Volume 2, Issue 106
January 8, 1997
This week Ervin Griffin Jr. concludes his article ,which provides a concise historical perspective on the greatest wrestling stable in the sport, with a personal observation concerning Arn Anderson and the possible dissolution of the Four Horsemen. Griffin is a regular Solie's contributer as well as an editorialist for The Ringside Insider. He has also helped to liven up Solie's Readers' Forum since its inception.
Like any other stable, the Four Horsemen have had their share of managers and/or valets. These people include:
1. James J. Dillion (who was the best in my opinion)
2. Woman (Nancy Sullivan)
3. Ole Anderson
4. Hiro Matsuta
5. Ms. Elizabeth (Helwitt)
6. Debora McMichael (the worst in my opinion)
7. Dark Journey
8. Baby Doll (Nicole Roberts)
JJ DILLION. Managed the Horsemen during 1986-early 1989. He led the first three combinations and, at one point, led the "Barry Windham" version to four titles. Flair was NWA World Champ, Tully and Arn were the NWA World Tag Team Champs and Windham was US Heavyweight Champion.
OLE ANDERSON. Became manager for the Horsemen in 1990. While he didn't have the title sucess that Dillion had, he did keep the Horsemen a feared unit in the sport.
WOMAN. Nancy Sullivan also came aboard in 1990, but was not a significant factor in the Horsemen unit at that time. Her impact was not felt until 1996 when she rejoined the Horsemen.
HIRO MATSUTA. brought in by JJ Dillion in 1987 to help Lex Luger in his feud with Dusty Rhodes. He took over as manager of the Horsemen in 1989 when Dillion was fired by Ric Flair for not finding out who a mystery opponent was (it was Rick Steamboat).
MS. ELIZABETH. Her history with the Horsemen really began in the WWF when then-WWF World Champion Ric Flair made allegations of a past affair between himself and Liz. This, of course, did not set too well with Randy Savage. Savage went on to defeat Flair at WrestleMania VIII in Indianapolis, IN. When Ms. Elizabeth returned to the sport in 1996, she briefly reunited with Randy but later turned on him and joined the Horsemen. Now, personally, I think Elizabeth (charater wise) was always out for herself. Remember when Flair, after the title loss, screamed "what about me" to Liz? I think there was a plot back then against Randy but she chose to remain with him when he defeated Flair. She is currently with the NWO but I don't think she's too happy with them.
BABY DOLL. Nicole Roberts was actually the first valet for the Horsemen. She joined up with them after a televised match between Ric Flair and Dusty Rhodes in which she turned on Rhodes. Her stay was brief, however, when Flair (on advice from Tully Blanchard) kicked her out of the group.
DARK JOURNEY. The second valet. She came in the summer of 1987. Her stay was also a short one as she left the mat sport entirely later that year.
DEBORA MCMICHAEL. By far, the worst valet or manager ever to be part of the Horsemen!!!! She does nothing for them except create problems!!! Kick her (and her no-talent husband) to the curb please!!!!
Now, what would the Horsemen be without titles? Here is a list of each Horsemen, their titles and a brief opinion of each Horsemen:
"Nature Boy" Ric Flair
NWA World Tag Team Championship (with Greg Valentine and Blackjack Mulligan)
NWA United States Champion (four-time holder, has defeated Rick Steamboat, Jimmy Snuka and Konnan for the title)
NWA World Heavyweight Champion (eight-time holder, has defeated Dusty Rhodes (twice), Harley Race, the late Kerry Von Eric, Ron Garvin, Rick Steamboat, Sting and Barry Windham)
WWF World Heavyweight Champion (two-time holder, won the 1992 Royal Rumble to win first title and defeated Randy Savage for second title)
WCW World Heavyweight Champion (three-time holder, had defeated Vader and Randy Savage (twice))
May be one of the best performers of all time. Didn't appreciate his skills until 1989 though. Great psycologist in the ring. Currently trying to hold the Horsemen together. Hopes he can comeback soon from shoulder injury. Figure four is probably the greatest of all-time.
"The Enforcer" Arn Anderson
National Tag Team Champion (with Ole Anderson)
NWA/WCW World Television Champion (four-time holder, won first in a tournament in Greensboro, NC defeating Wahoo McDaniel. Has defeated The Great Muta, Tom Zenk and Marc Mero (Johnny B. Badd))
NWA/WCW World Tag Team Champion (with Tully Blanchard (twice), Bobby Eaton and Paul Roma)
WWF World Tag Team Champion (with Tully Blanchard, defeated Demolition (AX and SMASH))
A very good performer. Originator of the "spine-buster" slam. Has one of the greatest DDT's in wrestling. Never has really been given a major push. Could be world or US champion if given enough opportunities.
Texas Tag Team Champion (with Gino Hernandez)
NWA World Television Title (three-time holder, has defeated Dusty Rhodes on two occasions for this belt.)
