Writer Tommy Tomlinson
Arn Anderson has 9-month old son and a new house out past the Arboretum and 7-inch scar down the back of his neck.
He spent 15 years as a professional wrestler, and you may have noticed that in professional wrestling things are now always what they seem. But there is nothing more real than that 7-inch scar and the message that came with it, that Arn Anderson can't wrestle anymore.
Normally, he would have been one of the stars Monday night, when World Championship Wrestling comes to Charlotte for a show at the Independence Arena.
Fans cheered for Anderson even when he was a bad guy. He never had the big biceps of the pretty boys, but he was the guy you'd want to have a beer with, knowing he'd break the bottle over some punk's head if it came to that.
Too bad for his image that he's nicer than a pack of Boy Scouts.
About 14 months ago, Anderson went to pick up a barbell at the gym and his left arm couldn't hold it. He wrestled anyway. His left hand got so numb he could barely tie his boots. He wrestled anyway. Then his boss noticed and sent him to the doctor.
In April he had surgery - a removal of some of the small bones that support the spinal cord. The pain after the surgery was worse that the pain before. He was on so many drugs that he thought the Tweety Bird on a get-well balloon was a monster out to kill him.
"I just.. I Just don't have the words to tell you what the pain was like", Anderson says. "I told them more than once that I wanted to die. But my son was - how old was he at the time?"
"One month," says Anderson's wife, Erin, who's toting little Brock around the living room (their other son, Barrett is 12).
"That's right, 1 month. So she just said I had a lot to live for and I was being silly. She was right.
But Anderson had to retire - not one of those George Foreman retirements, but the real thing. This being pro wrestling he retired on live TV at an August show in Columbia He has always been great at the microphone but that night he topped himself. His friend Ric Flair cried in the ring as Anderson spoke.
"I didn't have the intentions of being dramatic," he says. "But it got emotional for me ant the fans got pretty emotional. I think the reason was, they were cheering not so much for the love of a guy as it was the appreciation of his work ethic."
He's still at all the shows, but now he works backstage. He makes sure the arenas are set up right and the wrestlers are taken care of. He's trying to figure out what to do now, maybe announcing, maybe managing. He's 39 years old.
Anderson was a meat cutter at a grocery store in 1982 when he quit to chase the job he always dreamed of. He arrived in Charlotte in '85 with all he owned - a TV and clothes - in the back of his Toyota. Flair lent him $600 to rent his first apartment.
Once he made it big, he loved the friendships and the way he could make the crowd roar and he especially loved the money. He's still got friends and he's not hurting for money.
But the roar is gone and he sure misses that.
"For a guy with my education - limited as it is - to be able to be this successful at anything for this period of time, it's over achievement at the least," he says. "But I'm like everyone else. I wish it had lasted longer".
Copyright 1997 - Charlotte Observer
The program starts with a dedication to police officers who have given their lives across the country.
Live from Charlotte, North Carolina - Larry is back tonight with Tony and Tenay.
We get a video replay of Sting's appearance on last week's show. Then Tony mentions again that Bret Hart will appear this evening. They are speculating about whether he will show up as a member of the nWo.
nWo music plays and Eric Bischoff appears followed by the rest of the thugs. Eric and crew check under the ring before they climb in. Vincent has a pair of binoculars to scout the audience. They spend some time looking around (and up) before Bischoff starts his rant. They have Massa Hiro Chono with them and have him say a few words in Japanese before Bischoff goes on. Hennig tries to dispute that Charlotte is "Ric Flair country" - he is roundly booed. He promises to retire Flair at Starrcade. Hogan speaks his peace. The usual clap-trap about Sting being a coward... Hogan plans to search the building for him tonight (right...) That's it - the music plays again - we look over the crowd again and then go to an nWo video putting Legendary Larry down. Hmmm...interesting, they didn't say anything about Hart. Cut to commercial.
