James Henry "Jim" Neidhart (February 8, 1955 - August 13, 2018) was an American professional wrestler, best known for his appearances in the 1980s and 1990s in the World Wrestling Federation (WWF) as Jim "The Anvil" Neidhart, where he was a two-time WWF Tag Team Champion with Bret Hart as The Hart Foundation. He headlined two pay-per-views for the WWF: Survivor Series 1989 and In Your House 16: Canadian Stampede.
At Newport Harbor High School, Neidhart first gained athletic acclaim for his success in strength-oriented track and field events. He held the California high school record in shot put from 1973 til 1985. After graduating, Neidhart pursued a career in the National Football League, where he played for the Oakland Raiders and Dallas Cowboys in practices and preseason games.
Neidhart then spent some time in the same jail as Charles Manson.
Professional wrestling career
Following his release from the Dallas Cowboys, Neidhart traveled to Calgary to train with Stu Hart and pursue a career in professional wrestling. He worked for Hart's Stampede Wrestling from 1978 to 1983, and again in 1985, during which time he married Ellie Hart, one of Stu's daughters. He thus became the brother-in-law of fellow wrestlers Bret Hart, Owen Hart, Ross Hart and Keith Hart, and later the uncle of wrestlers Teddy Hart and Harry Smith. He was a two-time Stampede International Tag Team Champion, with Hercules Ayala in 1980 and Mr. Hito in 1983.
Stu Hart, seeking publicity for Neidhart, promised him $500 to enter and win an anvil toss at the Calgary Stampede. He did, throwing it 11 feet, 2 inches. This earned him the nickname "The Anvil", replacing his prior, "The Animal".
Stampede had a working relationship with New Japan Pro Wrestling, and Neidhart worked on their Big Fight Series tour in 1982, the New Year Golden Series in 1983 and two shows on March 2 and 3, 1984.
Neidhart teamed twice with King Kong Bundy for Georgia Championship Wrestling in 1983, and worked for Mid-South Wrestling from September till February 1984, where he and Butch Reed held the Mid-South Tag Team Championship for two and a half months.
From April to August 1984, Neidhart worked for the Continental Wrestling Association. He then left for Championship Wrestling from Florida, winning their versions of the NWA Southern Heavyweight and NWA United States Tag Team Championship, before leaving for the WWF in January 1985.
World Wrestling Federation (1985–1992)
When Stu Hart sold Stampede Wrestling to Vince McMahon, owner of the World Wrestling Federation, Neidhart and Bret Hart were included in the deal. Initially a singles wrestler, managed by Mr. Fuji, Neidhart debuted on January 21, 1985, in Madison Square Garden, defeating Tony Garea. Eight days later, he wrestled Hart, who had a face cowboy gimmick, to a draw, and another the next night. Neidhart finally pinned Hart on February 8. Fuji soon sold Neidhart's contract to Jimmy Hart (no relation to the Hart family). Bret, upset with his gimmick, suggested he tag with Neidhart.
Initially a heel team managed by Jimmy Hart, The Hart Foundation made their pay-per-view debut at WrestleMania 2, where they were the last two eliminated from a 20-man battle royal featuring wrestlers and NFL players, by André the Giant.
The Hart Foundation won their first WWF World Tag Team Championship on the February 7, 1987 episode of WWF Superstars (taped January 26), from fellow Stampede alumni, The British Bulldogs (Davey Boy Smith and The Dynamite Kid), with the help of heel referee Danny Davis, who was continually "distracted" by checking on Dynamite (laid out of the match early by a megaphone shot from Jimmy), allowing the challengers to double-team Smith. Davis was subsequently fired as referee, and began wrestling, aligned with The Hart Foundation. They lost the belts on the November 7 episode of Prime Time Wrestling (taped October 27), to Strike Force (Rick Martel and Tito Santana) when Neidhart submitted to Martel's Boston crab.
The Hart Foundation wrestled in another 20-man battle royal at WrestleMania IV, before starting a feud with The Fabulous Rougeau Brothers. In the summer of 1988, Jimmy Hart began managing the Rougeaus, and got them a pay raise at the expense of a 25% cut to The Hart Foundation's. This led them to fire him and turn face.
The Hart Foundation unsuccessfully challenged Demolition (Ax and Smash) for the tag title at the 1988 SummerSlam, where Ax hit Hart with Jimmy Hart's megaphone for the pin (Hart accompanied Demolition's manager, Mr. Fuji, solely to further his feud with the challengers). The Hart Foundation continued feuding with Jimmy Hart's wrestlers for the next year, teaming with Jim Duggan to defeat Dino Bravo and The Rougeaus in a 2/3 falls match at the 1989 Royal Rumble, then defeating The Honky Tonk Man and Greg Valentine at WrestleMania V.
In April 1989, both Hart Foundation members began wrestling singles matches at house shows, though they often teamed for TV tapings, and at the 1989 SummerSlam, where they lost a non-title match to tag champions The Brain Busters. For the rest of the year, Neidhart most often wrestled Greg Valentine, Dino Bravo, The Warlord, The Barbarian and Haku. He also had a few shots at Rick Rude's Intercontinental Championship in August.
