So as to not make this purely review after review after review, I’ve decided to diversify some of the content that I post up. Not only does it make it less boring for you, but also allows me to trawl through the vaults of video footage I have, looking for something that will also entertain me.
In this column, you will see a profile of the best stable in wrestling history, The Four Horseman, as the initial seeds of their formation were planted in the middle of the 80s. We’ll take a general look at the events leading up to the official formation of the Four Horsemen, as well as the prime years of the best version of the stable as they battled across the NWA to control all of the gold.
The events of this column took place in March and April of 1985.
A fairly recent addition to the roster of the NWA, Arn Anderson at this time was embroiled in a fierce feud with ‘The Raging Bull’ Manny Fernandez. Anderson’s vicious streak against another wrestler had led to Manny feeling the need to get involved, and Anderson’s subsequent attack on ‘The Bull’ meant that these men were destined to clash over the next few months.
Indeed, they clashed at least twice during the window of March and April, both matches seeing Anderson take to abusing Fernandez’ arm with pinpoint offense, whilst Manny powered up, feeding off of the intensity of the crowd. The first match saw Anderson win via DQ, Fernandez shoving the referee to the ground to allow himself to continue to try and re-arrange Anderson’s facial features. With nothing resolved, a re-match was clearly in the offing – one that would see the interjection of another key name in The Four Horseman saga.
A man who always confuses me as to how he could have ever been considered a heel, Ole Anderson was the one half of the NWA World Tag Team Champions with Thunderbolt Patterson as March 1985 rolled around. Things weren’t exactly rainbows and unicorns for the current champions however, as the first introduction to Ole on the set shows a confrontation during an interview conducted with both men – Patterson angered that Ole has been utilising some nefarious tactics, whilst Ole believes he has carried a list of babyfaces on his back for too long. Ole walks out, leaving Patterson with a threat about when they next see each other, an ominous peek into the potential future for Thunderbolt.
Ole’s words would be true, an early indicator of the trust with which the audience could take the promises of the Four Horsemen. In the re-match between Arn Anderson and Manny Fernandez, Ole first joined the commentary team, then the ringside, cheering on his ‘nephew’. His role in the finish was even more significant, showing the referee that Arn’s foot was underneath the rope after a flying double thrust seemed to have handed Manny the victory. A scuffle at ringside ensued, leaving Fernandez the de facto winner by DQ, yet laid out at the hands of the Andersons. Thunderbolt Patterson headed down to the ring, only for Arn to drag him into the ring and go toe-to-toe. To cement his heel turn, Ole joined in, a couple of stomps off the top rope (one to Thunderbolt, one to Manny after he threw his body onto Patterson) acting as a final nail in the babyface coffin.
The Andersons end the month looking at the potential of a family run at the NWA World Tag Team Titles when they are inevitably vacated.
Arguably the most easily unlikeable of the Four Horsemen, Tully Blanchard seems to go out of his way to prove it as the month of March and April fly by. His current feud is with the NWA TV Champion, big ‘ol Dusty Rhodes, the man who took the title off of Blanchard in the first place. Baby Doll is the additional spice to this feud, intimations made that Rhodes had physically abused Baby Doll at some point in the recent history of this feud never far from the surface.
Where Tully Blanchard has Baby Doll, Dusty Rhodes has Sam Houston, and it is two matches between Blanchard and Houston that stand out most across this window of time. Blanchard easily dispatches of Houston in the first match, one that seems primarily about giving Rhodes mic time to run down Blanchard and Baby Doll. The return match offers so much more and cements Blanchard as an utterly contemptible prick (a point of view that a music video of him parading around his mahogany-furnitured rooms and swilling whisky around a glass also didn’t help).
A hotter crowd are initially excited by Houston’s general fire against the ex-TV champion, as is Dusty, who inexplicably jumps into the ring to hug Houston after Blanchard bails to the floor. The match is short, the ending sweet – Blanchard grabs a youthful Houston and plants him viciously to the mat with a piledriver, Blanchard’s eyes never leaving Rhodes for a second. The match is called a DQ victory for Houston, but the crowd is silent (admittedly, a cheer is given when Houston’s hand is raised, but it quickly dies down). Knowing what he has done, Blanchard leaves the ring and ringside area with speed, Rhodes just missing him as the TV Champion hit the ring.
The current NWA World Champion, a belt he won off of Kerry Von Erich, has very little to do this month outside of standing around, looking good and being surrounded by women. There are worse jobs out there, I’m sure. He does take a moment in one promo to talk about his cousins, The Andersons, which is the one nod to the slow growth of this storyline.
All of Flair’s promos take on a similar tone – he champions the promotion, the belt, his potential opponents, himself. Flair is the master at putting things over, he makes everything sound so important, so necessary. When he tells the crowd ‘Ric Flair is forever’, you believe him. Whilst we don’t see Flair in the ring, and he namechecks a whole host of names up and down the NWA territories in his promos, two names seem to pop up more than most: Dusty Rhodes and Magnum TA. In the last promo of the month, Flair reminds us all that he has an open contract and is willing to face anyone, anywhere, with the belt on the line.
Next time, we shall look at the month of May in 1985. Will Tully win back the TV title? Who will take Ric Flair’s open contract for a chance at the NWA World Title? Will the Andersons become the new NWA World Tag Team Champions? All this and more next time as The Four Horsemen Ride.