It was reported today that one half of the original Hart Foundation, Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart has passed away today at the age of 63. It was initially reported by Cauliflower Alley Club President and former WWE Superstar B. Brian Blair and then by WWE’s French announcer Pat Laprade shortly after. Since then, WWE has confirmed The Anvil’s passing.
WWE is saddened to learn that Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart has passed away. https://t.co/Isxv3ElA3Y
— WWE (@WWE) August 13, 2018
A shot put champion and former NFL football player (preseason and practice roster for Oakland and Dallas), Neidhart trained to be a pro wrestler with Stu Hart in Calgary, Alberta, Canada during the off seasons. He made his debut with Stampede Wrestling in 1979, and soon found work in the NWA territories in the US with Mid South as well as excursions to NJPW via Stampede. He won Mid South tag team gold as part of a successful tag team alongside “Hacksaw” Butch Reed in 1983. Originally known as “The Animal” Jim Neidhart, he earned the nickname “The Anvil” after Stu Hart, in attempts to get publicity for Neidhart and Stampede, entered him into an anvil tossing contest at the Calgary Stampede one year. Neidhart won the contest, throwing it 11 feet, 2 inches, and gaining his new nickname “The Anvil”.
In 1985, when Vince McMahon Jr. purchased Stampede Wrestling from Stu Hart, Neidhart was brought into the WWF. Originally brought in as a singles wrestler, he fought the likes of Rick McGraw, Swede Hanson, SD Jones, and even his new brother-in-law Bret Hart – the same year he joined the WWF, he married Stu Hart’s daughter Ellie. But it didn’t take long for Neidhart to get paired with his brother-in-law, as The Hart Foundation and led by “The Mouth of the South” Jimmy Hart, becoming one of the WWF’s top tag teams during the Rock N’ Wrestling Era of the 1980s. Neidhart had been tagging with Bret since 1982 in Stampede Wrestling, and was briefly managed by Jimmy Hart when he was a member of Jimmy Hart’s First Family in Continental Wrestling Association (CWA) in Memphis. As part of the Hart Foundation, Jim became a 2x WWF World Tag Team Champion, with classic rivalries against The British Bulldogs, The Killer Bees and Demolition.
When Bret Hart moved on to a singles career, Neidhart continued the family tradition, teaming with Owen Hart in the New Foundation. He remained with the WWE until 1992, before heading back to NJPW, where he was a part of the 1992 G1 Climax tournament. In the next year, he worked sporadically with ECW and WCW, before returning to the WWE in 1994. He returned at the 1994 King of the Ring, initially helping Bret before turning to help Owen win instead. This resulted in a feud with Bret over the WWF World Heavyweight Championship, and a renewed push with Owen Hart in the tag team division. Sadly, he was fired for no-showing events later in the year. He returned to ECW as well as working in Europe with Otto Wanz’ Austrian promotion, Catch Wrestling Association (CWA).
He returned briefly in 1996, this time as a masked wrestler named Who, who ended up being more of a punchline for bad jokes between Vince McMahon and Jerry Lawler on commentary than anything else. By 1997, he was back to being “The Anvil”, this time as part of the new look Hart Foundation, this time with both Bret and Owen, as well as another brother-in-law, British Bulldog, and Hart family friend Brian Pillman. Following the Montreal Screwjob, Neidhart departed the WWF with Bulldog and Bret, heading to WCW. He frequently tag teamed with British Bulldog, as well as singles matches against Rick Steiner, Curt Hennig and Randy Savage, but his WCW tenure was brief. He would wrestle on the indies for the remainder of his career, but found new fans in the past few years as part of the cast for WWE’s reality show “Total Divas”, alongside his daughter, WWE Superstar Natalya.
Our thoughts and condolences to the entire Neidhart and Hart family during this time.
Stunned and saddened. I just don’t have the words right now. pic.twitter.com/fcO8Skuuhz
— Bret Hart (@BretHart) August 13, 2018
My Good Friend Jim Neidhart, A World Class Athlete And A Man Among Men. Rest In Peace. pic.twitter.com/JSmdpZ9YZ1
— Ric Flair® (@RicFlairNatrBoy) August 13, 2018
If you couldn't like Jim "The Anvil" Neidhart your the one with the problem. You didn't to always agree with him but if this guy would give the shirt off his back. He was a tremendous athlete. Track and… https://t.co/M26hWaX4vc
— Gene Okerlund (@TheGeneOkerlund) August 13, 2018
RIP Jim Neidhart pic.twitter.com/19EeViKkRK
— Bad Boy Joey Janela (@JANELABABY) August 13, 2018
— LuFisto (@LuFisto) August 13, 2018
I've worked with hundreds in the wrestling business. Jim "The Anvil" Neidhart was no doubt one of the most underrated of all time. Great wrestler, great entertainer, phenomenal human being. Thank you for all you did for us. pic.twitter.com/D8pU9WXJLU
— Vince Russo (@THEVinceRusso) August 13, 2018
Rest In Peace Jim “the Anvil” Neidhart. A colorful character, powerhouse and beast in the ring with an explosive frenetic edge to him. A classic one of a kind grappler — forever the yin to Bret’s yang.
They broke the mold with the Anvil. My thoughts are with his family.
— Court Bauer (@courtbauer) August 13, 2018