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WRESTLING COLUMNS

Hart Foundation: The Next Generation
January 20, 2007 by Ian Carey


Editor's Note: The author of this column can be contacted via the OWW Forums, where this submission was first posted. Feedback can be posted automatically by clicking here - but remember you must sign up for the forums to post feedback on a column. Thanks you!


Now that the WWE has Nattie Neidhart, TJ Wilson, and Harry Smith under contract the Internet is a-buzz with rumors of a next generation Hart Foundation. As to be expected, this news has Canadian wrestling fans rejoicing, and practicing the sharpshooter on their little brothers in anticipation all across the great white north.

I thought that in light of these recent rumors we could take a short look (well, as short as possible) at the 3 generations of Hart family members who have been involved in the wrestling business.

1st Generation (Stu Hart)
Stu and Helen Hart had 12 children from 1949-1965: Smith, Bruce, Wayne, Keith, Dean, Ellie, Georgia, Bret, Allison, Ross, Diana, and Owen Hart. Some of their children would grow up to be huge stars in the wrestling industry, but all of them would get involved in the business to some extent.

Stu Hart was born on May 3rd, 1915 in Saskatoon Saskatchewan. He was an amateur wrestler who qualified for the Canadian Olympic team but was unable to compete because of World War 2. During the war Stu would serve as the director of athletics for the Canadian Navy. It was while serving in the Canadian Navy that Stu was introduced to wrestling, and he would often perform wrestling matches to entertain the troops. After Stu left the Navy he married Helen, became a professional wrestler/promoter, and had lots of children. .

In addition to fathering and grandfathering several big names in wrestling, Stu Hart has had a hand in training more than a few big name superstars. Chris Benoit, Edge, Chris Jericho, and Lance Storm are only 4 of many well- respected "workers" to graduate from Stu's legendary Dungeon.

Stu started Stampede Wrestling in 1948 in Calgary Alberta Canada. Stampede Wrestling would achieve legendary status around Western Canada, and produced top quality matches. In addition to being it's own empire, Stampede Wrestling would also develop wrestlers who would go on to make an international name for themselves in Vince McMahon's WWE(F). Some of the names on this list are: Bret Hart, Owen Hart, Bad News Brown, the British Bulldogs, Chris Benoit, Rowdy Roddy Piper and the Honky Tonk Man.

Despite his gigantic impact on the wrestling business, Stu's first passion was always his family. Stu was known to cook Sunday dinner for all 12 of his children, and their pets. Much to Helen's displeasure Stu's love of family and involvement in the wrestling business would become hopelessly intertwined (Helen never liked wrestling), as all 8 of his sons would become wrestlers, and his four daughters would all marry wrestlers.

Stu Hart died at the age of 88 from ailments resulting from diabetes and arthritis. Hart road in Saskatoon is named in his honor.

2nd Generation (Smith, Bruce, Wayne, Keith, Dean, Ellie, Georgia, Bret, Allison, Ross, Diana, and Owen Hart)

In 1949 Stu and Helen Hart created Smith Hart. Smith was a wrestler in his father's Stampede Wrestling, and also for the WWC in Puerto Rico where he and his brother Bret held the tag titles at one time. Smith would later open "Hart Brothers Wrestling School" in Cambridge, Ontario Canada. Amongst the wrestlers trained at the school are current Raw tag team contenders "the Highlanders". Smith has five children: Toby, Michael, Satania, Matthew, and Chad Hart.

A year after Smith's arrival in Calgary Bruce Hart would make his debut. Bruce would be a wrestler and later promoter for Stampede Wrestling. Bruce Hart and Brian Pillman were tag team partners for some time under the name "Bad Company". Bruce held the tag titles with Pillman on two occasions, as he also did with "British Bulldog" Davey Boy Smith. Bruce would also hold the tag titles with next generation Hart Foundation members Teddy Hart and T.J Wilson. At the 1993 Survivor Series Bruce would team with his brothers, Keith, Bret and Owen as they defeated Shawn Michaels and his "3 masked Knights". Bruce would also appear at WWE's "Canadian Stampede" ppv in which his scuffle with Steve Austin caused just enough of a distraction for Owen to get the rollup pin.

