By BRET "The Hitman" HART -- For The Calgary Sun
Hart Foundation 'lovely' and lethal
In San Diego, back in November 1986. Anvil and I walked into the
lunchroom, backstage at a WWF show. Vince McMahon suddenly sprung up from his
meal, pointed at us and instructed, "Don't move!"
We stood, motionless, not having any idea what this was about, as McMahon
circled around us with a very strange look on his face.
HART FOUNDATION ... Jim (The Anvil) Neidhart and Bret (The Hitman)
"PINK, you're wearing, PINK!"
Vince stared, mouth agape and circled us yet again. Oh-oh, we thought,
looks like Vince doesn't like our new gear.
Well, we could explain it easy enough. It was all Judy's fault, the sewing
lady. She'd been making our gear for years and had been trying to convince us
to change colours. "I have this lovely shade of hot pink. Just lovely."
Well, Anvil and I just couldn't see ourselves -- two big bad guys --
wearing anything that could be described as lovely. We kept telling Judy
thanks, but no thanks. We were getting a bit tired of the old black and blue
but at the very least, our colours provided a convenient euphemism for what
we'd do to our opponents. It wasn't long before we wore out our gear and
realized we needed some new stuff in a hurry. We gave Judy a rush order and
she was obliging, as usual, but the problem was the only material she had at
such short notice was, "this lovely shade of pink." We didn't have any choice
but to try it. Who knows? Maybe it would be good for a laugh.
But Vince wasn't laughing. He was staring at us. Fearing the worst, we were
shocked when he enthusiastically said, "That is what you guys have been
missing all along. You had no colour! That is your colour. From now on, don't
wear anything else!"
A few weeks later, we were tag-team champions.
A couple of years later, Vince called me at home and said, "I don't know
what the fans see in you. I have more fan letters for you than for anyone else
in the company. I've decided to turn you baby face"
Which meant that Jimmy Hart had to go. He was just so annoying with that
megaphone and so devious on the outside of the ring that there was no way he
could manage a couple of good guys. We unceremoniously dumped Jimmy on May 11,
1988, and thereafter he was cast in the role of our nemesis ex- manager who
told our deepest secrets to all of our opponents to try and help them win.
We ended up having the best matches since The Bulldogs had gone home with
Demolition, one of the most powerful tag teams then or since. (The original
incarnation of Demolition was Ax and Smash, Bill Eadie and Barry Darsow). One
of the most enjoyable highlights of my career was when I talked the big Anvil
into letting me sling-shot him out of the ring at Madison Square Garden and he
crashed down with a thud right on top of Ax and Smash!
Jimmy Hart cost us the match at SummerSlam '88 and Demolition retained the
championship. By then, The Hart Foundation had established a reputation with
fans and wrestlers for toughness and tenacity. We were confident we would rise
to the top again.
Then we had a series of classic bouts with the Rockers (Shawn Michaels and
Marty Jannetty) who, in terms of physiques, were as opposite to Demolition as
you could get. It showed how versatile the Hart Foundation was -- having great
matches with both big guys and small guys.
At SummerSlam '90, we reclaimed the tag straps from Demolition in a match
where I physically spent myself like never before or since. It was 103F in
Philadelphia that day, the Spectrum was sold out and in the ring we were
roasting under the hot lights. Much to Jim's amusement, I worked 30 minutes of
a 34-minute match, which he found funny -- until he realized that I was
becoming dangerously dehydrated. In typical Anvil fashion, he suggested a good
remedy would be to throw back a few "frothy glasses of milk" at the hotel bar
which turned out to be good medicine and quite the victory celebration.
Who would have thought that seven months later we'd be dethroned by two
crazy nuts from Nashville -- The Nasty Boys (Brian Knobbs and Jerry Saggs).
Honing their wrestling skilles with the legendary Ox Baker, they were zany,
unpredictable, crafty -- and they were very good.
Not a day goes by when someone doesn't ask me why me and Jim broke up.
The truth is, we never really did. Jim sort of self-destructed. Actually,
it had all been predicted by a mystic, a year and a half earlier, when I had
my palm read in New Orleans. Jim debunked the whole thing and was laughing as
he crossed the street to wait for me in a bar. Meanwhile, a Cajun priestess of
I don't know what, clothed in full island-gypsy regalia, studied the lines in
my flesh. I wondered if she could tell the ones I was born with from the ones
etched there by years of weights and ropes. She looked up with great concern.
In the mysterious, intense voice you'd expect, between long, deep insightful
breaths, she simply stated, "There is a man ... a big man ... with red hair
... he is is a bad influence. A baaaad influence." I was thinking, red hair,
that's Jim. A bad influence -- on me? In answer to my unspoken question, she
said, "No, a bad influence ... on ... himself."
It came as no surprise when Jim picked up a big TV monitor and hurled it at
one of McMahon's top people. The target ducked but a guy on the TV production
crew got nailed. Jim got fired.
I was sorry to see him go. A lot of tag teams end up hating each other. You
spend so much time together day after day that a lot of partners end up
physically brawling it out or at least hating each other's guts. But I can
honestly say that Jim and I never had an argument. He made me laugh every
single day and was a true friend through the darkest times. Jim and I did
reform The Hart Foundation, this time with The British Bulldog, Brian Pillman
and even Owen. But that's a story for another time ...