The SmarK DVD Rant for Ric Flair & The Four Horsemen

The SmarK DVD Rant for Ric Flair & The Four Horsemen

Well, you knew I’d be all over this one.

Disc One

– We start with Ric Flair and Arn Anderson recounting the Secret Origin of Arn Anderson, as Crockett brings AA in because of his resemblance to Ole Anderson. Funny to think of Arn as a young star. We get some great promo clips and guys like HHH and Steve Austin talk about how they perfected the art of working a body part.

– Onto Ric Flair and a highlight reel of promos (“These shoes cost more than your house!”), which already makes this one worth the $20.

– So Ric Flair is introduced as a cousin of the Andersons, and Tully Blanchard is a natural fit for 8-man tag matches. Shawn Michaels talks about how Tully’s cool heel act influenced him, which does make sense.

– The catalyst for the group proves to be Magnum TA (as we’re seeing right now in the World Championship Wrestling series on 24/7!) , as Flair and the Andersons attack him, with the goal of elevating Magnum to superhero status. This leads to Tully winning the US title with the help of an Anderson attack.

– We get a quick discussion of Flair’s NWA World title reign (“Back when the NWA title actually meant something,” notes JR. OUCH!) and how much of it was spent fighting Dusty. This leads to Flair defending the title against Nikita Koloff in a cage match, and then Dusty Rhodes saves Flair from a beating, but gets his leg broken by the Andersons for his troubles. Sadly, they omit Flair’s promo where he notes that he hates Russians, but hates Dusty even more. I kind of wish Arn would stop keeping kayfabe, however.

– In January of 1986, Tully fires Baby Doll and replaces her with JJ Dillon, and the various members talk about JJ’s positive influence on them.

– And then, while Arn was cutting a promo for a local market, history is made. Arn, Flair, Tully and Ole are doing a group interview to save time, and Arn improvises a line about them being more dangerous than the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, and flashes the four fingers for the first time. And suddenly it explodes and everything changes. The Horsemen were the first group to use a hand signal, which directly laid the foundation for the nWo and DX stuff later on.

– HHH has a good line here about the Horsemen being the violent, athletic version of corporate greed, which is why they got over so passionately with the fans. They represented everything that made the common fan angry at that point. Tully talks about how they were focused on protecting Flair above anything else, which is why there were the best gang of thugs in the business. This leads to the classic clip of Ricky Morton getting his face rubbed into the concrete, thus breaking his nose.

– Back to Dusty Rhodes, as we get a highlight reel of Dusty injuries via the Horsemen, and accompanying promos, and everyone talks about the Flair-Rhodes feud and all the reasons why it worked. Too bad the matches always sucked. Another classic clip, with the famous gonzo camera shoot of the Andersons beating up Dusty in the parking lot and breaking his arm with a baseball bat. Dusty yelling “Make it good!” before they do it kind of lessens the impact, but that’s part of the charm. I don’t know it “drew nothing but big money” as a result like Dusty and Flair claim here, but it did pretty good for them.

– The guys talk about the party lifestyle, complete with more promos on the subject (“And all the girls were screaming STOP! WE CAN’T TAKE ANY MORE!”). Tully notes that they’d tell the women at the shows what hotel they were staying at, and they’d all show up. Flair doesn’t want to take credit for leading the party, but he notes that he gets it anyway. Michael Hayes adds that midcarders used to suck up to them at parties so they’d get the overflow of women, and that generally worked.

– Arn explains the Ole turn in kayfabe, noting that he wanted to spend time watching his son wrestle, and didn’t give the Horsemen proper notice, thus getting him kicked out of the group, and he was replaced by Lex Luger. Arn notes that he knew nothing, but he had the look and thus they set about teaching him everything.

– More classic stuff, as Flair hits on Jimmy Garvin’s valet Precious and wins a match that gives him a night with Precious. Flair and Dillon of course decide to videotape it, but Precious turns out to be Ronnie Garvin in drag.

– War Games! The most violentest match ever devised sees the Four Horsemen taking on the Super Powers and Road Warriors, and it’s all awesome.

– With Ole gone, Tully Blanchard replaces him as Arn’s regular tag team partner, and Tully explains a bit of the thought process behind effective cheating. Arn adds that Tully was the speed and setup guy, and he was the guy who would come in and hit you in the crotch. Too funny. Wish they would have shown the match where they won the belts from the Rock N Roll Express, because that was great too.

– December 87: Luger gives his “I am an athlete” speech and indirectly challenges Ric Flair for the World title, thus getting him kicked out of the group. Jim Ross notes that Luger was supposed to be the next Hulk Hogan, and that just didn’t work. Flair says it was the promotion’s fault and not Luger’s, because they didn’t give him the chance to develop into what he needed to be before turning him.

– In one of the all-time great angles, Luger and longtime Horsemen enemy Barry Windham team up and win the tag titles from Tully & Arn, but Ric Flair lures Barry into the group and he turns on Luger. Suddenly Windham becomes a huge star and unexpectedly hits his stride as a heel. It’s no surprise that this group won all the titles and are featured on the cover of the DVD. Flair thinks this should have been the group that allowed them to beat Vince McMahon, but Jim Crockett just didn’t know how to market them.

– Arn talks about the politics backstage, although he stays in kayfabe while talking about the Midnight Express feud. Flair notes that the other Horsemen were getting screwed by Jim Crockett, money-wise, and as a result Tully and Arn drop the tag titles to the Midnight Express and leave for the WWF along with JJ Dillon. Tully’s account of quitting and dropping the belts is fascinating stuff. And that was the official end of the Four Horsemen in the 80s.

– Flair talks about the challenge of having a wrestling company suddenly being run by accountants. Flair calls Jim Herd an embarrassment to the wrestling business.

– Amazingly, they even discuss the Kendall Windham era of the Horsemen, which I thought they’d gloss over. They also mention that Kendall wasn’t the wrestler that Barry was (to say the least). Kendall is not officially recognized as a former member of the group generally speaking,and they don’t try to pretend that he was here, either.

– Things fall apart as Hiro Matsuda gets put into place as Flair & Windham’s new manager, and we get a run of people talking about what a stupid move that was. Barry Windham notes that was working in the office and even he didn’t know why it happened.

– So Flair loses the title to Ricky Steamboat and they have ***** matches every night, which results in Flair turning babyface and the Horsemen being forgotten.

– Later in 1989, Tully snorts some cocaine and fails a drug test, leaving him unable to jump back to WCW along with Arn Anderson. Flair and the Andersons reunite in December, and the company decides to add Sting to make it a babyface stable. They all note that without Tully, they couldn’t make it work.

– Sting wants a title shot and thus gets kicked out of the group, and they rearrange the lineup yet again, with Flair, Arn, Barry and Sid Vicious as the new group. They actually cover the Black Scorpion angle, as Flair notes that Ole Anderson was probably high when he thought of the storyline. As usual, Flair takes one for the team and wears the mask. The burial of Sid Vicious here is just awesome, as they call him embarrassing, inept, no talent, bad attitude, selfish and ridiculous. And that’s a shoot, brutha!

– Flair talking about quitting in 1991 is awesome, as he tells Jim Herd “The belt is mine, dipshit, YOU go f*ck yourself.” and leaves with the title. Barry Windham was a little miffed because he was next in line for the belt, but instead it turns up, along with Flair, on WWF TV. And that’s it for the Horsemen, again.

– We jump ahead to 1993 and the disaster that was the next Four Horsemen reunion. You had Flair, Arn, Ole…and Paul Roma? HHH’s reaction here is hilarious, and speaking of hilarious they cut in Paul Roma saying that Ric Flair wishes he could have been him. Then Roma starts cutting down the group and notes that he didn’t party like they did, and Anderson buries him in return in fine fashion.

