Former WWF Tag Team Champion Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart died today at the age of 63.
Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart was maybe one of the greatest wrestling sidekicks of the late-1980s and 1990s. As a member of The Hart Foundation, with his partner, Bret “Hitman” Hart, “The Anvil” won the WWF Tag Team championships twice. But from the beginning, it was clear his partner was going to be the breakout star on the team, even if Neidhart had more charisma than the “Hitman” at the start of their WWF careers.
The Hart Foundation, especially when they were the bad guys managed by Jimmy “Mouth of the South” Hart – no relation to the “Hitman” – were really influential in making me a big fan of tag team wrestling. They had such great chemistry together, and they worked great matches with so many different teams in so many different styles. Whether it was the British Bulldogs, the Killer Bees, Demolition or the Nasty Boys, if the Hart Foundation was in the ring, you were going to get a near classic.
Neidhart wasn’t necessarily the best worker – he was meant to be the power man who wore down the opponents so Bret could put them away. But “The Anvil” still made an impression on you, with his trademark goatee and maniacal laugh. He was always fun to watch.
When his partnership with Hart broke up and the team went its separate ways, Neidhart kind of floundered on his own. He got typecast as the big man in a team, and he tried to copy that formula, first with Koko B. Ware and then with the “Hitman’s” brother, Owen. But he was never quite able to recapture the same magic that he had with Bret.
Even though he retired in the late-1990s, Neidhart’s legacy extends well beyond the decade that brought us the “Attitude Era,” as his daughter, Natalya, is an established wrestler in her own right, and a multiple-time women’s champion in the WWE. His legacy is going to carry on in the industry for a long time.