We come back to another nWo propaganda video - about the Steiners this time. We then cut to video of Ric Flair talking about Bret Hart on last week's show. Flair says he's the best there is, was etc...
Vincent vs. Ray Traylor - Vincent comes to the ring on his own - that isn't likely to last long. Traylor gives Vincent the upper hand at the beginning by going out to chase him...but Vincent can't hold onto the advantage. This match is a squash from the get-go. Raven's flock makes its way to ringside during this match. No sign of Raven himself (I've heard he's out with an injury). Traylor dispatches Vincent with a side-slam. This time the rest of the gang doesn't get involved. Cut to commercial.
Nitro Grrrls cavort while the announcers announce....
Yuji Nagata (w/Sonny Onoo) vs Disco Inferno - TV Title match - we get a video review of Disco's regaining of the Title last week - Nagata rakes his opponent's face to start the match. Disco comes back very aggressively and takes control of the match. Then Nagata knocks him out to the floor and into the flying feet of his manager. Back in the ring Nagata takes the initiative and seems to have things well in hand. He's taking a lot of shortcuts but Disco comes back with a face slam. Then a boot to the gut and a flying neckbreaker. Onoo tries to get involved but gets ChartBusted on the apron. Disco turns around in time to hoist Nagata onto the top rope (much like Steve Austin's old Stun Gun maneuver) then gets the ChartBuster on him as well...and the pin. Very interesting that they have Disco aping Austin's moves...
Fit Finley vs. Dean Malenko - Eddie Guerrero shows up to have his say during the match (as he has for the last several weeks) - Finley is a rough and tumble wrestler but can also keep up with Malenko on the mat. He has a substantial weight advantage and knows how to use it. They take it to the outside where Malenko (surprisingly) retakes the advantage. Back in the ring he gives it up almost immediately. Finley's main disadvantage is that he seems to improvise too much - that helps Malenko regain the lead. Guerrero throws down the headset and goes down to provide distraction so that Finley can slip in a Tombstone piledriver and get the win. We go to another nWo video - this time the target is Roddy Piper. Cut to commercial.
La Parka/Psychosis vs. Rey Misterio Jr./Juventud Guerrera - all four of these guys are suicidal so this match really flies. La Parka is the largest by far and seems to be the most brutal as well. Juventud gets doubleteamed during the early moments. It doesn't look good for the smaller team. But Juvey is a tough little guy and eventually he escapes and tags in his partner. They dominate for a few moments then get into trouble but almost immediately pull off some spectacular duel flying moves to retake the advantage. Moments later Guerrera and Psychosis struggle for position on the top turnbuckle. Psychosis wins the contest but somehow Guerrero reverses the balance point and gets a powerslam out of it. Guerrero pulls off a "450 degree" splash to get the pin.
Mean Gene is in the ring with two senior Charlotte Police officers and Doug Dellenger (a former officer himself). He introduces Arn Anderson!!! AA is dressed all in black as he walks to the ring. He smiles as he acknowledges the crowds' acclaim. He talks about Curt Hennig (not kindly) and then introduces Ric Flair. Flair comes to the ring in a grey suit and tie. He is here to present a check for $15,000 to help defray the expense of a memorial to slain Charlotte Police officers. With that over he then takes off his suit jacket and calls Curt Hennig out for a match tonight. We get a look at the memorial as we cut to commercial.
Mean Gene is with JJ Dillon - who says that Bischoff has been trying to get out of the match with Legendary Larry. Bischoff comes down to dispute that assertion. The crowd is chanting "Bischoff sucks!!". Eric wants another stipulation. He wants puches and kicks to be legal in the match. Dillon agrees as long as Bischoff agrees that submissions also count (Huh? I thought submissions always did count...) We go to yet another nWo video showing Sting (and a toy representation) getting creamed. Cut to commercial.
Nitro Grrrls again...
