Interview with Nattie Neidhart
March 19, 2005 -- by Lekisha F. Oliver
Lekisha Oliver (LO): Let's start with the basics about yourself: stats, education, sports played, previous federations and titles held, who trained you and where, and background.
Wrestling families are becoming one of the best things to happen to wrestling. When a fan thinks of wrestling families, the Hart family comes to mind. From Stu Hart to his sons, in-laws and now Hart's grandchildren are taking center stage. The third generation of the Hart family is taking the world by storm. But the one thing that shouldn't come as a surprise is that Stu's granddaughter, Nattie, has started to make herself known in Stampede Wrestling and All Star Wrestling, now, she's gone global. Nattie, short for Natalie, has begun a two-month tour of Japan.
Nattie was gracious with her recent interview about all questions asked. From the concerns of her father, Jim "The Anvil" Neidhart about getting into the wrestling business, her family and what it's like to be one of the first, if not the first, third generation female wrestler. For more information about Nattie, visit her website at www.nattieneidhart.cjb.net
Without further ado, it's my honor to introduce Nattie Neidhart.
Nattie Neidhart: I graduated high school at Bishop Carroll in 2ooo. I never played any team sports, but I was always into running, weightlifting, rollerblading, gymnastics and dance. I have worked for Stampede Wrestling and All Star Wrestling. I have never held a title because the promotions I have worked for have never had Women's belts. My uncles Bruce and Ross Hart trained me, as well as TJ Wilson and Tokyo Joe. I also work with an amateur coach by the name of Clive Llewellen. I have done all of my training in Calgary.
LO: For the readers who cannot get you're the federations you wrestle for, would you tell them about your character and who came up with the concept?
Nattie Neidhart: My character is really just a division of me. I bring Nattie Neidhart to the ring and I just let my own personality shine through. I am a third generation female wrestler who is strong and powerful and still feminine. Sometimes I can get a little nasty though and a little bit of my dad comes out in me.
LO: What problems, if any, did you have when you first started in the business?
Nattie Neidhart: The only major problems that I have had when first getting started was just getting enough work with enough girls to gain experience and grow. There are very few females that can actually work.
LO: When you first began training, did your family try to discourage you from wrestling or were they more behind you?
Nattie Neidhart: My family was pretty supportive because they know that I am very sensible. My dad was a bit reluctant to support me at first because he knows how hard this business can be and he doesn't want to see me get hurt. They all wished me luck, but through them, my eyes were open because I saw just how hard they had to work to achieve success. I was also able to see that getting into this business was not an easy road to follow.
LO: Why did you choose wrestling?
Nattie Neidhart: I chose wrestling because wrestling makes me believe that I can do anything. It makes me feel empowered and confident. After I have a good match, I really feel I can take on anything and I just love the way I feel when I am wrestling. It's amazing to be a strong female who can handle herself.
LO: In and out of the ring, who was your inspiration?
Nattie Neidhart: My grandfather, Stu Hart. Not only was he an outstanding and wonderful human being, but he is what every man should strive to be like. He was a strait shooter who was loyal to his word. He came from nothing and he grew to gain the love and admiration of everyone that he came into contact with. Not to mention that he was an amazing athlete who was never afraid to show his guts.
LO: Being a third generation, and I believe the first female third generation wrestler, what obstacles have you had to endure so far, and what has that done to the drive that you have to be a wrestler?
Nattie Neidhart: Well, obviously the standards are higher, because when you have to follow in such big footsteps, you are being watched much closer, and the expectations are so much greater. I have had a lot of obstacles to endure in and out of the ring. Mainly, I have had to prove myself so much more because I don't want to disappoint anyone, especially myself. I have dedicated a greater part of the last three years to training with my uncles, my cousins, a Japanese trainer and an amateur coach (more recently). You have to keep going, and not give up. Once you reach one goal, you have to keep climbing. This takes time and patience. You have to persevere and know that although the road can get dark, only the strong survive.
LO: Being the granddaughter or Stu Hart and the daughter of Jim "The Anvil" Neidhart, you had a lot of history going along with your own career. In your opinion, does this lineage help in wrestling? Why or why not?