– Moving onto the fight between Arn Anderson and Sid Vicious, which is why Flair is so hard on Sid. And thankfully that killed off the lameass Roma version of the team.

– Moving ahead two years, Ric Flair and Arn Anderson break up and have a match at Fall Brawl 95, as Arn’s new friend Brian Pillman backs him up and allows him to get the win. HHH notes that it was a neat idea, but no one bought it. Flair calls it “another bunch of bullshit”. So we get another one of the all-time great angles, as Flair recruits Sting to help him against Anderson & Pillman, and Sting proves himself to be the stupidest man in wrestling yet again, as the Horsemen are off and running again. Chris Benoit gets added as the fourth guy and everyone loves him.

– And then we get to Steve McMichael, who replaces Brian Pillman in 1996, and gets a pretty easy time of it from Flair here. Apparently his party skills overcame his lack of wrestling skills. Bischoff totally buries Debra here.

– Onto the next weak point, as Jeff Jarrett wants to be a Horsemen and beats Mongo to get into the group. Bischoff buries him, calling his outfit that of a male stripper, and hopes that no one will associate him with the group in the long term. Don’t worry, no one does.

– With the group falling apart again, Arn Anderson retires due to injury and gives his spot to Curt Hennig in one of the most famous interviews in wrestling history. If ever there would have been a perfect fit for the group, it was Hennig. Arn notes that it was poetic justice that Hennig turned to the nWo at Fall Brawl, because it had happened so many times to them, and it only made sense that it would be done to them. Bischoff still feels bad about the nWo parody. It wouldn’t have been so bad had the nWo not totally buried and destroyed the Horsemen in the blowoff match.

– Early in 1998, Flair no-shows a TV taping and gets taken off TV, and fans get really pissy as a result. JJ Dillon recounts the famous story about Bischoff calling a meeting and saying that Hogan and Piper are the only ones in the company to ever draw a dime and Flair was nothing. Bischoff says he felt perfectly justified and would do it again. Flair and Bischoff sue each other and fans chant “We want Flair” and embarrass the company. Even more so than usual.

– September 1998: Arn Anderson brings Flair and the Horsemen back in an awesome moment. Sadly, the followup couldn’t live up to the setup, as Flair launched into a silly feud with Bischoff and turned heel, and this time there would be no more reunions. Mongo went to a strip joint and disappeared from the face the earth, while Benoit and Malenko jumped to the WWF, and they finally let it die.

– We wrap things up with an overview of their influence on the business and some more classic clips.

Minor flaws like the lack of Ole Anderson interviews aside, this was easily the best and most comprehensive documentary piece that the WWE has ever done. Candid, honest (brutally so sometimes) and leaving nothing out and pulling no punches.

Extra interviews:

– Tully Blanchard tells a story about meeting a college kid who proudly shows him a Rolex watch that he bought because the Horsemen made him want one.

– JJ Dillon talks about getting surgery to fix his drooping eyelids, and then going on TV the next day and blaming his appearance on Dusty Rhodes.

– Dean Malenko tells a story about working for New Japan and meeting Arn there, getting a job with WCW as a result.

– Flair talks about his wildest night in the business, as he tells all the women in the arena where he was staying that night and all the women showing up as a result.

– The Dusty Rhodes parking lot attack video, in it’s entirety.

– Jim Ross talks about joining Jim Crockett Promotions as a result of Bill Watts getting bought out, and him getting taken under the wing of the Four Horsemen.

– Dean Malenko tells a story about seeing a fan in Chicago who was missing a thumb, giving him a chance to inadvertently rib Chris Benoit, who unknowingly flashes the fan a thumbs-up sign in response to the four fingers. Whoops.

– Barry Windham talks about Lex Luger and trying to train him in Florida, and getting stiffed as a result of a clumsy Luger, then needing to stick his fingers into a hole in his head to stop it from bleeding.

– THE FOUR HORSEMEN VITAMIN COMMERCIAL! Looks like a fake commercial from YouTube, but it was REAL. Flair has a laugh about it.

– JJ Dillon narrates a match against jobber Alan Martin that was leading up to the War Games in 1987, as the Horsemen beat up the poor jobber and Dillon uses all the Horsemen finishers to beat the guy. The point of it was to make the fans think that Dillon was going to be killed in the War Games, which he was.

– We finish with a montage of Four Horsemen group interviews. Arn Anderson’s “I could have beat him just by sending him a letter from across the dressing room” is a great line that someone needs to steal.

Onto the bonus matches and interviews on the second disc…

Disc Two

The DVD menu and DVD insert both list “Tully Blanchard” on the heel side for this match, but lo and behold, it’s Ole Anderson teaming with Flair and AA here. Creative control, gotta love it. I just did this one a few weeks ago on 24/7, so here it is again.

Ric Flair & The Andersons v. Rocky King, Pez Whatley & The Italian Stallion.

Whatley controls Arn with armdrags to start, and they all pinball Ole in the corner. Flair comes in and gets hiptossed into the corner. Backdrop out and it’s BONZO GONZO early on. The future Horsemen clean house and work Pez over in the corner. Over to the Stallion, and the Andersons go to work on the arm. Flair drops a knee for two. Ole uses a half-crab, with help from Flair, and the leg becomes the new target for them. Arn with a half-crab as well, and we take a break. Back with Rocky King taking the beating now from Flair, and they continue working the leg. Flair with a backbreaker for two. Whatley gets in again, the only hope of offense for his team, and it’s a Flair Flip as Pez goes after everyone. The faces clean house, but Flair hits Pez from behind with a double axehandle. They go back to working Rocky’s leg over, and finish with Arn’s gourdbuster into the figure-four.

NWA World title, cage match: Ric Flair v. Ricky Morton.

From July 1986, complete with Flair making his entrance by HELICOPTER, just because he can. Morton is wearing the face guard after getting brutally and awesomely attacked by the Four Horsemen. No commentary for this one, which is kind of nice sometimes. I’m frankly shocked they didn’t dub in Todd Grisham and the Coach or something so that Grish could be all “Uh, who were the Rock N Roll Express?” and stuff. Morton grabs a headlock to start and slugs out of Flair’s attempts to chop him in the corner. Flair grabs his own headlock, so Morton gets a measure of revenge by rubbing Flair’s face into the mat and then pounds away in the corner, leading to a Flair Flop. Backslide gets two and Flair does the bit with Tommy Young that HHH ripped off years later, which gives him time to regroup. Morton keeps firing away in the corner, trying to break Flair’s nose in retaliation, but it’s only a one hour time limit so we’d be here all day if he wanted to try that. Flair tries a cheapshot, so Morton fires right back at him and headbutts him with the mask in a nicely inspired bit of poetic justice. Flair yanks the mask off him, so Morton rolls him up for two and steals it back again, and Flair backs off.

Back to the headlock and he keeps adding shots to the nose (really, should a game of “Got your nose” be a spot in a serious cage match? YES!) so Flair finally has had enough and takes him down with a kneecrusher. Morton gets a bodypress for two, however, and Flair responds with a hiptoss, only to walk into a clothesline that get two for Ricky. Morton just won’t let the nose thing go, hammering away on Flair’s schnoz on the mat, but Flair’s nose proves to be Morton’s Great White Whale, as Morton misses an elbow and it’s time for everyone’s favorite part of the match: Ricky Morton Getting The Shit Kicked Out Of Him. Flair yanks off the mask and sends him into the cage, and the blood starts flowing! Flair wears the mask to add salt to the literal wounds, which leads to me think: I’d like to see someone actually pour salt into someone’s wounds in a wrestling match, just to hear Jim Ross calling it. BY GOD, HE’S LITERALLY POURING SALT INTO HIS WOUNDS! Anyway, Morton is getting beat up, so let’s get back to it. Flair gives him some cheese grater action on the cage, making sure to dedicate it to the women at ringside, and then finds another female fan and tosses Morton into the cage for her. What a gentleman. Kneedrop and he goes after Morton’s nose, and then starts throwing the chops. It’s great to listen to Flair’s smack talk without the commentary drowning it out.

