This week Throwback Thursday pauses to pay tribute to a true wrestling legend, Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart, who passed away Monday at the age of 63. With the help of the WWE Network we’re going to look back at ten of Jim’s most memorable matches and hidden gems.
Born James Henry Neidhart on February 8, 1955 in Tampa, Florida, Neidhart first made a name for himself at Newport Harbor High School in Newport Beach, California where his record-setting track and fields performances, particularity in shot put (in which he set a record that stood for 12 years), earned Neidhart a scholarship to UCLA. Neidhart would go on to be the first nationally ranked Bruin shot putter since 1969, and fourth overall, when Neidhart ranked 10th in 1975.
After graduating from UCLA Neidhart tried out for the National Football League’s Oakland Raiders and Dallas Cowboys but failed to make either squad. By the winter of 1978 Neidhart was in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, training with the renowned Stampede Wrestling promoter Stu Hart, who had an affinity for training ex-football players and who saw the potential in the athletic, massive Neidhart. From late ’78 to the spring of ’83 Neidhart continued in Calgary, finding moderate success in Stampede Wrestling, where he became a two-time International Tag Team Champion with Hercules Ayala and Mr. Hito respectively, as well as New Japan Pro Wrestling. Along the way, at Stu’s urging in a bid for publicity, Neidhart won an anvil toss competition at the annual Calgary Stampede. Overnight Jim “The Animal” became Jim “The Anvil”.
— Mid-South Tag Team Championship – “No Disqualification Mask vs. Title Tag Team Steel Cage Grudge Match” (HIGHLIGHTS) (WATCH – 4:41)
Special Guest Referee: Carl Fergie
Magnum T.A. & Mr. Wrestling II vs. “Hacksaw” Butch Reed & Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart(c)
Mid-South Wrestling 🖤 December 30, 1983 (TAPED: December 25, 1983)
In 1983 Neidhart left Stampede Wrestling to tour the territories. By September ’83, after a brief stop in Georgia, Neidhart wound up in Bill Watt’s Mid-South territory where Neidhart, 28 at the time, quickly made a name for himself. With partner Butch Reed, Neidhart won the Mid-South Tag Team titles on October 12, 1983 from Magnum T.A. & “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan and would hold them until Christmas night when Magnum & Wrestling II dethroned the Champions in this classic war from New Orleans.
While the footage is designed to highlight their power, athleticism and psychology are also on full display in this one. Following this match, after being berated by Reed for losing the straps, “Anvil” turned on Reed, setting up Neidhart’s last feud in Mid-South before “Anvil” moved on to Jerry Jarrett’s Continental Wrestling Association (CWA) in March ’84. In the late summer of ’84 Neidhart would debut for Championship Wrestling from Florida (CWF) where he would win the Florida versions of the NWA Southern Heavyweight title (August 12th) and the NWA U.S. Tag titles with Krusher Khrushchev (October 2, 1984).
— WWF World Tag Team Championship – “Tag Team Grudge Match” (WATCH)
The Hart Foundation (Bret “Hitman” Hart & Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart) w/Jimmy Hart vs. The British Bulldogs (Davey Boy Smith & Dynamite Kid)(c)
WWF on NESN 🖤 November 1, 1986
While Neidhart was starting in CWF Vince McMahon, hard at work expanding the World Wrestling Federation, was looking to acquire Stu Hart’s Stampede Wrestling. The eventual deal, abandoned the next year, included a $250,000 payout, a cut of all Calgary house shows, and four wrestlers: Bret Hart, Davey Boy Smith, Dynamite Kid, and (when available from CWF) Jim Neidhart. “The Anvil” debuted for the WWF on January 21, 1985 but struggled in his heel singles role. Bret Hart, also struggling in his “cowboy” role, floated the idea of teaming with Neidhart and Jimmy Hart in March of ’85 and the “Hart Foundation” was born. The Foundation’s greatest rivalry was with their Stampede chums the British Bulldogs. This bout from November ’86 is as good a match as these two teams ever had and perfectly illustrates what separated the Foundation (and the Bulldogs) from every other tag team in professional wrestling.
