world sometimes.
When Vince geneticly-jackhammered his way through the territories, Jim and Bret were picked up. Originally, Jim was to become a heel managed by Jimmy Hart, and Bret was supposed to be a cowboy. I for one, would have absolutely fucking loved to have seen how that would have played out for Bret, but it was not to be. Bret suggested they become a heel tag team called The Hart Foundation. Management didn’t like the idea, but allowed them to try it, and put Jimmy Hart as their manager, obviously. As we all know, it took off.
Much like most of Bret’s singles matches, their tag-team matches always followed a similar formula. As heels, Bret and Jim would pound on a wrestler, and Bret would be in the ring when that wrestler tagged out, so Bret could be the cowardly heel to whoever the fresh babyface was. As babyfaces, Bret would be the one that got beaten up, and Jim would make the save.
The Hart Foundation had some extremely memorable matches against The British Bulldogs, Demolition, The Rockers, The Nasty Boys… yes, the Nasty boys, and one particularly good one that I remember against Mr. Fuji’s Orient Express. Jim was instrumental in these matches by running around and clotheslining people, while Bret and whoever else Bret happened to be carrying the match with (ex: Davey Boy Smith or Shawn Michaels) were able to take a rest.
In all seriousness, despite this, Bret and Jim made a really good tag team. Bret was the technical workhorse, and Jim looked like a good big man wrestler next to Bret, even though he really wasn’t. In a few of the only non-dickish statements Bret has ever made, Bret always spoke very highly of teaming with Jim, and said that he missed it once they split the team. It is highly unlikely that Bret’s career ever would have reached the heights that it did without the tag-team with Neidhart. Especially not if Vince had gone ahead with his original “Smoking Gunns 0.5″ plan for Bret.
For some reason, Bret decided that carrying a cement-mixer to some good tag matches made him the very best in the world, and he decided to branch out into singles competition. You can say what you want about Neidhart, but the self-deluded state that seems to run rampant amongst blood members of the Hart family never really affected Jim all that much. He knew that if he entered the singles division, he’d be jobbing to the likes of Tugboat, Papa Shango, and The Berzerker until he would be quietly disappeared. So he went to do commentating. As we all know, when wrestlers commentate on a regular basis, it’s a shot in the dark. You’ll have great ones like Mr. Perfect, Johnny Polo (Raven), and Jesse Ventura, but you’ll likely also have bad ones like Randy Savage, and… well, Jim Neidhart.
I’m JUST old enough to remember this. Knowing Jim didn’t make a lick of sense on the best of days, they put him with one of the best commentating duo’s ever in Gorilla Monsoon and Bobby Heenan. It still wasn’t pretty. This is a line from Wrestilng Challenge in 1991 after The Mountie beat a jobber.
GORILLA MONSOON: What a win for The Mountie!!!
BOBBY HEENAN: You don’t wanna mess with this guy, Bossman! Watch out!!!
JIM NEIDHART: Anvil, baby.
After several months and several bloodshot eardrums, Owen Hart re-entered the WWF without the mask that would one day murder him. The Anvil, likely sensing termination again lest he didn’t get back into the ring, formed a tag team with Owen. The team was called “The New Foundation”. A great idea in theory, unfortunately the execution came up a bit short. As I remember it, Owen could carry the team in his sleep, but my memory is a bit foggy on this, just like everyone else’s. The explanation for our foggy memories is simple: we were way too distracted by the baggy-pants and racing-stripe-suspenders. They may have had good matches, I don’t know, but they definitely didn’t win any titles or “not the worst ring attire ever” awards.
Then Owen, selfishly not being willing to dead-lift Jim for 10 years like Bret had done, dumped him for an entirely different kind of dead weight in Koko B. Ware. I don’t know, Owen must have had a thing for parrots, so he formed “High Energy” with Koko. Jim, his feelings hurt, left the WWF shortly after this.
Interesting – Neidhart would go to WCW, and in an attempt to make Owen jealous, found his OWN black guy to team with in Junkyard Dog. You learn something new every day. Unfortunately, Jim forgot his cardinal rule when selecting tag-team partners – that he should find someone MUCH better than he was, not someone only slightly better. Jim’s team was disbanded extremely quickly, and Jim would go on to curtain-jerk for about a year before getting quietly released.
The Harts would bring Jim back to the WWF for a second run in 1994, as Bret’s cornerman in his title defense against Diesel, to balance out Shawn Michaels being in Big D’s corner. Jim interfered, costing Bret the match. Then BDC and HBK would beat the shit out of Bret, but Neidhart didn’t help him.
We would find out why later in the night, when it was revealed that Owen, having realized that Koko was not actually an improvement over Jim and striking out on his own against Bret, had Jim in his corner all along. Jim and Owen had forgiven each other for ditching out to team with untalented black guys, and Jim joined Owen’s crusade against Bret. He helped Owen become King Of The Ring. This would be one of Jim’s better runs, because he didn’t talk too much, and he didn’t wrestle. He followed Owen to the ring and helped him win matches.