After Neidhart's series against Valentine, Honky Tonk Man and The Genius to start 1990, The Hart Foundation reformed full-time on March 24 in Las Vegas. At WrestleMania VI in Toronto, they defeated The Bolsheviks (Nikolai Volkoff and Boris Zhukov) in 19 seconds. They started a second feud with champions Demolition, who by this time had added Crush, to reduce the load on the aging Bill Eadie (Ax). From April 21, the teams wrestled each other exclusively at house shows, to either double count-outs or disqualifications. This culminated at SummerSlam 90 on August 27, where The Hart Foundation won the title for a second time in a 2/3 falls match.
The Hart Foundation mainly defended their title against Power and Glory (Paul Roma and Hercules), but began their reign by reigniting their feud with Jimmy Hart via his team, Rhythm and Blues. Toward the end, they also frequently faced his Earthquake and Dino Bravo. Hart once again cost The Hart Foundation the belts at WrestleMania VII, in a match with his new team, The Nasty Boys (Brian Knobs and Jerry Sags), when he distracted the referee, allowing Sags to knock out Neidhart with a motorcycle helmet.
Hart and Neidhart again split up, though they reunited for a title rematch with The Nasty Boys on the July 29 Prime Time Wrestling, losing by disqualification when Bret hit both champions with a helmet, again introduced by Jimmy Hart. Neidhart again wrestled Warlord, Barbarian and Haku on house shows, as well as Earthquake and Irwin R. Schyster (another of Jimmy Hart's men). During this time, he didn't wrestle on TV, but commentated Wrestling Challenge alongside Gorilla Monsoon and Bobby Heenan.
He returned to TV action on the November 9 Prime Time Wrestling against Ric Flair, who continued to apply his figure-four leglock after winning the match. While hobbling away to the back, he was attacked and further injured by The Beverly Brothers. He was thus replaced in the 1991 Survivor Series by Sgt. Slaughter (who became the team captain).
He returned on the December 1 Wrestling Challenge, teamed with Owen Hart (Bret's younger brother) as The New Foundation, defeating Barry Horowitz and Duane Gill. Clad in bright blue parachute pants, The New Foundation's highlight was a win over The Orient Express (Kato and Tanaka) at the 1992 Royal Rumble. Aside from one match against The Barbarian and Warlord, they wrestled The Beverly Brothers exclusively at house shows in 1992. After their last on March 7, Neidhart left the WWF.
New Japan Pro Wrestling (1992)
After three matches in Eastern Championship Wrestling, Neidhart had three tours with New Japan Pro Wrestling in 1992: The G1 Climax in August (losing in the first round to Kensuke Sasaki), the Super Grade Tag League II in October (teaming with Tom Zenk and finishing with 0 points) and Battle Final in December.
World Championship Wrestling (1993)
Neidhart debuted for World Championship Wrestling on the May 15 episode of WCW Worldwide, beating a jobber with the Anvilizer. In a post-match ringside interview, he said he'd face anyone in WCW. After submitting another jobber on the next episode, Neidhart teamed with The Junkyard Dog for the next, again beating jobbers by Anvilizer. His lone televised win over a star came when he and JYD beat Paul Orndorff and Dick Slater by disqualification on the June 5 WCW Saturday Night. Eleven days later, he beat Shanghai Pierce in a dark match before Clash of the Champions XXIII.
Later WWF stints (1994; 1996; 1997)
Neidhart returned to the WWF at King of the Ring in June 1994, as Bret Hart's cornerman for his WWF Championship defense against Intercontinental Champion Diesel. After Diesel hit Hart with his Jackknife finisher, Neidhart interfered to prevent the pin, disqualifying Hart but allowing him to retain the title. After the match, Diesel and Shawn Michaels beat down Hart, and Neidhart did not intervene. Later that night, Neidhart reappeared at ringside during Owen Hart's King of the Ring tournament final against Razor Ramon. He attacked Razor outside the ring, behind the referee's back, before throwing him back for Hart to elbow drop and pin to become "The King of Harts".
Owen had been feuding with Bret since the 1994 Royal Rumble. Neidhart, believing Bret had held Owen back from his potential, sided with Owen, usually cornering him in matches through the summer. Neidhart claimed he'd only helped Bret keep the WWF Championship at King of the Ring so Owen could take it from him. This opportunity came in a steel cage match at SummerSlam. Neidhart sat in the third row during the match, behind other Hart family members. After Bret won the match, Neidhart entered the cage, locked it and helped Owen beat him down, while Hart family members tried to climb over it and save him.
Neidhart joined Owen on Shawn Michaels' five-man team, The Teamsters, to face Razor Ramon and The Bad Guys in an elimination match at Survivor Series. After they eliminated every Bad Guy except Razor, Michaels inadvertently hit Diesel with the Sweet Chin Music. This caused an argument and the tag partners split up, before Diesel chased Michaels down the aisle. As the other Teamsters tried to intervene, all were counted out.