Nattie Neidhart: Yes. In pro-wrestling, it is better for telling a story. Take the Gracie family/Shamrock family in UFC. Take the Von Erichs or the McMahons in wrestling. When you have generations behind you, there is a certain understanding, upbringing, pride and nobility that will follow in your own career if you make the grade, so to speak. When I wrestle, I'm always reminded about the trials and triumphs of my family in and out of the ring. I remember what my uncles Owen and Bret went through. I remember what my grandfather endured and how he only came out hardship stronger because of his strong desire to succeed. I am inspired by them, and I realize that if I am successful in this business, it is because of the hard work that they have instilled in me. I carry this family name with the utmost pride and respect. You have to be able to carry the name with your head held high, and that takes hard work.
LO: With the injuries that most wrestlers have, what is your injury list and what was the worst injury that you have had happen and what are the specifics of the injuries?
Nattie Neidhart: I have been lucky enough not to have too many injuries. I think the worst was a pulled lower back from practicing German Suplexes into bridges.
LO: What was your best/worst moment or memory of wrestling?
Nattie Neidhart: The best was when my family was together for the Canadian Stampede pay per view in Calgary. It was so nice that we could all be so close in the ring at the same time. The worst was when our family lost my uncle Owen so tragically. That incident took a major toll on our family and was something that none of us will ever get over.
LO: If you could wrestle anyone in the entire sports entertainment/wrestling world, who would it be? Why?
Nattie Neidhart: I would like to wrestle Trish Stratus one day. I think that we could have good chemistry and I think that we both are pretty tough. I have a lot of respect for her because of how far she has come in the last few years. She is not afraid of the pain that comes with what we do in the ring.
LO: I see that you admire Trish Stratus for her courage and "never say die" attitude. Does that idea convey to more women that no matter what, we can make it in wrestling? Or does it give women more of a block to overcome?
Nattie Neidhart: It depends on what kind of a person you are. If you are weak, than you will not be able to handle wrestling. It is that simple. If you are strong willed and a warrior with a spirit that cannot be broken, then a "never say die" attitude is what you should carry with you in life, even if you are not a wrestler. If wrestling were easy, then everyone would be doing it. It's not, and that is why the weak are weeded out. This is not a sport for weak people.
LO: With the lack of women that actually wrestle, what would you suggest to ones that have thought about getting into the ring?
Nattie Neidhart: Wrestling is not for everyone. I realize now, more than ever how real this sport is. So many people want to get into wrestling for the wrong reasons. They want to prance around, or they think it is easy to gain fame and fortune, or they are just big wrestling fans. That is fine, but to actually want to get in the ring, and wrestle, it is very trying on your body. You also have to have a certain mind set, too. When you take a bump in a ring, it is like falling and getting the wind knocked out of you. It really hurts and you have to get over the pain fast. You have to be able to tell a story with your body and be in great shape to go, go, go. You need to be strong and you have to stay focused. If you are disciplined and you want to learn and you are athletic, then I would say to give it a try. You definitely need an open mind and a chiropractor.
LO: A growing trend in females in wrestling is as soon as they hit television; a new image has to be created. Whether it is with surgery or just a complete overhaul, what is your opinion of this trend?
Nattie Neidhart: Although it takes a level of discipline through training to learn how to wrestle, once you make it to a larger scaled promotion, it is just a natural evolution. When you are representing a certain brand, your success is based on how you present yourself. When millions of people are watching you, you have to look good. It can be cosmetic, but so is ballet, tennis, theater, etc. It is up to that person whether they want to conform to what is expected of them. If they don't want to, they better be able to wrestle like there is no tomorrow, present themselves well, or not get a paycheck. That is just the way the world works. It's a cold hard fact. I think if you bring the goods, your talent will ultimately be what makes you successful.
LO: Who do you think caused the most commotion in the business? Why?