Keith Hart came around the next year and would also wrestle for Stampede wrestling with some brief appearances in the WWE with his brothers. For several years Keith also worked as a trainer at the dungeon helping to train wrestlers such as Impact Players Lance Storm and Justin Credible, Brian Pillman, Chris Jericho, and current Serotonin member Johnny Devine. Keith would also work for 27 years as a fireman before retiring in 2006. He now works as a substitute teacher.

In 1953 Wayne Hart became the fourth member of Stu's growing stable of sons. Wayne would work as a wrestler, referee, and general helper for Stampede Wrestling.

Dean Hart would be the fifth straight boy for Stu and Helen. In the 1970's and 1980's Dean Hart would wrestle in Stampede Wrestling. On November 21st Dean died of kidney failure at the age of 36. The day after Dean's death Bret Hart wrestled at Survivor Series and dedicated the match to his brother.

In 1955, and after 6 years of non-stop baby producing from Stu and Helen, they finally had a girl, Ellie. Helen Hart was probably hoping that Ellie would not end up in wrestling like her sons did. True, Ellie would never get involved in the ring, but she would end up marrying tag team wrestling legend Jim "the Anvil" Neidhart. The couple would have a rocky relationship and later divorced, but Ellie did manage to produce three daughters with Jim: Jennifer, Kristen, and the newest WWE diva Nattie Neidhart. Jim, of course, would become one half of arguably the greatest tag teams of all time "the Hart Foundation" with his brother-in-law Bret. The Anvil would also form "the New Foundation" with his younger brother-in-law "Owen", and in WCW the Anvil would also team with another wrestler who married a Hart daughter "British Bulldog" Davey Boy Smith.

Another year brought another baby for Stu and Helen. 1956 saw Georgia Hart enter the world. Georgia married B.J Annis, a wrester turned firefighter turned Gym owner. It was B.J who would convince Keith to become a firefighter. Georgia and B.J had four children: Teddy (Hart), Matt, Annie (yes, her name is Annie Annis), and Angela Annis. Matt Annis died from flesh-eating disease in 1996 at the age of thirteen.

Bret Hart would be born to Stu and Helen on July 2nd 1957. Bret would join Stampede Wrestling as a way of escaping his father's pressuring him to continue his amateur career. 1976 would be Bret Hart's professional wrestling debut. He would wrestle in Stampede Wrestling until 1984 when Vince McMahon bought the territory from Stu. Bret, Neidhart, and the British Bulldogs were all wrestling in Stampede Wrestling at the time of the sale and were given jobs with WWE. After jerking the WWE curtain and almost fading into obscurity Bret teamed up with Neidhart, and the rest is history. After a legendary tag team run Bret launched into a single's career that would see him win 7 World Titles in WWE and WCW.

Bret received a concussion after being kicked in the head by Goldberg at Starrcade, but kept wrestling for several weeks and eventually developed a career-ending case of post-concussion syndrome. In 2002 Bret suffered a stroke while riding his bike and suffered partial paralysis. After months of physical therapy Bret recovered much of his mobility, but will not be able to return to the ring.

Bret has four children with his first wife Julie, whose sister Michelle married British Bulldog member "the Dynamite Kid" Tom Billington. Time Magazine once ranked Bret Hart as the 32nd Greatest Canadian of All-time, and in the CBC organized "Greatest Canadian" award rankings he placed 39th. Nowadays Bret and his new wife divide their time between their home in Italy and their home in Calgary. Bret also travels with the live musical production of "Aladdin" where he plays the role of the Genie. By all accounts Bret seems to have managed to settle into a happy life outside of wrestling.

Alison Hart was born in 1959. The extent of her involvement in the wrestling business is that she married a wrestler by the name of Ben Bassarab, and had two daughters. According to Diana Hart's book Ben was an absentee father, and after the couple divorced Ben had no involvement with his daughters. Ben had formed tag teams with Owen Hart and Chris Benoit while in Stampede Wrestling, but was not picked up by the WWE after Vince bought out Stu's territory.

Ross Hart would be the first Hart born in the 60's, as he entered the Hart family clan in 1961. He would spend most of his time behind the scenes in Stampede Wrestling, but wasn't afraid of getting in the ring either. Ross is currently a part-time wrestler for the still-kicking promotion.