Snapmare gets two, as does a backbreaker, and Flair punches him in the nose to set up a suplex, which has Tommy Young protesting “C’mon, champ, give him a chance!” But there’s no chance for Morton tonight, because it’s time for the figure-four! Sadly, Flair grabs the ropes and gets caught, but keeps hammering on Morton’s pretty face until Ricky fights back with a small package for two. Flair throws chops and Morton takes it LIKE A MAN, then fights back and sends Flair into the cage. To the top as Flair starts bleeding from the cheese grater spot (although you could see him blading on camera beforehand), and Morton no-sells an atomic drop and slugs Flair down. Back to the cage for Flair and Morton keeps going for the nose, then gets the sleeper. He releases and heads up to the top for a flying bodypress that gets two, and Flair tries to escape the cage, so they fight on top. Flair goes down and Morton follows with a fistdrop, and that gets two. Into the cage and Morton keeps going for the nose, and that sets up a missile dropkick for two. The ref is bumped on the kick out, and Flair drops Morton on his crotch to finish.

(Ric Flair d. Ricky Morton, low blow — pin, 23:11, ****) Some surprising intensity from Morton here, and as usual he works his ass off in a pretty cool and violent cage match. I don’t know why it was never released commercially, because it should have been.

World TV title, first blood: Dusty Rhodes v. Tully Blanchard.

Dusty, ever on the cutting edge of fashion, has shaved the sides of his head and written “Tully” in black marker on either side. Wonder who drew the short straw and got to do that for him? Hilarious bit to start as Dillon tries to give Tully a wrestling headpiece to wear (to prevent blood), but the ref won’t allow it. So he pulls out a tub of Vaseline and rubs some on Tully’s face, but again the ref won’t allow it. The presence of that tub actually becomes important later. So Dusty grabs Dillon, beats the crap out of him, and splits him open with an elbow to the head, thus establishing that if he does the same to Tully, he’ll win. Tully misses a blind charge right away, hurting his knee. Dusty does some strutting. Stall stall stall. Tully bails, more stalling. Dusty headbutts him and works the knee a little, then switches to a bionic elbow and goes back to the leg. Tully bails, more stalling. Back in, Tully tries the scratch-and-bite method of drawing blood, but Dusty comes back and nails him. Ref is bumped, and JJ’s LOAFER OF DEATH gets involved to no avail. Dusty hammers Tully until he bleeds, but no ref. Dillon (still himself a bloody mess) quickly wipes Tully down, uses Vasoline to stop the cut, and Tully uses a roll of coins to put the Dream down and out to win the TV title at 8:34, as he draws blood. Couldn’t they at LEAST have thought of a different foreign object instead of recycling the roll of coins? Maybe a minute of contact total in the entire match.

(Tully Blanchard d. Dusty Rhodes, draws blood, 8:34, DUD)

War Games 88: Ric Flair, Tully Blanchard, Arn Anderson, Barry Windham & JJ Dillon v. Dusty Rhodes, Steve Williams, Lex Luger, Nikita Koloff & Paul Ellering.

As usual, Dusty Rhodes starts out with Arn Anderson for the five minute opening period. No commentary here either. Slugfest to start and Dusty wins that, so Arn backs off into the other ring and forces Dusty to follow. He tries a sunset flip for no reason I can fathom, and Dusty elbows him to escape and gets his shitty DDT. Arn wisely kicks him in the knee to slow down the fireball of speed that is Dusty Rhodes, and goes to work on the leg, but Dusty (already managing to cut himself) catches him coming off the middle rope and gets his shitty figure-four. Seriously, Dusty has been a wrestler for HOW LONG and he still can’t figure four the proper way to apply the hold?

The heels SHOCKINGLY win the coin toss and Barry Windham is next in, and of course Dusty wants a piece of him. It’s elbows for everyone! Arn does his team proud and hits Dusty from behind, however, and the beating begins, as Barry claws him while Arn kicks him in the head and chokes him. Things look bad for Dusty, but the two minutes is up and Dr. Death saves the day. Double clothesline for the Horsemen and he chop blocks everything that moves, leaving Dusty to exact his revenge on Windham again. Barry is just bumping all over the place for him. Next in is Ric Flair., who jumps Williams and quickly regrets it, as Doc no-sells the chops, but can’t no-sell a shot to the junk. Arn and Barry go back to messing up the Dream, and Arn stops by to DDT Williams, trading off with Flair.

Lex Luger is next in for the faces, and anyone with blond hair is the target. Powerslam for Flair, and Windham, and he puts Flair in the rack, but Windham hits him in HIS rack. Hope there’s a testicular specialist on call tonight. Luger decides to no-sell, however, and hammers away on Flair in the corner, until Tully is the next guy in. He brings a chair with him and takes care of Luger in short order that way. The Horsemen dominate again, as Arn DDTs Luger the heels pound on the faces, but Nikita Koloff is in and he’s not taking any shit. Of course, this was skinny, crew-cutted Koloff, not the cool roided one, so the threat is not as scary at this point. He puts Flair in the figure-four, but gets jumped and the Horsemen take over again, until JJ Dillon is the last guy in for the Horsemen. He and Windham double-team Luger, and Dillon goes around the ring poking people in the eye and trying to be all bad-ass, while Dream makes his comeback by elbowing four people at once. Paul Ellering is the last guy into the match, and now it’s the Match Beyond portion. Dillon beats on Ellering in a ring by himself, but misses an ill-advised dropkick and Dusty puts him in the figure-four as a result.

(Rhodes/Luger/Koloff/Williams/Ellering d. The Four Horsemen, Dusty Rhodes figure-four — submission JJ Dillon, 20:59, ****) Typically good War Games match, but Steve Williams and an unmotivated Nikita Koloff were a pretty poor substitute for the Road Warriors. Too many slow spots here.

NWA World tag team titles: Tully Blanchard & Arn Anderson v. Sting & Nikita Koloff.

This was the opening match of Great American Bash 88. This was clipped pretty heavily in the home video version, so it’s nice to have the uncut version. I really, REALLY wish they’d put some shows from this era on 24/7 so I could have full versions of stuff like Bash 88 and Starrcade 88. Big brawl to start and Sting quickly cradles Tully for two out of that. Arn bails and Sting follows him with a tope con hilo, and back in Arn comes off the top and gets caught. Sting puts him in an armbar and Koloff trades off on that, but Arn pounds him in the corner to break. Koloff comes back with a Russian Sickle for both heels, and gets two on Arn as a result. Sting comes back in and goes back to the arm, but runs into a knee. Arn makes another ill-advised trip to the top, but outsmarts Sting and sucks him in for a sleeper. Sting powers out of that and goes back to the arm again. Tully comes in for a double-team, but Sting dropkicks both of them. Tully immediately gets taken down with an armdrag, and Nikita goes to the arm as well. They stay on it and Koloff runs Tully’s shoulder into the post, and we get a funny spot with Arn trying to tag Tully’s foot and protesting the legality of it. This gives the challengers a chance to switch off again. Tully tries to fight back on Koloff, but Nikita takes him down with an atomic drop and goes back to the arm. Nice sequence sees Nikita holding a hammerlock and holding on through a snapmare counter by Tully, but it also puts them in the heel corner and allows Tully to tag out. Nikita takes Arn down with a drop toehold and holds him on the mat with a half-nelson, but goes after JJ on the floor and clotheslines the post as a result. And now we go to school, as the champs pound the arm and Arn gets the hammerlock slam and goes to work. Hammerlock on the mat, but Koloff fights back, so Arn gives him a DDT for two. Tully comes in for a cross-armbreaker and standing armbar, but Koloff fights out and it’s hot tag Sting. Dropkick for Tully and press slam, and Arn gets bulldogged. Noggins are knocked, but Tully tags Arn in again, which allows Sting to put him in a sleeper with a minute left. Not MY strategy for a match with a minute left, but whatever. Tully tries a sunset flip to break, but Sting blocks and hammers away, and it’s BONZO GONZO with time running out. Stinger splash for Tully sets up the Scorpion Deathlock, but time expires.

