THE HART FOUNDATION
Bret "Hit Man" Hart & Jim "The Anvil" Neidhart
WWF Tag Team Championship (two times)
WWE Hall of Fame
Written by Canadian Bulldog
WWE fans that learned about The Hart Foundation this past year through their Hall of Fame induction only really have part of the story. To fully appreciate this duo, you had to experience their run back in the day.
Brothers-in-law who came to the WWF via Vince McMahon's takeover of Stampede Wrestling, Bret Hart and Jim Neidhart were initially cast as singles competitors. But when Hart wasn't feeling the gimmick they had planned for him (a rhinestone cowboy character), he pleaded for officials to pair him with Jim Neidhart, even suggesting their similar last names (plus the addition of manager Jimmy Hart) would be great for consistency.
In 1985, the three were put together and quickly became one of the promotion's top heel tag teams.
In their early days, The Hart Foundation feuded with The Killer Bees and their (other) brother-in-laws who also came aboard during the Stampede acquisition: Davey Boy Smith and The Dynamite Kid, The British Bulldogs.
After Dynamite suffered an injury in late-1986, plans were put in place to make The Hart Foundation the next WWF World Tag Team Champions. Thanks to a crooked referee (Danny Davis), Hart and Neidhart were able to capture the gold, while Dynamite (who was still very much injured at the time), remained prone on the concrete as the result of a Hart Foundation sneak attack.
The Harts survived WrestleMania III and faced their main rivals The Bulldogs and The Bees throughout most of 1987. When they lost the gold to the upstart team of Strike Force (Tito Santana and Rick Martel) later that year, many figured The Foundation were done for.
Instead, Hart and Neidhart were given a second lease on life by turning babyface after WrestleMania IV. Initially seen as a singles push for Hart, The Foundation began teaming again after manager Jimmy Hart turned against them and gave their salaries to Jacques and Raymond Rougeau. This led to a tremendous series of matches between the teams (including bouts where Brother Love served as guest referee), with Hart and Neidhart the clear favorites.
The Hart Foundation would bounce back and forth as singles and then tag team competitors, battling The Brain Busters (Tully Blanchard and Arn Anderson), The Rockers (Marty Jannetty and Shawn Michaels) and other teams of the era. Eventually, they received a title shot at Demolition (Ax, Smash and Crush) as part of SummerSlam '90 and regained the gold.
Their second title reign wasn't as memorable as their first, although they would hold the gold until WrestleMania VII, where they lost the belts to another Jimmy Hart-managed tag team, The Nasty Boys (Brian Knobbs and Jerry Sags).
After losing the championships, Hart and Neidhart began pursuing the singles runs that had been promised to them years earlier (Hart, of course, getting a much bigger role and five runs as WWF World Champion).
In the subsequent years, Hart and Neidhart's careers would still be intertwined - Neidhart would team as The New Foundation with Bret's younger brother Owen hart, and later the two would begin a plot to take down Bret. A lot of interesting continuity for a company that doesn't often believe in doing that.
The Hart Foundation were finally reunited in 1997 as part of a larger faction (also known as The Hart Foundation) that included Bret, Jim, Owen, Davey Boy and Brian Pillman, which remained together until The Montreal Screwjob.
Even in recent years, wrestling has tried to recreate the magic of The Hart Foundation, with The Hart Dynasty (Harry Smith and Tyson Kidd) and The Next Generation Hart Foundation (Smith, Teddy Hart and Brian Pillman Jr.). But unless you beared witness to the original product, you may not truly get what made The Hart Foundation so special.