— WWF World Tag Team Championship – “2-out-of-3 Falls Match” (WATCH – 36:43)
The Hart Foundation (Bret “Hitman” Hart & Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart) vs. Demolition (Crush & Smash)(c)
WWF SummerSlam ’90 🖤 August 26, 1990
The Foundation won their first World Tag Team titles from the Bulldogs on the February 7, 1987 edition of Superstars of Wrestling (taped January 26, 1987), a series currently unavailable on the Network, and held them until the November 7, 1987 edition of Superstars (taped October 27, 1987) when they dropped the straps to Strike Force. Though the WWF toyed with a Bret Hart solo run the Foundation remained a mainstay of the WWF tag team division for the remainder of the decade. This classic match from SummerSlam ’90 marks the Foundation’s second and final World Tag Team title victory and features an equally classic pre-match promo from the “pink and black attack”.
— WWF World Tag Team Championship – “Grudge Match” (WATCH – 37:54)
The Nasty Boys (Brian Knobbs & Jerry Sags) w/Jimmy Hart vs. The Hart Foundation (Bret “Hitman” Hart & Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart)(c)
WWF WrestleMania VII 🖤 March 24, 1991
This match would mark the unofficial end of the Hart Foundation after a near six-year run as one of wrestling’s greatest tag teams. Featuring one of Neidhart’s best pre-match promos this match lived up to and exceeded all expectations and was a true standout of WrestleMania VII. This match ended the Hart Foundation’s final World Tag Team title reign and marked the Nasty Boys’ lone WWF Tag Team title win. The Foundation would reunite for a show in Japan on March 30, 1991 and then again for a handful of dates in Europe before wrestling their last match against the Nasty Boys on July 1, 1991 at Madison Square Garden, a match that aired on the July 29, 1991 edition of Prime Time Wrestling, currently unavailable on the Network.
— Tag Team Match (WATCH)
The Orient Express (Kato & Pat Tanaka) w/Mr. Fuji vs. The New Foundation (Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart & “The Rocket” Owen Hart)
WWF Royal Rumble 1992 🖤 January 19, 1992
After a stint as commentator with Gorilla Monsoon and Bobby Heenan “The Anvil” would be paired with Bret Hart’s younger brother Owen in November of 1991 as the “New Foundation”. Though the team didn’t last long it did produce this classic match from the 1992 Royal Rumble. Neidhart’s run in the WWF would come to an abrupt end in February ’92 when he was fired by Vince McMahon following an incident at Nassau Coliseum.
— Singles Match (WATCH)
The Sandman vs. Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart
NWA-ECW Hardcore TV #32 🖤 November 16, 1993 (TAPED: NWA-ECW November to Remember ’93 November 13, 1993)
After leaving the WWF Neidhart ended up working a few shows for Tod Gordon’s new Eastern Championship Wrestling before returning to New Japan in June ’92. A failed run in World Championship Wrestling, ending in early October of 1992, followed next. This match, at the first annual November to Remember, marked Neidhart’s final appearance in ECW. Against “surfer” Sandman Neidhart showed that given the right situation, and time, Neidhart could be an effective singles talent.
— “Tag Team Grudge Match” (WATCH – 0:00)
Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart & Owen Hart vs. “British Bulldog” Davey Boy Smith & WWF World Heavyweight Champion Bret “Hitman” Hart
WWF Monday Night RAW #85 🖤 November 7, 1994
Neidhart would return to the WWF in the early summer of 1994 as part of the ongoing “brother against brother” story between Bret and Owen Hart. After helping Bret retain the World title against Diesel Neidhart turned heel, helping Owen Hart win the 1994 King of the Ring tournament and setting up the classic steel cage showdown at SummerSlam ’94 between WWF Champion Bret Hart and “King of Harts” Owen Hart.