NWA United States Champion (defeated Magnum TA)
NWA National Heavyweight Champion (defeated Dusty Rhodes)
NWA World Tag Team Champion (with Arn Anderson, two-time holder)
WWF World Tag Team Champion (with Arn Anderson)
I thought that Tully sucked (at least wrestling skill-wise), but he did know how to create heat from the crowd and always had some championship around his waist. In other words, he was a winner and he knew how to win against guys who were actually better wrestlers that him. Sure, he did his share of cheating but there is hardly a wrestler that doesn't cheat nowdays.
NWA World Tag Team Champion (with Gene Anderson and Stan Hansen)
National Tag Team Champion (with Arn Anderson)
A definite legend. Ole was one of the most shrewd and toughest competitors around. He wasn't built like a greek-god but knew how to break an opponent down. I think that he is one of the reasons that the early versions of the Horsemen were so tough.
"Total Pakage" Lex Luger
Southern Heavyweight Champion (three-time holder, defeated Wahoo McDaniel for his first title)
NWA United States Champion (four-time holder, has defeated Nikita Koloff, Barry Windham, Michael Hayes and Stan Hansen)
NWA/WCW World Tag Team Champion (two-time holder with Barry Windham and Sting)
NWA/WCW World Television Champion (defeated Marc Mero (Johnny B. Badd))
NWA/WCW World Heavyweight Champion (defeated Barry Windham after Ric Flair vacated the title)
Luger's best days were his first five years in wrestling. His stint in the WWF really struck a blow to his career. Recently, however, he has been getting a big push in the WCW/NWO feud. While his wrestling skills are overrated, he does know how to use his strength to wear down an opponent and has to be considered one of the strongest men in wrestling. His "Human Torture Rack" has been used with great regularity lately, picking up opponents at will pratically. I would be dissapointed if WCW is only giving Lex his push just for the NWO feud because it is time for him to return to the big title picture.
Southern Heavyweight Champion
Florida Heavyweight Chmapion
WWF World Tag Team Champion (two-time holder with Mike Rotunda)
NWA/UWF Western States Champion
NWA/WCW World Tag Team Champion (two-time holder with Lex Luger and Dustin Rhodes)
NWA United States Champion (defeated Nikita Koloff in a tournament final)
Bonafide butt-kicker in his prime. Probably was his best as a Horsemen. Added the Iron-Claw during this period, which made him more lethal. Great veteran but I think his best years are behind him (although I wouldn't mind seeing him rise to the top again).
UWF Tag Team Champion (two-time holder with Eddie Gilbert and Rick Steiner)
NWA/WCW World Television Champion (defeated Mike Rotunda)
NWA World Heavyweight Champion (defeated Ric Flair)
WCW World Heavyweight Champion (two-time holder, defeated Lex Luger and Vader)
WCW International Champion (defeated Rick Rude)
WCW World Tag Team Champion (with Lex Luger)
WCW United States Champion (defeated Steve Austin in tournament final (1991), also defeated Meng in another tournament final (1995))
Sting has been a favorite of mine since his early feud with Ric Flair. He has always had a superstar quality that few can match and he's at the stage of his career where just about anything he does is going to sell (such as the recent "Crow" gimick). I would like to believe that this is a temporary thing and that he will challenge Hulk Hogan again and kick his butt!!!
CWA Heavyweight Champion
USWA Heavyweight Champion (defeated Jerry Lawler)
WWF World Heavyweight Champion (defeated Shawn Michaels)
Sid is one of those "could've and should've beens". While I am happy to see a major title around his waist, it will end at the upcoming Royal Rumble against Michaels. Still, his power alone should have been enough to get him more titles than he's had. Plus, he doesn't sell his moves very well. He could've been the bruiser that Vader was at one time.
WCW World Tag Team Champion (three-time holders, with Arn Anderson and Paul Orndorff (twice))
CWA (European) Heavyweight Champion
Was one of the weakest Horsemen but had some skill (unlike McMichael). Did have tremendous heel potential.
Stampede International Tag Team Champions (with Bruce Hart)
WCW United States Tag Team Champions (with Tom Zenk, defeated Michael Hayes and Jim Garvin in a tournament final)
WCW Lightheavyweight Champion (two-time holder, defeated Rick Morton in a tournament final. Also defeated Jushin Liger for a second reign)
WCW World Tag Team Champion (with Steve Austin, defeatd Rick Steamboat and Shane Douglas)
Pillman was a great face wrestler and even better as a heel during his stint with Steve Austin. But I think his days after the split with Austin spelled doom for his career. His stint with the Horsemen was less than memorable. His WWF stint, so far, has sucked!!! I hope this turns around soon.
British Commonwealth Champion
IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Champion
ECW Tag Team Champion (with Dean Malenko)
Wasted talent here. Could be one of the best Horsemen ever if used properly. Battles with Eddie Gurerro and Kevin Sullivan are classics. Also loved his "Hog Wild" match-up with Dean Malenko. Wish he could beat the crap out of McMichael!!! I hope to see a title around his waist soon.