Bret would eventually find some back-up in Davey Boy Smith, teasing a feud between Davey and Jim. Jim was fairly sure that Davey could carry him to his first good singles match. Management however, correctly concluded that if Davey and Jim were in the ring together at the same time, that the amount of narcotics in both’s systems would likely cause the first 6 rows to experience a kind of contact high not safe for children. Thus, the dream match was not to be, and Jim disappeared from the WWF with no explanation.
Wait, no he didn’t. In 1996, he had a very short stint as the masked wrestler named ‘Who’. Wait, actually? I totally forgot about that guy for obvious reasons. That was Jim fucking Neidhart? Holy shit. Okay then. In any event, this was a gimmick purely designed for commentators Vince and Lawler to make Abbott and Costello “Who’s on First?” jokes during his matches. Anyway, you’re all smart cookies, so if you don’t remember it, then you can guess how long this nonsense lasted.
Later in 1996 (see, I just told you how long it lasted!) Jim Neidhart wrestled for the independent UCW. UCW had a thing for bringing in low-carders well past their prime, if they ever had a prime to begin with. Consequently, Jim wrestled with the likes of Tatanka, his brother-in-law Bruce Hart, King Kong Bundy, and Marty Jannetty. So, in addition to learning about Jim Neidhart, if you were wondering what the fuck Marty Janetty did (besides acid) between 1994 and starting his illustrious WCW career, now you know.
Bret would AGAIN find Jim work in the WWF for a THIRD run in 1997, joining with Bret, who had re-united Owen and Davey to re-form The Hart Foundation into an anti-American heel stable. Brian Pillman joined them as well, meaning that the amount of drugs in the Hart Family locker room at this point rivaled the amount of a double-shipment from the Medellin Cartel.
Although never being a big fan of Jim’s on his own, I thought it was great that they brought Jim back for this Hart family storyline. And this was a really fucking cool angle for anyone who remembers it. Jim would actually find a singles match or two, and several tag-team matches – but not many. He was mercifully, mostly just used as backup.
In November 1997… SOMETHING… no one is really sure what… happened in Montreal. Details are sketchy, and no one ever talked about it afterwards. Whatever it was, Bret left the WWF.
Bret found Jim work AGAIN, this time in WCW. Vince would only release Jim after he completely humiliated him on TV, having him turn on the Harts and join DX… until DX turned on him and kicked the living shit out of him. If they really wanted to punish him, Vince should have just made him be “Who” until his contract ran out.
When Jim first got to WCW, he was pretty much Bret’s very own Brutus Beefcake, performing Bret’s promos on Ric Flair for him and being all “HAHAHAHAHAYEAHBABY”. Then Jim would form YET ANOTHER ill-fated tag-team with Bulldog, who also followed Bret to Turnerland. This actually could have produced some good matches, because Bulldog could work, and many of their matches were against Hennig and Crush. Although Hennig and Bulldog actually carried those matches to some pretty impressive and under-rated showings, none of us were paying any attention. We were all too busy wondering what color nWo shirt our favourite wrestlers would walk out wearing, not to mention whether or not Sid would show up to the building, and if he did, what that would mean for… well, you remember.
Bulldog fell through a trap door intended for The Ultimate Warrior,Â which is why they typically don’t put trap doors in rings. Bulldog’s pill addiction got way worse, plus he got an infection which nearly paralyzed him. Eric Bischoff dealt with this tragedy the only way he knew how – by firing him. This may sound harsh, but being released from WCW was actually considered an act of mercy at this point. Unfortunately, this left poor Jim on his own again, so it should come as no surprise that Jim was eventually released and returned to the independent circuit. The only surprise I registered over that was because WCW was spending way more money on way bigger wastes of time, and I would have thought that Bret would have been able to get him a stay of execution for sure.
Since 2000, he has mostly “worked” the independant circut, “wrestling” and flying to Japan for the express purpose of performing run-ins for his nephews, because apparently that’s the only place they don’t check you for coke when getting off the plane.
Turns out that Jim has made some novelty appearances over the last couple years too. On Raw’s 15th anniversary, Neidhart participated in the Battle Royal, eventually making it to the final five… before being eliminated by… Skinner. Ouch.
And… holy shit! Neidhart appeared in TNA in November 2009, WINNING against Jay Lethal in his open challenge thrown out to the “legends” of professional wrestling. I’m quite sure that’s the biggest name wrestler Jim ever beat in singles competition, making 2009 the height of his career. He should hit his peak any time now. Look for him to dethrone Austin AriesÂ for the TNA Legends / Global / TV Title before the end of the year.
That might be tough though, because in September of 2009, he was found guilty of drug trafficking, grand theft, and burglary.
Anvil will be inducted into the WWE Hall Of Fame as soon as Vince decides he needs something else from Bret.
I’ll be in my trailer.
Tags: Anvil, Bret Hart, British Bulldog, bruce hart, Davey Boy Smith, DH Smith, Diana Hart, Hart, Helen Hart, Hitman, Jim Neidhart, natalya neidhart, Owen Hart, Rocket, Smith Hart, Stu Hart, teddy hart, TNA, Tyson Kidd, WCW, WWE