Ronda Rousey opened Monday Night Raw with a touching tribute to WWE legend Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart, who died Monday morning after a reported fall at his home in Wesley Chapel, Fla. Neidhart joined the WWE (then the WWF) in 1985 and gained fame as part of the legendary Hart Foundation along with his brother-in-law Bret “The Hitman” Hart. The duo won two tag team championships together. But more important than his wrestling accomplishments, Neidhart is the father of current WWE star Natalya. It was Neidhart’s role as a father that Rousey spoke about.
“Any loss is heartbreaking, but to lose a father — our fathers are our pillars of strength in a hostile world,” she said. “They are our reassurance that everything is going to be OK. But when that reassurance is ripped away we have to face the fact that our fathers have been raising us to be the pillars of strength our families need when they’re gone.”
There’s been shock among the wrestling community as well as an outpouring of support.
Stunned and saddened. I just don’t have the words right now. pic.twitter.com/fcO8Skuuhz
— Bret Hart (@BretHart) August 13, 2018
I am overwhelmed with grief, love and sympathy by the passing of Jim Neidhart. Love and prayers to his family. He was always with me and a real friend through the good and bad. Love and miss you already, Jim. RIP my brother. HH
— Hulk Hogan (@HulkHogan) August 13, 2018
Though it was a serious moment at what would normally be a raucous event, there’s no doubt “The Anvil” would have appreciated what Rousey did next, wrapping up the tribute in true WWE fashion.
“Ya know, Nattie was the first person here to welcome me in the door, and I will be the first to defend her in her absence,” Rousey said. “Alexa Bliss cheated to beat Natalya time and time again. But this Sunday at SummerSlam, I’m going to beat Alexa to become your new Raw women’s champion!”
WWE Raw airs Mondays at 8 p.m. on USA.
Check out Ronda Rousey’s debut match on Raw 6 months after joining:
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