Full Career Retrospective and Greatest Moments for the Hart Foundation

Erik Beaston@@ErikBeastonFeatured ColumnistJanuary 1, 2014

Photo Credit: WWE.com

The late 1980s saw arguably the greatest period for tag team wrestling in WWE history.

There were a multitude of teams with different personalities, and styles and it made for many exciting, high-quality bouts over a four- or five-year span.

One of the best teams during that period consisted of Bret "Hitman" Hart and Jim "The Anvil" Neidhart. They were known as the Hart Foundation and would excel both as vile villains and fiercely popular babyfaces.

Hart was the technical wrestling specialist while Neidhart used his pure power to wear down opponents. They had a perfect dynamic and were involved in some legitimate classics against the likes of the British Bulldogs, Demolition, the underrated Rougeau Brothers, the Brian Busters and the Rockers.

Bret's singles push would eventually bring an end to the team. The second-generation Superstar would enjoy a Hall of Fame career, capturing the WWE Championship on four different occasions and becoming an international hero to millions.

But by 1997, pro wrestling was changing and fans were gravitating to the edgier, more controversial Superstars. The smiling role model was no longer accepted as he had been even a year earlier, and the decision was made to turn The Hitman heel for the first time in eight years.

As the top villain in WWE, Hart needed backup, and he found that backup in the form of former partner Neidhart, brother Owen, brother-in-law the British Bulldog and Brian Pillman.

Video Play Button
Videos you might like

Together, the new and improved Hart Foundation became a major part of WWE programming. They were central figures during some of the best television WWE has ever produced and are fondly remembered for the six months of entertainment they delivered to fans across the globe.

In honor of their amazing accomplishments, here is a look back at the greatest matches and moments of the legendary Hart Foundation.

Battling a Giant

In April of 1986, the team of Bret Hart and Jim Neidhart was fairly new to WWE, but that did not prevent them from making a big impact in the much-hyped Battle Royal that took place at WrestleMania 2.

The match featured a bevy of Superstars, including the legendary Iron Sheik, Big John Studd, Pedro Morales and Bruno Sammartino, not to mention some talented NFL stars of the time, including the immensely popular William "Refrigerator" Perry.

Most importantly, the bout featured the king of the Battle Royal, Andre the Giant. It was he who would ruin the Hart Foundation's WrestleMania debut.

Despite a two-on-one advantage for Hart and Neidhart, Andre proved his greatness, dumping the duo and winning the match.

It was an unsuccessful first 'Mania for the duo, but by the time the third installment of the Showcase of the Immortals rolled around, they would not only play a far more significant role in the promotion but would also be two of the most hated Superstars on the roster.

Taming the Bulldogs and WrestleMania III

The Hart Foundation's greatest rivalry started in late 1986 and continued into 1987, as they sought to capture the WWE Tag Team Championship from the British Bulldogs.

Bret, in particular, had history with both Davey Boy Smith and the Dynamite Kid, both of whom had worked for his father, Stu, in Stampede Wrestling. 

The matches between the two, given the talent involved, were outstanding, and the dynamic between the two teams was phenomenal.

On January 26, 1987, the Hart Foundation defeated the British Bulldogs to capture the Tag titles, thanks in large part to controversial officiating by soon-to-be heel referee Danny Davis.

That controversy would only fuel the rivalry, leading to a huge six-man tag match at WrestleMania III, where the Hart Foundation and Davis would meet the Bulldogs and Tito Santana.

It was one of the more heated matches on the monumental card, and the crowd in Detroit was fairly hot for it.

Davis, arguably the most over heel in the bout, won the match for his team by pinning Smith following a shot with manager Jimmy Hart's megaphone.

The Good Guys and the Tag Team Championship

In 1988, the team turned babyface following Bret's impressive performance in the WrestleMania IV Battle Royal.

The storyline that got them over as heroes saw their former manager, Jimmy Hart, align himself with the Rougeau Brothers and sell the Hart Foundation's contract.

The team would remain one of the best teams in the division, but the rise of Demolition and their babyface turn in late 1988 knocked the Foundation down the card. Rather than competing for the Tag titles on a regular basis, they were forced into feuds with second-tier teams such as the Bolsheviks, Rhythm and Blues and the aforementioned Rougeaus.

It was around this time that the promotion experimented with a singles run for Bret. He wrestled matches against Bad News Brown and had an undefined rivalry with Mr. Perfect that saw the two in-ring greats compete against one another in a series of house-show matches.

As the decade came to a close, it was safe to say that the Hart Foundation was far away from where the team had hoped it would be.

SummerSlam 1990 and Two-Time Champions

In August of 1989, the Hart Foundation was a team with so little momentum, it was not even able to defeat WWE Tag Team champions Arn Anderson and Tully Blanchard in a non-title match to open up SummerSlam.

A year later, the Hart Foundation would enter the event as the No. 1 contenders to Demolition's titles for a 2-Out-of-3 Falls match.

Demolition was no longer Ax and Smash. With health issues preventing the former from competing on a full-time basis, Crush was brought into the equation and filled the bruiser's spot on the team.

The match was featured some really good tag team wrestling and excellent storytelling by the talented teams.

With the falls tied at one apiece, the Legion of Doom made their presence felt, and their appearance allowed Demolition to take their eyes off of the proverbial ball, and Bret Hart capitalized, winning the match and the titles for his team.

The Foundation would retain the titles until WrestleMania VII in 1991, when they lost to the Nasty Boys thanks to interference from former manager Jimmy Hart.

It would be the last pay-per-view appearance of the original Hart Foundation team.

The Foundation Returns

In 1997, Bret Hart recruited friends and family as backup in his war with the United States.

With brother Owen, brothers-in-law Davey Boy Smith and Jim Neidhart and family friend Brian Pillman by his side, he dominated WWE for six months.

The new, improved Hart Foundation's feud with Steve Austin, Ken Shamrock, Goldust and the Legion of Doom made for some of the best, most original and innovative television the company ever produced. It laid the groundwork for the chaotic, frenetic product that would fuel the Attitude Era.

The biggest and best match the new Hart Foundation competed in was at the critically acclaimed In Your House: Canadian Stampede pay-per-view event.

In Calgary, the hometown of the legendary Hart family, the faction were welcomed as heroes and repaid the fans for their affection by defeating the team of Austin, Shamrock, Goldust and LOD in an incredibly hot, high-quality bout that weaved a number of stories and spots into it, resulting in one of 1997's best matches.

The group would, unfortunately, suffer a major loss when Pillman passed way in October. A month later, it would disband forever when Hart left for WCW, followed shortly by Smith and Neidhart.