WWE legend Jim 'The Anvil' Neidhart sadly dies aged 63
It's a sad day in the world of sports entertainment. Jim "The Anvil" Neidhart, one of the most popular wrestlers in the 1980's, and the father of current WWE star Natalya, has died at the age of 63. According to TMZ, he suffered a "medical emergency" at his home in Florida. At 6:30AM, emergency dispatchers received a call about a man having seizures and compulsions. Reportedly he "fell at home, hit his head and succumbed to his injury," and "no foul play is suspected."
In high school, Neidhart was a track and field star, who held the shot put record in California for over a decade. After high school, he attended tryouts for the Oakland Raiders and Dallas Cowboys, but only played preseason games. Then the promising athlete switched careers to wrestling, and never looked back. He trained at the infamous Hart Dungeon in Calgary, Canada under Stu Hart. And he wasn't just given his nickname - he earned it, after winning an anvil throwing contest.
In 1979, Neidhart made his wrestling debut as part of the Canadian-based Stampede Wrestling. In 1985, he married Stu Hart's daughter, Ellie, becoming an official member of the legendary Hart family. After joining forces with Bret "Hit Man" Hart, the duo thrilled crowds as the vicious fan favorite tag-team The Hart Foundation. Managed by Jimmy Hart, they won the coveted WWE tag-team championships twice, defeating the British Bulldogs, the Legion of Doom and many others.
After the Hart Foundation split up, both members went solo, but The ANvil didn't find the same success as Bret. In the mid-90's, he teamed up with Bret's younger brother Owen Hart, and later on, they all reunited as "The New Hart Foundation." Neidhart continued to wrestle into the 2000's, appearing in the WCW, WWE and TNA.
Sadly, Neidhart struggled with substance abuse. In 2010, he faced charges for "two counts of possession of a controlled substance, two counts of trafficking of illegal drugs, one count of burglary and one count of grant theft." The Tampa Bay Police reportedly found him causing a scene at a gas station, with substantial amounts of Oxycontin and methadone. In 2012, Neidhart was sentenced to six months in jail. He also went through rehab twice, which the WWE paid for.
On Twitter, many wrestling stars shared their condolences, including Bret Hart, Ric Flair and Triple H.
Fans also mourned the larger-than-life WWE star. One Twitter user shared an endearing story about meeting The Anvil at a show.
Another Twitter user pointed out that Bret is the last member of the gang left standing.
Neidhart is survived by his three daughters, Jennifer, Kristen and Natalie, aka Natalya, the former WWE women's champion. The Anvil appeared multiple times on Natalya's E! reality show, Total Divas. Fans will miss him, but the videos of his classic wrestling moments will live on.