(Sting & Nikita Koloff draw Tully Blanchard & Arn Anderson, 20:00, ***) Sting and Koloff rather presumptuously put the tag belts on before the decision is even announced. There’s confidence, and there’s being an asshole, guys.

NWA World tag team titles: Tully Blanchard & Arn Anderson v. Barry Windham & Lex Luger

Um, not sure why this one is sequenced after the Bash match, since it’s three months sooner. This is from Clash I, not the superior rematch where Barry turned on Luger (which would have made way more sense for a Horsemen-themed DVD set). Luger overpowers Tully to start, and clotheslines both champions. Powerslam for Tully and he racks him, but Arn kicks him in the knee and quickly goes to work on it. The Horsemen switch off on the knee, but Barry gets a quick tag and cleans house. Lariat for Tully and he drops the knee, and his own powerslam gets two. Sleeper and Tully rolls out to escape, but Barry just hangs on. Tully tries going up and gets slammed off, and Windham follows with an abdominal stretch, leaving him open for a DDT from AA. That gets two. The crowd is just insane for the faces, popping for everything. Spinebuster gets two and Arn does the knucklelock spot and lands on Windham’s knees, but brings Tully back in as he pounds away for two. Windham comes back with a bodypress for two and they collide, setting up the pinfall reversal spot. Windham reverses the bridge into a gutwrench suplex, but Anderson cuts off the tag and works on the arm. Windham fights out of it, but Arn takes him down again, and they butt heads. Back to Tully for the slingshot suplex, but that only gets two. Arn can’t cut off another tag, and Luger is HERE. Clotheslines for everyone and the crowd is just going crazy as Luger is no-selling everything. Tully trips him up, but Luger comes right back with a powerslam for Arn and it’s BONZO GONZO. JJ grabs a chair, but Luger rams Arn into it and the pop redefines the term “blowing the roof off the joint”.

(Barry Windham & Lex Luger d. Arn Anderson & Tully Blanchard, Luger pin Anderson, 9:34, ****1/4) Not only some of the loudest sustained heat for any match you’ll ever hear, but one of the fasted-paced tag team matches you’ll ever see, as they just packed everything but the kitchen sink into a 10-minute match and threw it all there.

Ric Flair v. Arn Anderson.

The resuscitation of the Horsemen was one of the few things WCW did right in 1995. This particular match came about because Flair was becoming more and more dependent on Anderson to help him win matches, and it came to a head as Vader beat of them in a handicap match at the Clash preceding this show, with Flair not pulling his weight. Anderson confronted him with years of pent-up frustration at never getting a shot at Flair’s title, and they decided to have this match to get it out of their system. This was such a great storyline. They play mind-games with each other to start, with Flair taking the
heel role. They exchange wristlocks, which is the worst thing you can do when wrestling Arn Anderson, because he immediately goes after Flair’s arm. Flair tries to take it to the mat but gets nowhere. Arn works the armbar, so Flair reacts the best way he knows — he chops him down. He attacks the knee, drawing a big pop. Arn gets a high knee off the second rope, then goes back to the arm. Tony and Bobby do a great job of selling the psychology and the history of the Anderson’s arm-breaking tactics. Arn actually pulls out a single-arm DDT, something he learned from Bobby Eaton. They exchange shots in the corner, and AA ends up on the floor. Flair comes off the top rope with a double-axehandle, then tosses Arn back in. AA comes back, but a low blow turns the tide. Back outside the ring, as Flair takes a backdrop on the floor, and retaliates with a suplex. Back in the ring for a delayed suplex and more chops, for a two count. Arn comes back and goes for the DDT, but Flair grabs the ropes to block. He flops for good measure. He goes to the top, but AA slams him off and goes for that dreaded move, the Double Axehandle Off the Second Rope That Has Never Hit a Single Person. Luckily for Ric, it misses. I get the feeling that Arn’s had that one saved up in him for so long that if he ever hit it, the poor recipient would be dead. Flair gets the figure-four, but Arn reverses. Flair escapes and tries agian, but gets cradled for two. Now Pillman jumps onto the ring apron and talks smack to Flair, so Flair smacks him. Pillman doesn’t appreciate that, and kicks Flair in the head, allowing Arn to DDT his best friend and pin him at 21:53 to the shock and/or delight of the crowd, depending on which 50% of the arena you asked at that moment. That should have effectively killed the Horsemen for good, but bigger schemes were in the works at Halloween Havoc that year… ****

– From November 85: Ric Flair cuts a promo on World Championship Wrestling and brings out US champion Tully Blanchard and the Andersons, which marks the first proto-Horsemen interview segment, although the official group wouldn’t form for a while after this. Dusty and Magnum head out to the ring and call out this un-named group of loosely affiliated heels, backed up by the Road Warriors, and you know that made for a hell of a house show main event somewhere.

– From July 86: Another group interview with the usual bravado.

– From August 86: A group interview with Ole guaranteeing the retirement of Dusty Rhodes by year’s end, and the group gives JJ an expensive ring as a gift to him. This one also has an Easter egg associated with it, because if you hit “left” twice while highlighting it you get an interview with JJ Dillon explaining the backstory of the ring.

– From December 86: The full interview that produced Dillon’s soundbite about the Four Horsemen being together being an event and a special occasion. Arn wants Nikita’s US title. Like anyone believed that would happen.

– From December 86: Arn still wants that US title and the Four Horsemen are forever.

– From Clash X in February 1990: Terry Funk interviews the Horsemen for the only really worthwhile bit in the whole show — Ole Anderson immediately fires Sting and informs him in no uncertain terms that he and Arn were brought back to the NWA specifically to make him Ric’s bitch, but because Sting saved Flair from Funk a few times his life was spared. But once he asked for that title shot, their generosity was used up and it was over for Sting. Ole offers one chance to live: Repent his sins and tell the promoters that he doesn’t want the match with Flair anymore. Sting gets in Ole’s face, tells him where to go, and the Horsemen do a 3-on-1 punking to go MEGA heel and completely destroy Sting. This was an AWESOME segment, perfectly setting up the WrestleWar 90 PPV.

– From Nitro, August 96: The Horsemen beat up The Booty Man and Arn cuts a promo about how they’re the original gang.

– From Nitro, December 98: Flair cuts a crazy promo on Eric Bischoff.

– From Nitro, September 98: The complete segment with Arn Anderson reintroducing the Four Horsemen in their final incarnation before they broke up for good.

– Finally, Arn Anderson’s pre-match promo from Fall Brawl 95.

The SmarK DVD Rant for Ric Flair & The Four Horsemen

The SmarK DVD Rant for Ric Flair & The Four Horsemen

Well, you knew I’d be all over this one.

Disc One

– We start with Ric Flair and Arn Anderson recounting the Secret Origin of Arn Anderson, as Crockett brings AA in because of his resemblance to Ole Anderson. Funny to think of Arn as a young star. We get some great promo clips and guys like HHH and Steve Austin talk about how they perfected the art of working a body part.

