IronMan: The History of the Road Warriors
by Ervin Griffin Jr.
Part 5: Horsemen Wars
After their temporary dismantling of the Midnight Express at Starrcade '86, they turned their attention to the Four Horsemen. The Horsemen was, at that time, comprised of Ole Anderson, Arn Anderson, then-NWA TV champ Tully Blanchard, and then-NWA World Champ Ric Flair.
While no one was surprised that Dusty Rhodes joined the Warriors for their battles with the Four Horsemen (they were the NWA Six-Man Champs and were responsible for putting Ole Anderson on the proverbial "shelf" for six months in 1986), I think just about everyone was surprised to see Nikita Koloff join them as well!!! After all, some of the Warriors toughest and most bitter battles came against this man!!! So why would the Warriors and Rhodes trust him? Because Nikita was one of the few guys at that time that could go toe to toe with the Road Warriors (many fans and wrestling writers dubbed him "The Russian Road Warrior" as well as "The Russian Nightmare"). I also think it was because of his battles with Horsemen Ric Flair and the fact that he helped Dusty Rhodes during a tag team cage match against Ole Anderson and JJ Dillion (the Horsemen's manager at that time) in Charolette, NC in either October or early-November of 1986.
Anyway, the bond was formed and what the fans were treated to was some of the best eight-man tag team wars every seen!!! The first encounter that I know of was either in December 1986 or January 1987. It took place on World Wide Wrestling. While the damn show went off before a winner was decided, it did give me (and other wrestling fans) a taste of the mayhem that was to come!!! The action was fast and furious!!! Another famous encounter took place during the spring of 1987 when Lex Luger replaced Ole Anderson as a member of the Horsemen.
The encounter took place in Miami, Florida at the James L. Knight Center. The match was covered in PRO WRESTLING ILLUSTRATED and was a feature story in their SUPERCARDS '87 issue. This matchup was just as wild as their previous encounter in January. The Horsemen did gain a little edge in this one because they now had someone (Luger) that could match power with Nikita and the Warriors. Still, the end came when Rhodes dropped his famous "bionic elbow" on a prone Arn Anderson and got the pin. It would not be the last time that these eight men would hook up in a festival of violence.
Meanwhile, the Warriors were making an attempt to repeat their 1986 Jim Crockett Senior Memorial Cup win in New Orleans, LA by winning the second annual tournament in Baltimore, MD. The got a bye in the first round and defeated Shaska Watley and Tejo Kahn in the second round before losing a disputed decision to Jim Cornette's third version of the Midnight Express (Stan Lane/Bobby Eaton) by DQ. I call it disputed because this version had only been together about two weeks and because Jim Cornette tried to throw fire into Road Warrior Animal earlier in the match!!! While I do have great respect for that version of the Midnights, they just were not in the Warrior's league at that point and should've lost. By the way, their comrades in arms (Dusty Rhodes/Nikita Koloff) defeated the Midnights in the semi-finals and went on to defeat Tully Blanchard and Lex Luger to win the tournament.
Anyway, the Warriors shook off the loss and challenged then-NWA World Tag Team Champions "Ravishing" Rick Rude and Manny "Ragin' Bull" Fernandez. They won many of these encounters but did not get the belts because most of the wins came by DQ's. Still, many fans wondered at this point had the Warriors lost their killer instinct. I always argued that it wasn't so much that they lost their killer instinct as it was that teams were starting to figure them out and were able to counter some of the Warrior's tactics. Frustrated by their lack of success in the United States, the Warriors went over to Japan and won the All-Japan International Tag Team belts. I'm not sure who their opponents were though (if someone knows, please e-mail me this information). I do know that they were on a tear and that Japanese officals tried to have them banned because "they were too good." Sound familiar? Needless to say, Japanese fans (like the American fans in 1984) would not stand for it and demanded that the Warriors not be banned. The All-Japan officals, because of the public pressure, relented.
Meanwhile, Jim Crockett, Jr. came up with a new concept of wrestling. Have ten tough wrestlers meet in two-rings inclosed inside of a cage with a roof on top of it. The match ends when one of the team members gives up. This match, of course, was the WarGames/The Match Beyond. On one side was the Four Horsemen and JJ Dillion. On the other side, Dusty Rhodes and Nikita Koloff who were joined by you know who!!! Off the subject, Eric(a) Bischoff should pull out this tape and see how a WarGames is supposed to be done because I haven't seen one as brutal or as good as the first one. The closest that I have seen is one in May of 1992 when Sting's Squadron took on the Paul E's Dangerous Alliance.