Scott Hall vs. Chris Jericho - Hall does his usual call and response bit and gets a surprise. He tries it again and still gets little response - he pretends they are with him anyway and we go to commercial before Jericho's entrance.
Jericho enters as we return. Hall is caught by surprise by Jericho and gets creamed early. Then Hall turns the tables with a fall-away slam. Chris comes back with two clotheslines into the corner. Then Hall comes back with a chokeslam. He follows up with an Outsider's Edge to take the pin. Short match. The announcers are reminding us that Bret "the Hitman" Hart will be here later (I hear he will be wearing the familiar pink and black costume). Cut to an nWo T-shirt commercial.
More nWo propaganda as we return. This time directed at the Giant (this is getting a little old guys...)
Bobby Heenan has joined the broadcast team to replace Larry. We see the end of the Mongo/Barbarian match from last week - leading us to...
Steve McMichael vs. Meng (w/Jimmy Hart) - Meng enters and then Mongo's music plays but he fails to show. We go backstage and see that Mongo has been laid out by Bill Goldberg. JJ Dillon shows up and has a fit. Goldberg says "You want another victim?" and heads for the ring! He passes a fan with a sign reading "Stone Cold Bill Goldberg". Mongo comes to and catches up with his nemesis in the aisle. They start to brawl as security rushes in and we cut to commercial.
Nitro Grrrls in the ring...
Konnan/Scott Norton (w/Vincent) vs. The Steiner Brothers - Tag Team Title match - the nWo guys attack before the bell and we are off. They are driven from the ring immediately. Konnan faces Scotty for the opening. He gets gorilla pressed and slammed. He tags Norton in from outside the ring (not entirely legal but the ref allows it). Norton faces Rick and gets creamed. Then Rick goes to the well (or the top) one time too many and gets caught. Norton comes on strong but then gets tumbled to the outside. They set Konnan up for their two story finisher but Vincent interferes. It's three on two until Ray Traylor comes out to even the odds. The nWo guys flee. The Steiners win by DQ. Cut to commercial.
Booker T vs. Randy Savage (w/Miss Liz) - as this match is introduced, Tenay is asserting that Bret Hart has been making disparaging remarks about Ric Flair (I think its the other way around Mike...) This should be good. Both of these guys are extremely talented. Savage has the experience edge - Booker T is younger and stronger. The latter chooses to mat wrestle his opponent in the early going - probably a wise move. The first time he takes to the air he knocks Savage out of the ring. On the floor he dominates the brawl as well. Back in the ring he continues his assault. Savage can't seem to get anything together. He finally sidesteps a flying move and causes Booker to fling himself onto the guard rail (ouch!) Now it is all Savage. He delivers his patented double sledge from the top to the floor then slams Booker into the ring steps. Back in the ring, Savage has it all his way. A fan tries to rush the ring but Savage ejects him. The distraction gives Booker an opening. They collide with the referee and he goes down. Booker climbs to the top but Liz holds his foot so that Savage can turn the tables. The Macho Man throws his elbow off the top while Liz revives the referee. Savage wins it. Cut to commercial.
Nitro Grrrls some more...the third hour begins.
Chris Benoit vs. Raven - or so they say... we haven't seen Raven tonight so far, and I doubt that we will. Scotty Riggs takes the match tonight. Riggs comes on very aggressive and has the advantage for about 15 seconds. Then the Wolverine takes over and Riggs gets chopped down to size. Riggs manages to come back briefly but can't keep the advantage for any length of time. They go out to the floor where Riggs again comes turns the tables. We get a close up of his right eye which is still cloudy but no longer covered. He loses the initiative again and the match see-saws. The Crippler applies...the Crippler to win the match. Benoit grabs a mic and shouts "Quote the Crippler 'never more'" - he says that the Flock claims to be the non-conformists but he is the real one - then he launches himself over the railing at them! They overwhelm him and have him back in the ring for a beating as we cut to commercial.
A Sting video plays as we return. It is in black and white like the nWo stuff.