This all-time classic RAW encounter came as the Bret/Owen feud was winding down and transitioning into a new phase that included “Mister” Bob Backlund and a legendary swerve at the 1994 Survivor Series. By the end of ’94 Neidhart, thanks to no-showing events, would be fired from the WWF. Neidhart would briefly return to the WWF in July of 1996 as “Who” until September when he would again leave the Federation.
— “Ten-Man Tag Team Grudge Match” (WATCH – 1:00:35)
Goldust, “The World’s Most Dangerous Man” Ken Shamrock, The Legion of Doom (Road Warrior Hawk & Road Warrior Animal), & Stone Cold Steve Austin vs. The Hart Foundation (Brian Pillman, Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart, WWF European Champion “British Bulldog” Davey Boy Smith, WWF Intercontinental Champion Owen Hart, & Bret “Hitman” Hart) w/”Mrs. Calgary” Diana Smith
WWF In Your House 16: Canadian Stampede 🖤 July 6, 1997
Neidhart’s last run with the WWF began during the closing moments on the April 28, 1997 edition of Monday Night RAW when he attacked Stone Cold Steve Austin as the newest member of the new Hart Foundation. Pitting Canada against the United States, Neidhart was part of one of the most original and innovative angles in the recent history of the business. After months of build-up this massive ten-man tag nearly brought the Saddle Dome down. Considered one of the greatest matches in Federation history, and one of Neidhart’s personal favorites, this legendary war allowed everyone to shine, giving the Hart Foundation, and the entire Hart family, what turned out to be one final moment in the sun.
— “Non-Title Tag Team Match” (WATCH)
“British Bulldog” Davey Boy Smith & Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart vs. WCW World Tag Team Champions nWo WolfPac (Sting & Lex Luger)
WCW Monday NITRO #146 🖤 June 29, 1998
Following the “Montreal Screwjob” only Owen Hart remained in the WWF. Neidhart left the Federation for the final time as a full-time wrestler on December 2, 1997, following a humiliating exit the previous night that saw D-X spray paint “WCW” across his back. A month later Neidhart would return to WCW and would end up teaming with Davey Boy Smith. This dream match (on paper) was an entertaining match that marked one of the few highlights for any of the Hart family members in WCW post-Montreal. Neidhart’s personal issues, however, would cut his WCW run short. By the end September ’98 “Anvil” would be released from WCW, effectively ending Neidhart’s full-time wrestling career.
— “16-Man ‘RAW XV‘ Battle Royal” (WATCH)
Special Guest Ring Announcer: Howard Finkel
Featuring: 1) Al Snow w/Head; 2) Bart Gunn; 3) Doink the Clown; 4) Repo Man; 5) “The Lethal Weapon” Steve Blackman; 6) Pete Gas; 7) Bob Backlund; 8) The Goon; 9) Skinner; 10) “I.R.S.” Irwin R. Schyster; 11) Flash Funk; 12) Gangrel; 13) Scotty 2 Hotty; 14) Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart; 15) Sgt. Slaughter; & 16) Gillberg
WWE Monday Night RAW #759: RAW XV 🖤 December 10, 2007
Neidhart’s final WWE in-ring appearance came at RAW‘s 15th anniversary show in a 16-man battle royal. Coming in second to last Neidhart (looking fantastic) lasted nearly to the end before finally being eliminated by Skinner after dumping Repo Man to the floor. Neidhart would continue to work independent events until finally retiring for good in 2013.
Away from the ring Neidhart would help train his daughter, Natalie (the future Natalya in WWE) and stay in the public eye by occasionally appearing on Total Divas along with his wife Ellie.
The legacy and importance of Jim Neidhart to the story of professional wrestling cannot be overlooked. Neidhart helped redefine tag team wrestling, helped bring humor to promos, and proved that crossover athletes can, and do, excel in professional wrestling.
All of us here at WrestlingDVDNetwork.com wish to send our deepest condolences to the family, friends, and fans of Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart.
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