10 Thoughts on a Memory
The Final Reformation of The Four Horsemen
WCW Monday Nitro
We Want Flair, We Want Flair, We Want Flair!!!…
The fans were absolutely jacked, anticipating what they so crazily wanted. James J. Dillon, the legendary manager of The Four Horsemen and the innovator of the dreaded Loafer of Doom (TM), is silently walking to the ring. For months leading up to this moment, there had been speculation of the most impactful faction in the history of professional wrestling reuniting. Could this be it? First, a small bit of back story…
Early in 1998, Ric Flair had a decision to make. He could either go to his son Reid’s wrestling tournament in his hometown, or show up for a Thunder taping that he was not even going to be used on. He obviously chose the former, being a good father; he chose to go to his son’s tournament.
Eric Bischoff, the demon spawn of the ratings era and the fact that nobody (other than Tony Freakin’ Schiavone) was available to take over WCW in 1993, had been looking for a reason to fire Flair for years, feeling that his overblown guaranteed contract was not worth it anymore. He suspended Flair, much to the dismay of the paying customer who had tired of Bischoff’s love affair with Hulk Hogan and his nWo. This led to months of fans chanting for Flair and The Four Horsemen to come back and save them from the drudgery of WCW’s weekly television.
1. I remember watching this like it was yesterday. J.J. walking to the ring in the tux was just an ominous sign. You just KNEW something big was going on. See, back then, we did not have the IWC to tell us, or spoil the big moments in wrestling. Nowadays, we know what is going to happen before it even happens. You knew Brock was coming back the day after ‘Mania for instance. Back then, we had to make an educated guess as to what would transpire. There was no guessing here, as The Horsemen were back!! We Want Flair, We Want Flair…
2. Four Horsemen Theme Song – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jq_GDQj53IQ&feature=related
J.J. doesn’t waste any time, introducing The Enforcer, Arn Anderson! He puts up the familiar 4 fingered salute that we all knew and loved. My stomach was doing all sorts of flips and turns at this point. J.J. starts telling us of a private conversation he had with Arn, apologizing for not believing in him. You just knew that this was real. It is hard to distinguish in wrestling, but you knew this was real. We Want Flair, We Want Flair….
3. ” Tonight is a new beginning for The Four Horsemen!” With those words Arn put the whole wrestling world on notice. They were back, and it was just a matter of time before THE MAN came down!! We Want Flair, We Want Flair….(getting ever so louder with each moment)
4. Arn then introduces the other Horsemen. Steve “Mongo” McMicheal, Dean Malenko, and the man who shall not be named. And on that note, let us just pass this segment over because the man that was the best WRESTLER by god in the world and could have carried himself and others to super stardom, was a killer and a maniac. Of all the sad stories on wrestling over the years, yes, including Owen, this is by far the toughest pill to swallow for me. But the show must go on, so, We Want Flair, We Want Flair…
5. The crowd has to be mentioned here. They are completely ripped and jacked for ALL of this. The rabidity of their enthusiasm is a sight to behold. They even go so far as to INTERRUPT the man on the mic, Arn Anderson for what? You guessed it…We Want Flair, We Want Flair…
6. Arn begins the formal proceedings by addressing each Horsemen one by one. He starts with the man who shall not be named, which we skip. He then addresses Mongo McMichael, calling him a stubborn man who in time, with Arn’s help, will be as remembered in the ring as he was in the NFL! (…and HAHAHAHA!!) Dean Malenko is next and Arn credits him with being the man who while Arn was moaning and talking the last year, was out fighting the fights for the Horsemen. But alas this all pales in comparison to We Want Flair, We Want Flair…
7. The most poignant part of this segment is Arn stating “Be careful what you wish for. We don’t wear white hats and we’re not nice guys!” He says he can’t be responsible for what The Horsemen do. And then, the moment… Arn accuses himself of having a touch of Amnesia and forgetting the fourth Horsemen, RIC FLAIR!!!
8. Ric Flair Theme Song – Also Sprach Zarathustra – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tONxTs5CXg8
Can you feel it? The tingles going down my spine then and now are not for words. Flair comes out after a few seconds to a pop that must be heard to be believed. It really was a harkening back to the glory days of Jim Crockett’s NWA and the original Horsemen. The way they just absolutely blew the roof off the building in their heyday. He stops, stares at his legions of fans, tears in his eyes and throws up the four fingers. It was official now.
9. Hugs all around for each Horsemen darn near brings tears to my eyes at 32 years old. This was my childhood being relevant again. This was a moment not to be undermined by anyone, including Eric Bischoff. Whatever happened from here on out was just gravy, this was a moment that could never be taken from us, or from me. Ric thanks the fans and the fans thank him right back. Ric goes off on an unbelievable tirade on Eric Bischoff, blaming him for everything including ruining Arn Anderson’s legacy with the Curt Hennig heel turn and telling him to disband The Horsemen, that they were dead. Well, to quote Ric himself, “They are ALIVE and WELL and that is because this is REAL!!”
10. Bischoff, never one to stay away from the spotlight, saunters down to the ring to attempt to ruin this moment. Oh, but Flair had his number on this night. The minute Eric comes close to ringside, Flair tells him like it is, including telling him that he is an over bearing asshole and to “Fire me, I’m already fired!!! Fire me, I’m already fired!!!”
Part 1 – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P1Z2BQW-7iQ
Part 2 – Currently Unavailable Online – Pick up a copy of The Four Horsemen here : http://www.amazon.com/Ric-Flair-The-Four-Horsemen/dp/B000LC3III/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1341283967&sr=8-4&keywords=the+four+horsemen
The next couple months would prove very unfruitful for The Horsemen. Yes, Flair won over Bischoff at Starrcade, but that was about the only REAL victory that The Horsemen received over Bischoff’s treasured (and treading water) NWO. Mongo McMichael, as the story goes, would step into a strip club early in 1999 and never walk out to a ring again. Flair himself would get into a ridiculously contrived feud with Roddy Piper over the fake Presidency of WCW. The man who shall not be named and Dean Malenko would be branded “Vanilla Midgets” by Hulk Hogan and would leave for the greener pastures of Vince McMahon a year later.
And that, as they say, was that. One of, if not the greatest, moment in wrestling history was squandered. Two and a half years later and WCW would be out of business, sold to the Vince McMahon himself and the opportunities lost would be discussed in columns such as this for years to come.
Tags: 10 Thoughts, Other, Ric Flair, The Four Horsemen, Videos, WCW, WWE