Because Diesel and Michaels were WWF Tag Team Champions when they split, the title was vacated and a tournament held. Neidhart and Hart lost to The New Headshrinkers (Fatu and Sionne) in the first round on the December 31 Superstars, by disqualification. By the time it aired, Neidhart had left the WWF.
On the July 6, 1996 Superstars, he returned as the masked heel Who, a gimmick designed for commentators Vince McMahon and Jerry Lawler to make "Who's on First?"-style jokes during his matches (all of which he lost). Who last appeared in the "Bikini Beach Blast-Off" party on the SummerSlam pre-show.
Neidhart then wrestled for New York independent promotion Ultimate Championship Wrestling (UCW), against Tatanka, his brother-in-law Bruce Hart, Falcon Coperis, Louis Velazquez, King Kong Bundy and Marty Jannetty.
Neidhart returned to the WWF in 1997, reuniting with Bret and Owen Hart as part of the new Hart Foundation, a stable of Canadian sympathizers, also including Davey Boy Smith and Brian Pillman. At In Your House 16: Canadian Stampede in Calgary, The Hart Foundation defeated the American team of Stone Cold Steve Austin, Ken Shamrock, Goldust and The Legion of Doom. Neidhart was part of Team Canada at Survivor Series, teaming with The British Bulldog, Doug Furnas and Philip Lafon to defeat Team USA, composed of Vader, Goldust, Marc Mero and Steve Blackman (Bulldog was the sole survivor, Neidhart was pinned by Vader).
World Championship Wrestling; second run (1997–1998)
After Bret left the WWF on bad terms because of the incident in 1997 which would go down in history as the Montreal Screwjob, Neidhart followed him to World Championship Wrestling (though not immediately, as he would be beaten up and humiliated, on the November 24 and December 1 episodes of Raw, by D-Generation X prior to his departure) where he formed a tag team with The British Bulldog, who also followed Bret there. Although this was his first true big-money deal, they were rarely utilized by WCW. They achieved little in-ring success, and he was eventually released and returned to the independent circuit.
World Wrestling Entertainment (2007)
On Raw XV, the 15th-anniversary WWE Raw special on December 10, 2007, Neidhart participated in the 15th Anniversary Battle Royal, eventually making it to the final five before being eliminated by Skinner.
Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (2009)
Neidhart and wife Ellie have three daughters – Jennifer, a gourmet chef and caterer, Natalie, and Kristen ("Muffy"), who was married in early June 2007. Natalie is also a professional wrestler under the ring name "Natalya".
On February 27, 2010 Jim "The Anvil" Neidhart was inducted into the Legends Pro Wrestling "Hall of Fame" by Jack Blaze in Wheeling, WV at their "LPW St. Valentine's Day Massacre" event. Then on May 28, 2011, he was honored again by Jack Blaze who also inducted his brother-in-law Owen Hart earlier that night into the "Hall of Fame".
On April 6, 2010, World Wrestling Entertainment released Hart & Soul: The Hart Family Anthology, which is a 3 DVD set featuring a documentary on the Hart wrestling family (including Jim Neidhart) as well as 12 matches. It is unique in that it also features previously unseen home movies from the Harts as well as candid interviews from surviving family members.
Neidhart was arrested on September 6, 2010 and charged with two counts of possession of controlled substances with intent to distribute, two counts of trafficking illegal drugs, one count of burglary of an unoccupied dwelling, and one count of third-degree grand theft for property stolen between $300 and $5,000. He was arrested after becoming aggressive with police after ingesting multiple pills outside a gas station. In March 2012, he was sentenced to five months and 29 days in jail. During his sentencing, he was arrested and held in contempt of court. Neidhart completed two stints in rehabilitation paid for by WWE.
According to TMZ, Jim Neidhart's wife Elizabeth (Ellie) Neidhart told investigators that Jim was having problems sleeping and got out of bed to adjust the thermostat. Ellie then said that as Neidhart went to touch it, he turned "weirdly" as if he was "about to dance", then fell into the wall and ground. She immediately dialed 911, believing he was having a seizure, something he was taking medication for. Neidhart had a four-inch gash on his face when EMTs arrived. He died aged 63. According to the Pasco County Sheriff's Office, the fall was his fatal cause of death.
- Signature moves
Championships and accomplishments
- Championship Wrestling from Florida
- Legends Pro Wrestling
- Inducted into the LPW Hall of Fame (5/28/11)
- Mid-Eastern Wrestling Federation
- MEWF Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
- New England Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame
- Class of 2014
- Professional Wrestling Federation
- PWF Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
- Pro Wrestling Illustrated
- Pro Wrestling Ohio
- PWO Tag Team Championship (1 time) – with Greg Valentine
- Stampede Wrestling
- Universal Wrestling Alliance
- UWA Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
- World Wrestling Federation
- Wrestling Observer Newsletter