The Hart Foundation: The 'best' of times
You talk about people who helped revolutionize the Wrestling World. The Ric Flairs, Stan Hansens, Hulk Hogans and Andre the Giants. And when you talk about tag teams which helped in the business evolving, you have to mention the Hart Foundation. Coming from one of the most respected and worshipped families in the Wrestling Business, the Hart family, Bret found great success with Tom Billington, aka the Dynamite Kid, in his father’s Stampede Wrestling in Canada. And when his dream of making it a step further was realized, he was in the WWF. And how do you go about making a name for yourself in the biggest Wrestling Promotion in North America? You first make your name in the Tag team division.
Not so long ago, Wrestling was an art, a custom, a tradition of sorts. You had a rule book on how to go about your career. You first had to be in a team to make a name for yourself, then break out in a single’s career with a mid card title, and then after toiling for years and years, you’d get your biggest break, by winning the World title (Unlike now, when debutants who have no skills get pushed ahead of those who have been in this business, honing their craft for over a decade). That’s why people loved business back in the day. You had to pay dues, get the respect of your peers, and then find success. And Bret Hart did just that with Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart.
The Hart Foundation initially consisted of Bret, Jim, and “Mouth of the South”, Jimmy Hart (And that’s how the ‘Hart Foundation’ came about, interestingly, as Jimmy was their manager). When they came in, it was a change. Here were two guys, completely different with their styles and looks; at that point, except for Randy Savage, no one could even imagine being so ‘different’ in their styles. Here was a guy who looked evil, legit, in Jim Neidhart. Then you have this cunning little henchman beside him in Jimmy Hart, and the right hand of his, Bret. Their finisher, dubbed “The Hart Attack” was the icing on the cake for the team. Their initial feud with The British Bulldogs set their careers in motion as a team; as they went on to capture the WWF Tag team titles. Their matches against the new team on the block, “The Rockers”, received great praises, and even once went on to close the show! This, at that time, was considered as a privilege, as only those which are considered to be good draws were allowed to close the show. Then came the halt, as Bret pursued his singles career, and Jim had to wait for his turn.
The “New” Hart Foundation was again revived later, this time with Bret’s little brother, Owen Hart, who had just joined the WWF after making a big name for himself in Japan. Owen, teaming up with Jim, again received great success, and this was instrumental later on when Owen feuded against his brother Bret, with Jim helping Owen. But the biggest impact the Hart Foundation had, was as a stable during ’97. The Hart foundation consisted of Bret, his brother Owen, Bret’s brother in laws Jim Neidhart and Davey Boy Smith, and the ‘Loose Cannon’ Brian Pillman. Their anti-American storyline received major ‘heat’, as Bret soon became one of the most hated professionals in the WWF. Cue the later part of ’97, the Hart Foundation was slowly wiped out, after the death of Pillman and the MSJ incident, when Bret left the WWF for WCW. Davey and Jim soon left the WWF, and Owen took up his past gimmick of the Blue Blazer.
This ended the saga of perhaps the most famous stable in the Wrestling World, only next to the Four Horsemen, if at all. I still remember seeing the Hart Foundation come out and get booed due to their anti-American words, but right now, thinking about it the past, it seemed to be the greatest time. I was a huge fan of Owen Hart; I could relate to him. He was one of my favourites along with Bret. The whole Wrestling World seemed pleasant with these guys adding the “Family” aspect, which was true. Although the WWE (The then WWF) tried to recreate the magic by bringing in Teddy Hart, Harry Smith, Natalie Neidhart and Tyson Kidd, it didn’t work out well. As they say, the best cannot be replaced, nor recreated. The Hart Foundation was truly “The best there is, the best there was, and the best there ever will be” of the Wrestling stables.
Read about the Greatest Tag teams here.