– Onto Ric Flair and a highlight reel of promos (“These shoes cost more than your house!”), which already makes this one worth the $20.

– So Ric Flair is introduced as a cousin of the Andersons, and Tully Blanchard is a natural fit for 8-man tag matches. Shawn Michaels talks about how Tully’s cool heel act influenced him, which does make sense.

– The catalyst for the group proves to be Magnum TA (as we’re seeing right now in the World Championship Wrestling series on 24/7!) , as Flair and the Andersons attack him, with the goal of elevating Magnum to superhero status. This leads to Tully winning the US title with the help of an Anderson attack.

– We get a quick discussion of Flair’s NWA World title reign (“Back when the NWA title actually meant something,” notes JR. OUCH!) and how much of it was spent fighting Dusty. This leads to Flair defending the title against Nikita Koloff in a cage match, and then Dusty Rhodes saves Flair from a beating, but gets his leg broken by the Andersons for his troubles. Sadly, they omit Flair’s promo where he notes that he hates Russians, but hates Dusty even more. I kind of wish Arn would stop keeping kayfabe, however.

– In January of 1986, Tully fires Baby Doll and replaces her with JJ Dillon, and the various members talk about JJ’s positive influence on them.

– And then, while Arn was cutting a promo for a local market, history is made. Arn, Flair, Tully and Ole are doing a group interview to save time, and Arn improvises a line about them being more dangerous than the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, and flashes the four fingers for the first time. And suddenly it explodes and everything changes. The Horsemen were the first group to use a hand signal, which directly laid the foundation for the nWo and DX stuff later on.

– HHH has a good line here about the Horsemen being the violent, athletic version of corporate greed, which is why they got over so passionately with the fans. They represented everything that made the common fan angry at that point. Tully talks about how they were focused on protecting Flair above anything else, which is why there were the best gang of thugs in the business. This leads to the classic clip of Ricky Morton getting his face rubbed into the concrete, thus breaking his nose.

– Back to Dusty Rhodes, as we get a highlight reel of Dusty injuries via the Horsemen, and accompanying promos, and everyone talks about the Flair-Rhodes feud and all the reasons why it worked. Too bad the matches always sucked. Another classic clip, with the famous gonzo camera shoot of the Andersons beating up Dusty in the parking lot and breaking his arm with a baseball bat. Dusty yelling “Make it good!” before they do it kind of lessens the impact, but that’s part of the charm. I don’t know it “drew nothing but big money” as a result like Dusty and Flair claim here, but it did pretty good for them.

– The guys talk about the party lifestyle, complete with more promos on the subject (“And all the girls were screaming STOP! WE CAN’T TAKE ANY MORE!”). Tully notes that they’d tell the women at the shows what hotel they were staying at, and they’d all show up. Flair doesn’t want to take credit for leading the party, but he notes that he gets it anyway. Michael Hayes adds that midcarders used to suck up to them at parties so they’d get the overflow of women, and that generally worked.

– Arn explains the Ole turn in kayfabe, noting that he wanted to spend time watching his son wrestle, and didn’t give the Horsemen proper notice, thus getting him kicked out of the group, and he was replaced by Lex Luger. Arn notes that he knew nothing, but he had the look and thus they set about teaching him everything.

– More classic stuff, as Flair hits on Jimmy Garvin’s valet Precious and wins a match that gives him a night with Precious. Flair and Dillon of course decide to videotape it, but Precious turns out to be Ronnie Garvin in drag.

– War Games! The most violentest match ever devised sees the Four Horsemen taking on the Super Powers and Road Warriors, and it’s all awesome.

– With Ole gone, Tully Blanchard replaces him as Arn’s regular tag team partner, and Tully explains a bit of the thought process behind effective cheating. Arn adds that Tully was the speed and setup guy, and he was the guy who would come in and hit you in the crotch. Too funny. Wish they would have shown the match where they won the belts from the Rock N Roll Express, because that was great too.

– December 87: Luger gives his “I am an athlete” speech and indirectly challenges Ric Flair for the World title, thus getting him kicked out of the group. Jim Ross notes that Luger was supposed to be the next Hulk Hogan, and that just didn’t work. Flair says it was the promotion’s fault and not Luger’s, because they didn’t give him the chance to develop into what he needed to be before turning him.

– In one of the all-time great angles, Luger and longtime Horsemen enemy Barry Windham team up and win the tag titles from Tully & Arn, but Ric Flair lures Barry into the group and he turns on Luger. Suddenly Windham becomes a huge star and unexpectedly hits his stride as a heel. It’s no surprise that this group won all the titles and are featured on the cover of the DVD. Flair thinks this should have been the group that allowed them to beat Vince McMahon, but Jim Crockett just didn’t know how to market them.

– Arn talks about the politics backstage, although he stays in kayfabe while talking about the Midnight Express feud. Flair notes that the other Horsemen were getting screwed by Jim Crockett, money-wise, and as a result Tully and Arn drop the tag titles to the Midnight Express and leave for the WWF along with JJ Dillon. Tully’s account of quitting and dropping the belts is fascinating stuff. And that was the official end of the Four Horsemen in the 80s.

– Flair talks about the challenge of having a wrestling company suddenly being run by accountants. Flair calls Jim Herd an embarrassment to the wrestling business.

– Amazingly, they even discuss the Kendall Windham era of the Horsemen, which I thought they’d gloss over. They also mention that Kendall wasn’t the wrestler that Barry was (to say the least). Kendall is not officially recognized as a former member of the group generally speaking,and they don’t try to pretend that he was here, either.

– Things fall apart as Hiro Matsuda gets put into place as Flair & Windham’s new manager, and we get a run of people talking about what a stupid move that was. Barry Windham notes that was working in the office and even he didn’t know why it happened.

– So Flair loses the title to Ricky Steamboat and they have ***** matches every night, which results in Flair turning babyface and the Horsemen being forgotten.

– Later in 1989, Tully snorts some cocaine and fails a drug test, leaving him unable to jump back to WCW along with Arn Anderson. Flair and the Andersons reunite in December, and the company decides to add Sting to make it a babyface stable. They all note that without Tully, they couldn’t make it work.

– Sting wants a title shot and thus gets kicked out of the group, and they rearrange the lineup yet again, with Flair, Arn, Barry and Sid Vicious as the new group. They actually cover the Black Scorpion angle, as Flair notes that Ole Anderson was probably high when he thought of the storyline. As usual, Flair takes one for the team and wears the mask. The burial of Sid Vicious here is just awesome, as they call him embarrassing, inept, no talent, bad attitude, selfish and ridiculous. And that’s a shoot, brutha!

– Flair talking about quitting in 1991 is awesome, as he tells Jim Herd “The belt is mine, dipshit, YOU go f*ck yourself.” and leaves with the title. Barry Windham was a little miffed because he was next in line for the belt, but instead it turns up, along with Flair, on WWF TV. And that’s it for the Horsemen, again.

– We jump ahead to 1993 and the disaster that was the next Four Horsemen reunion. You had Flair, Arn, Ole…and Paul Roma? HHH’s reaction here is hilarious, and speaking of hilarious they cut in Paul Roma saying that Ric Flair wishes he could have been him. Then Roma starts cutting down the group and notes that he didn’t party like they did, and Anderson buries him in return in fine fashion.

– Moving onto the fight between Arn Anderson and Sid Vicious, which is why Flair is so hard on Sid. And thankfully that killed off the lameass Roma version of the team.

