The Four Horsemen Ride – Episode 2: Magnum T Aiming for the World Title?

I apologise for the awful pun.

As we enter the month of May, the world of the soon-to-be Horsemen picks up considerably, as titles are won and feuds simmer and boil over in blood and violence.

Ric Flair

Having spent the majority of his March and April parading around the Superstation looking cool, a more active month saw a clear challenger begin to rise as a prospective opponent for Ric Flair’s NWA World Title. A man who is a legitimate contender and a real threat to Flair’s championship reign: the US Champion, Magnum TA.

Their paths cross multiple times throughout the month of May, with several further opportunities for Ric Flair to show the TV audience his skills in the ring as he fought Rocky King and Sam Houston. You can see why Magnum TA was considered such a huge loss to the wrestling industry when he retired after the horrific car crash he was involved in, as he has ‘star’ written all over him. His mic time doesn’t exactly show us a wealth of talent in that area, but he is competent, and his looks and fire in the ring more than makes up for any percieved lack of ability. Most of Flair’s verbal barbs strike out at Magnum’s looks and clothes and it is an obvious difference to identify; Flair is the consumate rich snob, tailor-made suits and designer sunglasses. Magnum, the everyman wearing denim, is an easy fighter for the fans in attendance to get behind, and they do it in abundance.

Even better, as the month progresses, is that Flair seems content to bait and goad Magnum – at one point in the alteractations, offering Magnum out for a fight in the ring, only to leave the ring as soon as Magnum enters, above getting ‘down and dirty’ with the US Champion. Indeed, after several back and forths on the microphone, it is only after the Sam Houston match (a match that Ric Flair naturally wins) that we see the first physicality between the two, Magnum TA hitting the ring to stop Flair’s use of the figure four leglock after the match has finished. A shove, a push, some verbals; Flair is once again content to back off and leave Magnum standing tall in the ring. One can only imagine that it is a matter of time before these two meet in the ring, leaving Flair nowhere to run.

Tully Blanchard

Forty three days. That is all the time it took for Tully Blanchard to regain the NWA World Television Championship (renamed from the NWA Television Championship during Dusty’s reign). A match joined in progress saw Dusty hiptoss Blanchard into the referee, leaving Sunshine in an advantageous position to throw in an illegal object. One blow to the back of the head, and Tully regained his title.

Of the four, Tully thus far seems to be the hardest working week by week, and little changes during this time – unsurprisingly, considering his status as the TV Champion. Shortly after his title victory, he was already back in the ring to defend against Don Kernodle (a guy I don’t think I can take seriously as a face, though he does fire up well and have the crowd behind him throughout). If anything, Kernodle pushes Blanchard even closer than Rhodes did, a DQ ending which saw Sunshine push him off of the top rope the only thing that kept the belt around the waist of the champion.

Whilst there has been some small links between the Four Horsemen already, this is where issues begin to grow, develop and crossover. Not content to be at Flair’s heels, Magnum TA’s friendship with Dusty (a fact that Sunshine pointed out in the pre-match interview, warning Magnum about the company he keeps) sees Dusty and Magnum hit the ring to stop a post-match beatdown on Kernodle. Ever the opportunist, Blanchard strikes fast and gets out before the faces can get their hands on him, busting open Magnum in the process. Potentially, in lucking out against Kernodle, Blanchard had only gone and angered a much deadlier rival to his gold.

Not that the ex-champ was hanging around. One of the better moments of these few weeks saw Dusty Rhodes explain his desire for the title and his general good feeling about the condition he was in. Not content with just words, Dusty barrelled into the heel dressing room to back them up, pouncing on Tully and starting a multi-man melee, with heels and faces going at it over the top of a cowering Tully and a brutal Dusty.

Ole Anderson and Arn Anderson

A slower few weeks for the two guys – at least, as slow as a time when you win the NWA National Tag Team Championship from the team of Manny Fernandez and Thunderbolt Patterson. Unfortunately, it is a match I didn’t have access to, so was made aware by a gloating promo from the Andersons, content with the job they had done on Ole’s ex-partner.

We do see the tag champions in the ring, teaming with Bob Roop against the team of The Italian Stallion, Pez Whateley and Buzz Sawyer. A standard Anderson performance against a fairly random team, with some Roop goodness thrown in (though he does look old in comparison to the fresher and hungrier Andersons). The big issue with the finish to this match is Ole picking up the pin when he was the illegal man. It is a minor thing, but it works incredibly well at getting the Anderson’s over as a team who are generally better than most, but are also willing to bend any and all rules to win just to make sure.

As we head to the end of May, we begin to wonder who will be the first challengers for the Anderson’s titles, whether Dusty will retain the TV title from Tully Blanchard and if Magnum TA and Ric Flair will finally meet in the ring to settle who is the best wrestler in the company. Hopefully, these answers will be answered next time, along with many more. So long.

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