The Hart Foundation is one of the most successful tag team tandems in the history of the WWE and their achievements with lengthy reigns as World tag team champions is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to their legacy and influence on the sport. But even though Jim Neidhart and Bret Hart enjoyed decades in the spotlight both as a team as well as in solo competition, there is lots about this championship winning twosome that many may not realize.
From their earliest days in the sport, to the peak of their careers, here are 20 things that you didn’t know about the Hart Foundation – both the team, and later the faction.
In the history of World Wrestling Entertainment, there have been a number of great tag teams and factions to be created under the watchful eye of Vince McMahon. Among the most memorable to be developed as a product of the WWE – not an established team that arrived on the WWE’s doorstep as a package deal – is easily the Hart Foundation. While the duo of Bret Hart and Jim Neidhart established a formidable record as a pair, winning two WWE tag team titles, perhaps many fans remember them for their actions a decade later when they expanded their ranks to form a stable. Whether with Jimmy Hart in their corner, or going it alone, the contrast of Bret’s finesse and Jim’s unyielding power proved a winning recipe for success.
In one of the most divisive eras of professional wrestling – vehemently despised in the United States while valiantly heralded when they appeared north of the 49th parallel, there was something electric about the eclectic mix of talent assembled in 1997 when the original team members added Owen Hart, Davey Boy Smith and Brian Pillman to the mix.
There was more to the team than just their ability to simultaneously tread the line between good and evil and shift gears depending on the reaction of the crowd. In fact, there are lots of secrets that the fans may not know about the Hart Foundation. When you learn more, you may be scratching your heads to wonder why they aren’t following the Four Horsemen as a faction honored in the WWE Hall of Fame. From personal secrets, to forgotten sound bytes in the mainstream media, here are 20 things you didn’t know about the faction headed by ‘The best there is, the best there was, and the best there ever will be.’
20 Neidhart played in the NFL
19 Jim Married Bret’s Sister in 1979
18 They took Different Paths to WWE
While Bret is best known as a product of Calgary’s Stampede Wrestling territory, many do not realize that Bret had a very active touring schedule during the early years of his career. Bret’s travels included tours of Japan, Puerto Rico, Germany, England, New Zealand as well as stops in Texas, Hawaii, Georgia, and a few matches for Jim Crockett promotions.
17 Bret Never Wanted a Lengthy Ring Career
16 Neidhart’s connection to Charles Manson
15 Bret Suggested the Team to Avoid “Cowboy” Fate
14 Wearing Pink was Intended as a Joke
13 Their Rivalry with The Bulldogs was a Family Feud
12 Neidhart Earned his Nickname at the Calgary Stampede
11 Bret Hart wasn’t trained by Stu
10 Jim Neidhart was Afraid of the Dark
9 Owen Had To Work Extra Hard For A Chance in WWE
Owen Hart, while still wrestling in Stampede Wrestling, was awarded the Pro Wrestling Illustrated magazine Rookie of the Year award. His victory marks the only time in history when a Canadian independent wrestler captured this award. By the time of his award victory, he had already toured extensively for his father’s promotion and had completed a tour for New Japan Pro Wrestling.
8 Owen Started Really Young
7 Bret Hated the first WWE-branded Poster for the Team
6 Davey Boy Smith Was Discovered by Bruce Hart
The British Bulldog’s North American career may not have happened at all had it not been for a visiting Canadian wrestler touring England in the late 1970s. Bruce Hart, elder brother of Bret and Owen had been on tour in the U.K. when he discovered the Dynamite Kid and was captivated by his style. Bruce paved the way for Dynamite to get his start in Canada, which opened the door for Dynamite’s cousin Davey Boy to seek his fortune in North America as well in 1982, first landing in Calgary, Alberta where he gained experience, and considerable size, while wrestling for the Hart family’s Stampede Wrestling promotion.
5 Brian Pillman’s Hart Foundation Connection
4 The team could have had multiple configurations
3 Neidhart partnered with a later rival
2 The Hart Foundation is still not in the WWE Hall of Fame
Though topping a WWE vote of the company’s greatest tag teams, the Hart Foundation has still not been inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame. This is a particular slap in the face for the duo who served as a dedicated tandem for the company from 1985 to 1991, and then being re-united again just prior to the start of the attitude era but have been passed over for teams that do not lay claim to a track record of any kind in the WWE.
1 The Hart Foundation lives on … The Owen Hart Foundation
While the Hart Foundation is still actively discussed by long time wrestling fans as one of the greatest tag teams of their era, the name has gone on to hold greater significance in association with one of their junior members, Owen. The Owen Hart Foundation was established by Owen’s wife Martha after his passing. The Foundation, which was established to provide “opportunities for hard-working people who have limited resources and unlimited potential” has issued more than $3 million in grants for eligible recipients and continues to ensure that the ‘Hart Foundation’ is an establishment that will be spoken about in reverent tones.
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