Nattie Neidhart: I don't know for sure. I think that there are all sorts of different wrestlers that have diverse but equal contributions to this business. Bret Hart was an amazing mat wrestler and story teller. Davey Boy Smith was a heavyweight who could move like a junior. The Rock has charisma like no other and took the theatrics of the business to a whole new level. It just varies.
LO: If you had one wish, what would it be and why?
Nattie Neidhart: If I had one wish, it would be for my family to be happy and healthy and together in our old Hart House for just one more Sunday dinner.
LO: Since your grandfather's death several years back, his strength has been passed onto the younger generations of the Hart family, including you and your cousins. What do you see as the future of the Hart family?
Nattie Neidhart: I see the third generation hart family one day changing the wrestling business. Bringing wrestling back to a grass roots style that my family made so famous, but also implementing our work with an innovative and original style that no one else can duplicate. We will carry the torch that my grandfather has passed on to his children and now to us, and we will shine. Trust me. We have some angels in our corner, too.
LO: I know that in the past, your family's problems have been announced worldwide. Knowing that part of your family is always either in the spotlight or not far from it, what advice have you been given about that situation?
Nattie Neidhart: I don't take it personally. Every family has their problems; ours have just been aired to the public. People who know us, respect us. They don't care about what they hear in the papers, because sometimes what you read isn't always the truth. I take it with the grain of salt and appreciate all of the privileges that we have as a strong, united family. My family is a wonderful group of people, the classiest that you will ever meet.
LO: Having some of the best wrestlers in your family, the stories have had to be flowing about the road. Through all of this, what have you learned from these stories and would you care to share your favorite one.
Nattie Neidhart: I think that I have learned that when you are just yourself, you can make friends and create bonds so easily. This is important when you are away from home, because these people become like your family. It is the bonds that you create and the way that you touch people's lives, that make it all worthwhile.
LO: Let's move to a more personal side of Nattie Neidhart. What do you do when you are away from wrestling?
Nattie Neidhart: I love spending time with my boyfriend, TJ Wilson. We both enjoy the gym and going out for a nice dinner at our favorite Japanese restaurants. We watch tons of wrestling tapes and we like to spend time with our families. We are very close to our families and we have social gatherings almost everyday. I like to amateur wrestle in my spare time, and shop, of course. I also like to bowl, read, write, and paint. I spend a lot of time shadow boxing with my cat, Mr. Theodore Wolf. That is quite fun.
LO: What kind of exercise program and/or special diet do you have to keep in shape?
Nattie Neidhart: I run about five days a week for different intervals, and I lift weights at BJ's gym. I also amateur wrestle and pro wrestle through out the week to keep myself in great ring shape. I don't have a special diet, I just try to eat healthy and treat myself in moderation.
LO: Do you have any regrets or hopes about your career?
Nattie Neidhart: I hope for the best and I expect the worst. I do believe though, that you get what you give in life, and wrestling is no different. I hope to just be happy in whatever it is I do.
LO: What are your plans for the present/future?
Nattie Neidhart: I am hoping to do well in Japan and maybe go back. I would like to continue with my amateur wrestling and make my family proud of me. One day, I would like to change the way people look at women's professional wrestling.
LO: Favorite Book, Actress, Actor, Movie, Timekiller, Food.
Nattie Neidhart: My favorite book is To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Actress: Hillary Swank
Movie: Shawshank Redemption
Food: Korean BBQ in Tokyo!!
Wrestler: Kohji Kanemoto
Nattie Neidhart: I usually wrestle every Friday at the Ogden Legion in Calgary. I am also heading over to Japan and I know that my Debut match is in Tokyo on March 14th.
LO: Any comments or anything for the readers that you would like to express.
Nattie Neidhart: I would just like to say that wrestling is a great stress release and is very therapeutic...but to those who think it is easy or fake, I'd like to see them get through a two-minute match without changing their minds.
Many thanks go out to Nattie and her website crew for the pictures and the updates about Nattie's tour. For those in the Calgary area, make sure to check out Nattie in the future.
by Lekisha F. Oliver (Belle of the Brawl Writer - Columbia Daily Herald www.columbiadailyherald.com)..
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