Diana Hart would come into the world in 1963. She would grow up to marry "British Bulldog" Davey Boy Smith. A former Miss Calgary, Diana would often accompany her husband to ringside for his matches. Diana would even find herself in the middle of an on-screen angle when her husband and brother Bret were entangled in a family feud that culminated with the Bulldog beating Bret for the IC title at the 1992 Summerslam event from Wembley Stadium in England. Bulldog and Diana would go through their ups and downs, most of which was a result of Bulldog's addiction to pain medication. After getting back dropped on a trap door meant for the Ultimate Warrior in a WCW ring, Bulldog developed a spinal infection and was laid up in the hospital for six months.

Afterwards, Bulldog's addiction to pain killers was noticeable to friends and family who would later comment that on some occasions Davey Boy could not even feed himself because he was so sedated. Diana attempted to show Bulldog what he was doing to her when she purposely overdosed on his painkillers. Bulldog was too sedated himself at the time to help, but Diana would recover. Davey and Diana would divorce, but not before having two children: Harry and Georgia Smith.

In 2002 Bulldog was training for a return to the ring. He had a new girlfriend, albeit she was his brother-in-law Bruce's estranged wife Andrea, but he seemed to be on the right track. He died on May 18th. 2002 in British Columbia Canada of a heart attack that an autopsy revealed could have been a result of steroid, and growth-hormone use. Bulldog had wrestled in 3 tag matches with his son Harry the previous weekend.

In 2001, just two years after the death of her little brother Owen, Diana Hart wrote a book detailing the evils of the wrestling business. Owen's widow Martha sued Diana over the contents of the book, and it would be pulled off the shelves shortly after its release.

In 1965 Owen Hart became the final Hart family member of his generation to be born. In just 16 years Owen was the 12th child to Stu and Helen Hart. Owen would become a local legend in Stampede Wrestling, capturing the North American title. Owen would join WWE as "the Blue Blazer". He would later form a tag team with his brother-in-law Jim Neidhart as "the New Foundation". Owen would also tag with the British Bulldog and capture the WWE tag titles on numerous occasions. At Wrestlemania X Bret and Owen had a memorable bout that saw Owen defeat his brother with a rollup, however later in the card Bret would go on to beat Yokozuna for the WWE title while Owen watched with jealousy from the entrance ramp.

On May 23rd 1999 Owen Hart fell to his death from the rafters of Kemper Arena in Kansas City. Owen was set to descend from the rafters as part of his Blue Blazer gimmick. Vince McMahon did not want Owen to have to fiddle around with safety straps in the ring after he landed like Sting did, so Vince insisted upon a quick release mechanism for the harness Owen was attached to. That quick release mechanism was triggered while Owen was dangling high above the arena floor, and that night everyone in Kemper Arena saw a man fall to his death. Disputes amongst the Hart family members over how to handle the impending lawsuit tore the family apart. Martha would write the book "Broken Harts" about Owen's life and death. Martha's book talks about Owen wanting to save up enough money so that they could buy their dream house and Owen could retire, only for Owen to be taken from them much too soon. It is a sad story of how the tragedy at Kemper Arena robbed the world of a good father, brother, son and husband.

The late 90's and early 21st century seemed to bring nothing but tragedy for the Hart clan. During that time Stu, Helen, Owen, family friend Brian Pillman, Matt Annis, and the British Bulldog all passed away.

Many wrestling fans across Canada and the United States are hoping that this next generation of Hart family members can help heal the wounds left by the recent hardships the family has had to face.

3rd Generation (Hart Foundation 2.0)
Here is the new batch of Harts eager to renew the Hart tradition of technical skill and dominance inside the wrestling ring.

Teddy Hart
On February 2nd 1980, Georgia Hart and B.J Annis celebrated the birth of their first child Teddy Annis. Teddy uses his mother's maiden name "Hart" while he wrestles. Teddy Hart formed the "Hart Foundation 2.0" in Stampede Wrestling (and later with Major League Wrestling) with T.J Wilson, ROH regular Jack Evans, and cousin Harry Smith. Teddy became the youngest person ever to sign a WWE developmental deal in 1998 at the age of 18. It wouldn't last long however, as Teddy was sent home from a WWE wrestling camp that was run by Dory Funk because of attitude problems. As of yet Teddy has not signed an official deal to appear on television with the company in the almost decade that has passed since he signed the developmental deal with Vince. In 2003 Teddy was making an appearance for ROH in a scramble cage match. After the match was over Teddy began doing moonsaults off the top of the cage instead of selling the moves he had taken during the match. The ROH locker room did not appreciate this, and C.M Punk in particular took offence to Teddy's actions, it wouldn't be the only time the two would have issues with each other. While attending a TNA taping, a mildly physical altercation between Punk and Teddy outside of a restaurant would result in both men leaving TNA.