– Moving ahead two years, Ric Flair and Arn Anderson break up and have a match at Fall Brawl 95, as Arn’s new friend Brian Pillman backs him up and allows him to get the win. HHH notes that it was a neat idea, but no one bought it. Flair calls it “another bunch of bullshit”. So we get another one of the all-time great angles, as Flair recruits Sting to help him against Anderson & Pillman, and Sting proves himself to be the stupidest man in wrestling yet again, as the Horsemen are off and running again. Chris Benoit gets added as the fourth guy and everyone loves him.

– And then we get to Steve McMichael, who replaces Brian Pillman in 1996, and gets a pretty easy time of it from Flair here. Apparently his party skills overcame his lack of wrestling skills. Bischoff totally buries Debra here.

– Onto the next weak point, as Jeff Jarrett wants to be a Horsemen and beats Mongo to get into the group. Bischoff buries him, calling his outfit that of a male stripper, and hopes that no one will associate him with the group in the long term. Don’t worry, no one does.

– With the group falling apart again, Arn Anderson retires due to injury and gives his spot to Curt Hennig in one of the most famous interviews in wrestling history. If ever there would have been a perfect fit for the group, it was Hennig. Arn notes that it was poetic justice that Hennig turned to the nWo at Fall Brawl, because it had happened so many times to them, and it only made sense that it would be done to them. Bischoff still feels bad about the nWo parody. It wouldn’t have been so bad had the nWo not totally buried and destroyed the Horsemen in the blowoff match.

– Early in 1998, Flair no-shows a TV taping and gets taken off TV, and fans get really pissy as a result. JJ Dillon recounts the famous story about Bischoff calling a meeting and saying that Hogan and Piper are the only ones in the company to ever draw a dime and Flair was nothing. Bischoff says he felt perfectly justified and would do it again. Flair and Bischoff sue each other and fans chant “We want Flair” and embarrass the company. Even more so than usual.

– September 1998: Arn Anderson brings Flair and the Horsemen back in an awesome moment. Sadly, the followup couldn’t live up to the setup, as Flair launched into a silly feud with Bischoff and turned heel, and this time there would be no more reunions. Mongo went to a strip joint and disappeared from the face the earth, while Benoit and Malenko jumped to the WWF, and they finally let it die.

– We wrap things up with an overview of their influence on the business and some more classic clips.

Minor flaws like the lack of Ole Anderson interviews aside, this was easily the best and most comprehensive documentary piece that the WWE has ever done. Candid, honest (brutally so sometimes) and leaving nothing out and pulling no punches.

Extra interviews:

– Tully Blanchard tells a story about meeting a college kid who proudly shows him a Rolex watch that he bought because the Horsemen made him want one.

– JJ Dillon talks about getting surgery to fix his drooping eyelids, and then going on TV the next day and blaming his appearance on Dusty Rhodes.

– Dean Malenko tells a story about working for New Japan and meeting Arn there, getting a job with WCW as a result.

– Flair talks about his wildest night in the business, as he tells all the women in the arena where he was staying that night and all the women showing up as a result.

– The Dusty Rhodes parking lot attack video, in it’s entirety.

– Jim Ross talks about joining Jim Crockett Promotions as a result of Bill Watts getting bought out, and him getting taken under the wing of the Four Horsemen.

– Dean Malenko tells a story about seeing a fan in Chicago who was missing a thumb, giving him a chance to inadvertently rib Chris Benoit, who unknowingly flashes the fan a thumbs-up sign in response to the four fingers. Whoops.

– Barry Windham talks about Lex Luger and trying to train him in Florida, and getting stiffed as a result of a clumsy Luger, then needing to stick his fingers into a hole in his head to stop it from bleeding.

– THE FOUR HORSEMEN VITAMIN COMMERCIAL! Looks like a fake commercial from YouTube, but it was REAL. Flair has a laugh about it.

– JJ Dillon narrates a match against jobber Alan Martin that was leading up to the War Games in 1987, as the Horsemen beat up the poor jobber and Dillon uses all the Horsemen finishers to beat the guy. The point of it was to make the fans think that Dillon was going to be killed in the War Games, which he was.

– We finish with a montage of Four Horsemen group interviews. Arn Anderson’s “I could have beat him just by sending him a letter from across the dressing room” is a great line that someone needs to steal.

Onto the bonus matches and interviews on the second disc…

Disc Two

The DVD menu and DVD insert both list “Tully Blanchard” on the heel side for this match, but lo and behold, it’s Ole Anderson teaming with Flair and AA here. Creative control, gotta love it. I just did this one a few weeks ago on 24/7, so here it is again.

Ric Flair & The Andersons v. Rocky King, Pez Whatley & The Italian Stallion.

Whatley controls Arn with armdrags to start, and they all pinball Ole in the corner. Flair comes in and gets hiptossed into the corner. Backdrop out and it’s BONZO GONZO early on. The future Horsemen clean house and work Pez over in the corner. Over to the Stallion, and the Andersons go to work on the arm. Flair drops a knee for two. Ole uses a half-crab, with help from Flair, and the leg becomes the new target for them. Arn with a half-crab as well, and we take a break. Back with Rocky King taking the beating now from Flair, and they continue working the leg. Flair with a backbreaker for two. Whatley gets in again, the only hope of offense for his team, and it’s a Flair Flip as Pez goes after everyone. The faces clean house, but Flair hits Pez from behind with a double axehandle. They go back to working Rocky’s leg over, and finish with Arn’s gourdbuster into the figure-four.

NWA World title, cage match: Ric Flair v. Ricky Morton.

From July 1986, complete with Flair making his entrance by HELICOPTER, just because he can. Morton is wearing the face guard after getting brutally and awesomely attacked by the Four Horsemen. No commentary for this one, which is kind of nice sometimes. I’m frankly shocked they didn’t dub in Todd Grisham and the Coach or something so that Grish could be all “Uh, who were the Rock N Roll Express?” and stuff. Morton grabs a headlock to start and slugs out of Flair’s attempts to chop him in the corner. Flair grabs his own headlock, so Morton gets a measure of revenge by rubbing Flair’s face into the mat and then pounds away in the corner, leading to a Flair Flop. Backslide gets two and Flair does the bit with Tommy Young that HHH ripped off years later, which gives him time to regroup. Morton keeps firing away in the corner, trying to break Flair’s nose in retaliation, but it’s only a one hour time limit so we’d be here all day if he wanted to try that. Flair tries a cheapshot, so Morton fires right back at him and headbutts him with the mask in a nicely inspired bit of poetic justice. Flair yanks the mask off him, so Morton rolls him up for two and steals it back again, and Flair backs off.

Back to the headlock and he keeps adding shots to the nose (really, should a game of “Got your nose” be a spot in a serious cage match? YES!) so Flair finally has had enough and takes him down with a kneecrusher. Morton gets a bodypress for two, however, and Flair responds with a hiptoss, only to walk into a clothesline that get two for Ricky. Morton just won’t let the nose thing go, hammering away on Flair’s schnoz on the mat, but Flair’s nose proves to be Morton’s Great White Whale, as Morton misses an elbow and it’s time for everyone’s favorite part of the match: Ricky Morton Getting The Shit Kicked Out Of Him. Flair yanks off the mask and sends him into the cage, and the blood starts flowing! Flair wears the mask to add salt to the literal wounds, which leads to me think: I’d like to see someone actually pour salt into someone’s wounds in a wrestling match, just to hear Jim Ross calling it. BY GOD, HE’S LITERALLY POURING SALT INTO HIS WOUNDS! Anyway, Morton is getting beat up, so let’s get back to it. Flair gives him some cheese grater action on the cage, making sure to dedicate it to the women at ringside, and then finds another female fan and tosses Morton into the cage for her. What a gentleman. Kneedrop and he goes after Morton’s nose, and then starts throwing the chops. It’s great to listen to Flair’s smack talk without the commentary drowning it out.