Mean Gene is in the ring with Dillon again - they mention that Eric Bischoff is throwing a tantrum back stage. As they converse Bischoff comes out to the ring yet again. He wants to know who the referee will be for the match. Dillon names Randy Anderson. Bischoff says he wants Kevin Nash. Dillon counters with Scott Dickenson. Bischoff then suggests Syxx. Dillon says that he will agree to pick an nWo guy but he gets the choice. Eric agree to that suggestion. Dillon brings out Bret Hart!!! Eric seems happy with the choice. Hart is wearing jeans and a leather jacket. Hart says it's great to be here in "Ric Flair country" and agrees to be the ref - but he tells Eric "Don't look to me for any help cause nobody knows better then me about getting screwed by a referee - you're on your own Jack." Bichoff mentions Bret's reported $7.5 million dollar paycheck (with weekends off) but doesn't seem to sure of himself. Bret turns around and we see the familiar Hitman skull logo on the back of his jacket. Somewhat disappointing really. Cut to commercial.
Mean Gene calls Lex Luger to the ring. His music plays but Buff Bagwell shows up instead. Bagwell speculates that Luger is cowering somewhere in the back. He rants on and then Luger shows up. Bagwell stands his ground. Luger refers to Buff as "pathetic" and says that he has been granted some time for a match. Buff counters that they need a referee - so Luger brings out Nick Patrick. Bagwell says he's not warmed up so Luger slaps his face. Gene splits and the match is on. Luger beats Bagwell down in a hurry but Buff comes back. The match see-saws then Luger gets his Powerslam. Vincent and Norton swarm into the ring but Luger ejects them. Then he tosses Bagwell over the top rope and gets DQ'd. Score another one for the nWo. Cut to commercial.
More nWo propaganda (against DDP) then Curt Hennig comes to the ring. Flair has challanged him but they haven't really indicated whether that match will actually take place. Hennig grabs the mic and rants about Flair - sounds promising... He dares Flair to come on down. He continues to rant - no sign of Flair. They play the nWo theme again as we cut to commercial.
Ric Flair's music is playing as we return. He appears on the ramp respendent in his bright blue ring attire. Hennig abandons the ring as Flair enters. He sneaks back in a tries to blindside the Nature Boy. Flair anticipates the sneak attack but not the swarm of nWo thugs that enter the ring soon afterward. Hennig has Flair in a figure four leglock when DDP hits the ring followed by the Steiners and Luger. The nWo flees the ring. Flair's leg is injured and the WCW guys cart him away. DDP is left in the ring and challanges Hennig to come back out and face him. nWO music plays again - another fan jumps into the ring and is pulled out by security forces. Bischoff finally appears backed by Hogan and the rest of the gang. They stream to the ring and Page escapes through the crowd. Bret Hart is not with them, of course. Hogan takes the mic and rants some more. In the background fans are pointing up - the crowd is restless - then the lights go out. Sting is revealed in a spotlight up in the rafters. We see security hustling away another fan. The lights go out a second time then come back up. Sting stands above the entryway. Hogan calls him to the ring saying "...its not fun anymore". Sting doesn't move. Hogan rants some more and finally, Sting descends to the ramp and starts toward the ring. Fade to black...
On tape from Durham, New Hampshire. Jim Ross and Kevin Kelly are our hosts.
We get the Undertaker's music to start the program. UT comes down for an interview with Michael Cole. Cole announces that the Undertaker will face Shawn Michaels for the WWF Title in a Casket Match at the Royal Rumble. The Taker says he can beat Shawn "at will..." He reiterates the point by stating that Shawn knows he can't beat the Undertaker. He reminds us that he's only lost one Casket match and it took ten guys to beat him that time (the opponent was Yokozuna if I remember correctly - UT came back and defeated him in their re-match). He doesn't "count ten people in D Generation-X". He says Shawn will R.I.P...then the lights go out. Kane approaches the ring with Paul Bearer. UT stands his ground and they face off in the ring. Paul Bearer rants about the past and accuses UT of murdering his parents. Taker looks dejected as his former manager continues to scream at him. Kane slaps him. UT blocks the second attempt then turns away and leaves. Kane gestures for his in-ring fireworks and UT turns back on the ramp to look at the ring as we cut to commercial.
