One of the WWE’s most controversial storylines of this past year is the current one running on Monday Night Raw where Natalya has been facing off against Riott Squad leader, Ruby Riott. In an effort to get inside Natalya’s head before their Tables match at WWE TLC this Sunday, Ruby Riott has consistently brought up Natalya’s late father, WWE Legend Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart, who sadly passed away this past August at the age of 63.
The feud, which has been going on since October, took a sharp turn when during a tag match that saw Natalya teaming with Sasha Banks and Bayley against the full Riott Squad, Ruby Riott abducted Natalya’s sunglasses – a pair of her dad’s – and proceeded to smash them.
Then, to add insult to injury, in November, the Riott Squad used the late Anvil’s finishing move, The Hart Attack, that he previously made famous alongside his tag partner Bret “Hitman” Hart, on Natalya to finish her off.
It hit a new level this past Monday, beyond the weekly words of how disappointed a living “Anvil” would be of Natalya, when Ruby brought out a table with Jim Neidhart’s image on it, and proceeded to put Natalya through the table.
The use of the late Hart Foundation member in the storyline has left many members of the WWE Universe feeling a little uneasy, with many calling the WWE out for being so cruel to the Hart/Neidhart family and in particular, Natalya herself. But Natalya recently opened up about the incident to Yahoo! Sports about the involvement of her late father, and Natalya was quite vocal that not only was it therapeutic for herself in her time of mourning, and stated that not only did it honor her father, but that he himself would have wholeheartedly approved.
“A lot of people have asked me, girls that I work with backstage, other superstars, people at home, if I’m OK with this storyline and how do I feel about it,” Neidhart told Yahoo Sports. “For me, this is what is going on in my life, this is the elephant in the room. In some weird way, this storyline has been strangely therapeutic because anything I’m feeling I can get it out,” Natalie said. “If I need to cry, I can get it out. I can let everybody see it, hear it and I can take the WWE universe on this journey with me. I need to speak the truth and I need to remind the world that my dad was a WWE star, he was special and everyone can feel that with me.”
Some fans even thought that them showing Neidhart’s funeral on an episode of Total Divas was too far, but Natalya disagrees. “My dad was a family man, he isn’t just another statistic to me,” she said. “I feel like all of this was really different. I felt like it was really important for me to share my dad’s funeral and share his journey and what we were going through. Even my own family asked why we were having cameras there for the funeral, but it was what my dad would have wanted. He loved the entertainment side.”
And in the end of the day, Natalya feels like the presence of her dad, even in mention, helps to keep The Anvil’s memory alive and that being an old school wrestler, he’d have been totally fine with the angle. “My dad was a professional wrestler,” Nattie told Yahoo! “He was a WWE superstar, he was a WWE legend before he passed away and I feel like in some crazy way this is like my dad is having one last run. I feel like if I asked my dad right now, ‘Daddy, how do you feel about me doing this storyline?’ My dad would say go for it. He understood pro wrestling, he understood how, for fans to become emotionally invested in stories, there has to be emotionally charged content.”