Jim Neidhart, the wrestler known as the Anvil, who joined with his brother-in-law Bret Hart to form one of the top tag teams of the 1980s, died on Monday in Wesley Chapel, Fla. He was 63.
The Pasco County sheriff’s office said he fell at his home, hit his head and “succumbed to his injury.” Foul play is not suspected. Neidhart’s brother-in-law Ross Hart, a former pro wrestler, told The Associated Press that Neidhart had Alzheimer’s disease and that it was believed he suffered a grand mal seizure.
The Hart Foundation, a tag team consisting of Neidhart and Bret (Hitman) Hart and managed by Jimmy Hart, known as “the Mouth of the South,” won championships in 1987 and 1990 in the World Wrestling Federation, now known as World Wrestling Entertainment.
“Neidhart was such a great character back then,” Jimmy Hart said in an interview. “Bret was more cool, the girls loved him. Neidhart and myself were kind of the evil twins.”
James Henry Neidhart was born on Feb. 8, 1955, in Tampa, Fla. He was a shot-put star in high school in California and had tryouts with the Dallas Cowboys and the Oakland Raiders of the N.F.L. before becoming a pro wrestler.
The Hart Foundation split up shortly after winning their second title in 1990. Bret Hart went on to become one of the biggest stars in WWE history, but Neidhart foundered for most of the 1990s before aligning again with Bret and Owen Hart, Brian Pillman and the British Bulldog to form a new Hart Foundation.
Bret Hart is the only wrestler from that incarnation still alive.
“He was very gifted athletically, even though Bret got more of the credit,” Ross Hart said of Neidhart. “He was more of the power behind the team, but at times he did some incredibly gifted things in the ring.”
Neidhart, known for his pink and black gear, his maniacal laugh and his goatee, wrestled mostly for WWE from 1985 to 1997. He later wrestled briefly for other wrestling promotions and had brushes with the law and spent time in drug rehabilitation.
He found a second act as comic relief on the reality series “Total Divas” alongside his daughter Natalie, who wrestles professionally as Natalya. He has been seen on that show going shopping with her and teaching wrestlers how to golf.
Information on other survivors was not immediately available.
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