My entire life, there have been only three teams that really mattered to me:
*The Pittsburgh Penguins.
*Liverpool Football Club.
*The Four Horsemen.
Not necessarily in that order.
Even though the WWE Hall of Fame is a sham on so many levels it’s hard to know where to start a discussion, I am overjoyed to hear The Four Horsemen will be inducted.
Arn Anderson is one of the best performers in wrestling history. Period. He took a non-classic look but willed himself to a top spot with flawless work and even better promos. Same can be said for Tully Blanchard, except he’s a 9 on Arn’s 10 scale. Barry Windham – great look, great worker, couldn’t talk. Could have great matches with anyone, though.
It’s those guys I’m happiest for, especially Arn. Recognition for Double-A at this level is long overdue. I hope to honor him by buying him a beer, or perhaps a turkey leg. Arn had great influence on me when we worked in WCW. “Keep telling the truth” – that was Arn’s mantra to me.
But Ole Anderson should be there, too. He’s a thoroughly despicable human being, and his health problems don’t change that. But he was a cornerstone of the original Horsemen, and the verbal touchstone of two of the Horsemen’s biggest angles: Ole gets kicked out & Sting gets kicked out. I can still hear Tully say, “Who you callin' an outsider?” followed by, “Maybe if you were taking care of business instead of watching that snot-nosed kid…” and then Tully eats Ole’s fist. AWESOME.
Lex Luger should be there, too. Him replacing Ole was a HUGE angle, and a launch for Luger’s career. But Luger, working without a contract in WWE, suddenly walked out on the first TNT Monday Nitro, and the resulting bad feeling guaranteed estrangement from WWE forever. Lex, unlike Ole, is a good guy.
Flair, Arn, Tully, Ole, Windham, Luger & J.J. Dillon: Those are the REAL Horsemen. Accept no substitutes. Ric, Arn, Tully, Windham and J.J. isn't enough.
The Horseman were ORGANIC. Not pre-packaged. Flair was a “cousin” of the Andersons, then Tully and J.J. got caught in the web. One day Arn made this off-the-cuff statement: "The only time this much havoc had been wreaked by this few people, you need to go all the way back to the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse!” That was it. The Four Horsemen were born.
6:05pm Saturday on TBS. If WWE Network is smart, it will run WCW Saturday Night, in sequence, at exactly the same time. The ratings might top Smackdown. The Horsemen walked out, and all hell broke loose. But after a while, the fans CHEERED. Horsemen fans wore suits at ringside. Flashing four fingers became the “in” thing to do. They were heels, but it was a groundswell. I remember when Barry turned bad and joined the Horsemen. Fans were HUGGING EACH OTHER.
I couldn’t wait for 6:05pm Saturday on TBS. That’s when my team played. LOVED the Horsemen. They were an extension of Flair, of course, and were supposed to get his rub.
But Flair not only avoided being sucked dry, he somehow got bigger. It was amazing. The Four Horsemen took on a life of their own. You could beat ‘em, they never really won, they always played dirty…but they were COOL. First heel merchandise I recall seeing.
WCW blew it, of course. WCW always did. Arn & Tully went to WWE. Future attempts to rebuild the Horsemen just didn’t work. Good performers got involved – Sting, Brian Pillman and Chris Benoit – but the chemistry wasn’t there, nor the legit camaraderie, and people knew it.
But I’ll never forget THE REAL DEAL. On the rare occasions WCW ventured to Pittsburgh back then, I was up close, flashing four fingers, and reminding the marks that the Horsemen had ALL the belts. THEY’RE YOUR CHAMPIONS!
They were. Still are. More Horsemen stories to follow.
Mark Madden hosts a radio show 3-6 p.m. weekdays on WXDX-FM, Pittsburgh, PA (105.9). Check out his web page at WXDX.com. Contact Mark by emailing [email protected] . FOLLOW MARK ON TWITTER: @MARKMADDENX.