Snapmare gets two, as does a backbreaker, and Flair punches him in the nose to set up a suplex, which has Tommy Young protesting “C’mon, champ, give him a chance!” But there’s no chance for Morton tonight, because it’s time for the figure-four! Sadly, Flair grabs the ropes and gets caught, but keeps hammering on Morton’s pretty face until Ricky fights back with a small package for two. Flair throws chops and Morton takes it LIKE A MAN, then fights back and sends Flair into the cage. To the top as Flair starts bleeding from the cheese grater spot (although you could see him blading on camera beforehand), and Morton no-sells an atomic drop and slugs Flair down. Back to the cage for Flair and Morton keeps going for the nose, then gets the sleeper. He releases and heads up to the top for a flying bodypress that gets two, and Flair tries to escape the cage, so they fight on top. Flair goes down and Morton follows with a fistdrop, and that gets two. Into the cage and Morton keeps going for the nose, and that sets up a missile dropkick for two. The ref is bumped on the kick out, and Flair drops Morton on his crotch to finish.

(Ric Flair d. Ricky Morton, low blow — pin, 23:11, ****) Some surprising intensity from Morton here, and as usual he works his ass off in a pretty cool and violent cage match. I don’t know why it was never released commercially, because it should have been.

World TV title, first blood: Dusty Rhodes v. Tully Blanchard.

Dusty, ever on the cutting edge of fashion, has shaved the sides of his head and written “Tully” in black marker on either side. Wonder who drew the short straw and got to do that for him? Hilarious bit to start as Dillon tries to give Tully a wrestling headpiece to wear (to prevent blood), but the ref won’t allow it. So he pulls out a tub of Vaseline and rubs some on Tully’s face, but again the ref won’t allow it. The presence of that tub actually becomes important later. So Dusty grabs Dillon, beats the crap out of him, and splits him open with an elbow to the head, thus establishing that if he does the same to Tully, he’ll win. Tully misses a blind charge right away, hurting his knee. Dusty does some strutting. Stall stall stall. Tully bails, more stalling. Dusty headbutts him and works the knee a little, then switches to a bionic elbow and goes back to the leg. Tully bails, more stalling. Back in, Tully tries the scratch-and-bite method of drawing blood, but Dusty comes back and nails him. Ref is bumped, and JJ’s LOAFER OF DEATH gets involved to no avail. Dusty hammers Tully until he bleeds, but no ref. Dillon (still himself a bloody mess) quickly wipes Tully down, uses Vasoline to stop the cut, and Tully uses a roll of coins to put the Dream down and out to win the TV title at 8:34, as he draws blood. Couldn’t they at LEAST have thought of a different foreign object instead of recycling the roll of coins? Maybe a minute of contact total in the entire match.

(Tully Blanchard d. Dusty Rhodes, draws blood, 8:34, DUD)

War Games 88: Ric Flair, Tully Blanchard, Arn Anderson, Barry Windham & JJ Dillon v. Dusty Rhodes, Steve Williams, Lex Luger, Nikita Koloff & Paul Ellering.

As usual, Dusty Rhodes starts out with Arn Anderson for the five minute opening period. No commentary here either. Slugfest to start and Dusty wins that, so Arn backs off into the other ring and forces Dusty to follow. He tries a sunset flip for no reason I can fathom, and Dusty elbows him to escape and gets his shitty DDT. Arn wisely kicks him in the knee to slow down the fireball of speed that is Dusty Rhodes, and goes to work on the leg, but Dusty (already managing to cut himself) catches him coming off the middle rope and gets his shitty figure-four. Seriously, Dusty has been a wrestler for HOW LONG and he still can’t figure four the proper way to apply the hold?

The heels SHOCKINGLY win the coin toss and Barry Windham is next in, and of course Dusty wants a piece of him. It’s elbows for everyone! Arn does his team proud and hits Dusty from behind, however, and the beating begins, as Barry claws him while Arn kicks him in the head and chokes him. Things look bad for Dusty, but the two minutes is up and Dr. Death saves the day. Double clothesline for the Horsemen and he chop blocks everything that moves, leaving Dusty to exact his revenge on Windham again. Barry is just bumping all over the place for him. Next in is Ric Flair., who jumps Williams and quickly regrets it, as Doc no-sells the chops, but can’t no-sell a shot to the junk. Arn and Barry go back to messing up the Dream, and Arn stops by to DDT Williams, trading off with Flair.

Lex Luger is next in for the faces, and anyone with blond hair is the target. Powerslam for Flair, and Windham, and he puts Flair in the rack, but Windham hits him in HIS rack. Hope there’s a testicular specialist on call tonight. Luger decides to no-sell, however, and hammers away on Flair in the corner, until Tully is the next guy in. He brings a chair with him and takes care of Luger in short order that way. The Horsemen dominate again, as Arn DDTs Luger the heels pound on the faces, but Nikita Koloff is in and he’s not taking any shit. Of course, this was skinny, crew-cutted Koloff, not the cool roided one, so the threat is not as scary at this point. He puts Flair in the figure-four, but gets jumped and the Horsemen take over again, until JJ Dillon is the last guy in for the Horsemen. He and Windham double-team Luger, and Dillon goes around the ring poking people in the eye and trying to be all bad-ass, while Dream makes his comeback by elbowing four people at once. Paul Ellering is the last guy into the match, and now it’s the Match Beyond portion. Dillon beats on Ellering in a ring by himself, but misses an ill-advised dropkick and Dusty puts him in the figure-four as a result.

(Rhodes/Luger/Koloff/Williams/Ellering d. The Four Horsemen, Dusty Rhodes figure-four — submission JJ Dillon, 20:59, ****) Typically good War Games match, but Steve Williams and an unmotivated Nikita Koloff were a pretty poor substitute for the Road Warriors. Too many slow spots here.

NWA World tag team titles: Tully Blanchard & Arn Anderson v. Sting & Nikita Koloff.

This was the opening match of Great American Bash 88. This was clipped pretty heavily in the home video version, so it’s nice to have the uncut version. I really, REALLY wish they’d put some shows from this era on 24/7 so I could have full versions of stuff like Bash 88 and Starrcade 88. Big brawl to start and Sting quickly cradles Tully for two out of that. Arn bails and Sting follows him with a tope con hilo, and back in Arn comes off the top and gets caught. Sting puts him in an armbar and Koloff trades off on that, but Arn pounds him in the corner to break. Koloff comes back with a Russian Sickle for both heels, and gets two on Arn as a result. Sting comes back in and goes back to the arm, but runs into a knee. Arn makes another ill-advised trip to the top, but outsmarts Sting and sucks him in for a sleeper. Sting powers out of that and goes back to the arm again. Tully comes in for a double-team, but Sting dropkicks both of them. Tully immediately gets taken down with an armdrag, and Nikita goes to the arm as well. They stay on it and Koloff runs Tully’s shoulder into the post, and we get a funny spot with Arn trying to tag Tully’s foot and protesting the legality of it. This gives the challengers a chance to switch off again. Tully tries to fight back on Koloff, but Nikita takes him down with an atomic drop and goes back to the arm. Nice sequence sees Nikita holding a hammerlock and holding on through a snapmare counter by Tully, but it also puts them in the heel corner and allows Tully to tag out. Nikita takes Arn down with a drop toehold and holds him on the mat with a half-nelson, but goes after JJ on the floor and clotheslines the post as a result. And now we go to school, as the champs pound the arm and Arn gets the hammerlock slam and goes to work. Hammerlock on the mat, but Koloff fights back, so Arn gives him a DDT for two. Tully comes in for a cross-armbreaker and standing armbar, but Koloff fights out and it’s hot tag Sting. Dropkick for Tully and press slam, and Arn gets bulldogged. Noggins are knocked, but Tully tags Arn in again, which allows Sting to put him in a sleeper with a minute left. Not MY strategy for a match with a minute left, but whatever. Tully tries a sunset flip to break, but Sting blocks and hammers away, and it’s BONZO GONZO with time running out. Stinger splash for Tully sets up the Scorpion Deathlock, but time expires.

