There is no question, the Hart family has produced some real legends in the wrestling industry and absolutely belongs in the conversation of the most important families in the business. Amazing in the ring and on the mic, fans can thank the Hart clan for so many amazing moments. On top of that, we can only imagine how much more we could think of if some of the awfully talented but woefully underused people, Nattie, Tyson and Harry come to mind, were given better opportunities to strut their stuff. That said, we’d be remiss if we didn’t acknowledge that this clan can be more than a little off-kilter at times which made us delighted at the prospect of this list.
While we sat down to compile this list, we had a few rules before we considered making something an entry. Firstly and most obviously, we wouldn’t include anything that doesn’t include at least one member of the Hart family. Other than that, our only criterion was that we wanted to exclude commonly known facts. Meaning, we aren’t going to be talking about something like the Montreal Screwjob unless we find an interesting new fact or perspective about it that most are unaware of. The only other caveat is that readers should keep in mind that even if they know a few of these facts, everyone’s knowledge base is different and there should be several others you’re unaware of. If not, you are a true Hart fan.
15 Jim Neidhart Imprisoned With Manson
Jim Neidhart’s biggest claim to fame is as one-half of the highly respected tag team, The Hart Foundation and to a lesser extent the highly respected stable. Present during the height of the group’s incredible storyline where they were beloved across the majority of the world but loathed in America, it is safe to say that he should have his fair share of crazy tales to impart. However, his life has had a few intriguing chapters that have nothing to do with his wrestling career.
Sent to prison for twenty-one days after he was involved in an incident, his time there may have been pretty uneventful if it wasn’t for the fact that he was housed in the same prison of an infamous figure. Ending up in the same correctional facility as Charles Manson, one of the most talked about figures in modern crime, Jim has discussed the way things would change when he had to be moved. Evidently, prison personnel would suddenly elevate security protocols due to the former cult leader.
14 Cat Fascination Runs Deep
A lot has been made on WWE television about Natalya and Tyson Kidd’s obsession with their cats. A consistent factor in their portrayal on the “reality show” Total Divas, in the case of Tyson he even began to acknowledge his felines as a part of his on-air character in NXT, to the delight of many. As a result of those two and the occasional depiction of Nattie’s mother and sister’s acting very attached to the family pets, you may think their branch of the family tree is the craziest cat owners.
Turns out that the eldest male Hart cousin, Teddy Hart, who is the son of Georgia Hart, may have taken his love of kitties one step further. Arguably one of the craziest in the Hart Clan, which is saying something, he has publicly spoken about training his cats to take part in his shows. Speaking to the esteemed podcast and radio show Live Audio Wrestling, Teddy revealed he has some pretty extensive plans in mind for his pets and wrestling. “ I’m training cats to come out to the ring with me, and I’m also trying to train animals to get involved in matches”.
13 Bret Hart, Great Canadian
At the height of the build up to the fabled Montreal Screwjob, one of the major bones of contention was Bret Hart’s unwillingness to drop the belt in Canada where he felt he’d built a heroic legacy. While some have taunted him for buying into his gimmick too much and caring about his win-loss record in his homeland too much, there is ample reason for the way he felt. While he wrestled all over the world at the height of his WWE popularity and there is little doubt that his persona had an effect on legions of fans, especially the younger ones, Canada seemed to love him more than the rest.
Perhaps, the greatest piece of evidence as to the way he was seen in The Great White North is the fact that he actually placed on a publicly voted upon a list of the Greatest Canadians of all time. Ultimately placing thirty-ninth among the millions of potential entrants, he managed to beat out beloved actors like John Candy on top of important politicians, singers, scientists, and a famed World War I fighter pilot.
12 Brian Pillman and Jimmy Hart Were Not Related To The Harts
The Hart Foundation is arguably one of the most influential and groundbreaking factions in wrestling history. Starting out as a tag team comprised of Bret Hart and his brother-in-law Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart, the tandem would have a legendary run before ultimately breaking up and eventually feuding with one another. Fast forward several years and the name would resurface in WWE as the moniker used for the aforementioned faction that was made up of Bret and Jim alongside fellow Hart family members Owen Hart and The British Bulldog.
Considering the group largely comprised of children of Stu and Helen Hart or men who married their daughters, it would be understandable if you assumed all members were intertwined that way. Not so, as original team manager “The Mouth of the South” Jimmy Hart and eventual stablemate Brian Pillman were not a part of the family. At least in Pillman’s case, he stated that he viewed Bret and Owen as brothers prior to his death and was trained by members of the family.
