Inducted by LWO4Life
I’ve heard many old school wrestlers talk about how great the territories were. And well I grew up in a WWF dominated world, I can see why it was a great system. Having one large company for the last 21 years has damaged the wrestling world beyond repair. Of all the examples to this argument, I give you Arn Anderson. Arn Anderson was one of the greatest wrestlers both in-ring, and on the mic. But what Arn had was something that wouldn’t sell in the larger than life WWF. Though he did have a good run in the Fed, it wouldn’t be nearly to the level as Jim Crockett Promotions. But why? What is that makes Arn so great, yet his run in WWF was not as good as it could have been.
When looking at the history of wrestling, the territory system allowed wrestlers to find not only their voice, but in many cases, their audience. Case in point, well the team of the Minnesota Wrecking Crew, Lars and Gene Anderson made their home in Minnesota, they also were very popular in southern territories. It was in the no-nonsense Mid-West that they developed their gimmicks. That no-nonsense attitude translated well to the Southern promotions who valued realism and in-ring work. While the Northeastern territories valued larger than life gimmicks and the Westcoast loved ethnic wrestlers, which in many cases crossed with each other, the South wasn’t sold on attractions. They wanted good guys, bad guys, and some violence.
What does this have to do with Arn, well everything. Arn Anderson was born Martin Lunde in Georgia and started his career going by the name Super Olympia. But his big break came when he was asked to play the Anderson brother’s nephew. Lars had retired by now, and Gene was stepping aside. They had already introduced a younger “brother” Ole to fill in for Lars. But with Ole also getting older, and taking more office responsibility in George Championship Wrestling, they needed another, younger, Anderson. Thinking people wouldn’t believe 4th Anderson’s brother, Arn was introduced as a nephew. The pairing of Arn and Ole was perfect. Ole had years of experience, and Arn was a young prodigy ready to soak in all the information. Learning from Gene and Ole, Arn picked up the business quickly. And the thing Arn had that couldn’t be taught, he was real. His promos were real, his ring work was real, he was a big athlete so it was believable that he’d beat everyone. Arn was truly, the Enforcer.
Calling his time with Ole as the single greatest learning experience, Arn started to find his own voice. Because of time and budget limitations, Jim Crockett Promotions would often have multiple wrestlers cut a promo at the same time. One day, Ric Flair, Tully Blanchard, and the Andersons were all out doing a group promo. It was Arn who said, “We are the Four Horsemen of professional wrestling.” And just like that a brand-new stable was born. But not just any stable, but the greatest wrestling faction of all time. Without Arn, we’d never have the Horsemen. Arn had been well on his way to being the Enforcer, but now he has something to enforce.
The Horsemen Years
To be honest, you can make a huge deep dive into Arn’s work in the Horsemen. From coming up with the name, to being the prototype Horseman, Arn drew the blue print for the “heavy,” which other wrestlers would follow. You see, factions had always existed, like the Legion of Doom with the Road Warriors and Jake Roberts, or the original Midnight Express pre-Jim Cornette, but the Horsemen changed just how a faction would operate. We’d never seen the NWA World champion as part of a group. But now Ric Flair had people to back him up. It was perfect.
They always say the money is in the chase, well now you had a whole group which a babyface wrestler needed to fight through. Like a great movie, you just don’t go straight to the boss, you have to handle all the other people beforehand. And Arn was that guy. Luca to Flair’s Godfather. Arn would lead the sneak attacks on would be challengers, and when those babyfaces got back up, Arn, Ole, and Tully were there to have Flair’s back. Eventually Ole would phase himself out, but rather than add another Anderson, Tully took over as Arn’s partner. This made for the Horsemen adding different young single wrestlers to their ranks, like Lex Luger, but none better than Barry Windham. With that said, Arn was viewed Flair’s second.
