I was shocked, along with many of you, to learn that Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart died suddenly on August 13. Neidhart, who was only 63, will always be remembered by 1980s WWF fans as part of the great Hart Foundation team with Bret “Hitman” Hart.
The Wrestling Observer reported the Neidhart died from complications after suffering a seizure, and that Neidhart also had Alzheimer’s Disease, which I did not know.
In an era of larger-than-life gimmicks and personalities, Neidhart easily still stood out with his crew cut, long goatee beard and pink tights. His interviews were nuts, and always peppered with his maniacal cackle.
Neidhart and Hart — who were brothers-in-law in real life — came the WWF in 1984-85 along with the Bristish Bulldogs as part of a weird deal where Vince McMahon tried to buy Stu Hart’s Stampede Wrestling. The two teams tore it up against each other, and eventually the Foundation beat the Bulldogs for the WWF Tag Team Titles in January 1987 thanks to help from heel ref Danny Davis, who would later team up with the Hart and Neidhart, including at WrestleMania III. Jimmy Hart was the icing on top as the manager of the Foundation.
They lost the titles in October 1987 to Strikeforce (Tito Santana and Rick Martel). The Hart Foundation later won the titles again in August 1990, beating Demolition before losing them to the Nasty Boys at WrestleMania VII. After that point, Neidhart’s career went stagnant as Bret Hart began his rise as a top singles star.
Neidhart was a high champion shot putter who tried to make a career in pro football before turning to wrestling. Gorilla Monsoon always used a classic line in commentary about Neidhart that went something like this: “He didn’t like football; said it wasn’t tough enough.”
I actually saw Neidhart’s first match at the old Boston Garden on March 23, 1985, when he defeated the late “Quick Draw” Rick McGraw.
Neidhart’s daugther, Nattie — who goes by the name Natalya in the ring — is one of the best wrestlers in today’s WWE.
So long, Anvil…