11 Under the Mat
If it isn’t clear yet, the wrestling industry is a gigantic part of what makes the Hart family tick. The fact that Bret’s generation comprised of either wrestlers or women who married wrestlers has a lot to do with that. That is why it shouldn’t come as any surprise that members of the famous family chose to write about the effect the industry had on their lives when given the opportunity to pen a book. In Bret’s case, he wrote a brutally self-reflective look at his time in the industry where his pride in his work was on full display but he also admitted to letting his wife down again and again.
Then, there was the book that was “co-written” by Diana Hart, the mother of Harry Smith and ex-wife of The British Bulldog which is seen as an embarrassment by almost everyone involved. An endeavour in airing the family’s dirty laundry unnecessarily, she takes shots throughout at fellow family members Bret, Martha, Andrea and her late husband, among others. In the years since, even Diana herself has disowned the book, calling it a failure and saying she is on good terms with her brothers and sisters now.
10 Hart House Heritage Site
While there are a lot of facts about the Hart family that even some diehard fans may be unaware of, hence this list, one thing nearly all wrestling fans have heard a lot about is the fabled “Hart House” A massive piece of property that featured a building that can only be described as a mansion, it features “The Dungeon” where family patriarch Stu would train people by “stretching” them in the basement. On top of that, there are twenty-two rooms, four fireplaces, five chandeliers, two porches, and a coach house behind the main house which was joined to the main house through a greenhouse.
Sold by the family after the passing of Stu and Helen Hart, there was some concern about what would happen to it now that it was under new management. Anyone worrying that it would be torn down or dismantled in any way were able to breathe a sigh of relief after it was named a heritage site in 2012 and was renovated the following year.
9 Bret Hart, Longest Reigning 90s Champ
Modern wrestling fans have been given a lot of reasons to see Bret Hart as one of the most important and influential wrestlers of all time that deserves a great deal of their respect. Putting together an impressive career where he held tag titles on three occasions, mid card titles seven times and singles world titles seven times, there were good reasons he represented companies so many times.
Involved in memorable feuds with the likes of Shawn Michaels, Diesel, Owen Hart, Roddy Piper, Jerry Lawler, and so many others, he proved he could wrestle virtually anyone and make them look fantastic. Perhaps, that is why he held the WWE Championship (then known as the WWF World Heavyweight Championship) more days combined than anyone else in the 90s. Reigning supreme in the biggest wrestling company ever for a combined 654 days during that decade, it is obvious that his bosses had absolute confidence in him.
8 Jim "The Anvil" Neidhart Nickname Origin
Earlier when we spoke about Jim Neidhart’s time in prison, we mentioned that the man has lived an interesting life and we meant it. Aside from his criminal past and wrestling career, Jim also put together a pretty extensive athletic career in his younger days. Holding the California shot put record between the years 1973 and 1985, he also spent some time playing for the Oakland Raiders and Dallas Cowboys. Only competing in practices and preseason games, he may not have been good enough to suit up in actual games but it still takes immense skills to even interact with pro players in any serious form.
For us, the most interesting part of his athletic past prior to the wrestling industry is the event which earned him the nickname of “The Anvil”. At the 1982 Calgary Stampede, they put on an “anvil throwing competition”. Who knew that was a thing? Shot putting an anvil twenty-two feet away from himself, he was then given the nickname he has had ever since as a result.
7 In Fighting
Over the years, various Hart family members took part in some pretty vicious feuds with one another on WWE television. Whether it was the tag team matches The Hart Foundation had with the British Bulldogs, the awesome feud Bret and Owen took part in or other examples, it always resulted in fantastic content for fans. Unfortunately, we can’t say that having to stand by while Hart family members have made real-life negative remarks about one another in the media has been nearly as fun.
There are the aforementioned claims Diana made against her siblings in her book Under the Mat, Owen’s widow, Martha Hart’s anger at her in-laws and too many other examples to mention here. Suffice it to say that it seems like there are constant arguments within this once tight-knit family. According to Bret, it seems like the death of Owen really tore them apart and saw the siblings start to habitually take sides against one another. Sad all around really.
6 Roddy Piper, Cousin?
Do you see that question mark in this entries’ title? That isn’t an accident. As much as we researched this we couldn’t find any concrete evidence of this claim but it was restated multiple times which gave it enough credence to at least present it to you as a possibility. If a statement made by WWE Hall of Famer and legendary mic man Roddy Piper in his book “In the Pit with Piper” is true, he is actually a cousin to Bret, Owen, and the rest of their siblings.
