Best there is, best there was, best there ever will be.
Just the other day I ran into Jim on the Bow River bike path. You know, Jim The Anvil Neidhart.
We stopped to drink a couple of ...”soda pops”. Jim was beaming - like a little kid with a big devilish grin as he pulled a magazine out of his backpack.
It was the Pro Wrestling Illustrated 40th Anniversary of the WWE special edition. He flopped it open and pointed to an classic Hart Foundation photo, “Greatest tag team in the history of the WWF! Not bad, huh? ” he chuckled pulling his goatee.
To tell the truth I took it as a huge compliment because I know how hard both of us worked at trying to earn that claim when we ruled the world of tag team wrestling as two time WWF Champions. Jim and I were a unique team for a lot of reasons as we combined Jim’s speed and strength with my skill and ring psychology. We were like a Porsche and a tank. Another thing that was unique to our relationship was of course the fact that Jim was married to my sister Ellie and ranked right up there as one of Stu’s favorite sons in law. Even to this very day I’ve never had one argument with Jim and we’ve remained close friends through some bizarre and trying times.
As I flipped through the mag I couldn’t help but notice that I was rated the greatest Intercontinental champion of all time. Another huge compliment. I smiled at the fond memory of some of my greatest IC matches - against the late great British Bulldog Davey Boy Smith and Mr Perfect Curt Hennig, and then there was Wrestlemania VIII with Roddy Piper.
A few months ago the WWE asked wrestling fans around the world to vote on who was the greatest world champion of all time and I was touched and delighted when I heard that I won. When I think of the great WWF Champions - Bruno Sammartino, Buddy Rogers, Superstar Billy Graham, Bob Backlund and Hulk Hogan, I feel genuinely honored to even be considered in their company.
Any great wrestler will tell you that he wouldn’t have gotten very far without the loyalty and support of his fans. But really, I stood on some pretty tall shoulders. Because I grew up inside the business I was able to watch and appreciate how Buddy Rogers put the psychology into wrestling, changing it forever into what it is. Bruno and Backlund were two of the classiest champions I ever watched and I tried to emulate them throughout my career by carrying myself with dignity and respect like they did. Superstar Graham and Hulk Hogan were the consummate showmen who kicked the doors wide open. Like Jim, I wore a beaming smile when just a couple of weeks ago Edge told me that Kurt Angle’s favorite wrestler is me! Kurt Angle, who I’ve yet to meet, along with Stone Cold, Undertaker and The Rock are all great wrestlers in their own right.
When I look back over my career one of my biggest fans and closest friends who buoyed my confidence in those dark early days when I needed it the most was my tag partner Jim Neidhart. He rarely gets the credit he deserves but I’ve always known that I wouldn’t have become a great champion without him. We clinked our soda pops together and toasted the old Hart Foundation days.
Best there is ...best there was ..best there ever will be.