This match was THE ULTIMATE encounter between these teams. The casualties saw Nikita Koloff get his neck re-injured by Tully Blanchard and Ric Flair. It also saw JJ Dillion (who was an actual participant as well as Paul Ellering) get his shoulder seperated when the Road Warriors put a version of their "Human Sacrifice" manuvear on him (their move never had an official name, I just call it by the name that my friends back home used to call it: "The Human Sacrifice." You'll be hearing me use it more often in this series.). It ended when Hawk choked out Dillion with his foot. The Horsemen demanded a re-match and got it in Miami, Florida (the site of their first meeting). Once again, the Superpowers (Dusty/Nikita) and the Warriors defeated the Horsemen by making the WarMachine (Dillion's replacement who was really Big Bubba Rodgers) submit to a steel-spike which Animal used to gouge the eye and head of WarMachine.
It would not be the last time that the Warriors would use a steel spike on someone as you will see later in this series. Anyway, the eight men would meet again in the WarGames in Chicago, Illinois. This third match up was signed because of an incident that took place during July when Animal was getting ready to wrestle Ric Flair for the NWA title. The Horsemen jumped Animal and Ellering before the match. Flair then took one of Animal's spiked wristbands and gouged his eye and head in retaliation for what he did in Miami!!! The Warriors, Koloff and Rhodes demanded this match and got it in August or September of 1987. This time, The Warrior team was joined by Ron "Hands Of Stone" Garvin who took Paul Ellering's place (Ellering had been injured by the Horsemen during the Miami WarGames). The results, however, were the same as the first two as The Warrior team defeated the Horsemen again!!!
For the remainer of 1987, the eight men would meet time and again in both singles and tag competition. Nikita would lose the US Title to Lex Luger on July 10, 1987 but would defeat Luger's comrade, Tully Blanchard, for the NWA World TV belt in August. Rhodes would go on to defeat Lex Luger for the US belt at Starrcade '87 in Chicago, Ill in a cage match. As for the Warriors, they would continue to battle the Horsemen and got another shot at tag team glory when they fought Tully Blanchard and Arn Anderson for the NWA Tag Team belts at Starrcade '87. This was another disputed match for one reason: referee Tommy Young. Tully had shoulder blocked the ref earlier in the match but there was no DQ. While Young was down, he supposedly saw Animal backdrop Anderson over the top rope (which Animal did do but how in the hell are you supposed to see someone break the rules when you're laying face down on the concrete?!!). The Warriors put Anderson in "The Human Sacrifice" and got the pinfall. Young, however, reversed the decision and gave the win to Blanchard and Anderson by DQ. The Warriors defiantly walked out with the belts anyway in true Warrior fashion in one THE most bullsh*t decisions I have ever seen!!!
The Horsemen, in later years, would admit that one of the few things that they wanted to do that they never was able to do was beat the Warriors by pinfall. This statement appeared somewhere on the net. It was either Flair or Anderson that said it.
Next: Road Warrior Clones
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Ervin Griffin Jr. is a regular contributor to Solie's as well as the Ringside Insider and other publications.
This will be the last regular weekend edition of the Newsletter. I have decided to cut it back to twice a week except when there is a Pay-Per-View. I will publish my usual Monday Night Wars Edition and then one other late week edition on Thursday or Friday for the forseeable future. The weekend programs have all degenerated in to rehashes of the Monday shows so I just don't see that I can justify the work involved to report on them. I will continue to run Garland Chan's Shotgun Saturday Night reports in the Monday Night Edition and will also comment on the weekend shows as required in that issue.
I have made this decision and also the decision to limit access to the Readers' Forum in order to free up more time for the rest of my life! It has gotten so that I am spending most of my time in one fashion or another either putting Newsletter editions together or monitoring the Readers' Forum. I'm just tired of it...
You will see that the link to view the Readers' Forum is located at the bottom of the newsletter. The link to reach the sign-up has been hidden. It is somewhere on the site but it isn't at all obvious. If you wish to participate in the Forum send me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) and I will evaluate your request. Again, I simply don't have time or energy to monitor the message board so I have to restrict access to people I can trust not to cause trouble. If that seems arbitrary then so be it. The alternative is to shut it down...
Anyway, that's the way I see it...
editor Solie's Wrestling Newsletter
Bret Hart's Weekly Column The Calgary Sun has started publishing Bret Hart's column on line so rather than continue to summarize it here from now on I will be putting this link to it so you can go peruse it for yourselves.
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