Jerry Lawler vs. Taka Michinoku - we get a video review of the attack on Taka last week before the Burger King is introduced. Lawler has the weight and experience advantage but Taka can run circles around this old man. He throws a great sprinboard dive onto Lawler after knocking him out to the floor. They trade drop-kicks then both try them simultanaously. Lawler sidesteps a third flying move and takes the advantage. He gets a suplex then a back drop. He wrenches on the youngster's head then drops a fist on his forehead. Taka is down so Lawler takes the boots to him. He tosses Taka to the floor then struts in the ring. Taka re-enters the ring and receives a piledriver. Moments later Taka comes back with his own Michinoku Driver and would have the pin except that Brian Christopher runs in and attacks. They attempt a double team but Taka out-maneuvers both of them and escapes.
Hawk and Animal are interviewed concerning their match with DX later. Hawk compares them to Michael Bolton (before the haircut), Fabio and Ru Paul. Cut to commercial.
NOD comes down to the ring. Rocky is still minus his hardware (which Steve Austin stole last week). There are a lot of "Rocky Sucks!" chants going on. Rocky rants - Faarooq tries to interrupt but Maivia cuts him short then goes on with his spiel. Faarooq doesn't look to pleased about that. Meanwhile Rocky "orders" Austin to return his IC belt. Austin appears on the platform. He asserts that he doesn't take orders... He says he has something to show him later and leaves. Rocky picks up where he left off. He tells Austin he has one hour to return the belt before NOD starts searching the building. Faarooq is looking definitely put-out through all of this - he may have his own surprise for the "Rock" as well. Cut to commercial.
Dude Love vs. Road Hog (Dog...whatever) (w/Badd Ass Billy) - OK - you guys that keep telling me how talented these clowns are - if they're so talented how come they can't win a match legitimately? This contest starts normally enough. Then as Billy gets up from the broadcast table to lend his partner a hand - the Dude meets him coming in and flattens him. Still, Billy gets up and blindsides the Dudester. Back in the ring, Dude Love grabs a mandible claw and the announcers speculate about him morphing back into Mankind. He puts Road Dog down and sits on the mat rocking for a moment, then prepares for the "Sweet Shin Music". He succeeds and gets the pin. Billy comes in with a chair but Dude blocks it and puts him down as well. He leaves the ring but the Tag Champs catch up to him on the ramp. They struggle up to the platform trying to doubleteam him without much success. They try to throw him off the platform but he turns the tables. They come at him from different directions and Billy finally DDT's him on the platform. A couple of referees get between them and Dude. They use one of the refs as a battering ram and knock Dude onto a table on the floor below. A ref bends over the fallen Dude Love and looks up at the Tag Champs saying "What did you do?" (apparently he is blind - something I have suspected many referees of being...) Billy and the Dog climb down to "help" then put the boots to him as we cut to commercial.
Mark Henry vs. The Brooklyn Brawler - nice to see Steve Lombardi back. One of the classic jobbers. He wears a New York Yankees sweat shirt (all torn and dirty of course). Henry is clumsy and slow but can win a match through sheer size and power - which he does.
We get video of Owen Hart's return to the WWF at D Generation-X. Then they show a sanitized portion of Shawn Michaels really stupid excremite speech from last week. We hear that Vince McMahon will confront Owen Hart later in the program. Cut to commercial.