Teddy is black-balled from many independent promotions because of his attitude problems, but wherever Teddy does wrestle you can be sure that he will make the fans "ooh" and "ahhh" numerous times during his matches. Teddy is the current Jersey All-Pro Champion, and is said to have been a standout performer in the tag team division of the Wrestling Society X TV tapings. It will be interesting to see if Vince overlooks Teddy's bad reputation when Teddy is free from his MTV contract in February. Teddy is incredibly talented, and has an arsenal of high-flying moves that rivals the best in history. If given the chance to showcase his talents on a larger platform Teddy could prove to be the most talented wrestler of his generation, but if he continues to have conduct issues he might simply fade into obscurity.

Harry Smith
Harry Smith was born to Diana Hart and British Bulldog Davey Boy Smith on Aug. 2nd 1986. At 6'5, 250lbs, and only 20 years old Harry Smith has been wrestling for 12 years, having had his first professional wrestling match at 8 years old. When Harry was 10 he teamed up with his cousin Teddy Hart and wrestled against T.J Wilson and Andrew Picarnia. Harry would later team up with T.J Wilson to form "the Stampede Bulldogs" in MLW, in addition to being a part of the Hart Foundation 2.0 stable. On April 4th, 2006 Harry Smith signed a contract to join Raw shortly after attending Bret Hart's WWE Hall of Fame induction ceremony. Since April Harry has wrestled a few dark matches, and on house shows, mainly in bouts with Rob Conway. He was pulled off the RAW road crew on Oct. 12th, 2006 while creative thinks up something for him to do.

Nattie Neidhart
Nattie Neidhart is the daughter of Ellie Hart and Jim "the Anvil" Neidhart, but don't worry, she's much better looking than the Anvil. While doing a tour of Japan Nattie was billed as "Nadia Hart". She has been known to imitate her dad's vintage laugh, and has even tagged with her father on a few occasions. Nattie has wrestled in Stampede Wrestling and various Canadian promotions since 2000, and finally signed a deal with the WWE earlier this year. In addition to being a professional wrestler Nattie has received training in amateur wrestling and mixed martial arts. Her and T.J Wilson have now been dating for several years, and have been living together for 5.

T.J Wilson
Ok, T.J Wilson doesn't have a direct blood line to the Hart Family, but neither did either of the British Bulldogs, Brian Pillman, or Jim "the Anvil" Neidhart.

T.J Wilson and Jack Evans were both part of "the Hart Foundation 2.0" even though they can't trace their roots back to patriarch Stu Hart, but they are both trained by the Harts, and in many ways both are considered family.

Having wrestled his first match at the age of 15, and having wrestled at a WWE house show at the age of 16, T.J has over 10 years experience in the business despite being only 26. T.J's brother "Pistol" Pete Wilson is also a current member of Stampede Wrestling. Nattie and T.J have both recently moved from Canada to the United States in anticipation of debuting in Deep South Wrestling.

Dallas Hart
This one is a ways off if it ever happens, but I thought I'd throw it on here. Dallas Hart is Bret's oldest son who began training this month at Lance Storm's Wrestling Academy. When questioned about training Bret's son Lance mentioned on his website that it was an honor, and how it made his career go full circle as it was once the Hart family who taught Lance how to wrestle.

And there you have it. That is the Hart family's involvement in wrestling summed up in as little words as possible. So are we going to see a new version of the Hart Foundation in the WWE? Well, consider this: This year's Survivor Series event will mark the 10th anniversary of the infamous Montreal Screwjob, and as luck will have it Vince McMahon has scheduled the event to once again take place in Montreal. It is pretty obvious that Vince will have some angle centered around the '97 Screwjob. With Hart family members under contract to his organization what could Vince possibly have in mind for that PPV? I'm not sure exactly, but I do know that it will probably involve the sharpshooter.

by Ian Carey (Submit your feedback here)..




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