Saturday, May 18, 2024
EditorialRide With The Four Horsemen: Wrestling's Greatest Stable

Ride With The Four Horsemen: Wrestling’s Greatest Stable

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The history of professional wrestling is filled with the evolution of stables and factions. These infamous wrestling groups have been a
part of some of the most exciting and exhilarating performances of all
time.  Many have been illustrious and
some have been ultimate failures. But one stable continues to hold legendary
status even to this day and that group is the Four Horsemen.

Factions such as the NWO, Degeneration X, and Evolution,
would have never played a part if it weren’t for the Horsemen. The group had many
different versions, but the original compiled of Ole and Arn Anderson, Tully
Blanchard, and The Nature Boy Ric Flair with J.J Dillon as their manager,
dominated Jim Crockett Promotions and the NWA and created a buzz around every
arena across the world. 

The Horsemen were full of titles and accolades. The
Andersons were in tag team title contention, Tully was the National Champion,
and Ric Flair was the NWA World Champion.  Dusty Rhodes proved to be their biggest nemesis
during this era and left us with many memories. 
I am sure we all remember the famous incident when they followed Dusty’s
car and hired a camera man that filmed them breaking his arm with a baseball
bat. The classic storylines of wrestling history can still give us a thrill
when we look back and reminisce.

There were many variations of this group over the years, but
they still were upheld to a higher standard and considered themselves as the
crown jewel of any federation. There were many names like Lex Luger, Chris
Benoit, Brian Pillman, and Sting, just to name a few. What they created has
often been imitated, but will never be duplicated. They set the gold standard
for excellence in professional wrestling in terms of in-ring ability and in
promos, but the way that they lived the gimmick gave it an even greater
authenticity.

In today’s world of reality television and social media,
gimmicks present themselves inside the ring, but not beyond. The Undertaker is Mark
William Calaway and Bray Wyatt is Windham Lawrence Rotunda. However, within the
Horsemen stable they lived the lifestyle and played the part better than
expected.  They lived, ate and breathed
the Horseman way.

The whole concept of The Horsemen basically fell into the
lap of the NWA promotion. This group of heels and villains were constantly
involved in live matches together which showed off their charisma and in ring
savvy. In the same sense, it was the same concept of how teams like Tyson Kidd
and Cesaro were formed in today’s circuit. 
Even with the development of the new found camaraderie, they still
needed that added element to mesh. That element was JJ Dillon. The leader of
the original creation played a vital role in the success of the Four Horsemen
and their continued development.

The following,
courtesy of WGD Weekly, was JJ Dillon’s perspective of how and why the Four
Horsemen idea was created…..

How the idea for the
Four Horsemen first came about?

“…It wasn’t really an idea that had been laid out in
advance…Baby Doll was there with Tully and there was the deal where I
orchestrated the thing and got Tully away from Baby Doll…Dusty came to her
aid…and that’s how I’m with Tully. Flair was the World Champion, Ole and Arn
were the World Tag Team Champions, and Tully was the Television Champion, and
he was the only one I was managing…One of the weeks, I don’t know if it was
short on time or what,  somebody said,
‘You guys have all the belts, all of you go out together. Just tell everybody
where you’re going to be this week. That’s what happened. Flair went out with
the World Title over his shoulder, Ole and Arn went out with the tag belts,
Tully went out with his belt, and I went out because I managed Tully. As the
mike passed around, Arn Anderson took it and said, ‘You people at home take a
good hard look at your screen, we’re all champions. Never have so few wrecked
so much havoc on everyone,’ and he said, ‘you’d have to go back in the history
books to the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse,’ and he held up the four fingers.
It was just a statement that he threw out there. Then, the next thing you know,
when one of us went out there in the studio, it became an interactive thing,
holding up the four fingers…it was probably a couple of weeks before Jimmy
Crockett said, ‘what is this Four Horsemen thing I keep hearing about…'”

What made the
Horsemen such a special group?

“…I don’t think anyone could’ve ever imagined that it
would become as big as it became and last as long as it did. But what happened
was, it was a group of guys, who the chemistry was just there. Every night,
even though we weren’t always in the same match, actually, I think Arn in his
WWE Hall of Fame acceptance speech said, a guy would go out there and basically
throw down the gauntlet and challenge the rest of us to go out and top what
they had done. So, it was a friendly competition, and the ultimate winner was
the fan, because they knew when we were on the card, they were going to see our
best effort, every single night, in every town, no matter where it was or the
size if the crowd…”

What are the
differences in traveling and other aspects of the wrestling business in his
days on the road as opposed to today?

“…It was a different time in the business then.
Because, we didn’t fly around, we traveled. The guys had opposite dressing
rooms. The guys that we wrestled against, we had very little contact with, we
would rarely even see them. In the small towns, like Amarillo, if you would go
to a restaurant and see a guy who would be across the ring from you, you would
go somewhere else. It was just how it was in those days, and I think that has a
lot to do with why the fans had a lot more respect for us, because we commanded
that respect by not giving them any reason to disrespect us. In the middle of
the night on those long trips, we would pass each other, and here we would be
on a stretch of highway between Colorado Springs and Albuquerque in the middle
of the night. We would flash our lights to pull over, we’d get out and have a
beer together and a hug and nobody would ever know. But it was the camaraderie
driving in the car where more ideas were created that drew tremendous amounts
of money…It was the kind of things we did, like that, and we drew money, and
the business was fun…The trips were long, it was physically demanding…it was
just pride that the people in the business and gave up their bodies for it
had…”

What was it about Ric
Flair’s work ethic that earned him the respect of the fans?

“…Flair would give you the same effort if it was an
arena with a crowd the size of 25,000 people or if we went to somewhere where
the television show that week didn’t air because there was a problem and there were
only 500 people. You would think, here is a night where he is just going to go
through the motions, but that just was not Ric. He would give you the same
match and that is what the fans came to respect…”

This interview not only takes you inside the wrestling of
yesterday, but also gives you some interesting insight on what is was like to
be a Horseman.

In 2012, the legendary faction was enshrined in WWE’s Hall
of Fame, forever giving the Horsemen the storybook ending they deserved—the one
that their home promotion never gave them. It was the second induction for
Flair and the first for Anderson, Windham and Blanchard.  The ongoing tribute to wrestling’s greatest
stable will never die and continues be brought up in nothing but a positive
sense. The Four Horsemen embody professional wrestling and will forever symbolize
the true model of a wrestling Faction.

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