Tragedy has once again struck the wrestling world. Jim ‘The Anvil’ Neidhart – a two-time WWE Tag Team Champion and father of WWE’s Natayla — has died.
Upon the heels of losing Brian Christopher, Nikolai Volkoff and Frederick “Brickhouse Brown” Seawright, the wrestling world braced itself for another heartache on Aug. 13. Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart, a two-time tag team champion with Bret “The Hitman” Hart, died on Aug. 13 at the way-too-young age of 63. “WWE is saddened to learn that Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart passed away,” the WWE said in a statement. “Best known as the powerhouse of the legendary Hart Foundation tag team with his brother-in-law, Bret “Hit Man” Hart, Jim Neidhart was also the father of current WWE Superstar Natalya.” The cause of death is unknown, but TMZ says he suffered a “medical emergency” at his home in Florida.
It was former WWF (now WWE) wrestler and current president of the Cauliflower Alley Club, B. Brian Blair, who first reported the passing of the legendary brawler. “So sad to announce the passing of my friend and longtime colleague, Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart. Your thoughts and prayers for the family are deeply appreciated!”
Jim – born James Henry Neidhart in Tampa, Florida on Feb. 8, 1955 – found success as a wrestler in the 1980s. After a career in the NFL didn’t take off, Jim relocated to Calgary to train with the legendary wrestler and promoter, Stu Hart. “Jim was my dad’s product. Jim was third in the world at shot put. He was training to get signed by the [Oakland] Raiders and was referred to my dad from somebody at the gym,” Bret Hart said in a 2015 interview with WWE.com, per Slam! Sports. “He called directory assistance, found my dad and asked him to teach him to wrestle. He listed all of his accomplishments and my dad asked him to come up to Calgary.”
“He was a big, strong kid. He had a bench press close to 600 pounds. He was super-strong and really quick. He left Calgary after my dad taught him and got signed by the Raiders. He came back to train with my dad [after] he was injured. Then he was with the Cowboys and got cut. He was the last cut the year the Cowboys won the Super Bowl in ’78.”
During his time in Canada, Jim would fall in love and marry Ellie Hart, one of Stu’s daughter, making him brother-in-law to Bret Hart, Owen Hart and Kevin Hart. Jim and Ellie would have three daughters together – Jennifer, Kristen and Natalie Neidhart-Wilson, who WWE fans know as Natalya. This also led to appearances on Total Divas, introducing “The Anvil” to a whole new generation of fans.
After working in Stu Hart’s Stampede Wrestling and some organizations in Canada and the US, Jim joined the then-WWF in 1985. As part of The Hard Foundation, Jim and Bret would win the WWF Tag Team Championship twice. “Bret was a really, really great partner,” Jim told Chris Jericho on Ep. 298 of the Talk Is Jericho podcast, per Wrestling Inc. “I got along really [well] with Bret. In fact, we still are proud of this little thing, where no matter what happened out there, we never got in an argument and we never disagreed about anything.”
So sad to announce the passing of my friend and longtime colleague, Jim "The Anvil" Neidhart. Your thoughts and prayers for the family are deeply appreciated! @CACReunion @JimValley @allan_cheapshot @mattfarmer93 @WrestlingIWF @davemeltzerWON @SlamSports @jumpinjbrunzell
— B Brian Blair 🇺🇸 (@Killerbee1B) August 13, 2018
It is terrible I just heard Jim Neidhart passed away. I just pray for his family to get through this.Jim was a great friend and I will really miss him.
— Demolition Smash (@RealDemoSmash) August 13, 2018
Jim’s first run with the WWF would last until 1992. He would be fired for unprofessional conduct, leading to appearances in New Japan Pro Wrestling and World Championship Wrestling. He returned to the WWF in 1994, taking part in the Hart Foundation vs. “Stone Cold” Steve Austin angle. After Bret, Owen and “The British Bulldog” Davey Boy Smith left the WWF in the wake of the infamous “Montreal Screwjob,” Jim stayed on with the company until his release in 1997. He returned to WCW in 1998 and after leaving the company, he made appearances throughout the wrestling world — both in and outside the ring — in the following two decades.
Our thoughts are with Jim’s family, friends and fans during this time of loss.