The Rowdy Scot may have always been marketed for his Scottish heritage but in actual fact, he was born in the Canadian city of Saskatoon in Saskatchewan. That fact alone may lend some credence to his claim in some people’s eyes but considering the size of Canada we aren’t entirely convinced but there is more pointing to the possible validity of their relationship. First, Bret Hart revealed in his book that Roddy was the only wrestler to visit him in the hospital after his stroke, which seems to confirm a tight relationship. Finally, the WWE themselves once included their supposed familial bond as a trivia question on an episode of Raw.
5 Stu Hart, Philanthropist
Stu Hart is known for a number of things. His unique manner of speaking, his huge family, his effect on the Canadian wrestling industry and his fondness for stretching would-be wrestlers in his basement are the ones that first leap to mind for most fans. While we think he’d be perfectly content with that kind of legacy it still does a disservice to him as he also was given the second highest honour Canada gives out to his citizens, the Order of Canada, in recognition of his philanthropy.
Said to have given to more than thirty charities in his time, including the Alberta Firefighters Toy Fund, and Shriners Hospital for Crippled Children, he seems to have had a big space in his heart for kids. Also renowned as a coach and mentor to seemingly countless young Canadian athletes, both in and out of professional wrestling, his actions earned him the admiration of major political figures.
4 Davey Boy Dates Around
It is pretty well common knowledge at this point that “The British Bulldog” Davey Boy Smith is a member of the Hart Wrestling family. Involved with the youngest daughter of the clan, Diana, the pair were married for roughly sixteen years before they separated without actually divorcing at that time. Having two kids together, including former Hart Dynasty member Harry Smith (who wrestled as DH Smith at the time), this relationship is the link between Davey and the Harts in most people’s minds.
However, there is another manner in which he is linked to the family and this one is far less cut and dry. Andrea Redding Hart was the wife of Bruce Hart and mother of his five children. Separating from her husband in between the years 2000 and 2002, she entered into a relationship with Davey Boy and she has said they were planning to wed prior to his untimely passing. We’re just going to say it, this one is just plain weird.
3 The Owen Hart Foundation
Owen Hart’s life is pretty well universally celebrated. In fact, the only other person we can think of that fans and peers seem to love nearly as much is Eddie Guerrero and even he seems to pale in comparison. Whether it is looking back on his in-ring career which included impressive athletic feats, hilarious promos, fantastic matches and a fun loving aura or listening to stories of his pranks, we love the man.
We’re far from the only ones who celebrate his life, though, including his widow and children who clearly profoundly loved the man. Suing in the wake of his untimely demise, the family was awarded roughly eighteen million dollars and after giving his parents some of the money they used some of the funds to create a charity. The Own Hart Foundation was born in 1999 and has granted nearly two-hundred scholarships, purchased more than one-hundred homes for low-income houses on top of several other programs. In short, Owen continues to make a positive impact on the world in death through the actions of the family he loved so much and left behind.
2 Stampede Wrestling Bought and Sold
When Vince and Linda McMahon decided to expand beyond the territorial borders his father had respected for so many years, he changed the industry forever. According to legend, he spent the next several years stamping out nearly all competition and in doing so utterly decimated the system of local wrestling companies that had thrived for years. As part of this era, Vince also made the move to buy out several companies, one of which was Stu Hart’s Stampede Wrestling.
After an unfortunate incident in which a Stampede event was derailed by a riot, the company was banned from promoting in Calgary for six months which largely crippled them. Selling to the WWE (WWF at the time), it was this move that led to the like of Bret, The Bulldogs, The Honky Tonk Man, and Bad News Allen among others starting to work for Vince. In an odd turn of events, however, the company was sold back to the family the following year and remains under their control whenever it pops up to this day.
1 Who Was Really Trained In the Dungeon?
The Hart family is known all around the world for their ability to train wrestlers. A tradition started by family patriarch Stu, several of his kids would go on to follow in his footsteps and as a result, the family’s fingerprints can be felt in the work of many wrestlers. While some of their former students are anything but surprising, including Tyson Kidd and Harry Smith as well as Keith, Smith, and Bruce Hart, others aren’t connected with them often.
While we don’t have time to talk about all of their students in depth we can include some names for your reading delight. According to Bret Hart, Jim Neidhart was the last man trained by Stu himself who also worked with likes of The Iron Sheik, Ole Anderson, Superstar Billy Graham, Nikolai Volkoff, and others. On top of the people who’ve claimed to have trained at the Hart Brothers Camp include Chris Jericho and Lance Storm. Finally, Bret revealed he had a ring in his garden where he helped hone the skills of Edge, Christian, Test, Mark Henry, Giant Silva, and Ken Shamrock.