Vince McMahon comes down to the ring as we return. Vince calls Owen to the ring. He is harping on his "the safety of the ringside fans" routine again, citing Owens entrances through the crowd (funny how he never complained about it when Steve Austin used to do that every week...) Owen comes down through the crowd to the ring. He has sprouted a goatie since we saw him last. He faces Vince and curses him to his face (it is bleeped out of course). He says his brother and brothers-in-law "...did what they had to do" and he intends to do the same. Vince speculates that Owen is after the WWF Title. Hart calls Vince stupid and says he doesn't care about the Title - he wants to make Michaels' life a living hell. Vince calls uniformed security to come to the ring to "protect the fans". He orders Owen to come back next week and enter the ring from the aisle like everyone else. Owen menaces Vince - grabs him by the lapels and shoves him away - then he leaves the ring, jumps the guard rail and leaves through the crowd with his police escort following. Cut to commercial.
Video review of Marc Mero and Sables appearance last week. We get to see that marvelous bikini again.
The Sultan (w/the Iron Shiek) vs. Tom Brandi - Sal Sincere has abandoned his character since being exposed by Marc Mero last week. The Sultan could have made short work of him (whatever his name is) but a succession of lax covers and an abortive intereferance attempt by the Shiek gives Brandi the opening for an eventual roll-up and a pin. Marc Mero then runs in and deals his usual low-blow to the winner. Cut to commercial.
NOD comes to the ring again and we watch a montage of Steve Austins many transgressions against wrestlers, referees, officials,the owner and (according to Vince) fans of the WWF. Then we review Austin's forfeiture of the IC Title last week and the ensuing fracas (sort of) involving Austin and McMahon. We switch back to the ring as Maivia tells Austin his time is up. The TitanTron shows us Steve Austin outside on a bridge. He tosses some scuba equipment into the river, then a cell phone. Then he tosses the Intercontinental Title belt in there as well! Rocky and the NOD are outraged in the ring as we cut to commercial.
We get a review of the events before the break. Then we switch to an editorial by Vince. He tells us that the WWF ranges far away from simple Sports Entertainment into areas more familiar to the realm of sitcoms, soap operas and the like. This would seem to be an answer to WCW's use of the phrase "wrestling tradition". It also probably has something to do with the story that is set to appear soon in the Los Angeles Times taking the WWF to task for airing "mature themes" while advertising toys and other products aimed at children. Sometimes McMahon reminds me of Bill Gates - who recently responded to a Federal Judges Cease and Desist Order by saying, in effect, "go away boy, you bother me..."
Los Boring-guys come to the ring with Jose for his match against former "run-in fan" Steve Blackman. Blackman is built like a brick and displays a lot of Martial Arts skill but almost no ring savvy. He wins the match too quickly against a second generation veteran like Jose. Completely unbelievable...
D Generation-X rants against Owen Hart and then tells the Road Warriors to watch out. Cut to commercial.
DX enters the ring as we return. I have to turn my eyes from the screen because I find that quick-cut video thing they do is very annoying to watch.
LOD vs. DX - the Roadies are all over HBK during the opening moments. HHH tags in and fares a little better. Michaels comes back in and gets creamed again. Hunters second time in sees him beaten down as well. He turns the tables with Michaels' help and they start to doubleteam on Hawk. Hawk is slumping in the enemy's corner as we cut to commercial.
Michaels has Hawk in a front face-lock as we return. Hawk escapes and tags in Animal. Animal is cleaning house when the Tag Champs run in and attack Hawk on the outside. They push a liquid soaked cloth over Hawk's face and he eventually passes out. In the ring Animal has been overwhelmed by a three on one attack (including a crotch shot from Chynna). Hawk is dragged into the ring by the Tag Champs and they start shaving his head! Animal is quadruple-teamed into a powerbomb from the apron onto the broadcast table!! Billy drops a leg off the top on Hawk. Then Michaels drops an elbow off the top onto him from the adjoining corner. The Tag Champs leave the ring and we get a view of HBK grinning and contemplating the mayhem. Fade to black
Anyway, that's the way I see it...
editor Solie's Wrestling Newsletter
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