Happy WrestleMania Day! Here’s some fodder for the blog!
As some of you may know I am a big fan of the Four Horsemen.
Ric Flair, Ole Anderson, Tully Blanchard, Lex Luger, Barry Windham, Sting, Sid,
Brian Pillman, Steve McMichael, Chris Benoit, Jeff Jarrett, Dean Malenko, and
even Paul Roma have been members of the Four Horsemen. However, the consummate
member has always been Arn Anderson.
Whether he was tagging with Ole, Tully, or Roma or as a
singles competitor winning the WCW World Television title on multiple occasions
Arn represented the backbone of the group. No matter if the Horsemen group was
a heel faction in their original days within Jim Crockett Promotions or a
babyface group in 1993 or 1997-98 Arn stood by his “best friend” Ric Flair
along with the other Horsemen.
My biggest question comes from the very real and actual
retirement of Arn Anderson which occurred live on WCW Monday Nitro back on August
25, 1997. On that night a completely non-promoted segment involving the
Horsemen played out in the middle of the ring as Anderson gave an extremely
touching monologue announcing his exit from the squared circle:
“Well, Gene, all
I can tell ya’, to get a response like this makes what I got to say tonight
mean that much more. Ya’ see, I’m a realist. As everybody knows, I’ve got
average size and speed and average ability. But I’ve parlayed that into what I
would call a very successful career. And I did that on sheer will alone. But
another reality is four months ago they took four vertebrae out of my neck.
Consequently, I’m left with a hand, my left hand, too weak to hold a glass, too
weak to button a button.
But I thought in my mind, I knew in my mind I could overcome
that too through sheer will. And I was doing just like that. I think I’ve come
back a long way. But the other day I had something happen in the gym that was
like a cold slap in the face of reality. A guy about your size Gene came up and
he slapped me on the back and he said, ‘Double A, where ya’ been? We hadn’t
seen you on TV.’ And just that slap sent a jolt through me and I dropped the
water I was drinkin’ and just for a second my system shut down. And it became
crystal clear as I watched the few little drops of water draining out of that
bottle the symbolism that was involved. It was like someone had turned an
hourglass over and the sand was runnin’ out on the career of Arn Anderson.
Now the fact of the matter is not only do I put myself in a
suicide situation by trying to wrestle again, I endanger these two men’s
careers and I respect them too much for that. And rather than being anything
other than the Enforcer in my best friend’s eyes, I’d rather walk away. And for
all of you people out there that have ever bought a ticket to see Arn Anderson
wrestle, whether ya’ love me or you hated me, you know that when that bell rang
you got all I had that night. Whether I won, whether I lost, I gave you everything
I had. And you knew that. And when you did this to me (the four fingers
extended) that was your acknowledgement.
Well, the fact is I got nothing left to give. And I want you
to remember me as I was, not as I am. But being the man that I am, my last act formally as a
Horseman, I got one last challenge. And that is to you, Curt Hennig. And don’t
misunderstand me. It’s not for a fight. You got something special. I’ve seen
you in this ring. Your skills, your maturity, your commitment to excellence make
you something special. And what my challenge is to you, Curt, is stand beside
my best friend, Ric Flair, and lead these two men back to the glory and the
prominence that the Four Horsemen once had. And I’m going to tell you what your
prize is. It’s not a spot in the Horsemen. This is worth a lot more than that
to me. I’m going to give you the only thing I got left. Not a spot. I’ll give
you my spot.” (Credit: http://www.ddtdigest.com/updates/19970825.htm
Of course Arn would stand up as the team player and not only
retire but also hand over the reins as a Horseman to Curt Henning. This moment
was extremely emotional and moving to me that even after 15 years I cannot
With that being said on the following Nitro (9/1/97) that
stood unopposed on its second anniversary due to the USA Network’s coverage of
the US Open tennis tournament a parody of Arn’s retirement played out in the
middle of the ring by members of the nWo. While Buff Bagwell and Konnan’s
imitations of Hennig and Mongo respectively were somewhat funny the imitations
of Flair and especially Arn by Syxx and Kevin Nash were egregious and
The nWo took a very real and very emotional moment in
professional wrestling history and completely shat all over it. In a subsequent
interview regarding the Four Horsemen Eric Bischoff regrets mocking Arn’s
retirement realizing after the fact that Arn truly retired and became a legend
to millions of pro wrestling fans. Today Arn is a producer for WWE mentoring
the young talent that plies its craft on RAW and Smackdown. If I was amongst
said talent I would completely absorb every drop of praise and criticism from
Double A at every turn. His words mean something special in this business.
You can view Arn’s retirement speech here
Alternatively you can view the nWo parody here
So the great debate is: Did Arn Anderson’s retirement deserve
to be parodied and converted into a wrestling angle to further the nWo’s
dominance in 1997? Or was it a total disgrace to wrestling fans worldwide? You’ve
heard my opinion. Now you decide!
Stay tuned to more Rock Star Gary reviews in the coming weeks!
Be sure to visit http://www.rockstargary.com to check out more info on me!