Wrestling legend Jim "The Anvil" Neidhart has died.
The longtime tag-team partner of Bret "The Hitman" Hart and father of current World Wrestling Entertainment star Nattie Neidhart was 63.
The sheriff's office of Pasco, FL where Neidhart lived released a statement to TMZ Sports that no foul play was suspected.
"Preliminary information indicates that [Neidhart] fell at home, hit his head, and succumbed to his injury," the statement read.
A star athlete in high school, Neidhart moved to Calgary in 1978 to train at Stu Hart's 'Dungeon' after being unable to catch on in pro football and became a star in the World Wrestling Federation’s tag-team division where he was a two-time champion with Hart.
He earned the nickname "Anvil" when he set a then-record at the Calgary Stampede anvil toss in 1980. A star in Stu Hart’s Stampede Wrestling, Neidhart also married Hart's daughter, Ellie, in 1985 - becoming the brother-in-law of Bret, Owen and the rest of the Hart sons.
Tributes from across the wrestling world began to pour in with news of Neidhart’s passing. “Stunned and saddened,” Hart wrote on Instagram. “I just don’t have the words right now.”
“If you couldn't like Jim ‘The Anvil’ Neidhart, you’re the one with the problem,” wrote Gene Okerlund. “You didn't to always agree with him, but this guy would give the shirt off his back.”
“R.I.P. Jim ‘The Anvil’Neidhart,” wrote longtime WWE producer and on-air personality Bruce Prichard. “My heartfelt condolences to his family. Jim stood out in a unique world with a one of a kind personality.”
After performing in New Japan Pro Wrestling, Jim Barnett's Georgia Championship Wrestling and Bill Watts' Mid-South Wrestling, Neidhart joined the Wolrd Wrestling Federation in 1985 after Stu Hart sold his contract to Vince McMahon as part of his deal for Stampede. Neidhart briefly worked as a singles wrestler managed by Mr. Fuji before being put in a heel tag team with Bret, managed by Jimmy Hart (no relation).
The Hart Foundation, as they were called, quickly rose the ranks in the WWF’s tag-team division, winning their first WWF Tag Team Championship in early 1987, defeating the British Bulldogs of Tom 'Dynamite Kid' Billington and Davey Boy Smith, who was married to Neidhart’s sister-in-law, Diana.
The team would turn face in 1988, firing Hart as their manager and feuding with his new tag team charges, Montreal’s Jacques and Raymond Rougeau. The Hart Foundation spent the rest of the year feuding with the likes of then-champions Demolition and Hart’s Rhythm and Blues team of Greg “The Hammer” Valentine and the Honky Tonk Man.
After working as singles competitors for most of 1989, the Hart Foundation reformed in 1990 and defeated Demolition at that year’s SummerSlam to win the tag titles for a second time. As champions, the Hart Foundation would take on The Rockers (Marty Jannetty and Shawn Michaels) and Power and Glory (Paul Roma and Hercules Hernandez). They were once again embroiled in a feud with Hart and his teams Rhythm and Blues and the Canadian pairing of Dino Bravo and John “Earthquake” Tenta. The Hart Foundation lost their titles at 1991’s WrestleMania VII in Los Angeles to The Nasty Boys (Brian Knobbs and Jerry Sags) thanks to interference by Jimmy Hart, effectively ending the Hart Foundation with Bret going solo.
In 1991, Neidhart began teaming with Owen Hart as The New Foundation, but Neidhart was fired in 1992 for unprofessional conduct.
After a brief run in World Championship Wrestling, Neidhart returned to the WWF in 1994, aligning with heel Owen in his feud with Bret. This return was short-lived after Neidhart was fired from the company again in 1995.
Neidhart returned to the company in 1996 under a mask as “Who,” a character whose sole purpose was to elicit “Who’s on first?”-style jokes from the commentators.
In 1997, he joined Bret, Owen, Smith and Brian Pillman in the anti-American Hart Foundation stable, the promotion’s top heel faction. Neidhart would quickly follow Bret out the door to WCW following the infamous “Montreal Screwjob” at November’s Survivor Series where he would team with Smith. Though Smith and Neidhart were well-paid, they were sparsely used and Neidhart left the company by the end of 1998.
With Neidhart’s passing, Bret Hart is now the sole living member of the Hart Foundation with Pillman dying in 1997, Owen Hart in 1999 and Smith in 2002.
In recent years, Neidhart had issues with the law. He was arrested on multiple drug charges near his Florida home in 2010 and was sentenced to nearly a month in prison, served in 2012.
Neidhart is survived by his wife and three daughters. His nephew Harry “Davey Boy Jr.” Smith is a wrestler in NJPW’s Suzuki-gun faction and another nephew, Teddy Hart, competes independently throughout Canada, the United States and Mexico.