I am not even going to bother putting Steve McMichael's name here because, in my opinion, he doesn't deserve mention. When he learns how to wrestle, then I might mention him!!! But I'm not holding my breath!!!!
(Editor's Note: Ervin sent me this message on Tuesday (1/7/97) after watching the Nitro broadcast and the Horsemen incident with Jeff Jarrett the night before:)
Hi folks!!! I once said that the recent decline of the Four Horsemen was like watching your most valiant foe fall from glory. True, I hated the Four Horsemen for a lot of years but they did create excitement!!! What bothers me is that one man in particular does not get the credit (or respect) that he deserves. I am speaking, of course, of Arn Anderson. While I can't take anything away from Ric Flair, Ole Anderson, Tully Blanchard, Barry Windham or his other comrades in the Horsemen, Arn has had his own great career in his own right. He started back in 1983 under that management of Paul Ellering. He and Matt Borne formed an impressive tag-team. Two years later, he joined up with his father-in-law Ole to form the second version of the "Minnesota Wrecking Crew." The won the Georgia National Tag Team Titles in 1985 by defeating Thunderbolt Patterson and Manny "Ragin' Bull" Fernandez (a complete detailing of this story is on Earl's Illustrated History Of The Four Horsemen). They successfully defended that title for about six months.
In January of 1986, Ole Anderson went down with a knee injury that happend at the hands of Dusty Rhodes and The Road Warriors. With his partner gone (and tag title) gone, Arn entered an eight man tournament to crown a new NWA World Television Champion. Arn won that tournament, defeating Wahoo McDaniel in the finals. Arn has had three more reigns with that title in subsequent years. He is also the reason (along with Ole) that the Four Horsemen had been a dominant force in this sport. I know Ric Flair gets most of the attention, but a lot of his reigns as world champ would have been a lot shorter if not for Arn (and the Horsemen in general). As far as the tag teams that he has been involved with, I must concede that he did play second fiddle to Ole. There is no shame in this, however, because Ole Anderson is a legend in tag team wrestling and anyone would be stupid not to follow his lead. I have to disagree with the Tully Blanchard scenerio though. To me, Arn was the leader of that team and the team he formed with Bobby Eaton in 1992. I also have to concer with the Ric Flair scenerio. He Arn has, until the last two years, walked behind Flair. His brief feud with Flair did show, though, that at anytime he could go his own way.
Thanks Ervin, another stirling performance.
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I, like my friend Ervin, feel that I must comment on the incipient breakup (or is it breakdown?) of the Four Horsemen. We got a taste of it last week when Arn Anderson referred to Ric Flair as "...an observer" because of his current injury. You know something is really wrong when Arn starts questioning Flair's judgements. I also agree with Ervin that Arn Anderson is the real core member of the Horsemen. He inherited that mantle when Ole Anderson, who created the original team, left the group. Through the years Arn has always been the bellweather of the Horsemens' current condition. Indeed, when he left for the WWF in the late 80's the group became a shadow version with anomolies like Kendall Windham and Butch Reed, etc. They couldn't even call themselves the Four Horsemen and settled for the moniker "Horsemen". It was sad time.
Again, as with my friend, I didn't even like the Four Horsemen throughout the first 5 years of their existence. I didn't care for their tactics...I didn't like the way they propped Ric Flair up as NWA World Champion. But they perservered and they started to grow on me. The Horsemen stood for straight-ahead wrestling excellence plus skullduggary, back-stabbing, eye-gouging, cheap-shotting...love 'em or hate 'em - they were consistent!
Now everything is in a muddle. They can't decide whether to be heel or face - Arn talks about loyalty to WCW, complains about Benoit's dalliances with Nancy Sullivan (where was he when Ric Flair was hinting at an illicite relationship with Randy Savage's ex-wife...?) and feuds with another wrestler (Jarrett) who seems to want to help their cause. Not that I blame him for not wanting anything to do with Jarrett. This guy is sleaze personified (or, at least his character is).
The McMichaels' entry into all of this has not served to exactly bolster the Horsemens' image. Mongo may be a great football player but he is certainly no wrestler - and don't even get me on the subject of that ditzy wife of his...but the Horsemen could have survived even the horror of Mongo and Debra.
No. In my not-so-humble opinion the real cause of the Horsemens' troubles can be laid at the door of...Hulk Hogan. Yes, I said Hogan. When Hulk Hogan turned heel last year he blew all the previous heel wrestlers out of the water. I mean, think about it, after Hogan's monumental betrayal of the fans (the "little Hulksters" if you will...) what worlds were left to conquer? There was nothing the Horsemen (or the Dungeon of Doom, for that matter - a group expressly created to destroy "Hulkamania") could do to top it. At that time Arn Anderson issued a moving statement about loyalty to the organization and "standing for something...", it was pitifull!
Now, if you are not with Hogan...you are against him...and by definition you are no longer a heel. This fact is having a chilling effect on the greatest bunch of villians that ever put on the tights and I, for one, am very sad about it.
Anyway, that's the way I see it...
editor Solie's Wrestling Newsletter
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