Friday, December 17, 2010

Four Wooing Horsemen

The best version of the 4 Horsemen, IMO
Day 4 of the Wrestling Christmas and of course I couldn't ignore the 4 Horsemen.  Perhaps the best stable in the history of wrestling.

The version in the picture (courtesy of Pro Wrestling Illustrated) was in my opinion the best foursome.  Arn Anderson, Tully Blanchard, Barry Windham, and Ric Flair under the guidance of James J. Dillon.  It didn't get much better than that.

Anderson & Blanchard were the NWA tag team champions.  Windham was the U.S. champ, and of course Flair was the World champion.

Through the years we've gotten plenty of versions of the Horsemen, but Flair was always the staple.  Even when the WWE tried to reinvent the faction with Evolution, Flair was a big part of the group.



The original group, which formed in 1986 consisted of Flair, Blanchard, Anderson and his "cousin" Ole Anderson.  Dillon was the manager.  The concept was hardly new, having a stable of wrestlers.  But there was something different about the Horsemen.  I think it's the Flair factor.  The man was the best talker back then.  And he could back it up in the ring.

Of course all the other members contributed to the success of the group, but through the years, others would rotate in and out.  Ole Anderson was replaced with a younger, stronger Lex Luger.  He would eventually be replaced by a two timing Barry Windham.

For a time the Horsemen gimmick came to a halt, as many of the members, in fact all but Flair, had left for the WWF.  But in the world of wrestling, change is constant and Arn Anderson would eventually make his way back to Atlanta.

This time group reformed but as faces, and they added an up and comer named Sting to the group.  Ole Anderson was also invited back into the fold, but I think he mainly served as a manager, as Dillon was still working in the WWF's front office.  In true Horsemen fashion, they'd turn on the young, naive Sting and become the company's villains again.   Shortly after that Barry Windham left his Widowmaker gimmick in New York and came back to be a Horsemen.  The monsterous Sid Vicious was also a new member and Ole began fulltime management of the foursome.

Sid would leave about a year or so later for the WWF and Flair was soon to follow after his termination from WCW.  So that was the death of the Horsemen again.  But like a cat, the group seemed to have nine lives.  Or close to it.

When Flair returned to WCW in 1993, he got the "band back together" so to speak.  He and Arn Anderson and the unlikely third member, former WWF jobber to the stars Paul Roma.  Now it was just the 3 Horsemen.  I'm pretty sure this run was as faces too, as they feuded with the young cocky Hollywood Blonds (Steve Austin and Brian Pillman) who hazed Flair and Anderson about their age.

This formation didn't last long either though and Flair and Anderson eventually went back to their rule breaking ways and invited Brian Pillman and Chris Benoit into the group.  This was another good version of the Horsemen.  Youth, speed, agility, and experience melded well together here.

Dean Malenko, Curt Hennig, and my least favorite Horsemen of all time Steve "Mongo" McMichael would all become members at some point before the group finally disbanded.

Horsemen reunion for Flair's "retirement"
That was in 1999.  Then in 2008, something truly awesome happened.  My friend Chad and I had just witnessed Ric Flair's storied career come to an end.  We had planned to stay in Orlando on Monday (we had tickets to Universal Studios) but we had no plans to go to Monday Night Raw.

We had gotten back from a day at the park and Chad read online that the Horsemen (Tully, Arn, Barry, and JJ) were going to be at Raw for Flair's big send off.  We immediately decided to head to the arena and try to get tickets.

Not only did we get tickets, but we had awesome seats.  We were just off the floor and on the opposite side of the camera.  So if you own the Ric Flair Definitive DVD collection and you watch that retirement ceremony, you can see Chad and I in the crowd.

Anyway, I never had a chance to see the Horsemen wrestle live as a group, but seeing them in the ring and reuniting was the next best thing.  So here's a Woooo! and a "diamonds are forever and so are the 4 Horsemen" for you.

For those keeping score...
A Red Rooster in a Wrestling Ring
2 Turtle Jobbers
3 French Canadians
4 Wooing Horsemen

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