(Sting & Nikita Koloff draw Tully Blanchard & Arn Anderson, 20:00, ***) Sting and Koloff rather presumptuously put the tag belts on before the decision is even announced. There’s confidence, and there’s being an asshole, guys.

NWA World tag team titles: Tully Blanchard & Arn Anderson v. Barry Windham & Lex Luger

Um, not sure why this one is sequenced after the Bash match, since it’s three months sooner. This is from Clash I, not the superior rematch where Barry turned on Luger (which would have made way more sense for a Horsemen-themed DVD set). Luger overpowers Tully to start, and clotheslines both champions. Powerslam for Tully and he racks him, but Arn kicks him in the knee and quickly goes to work on it. The Horsemen switch off on the knee, but Barry gets a quick tag and cleans house. Lariat for Tully and he drops the knee, and his own powerslam gets two. Sleeper and Tully rolls out to escape, but Barry just hangs on. Tully tries going up and gets slammed off, and Windham follows with an abdominal stretch, leaving him open for a DDT from AA. That gets two. The crowd is just insane for the faces, popping for everything. Spinebuster gets two and Arn does the knucklelock spot and lands on Windham’s knees, but brings Tully back in as he pounds away for two. Windham comes back with a bodypress for two and they collide, setting up the pinfall reversal spot. Windham reverses the bridge into a gutwrench suplex, but Anderson cuts off the tag and works on the arm. Windham fights out of it, but Arn takes him down again, and they butt heads. Back to Tully for the slingshot suplex, but that only gets two. Arn can’t cut off another tag, and Luger is HERE. Clotheslines for everyone and the crowd is just going crazy as Luger is no-selling everything. Tully trips him up, but Luger comes right back with a powerslam for Arn and it’s BONZO GONZO. JJ grabs a chair, but Luger rams Arn into it and the pop redefines the term “blowing the roof off the joint”.

(Barry Windham & Lex Luger d. Arn Anderson & Tully Blanchard, Luger pin Anderson, 9:34, ****1/4) Not only some of the loudest sustained heat for any match you’ll ever hear, but one of the fasted-paced tag team matches you’ll ever see, as they just packed everything but the kitchen sink into a 10-minute match and threw it all there.

Ric Flair v. Arn Anderson.

The resuscitation of the Horsemen was one of the few things WCW did right in 1995. This particular match came about because Flair was becoming more and more dependent on Anderson to help him win matches, and it came to a head as Vader beat of them in a handicap match at the Clash preceding this show, with Flair not pulling his weight. Anderson confronted him with years of pent-up frustration at never getting a shot at Flair’s title, and they decided to have this match to get it out of their system. This was such a great storyline. They play mind-games with each other to start, with Flair taking the
heel role. They exchange wristlocks, which is the worst thing you can do when wrestling Arn Anderson, because he immediately goes after Flair’s arm. Flair tries to take it to the mat but gets nowhere. Arn works the armbar, so Flair reacts the best way he knows — he chops him down. He attacks the knee, drawing a big pop. Arn gets a high knee off the second rope, then goes back to the arm. Tony and Bobby do a great job of selling the psychology and the history of the Anderson’s arm-breaking tactics. Arn actually pulls out a single-arm DDT, something he learned from Bobby Eaton. They exchange shots in the corner, and AA ends up on the floor. Flair comes off the top rope with a double-axehandle, then tosses Arn back in. AA comes back, but a low blow turns the tide. Back outside the ring, as Flair takes a backdrop on the floor, and retaliates with a suplex. Back in the ring for a delayed suplex and more chops, for a two count. Arn comes back and goes for the DDT, but Flair grabs the ropes to block. He flops for good measure. He goes to the top, but AA slams him off and goes for that dreaded move, the Double Axehandle Off the Second Rope That Has Never Hit a Single Person. Luckily for Ric, it misses. I get the feeling that Arn’s had that one saved up in him for so long that if he ever hit it, the poor recipient would be dead. Flair gets the figure-four, but Arn reverses. Flair escapes and tries agian, but gets cradled for two. Now Pillman jumps onto the ring apron and talks smack to Flair, so Flair smacks him. Pillman doesn’t appreciate that, and kicks Flair in the head, allowing Arn to DDT his best friend and pin him at 21:53 to the shock and/or delight of the crowd, depending on which 50% of the arena you asked at that moment. That should have effectively killed the Horsemen for good, but bigger schemes were in the works at Halloween Havoc that year… ****

– From November 85: Ric Flair cuts a promo on World Championship Wrestling and brings out US champion Tully Blanchard and the Andersons, which marks the first proto-Horsemen interview segment, although the official group wouldn’t form for a while after this. Dusty and Magnum head out to the ring and call out this un-named group of loosely affiliated heels, backed up by the Road Warriors, and you know that made for a hell of a house show main event somewhere.

– From July 86: Another group interview with the usual bravado.

– From August 86: A group interview with Ole guaranteeing the retirement of Dusty Rhodes by year’s end, and the group gives JJ an expensive ring as a gift to him. This one also has an Easter egg associated with it, because if you hit “left” twice while highlighting it you get an interview with JJ Dillon explaining the backstory of the ring.

– From December 86: The full interview that produced Dillon’s soundbite about the Four Horsemen being together being an event and a special occasion. Arn wants Nikita’s US title. Like anyone believed that would happen.

– From December 86: Arn still wants that US title and the Four Horsemen are forever.

– From Clash X in February 1990: Terry Funk interviews the Horsemen for the only really worthwhile bit in the whole show — Ole Anderson immediately fires Sting and informs him in no uncertain terms that he and Arn were brought back to the NWA specifically to make him Ric’s bitch, but because Sting saved Flair from Funk a few times his life was spared. But once he asked for that title shot, their generosity was used up and it was over for Sting. Ole offers one chance to live: Repent his sins and tell the promoters that he doesn’t want the match with Flair anymore. Sting gets in Ole’s face, tells him where to go, and the Horsemen do a 3-on-1 punking to go MEGA heel and completely destroy Sting. This was an AWESOME segment, perfectly setting up the WrestleWar 90 PPV.

– From Nitro, August 96: The Horsemen beat up The Booty Man and Arn cuts a promo about how they’re the original gang.

– From Nitro, December 98: Flair cuts a crazy promo on Eric Bischoff.

– From Nitro, September 98: The complete segment with Arn Anderson reintroducing the Four Horsemen in their final incarnation before they broke up for good.

– Finally, Arn Anderson’s pre-match promo from Fall Brawl 95.

The Inside Pulse
Overall, this disc could have been SO much more. Whereas the documentary portion was phenomenal, the bonus match portion felt like it was put together by an accountant, consisting of stuff that wasn’t really notable but was put here because it didn’t overlap with previous releases. I mean, Dusty Rhodes v. Tully Blanchard is hardly a vital part of the Horsemen legacy, and while Flair v. Morton was a great match it doesn’t really serve any purpose. We’ve gone over the “should have beens” a million times already leading up to this release so there’s no real point in rehashing what should have been on there, but suffice it to say there’s a LOT they could have used instead of what they did. Still, there’s enough **** matches on here to make it an easy recommendation, and I’m sure we’ll get the Ultimate 4 disc edition or something like it in the future so they cash in on the name again.

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