I cannot believe it didn’t go better, but then again there is nothing flashy about Arn Anderson. Sure, Tully could wear the suits and do flashy, but not Arn. So when in WWF, Arn and Tully took on more of Arn’s personality. The team was renamed the Brain Busters, and they were paired with Bobby Heenan. Arn has said that while him and Tully didn’t need a mouthpiece, you can’t turn down the greatest manager of all time. So it looked like the Brain Busters should have torn down the house. The problem I’d say is they were something that WWF needed, but because WWF needed it, you noticed they were different. And different usually makes you stand out, but in this case it was not a great thing.
What WWF needed was realism. They lacked it. You had Snakes, Birds, Rockers, Demolition with the face paint, and then two guys in jackets who were only there to wrestle. Just like I mentioned with territories, territories help you find your voice, and your audience. The WWF was not that audience. The wind breaker jackets were very similar to the jobber jackets that the Saturday enhancement talent wore. While hardcore fans knew who they were, most WWF fans just didn’t get too invested, outside of Bobby Heenan managing. Well, once Tully tested positive for cocaine, and Arn was looking for a lighter schedule due to starting a family, the Brain Busters’ run would come to an end. More could have been done, as once Tully got an opportunity to wear suits, and Arn got more opportunities to speak, maybe they could have evolved, but sadly it was never meant to be.
Arn returned to Jim Crockett Promotions during a time of great change. Turner Broadcasting had bought JCP and officially named it World Championship Wrestling, or WCW. The name World Championship Wrestling had existed for JCP for some time, but now it’s going by WCW. Arn’s role in WCW was obvious at first, rejoin the Horsemen, and be Flair’s number 2. This time adding Sting to the Horsemen, eventually the Horsemen would turn on Sting, and set up a great Sting vs. Flair match, and Arn would be there every step of the way to get in-between Sting and Flair. It’s a formula that worked for years and years down the road. Sting was the chasing babyface, and Arn was there with a changing cast of Horsemen to assist Flair. There was a time when Flair did leave to WWF, and Arn joined Paul E. Dangerously’s Dangerous Alliance. He often teamed with Larry Zybasko, but really once Flair returned, Arn and Flair put the band back together, only this time with younger pieces.
By 1995, Arn’s career was starting to wind down. Though he wasn’t old, his body was starting to fail him. A nagging neck injury caused him great pain and it was very dangerous for him to continue wrestling. Adding Chris Benoit and Brian Pillman to the Horsemen gave that storyline much needed fresh air, and it allowed Arn to take the mentor role, which he seemed to easily glide right into. Once Hulk Hogan turned heel, Arn was again pushed to the front of WCW’s roster, as him and Flair represented the Horsemen with old rivals Sting and Lex Luger against the nWo in War Games. Arn no-nonsense personality made it very believable that he was the old warrior, coming back to fight off the invading army. You believed every world that came out his mouth as he talked about respect. Sadly though, he’d have to take a managerial role, as shortly before the next War Games, Arn’s neck was too damaged to continue. Arn’s retirement was used to further the angle of the Horsemen vs. the nWo. Arn would slide into a back stage role
Arn was the last of the old school in many respects. He was a great tag team wrestler who could easily slide to the singles role, upper mid-carder, main event. He was a true wrestler and utility player. Like a great baseball player who can go anywhere on the field and play, Arn was reliable. Jim Cornette once said you can draw a million dollars with Sid in one night, but Arn you can draw steady money for 20 years. We often overlook these performers. But we shouldn’t. Because of just how good Arn was, he was able to stay in the thick of the greatest storylines in wrestling history. From the Horsemen, to the nWo, Arn was there. And it was no accident. Because of his realness, he was at first the perfect “cool heel” for the Southern fans to cheer, and then later he was the perfect old warrior to defend WCW’s honor. Without Arn, we’d have no Horsemen, and the nWo story would not have been as good. And it’s because you believed in Arn.
- 2-time NWA Television Champion
- 3-time NWA World Tag Team Champion
- 2-time WCW Television Champion
- 3-time WCW World Tag Team Champion
- 2012 WWE Hall of Fame Inductee w. The Four Horsemen
- 1991 PWI Tag Team of the Year w. Larry Zbysko
- 1989 PWI Tag Team of the Year w. Tully Blanchard
Lords of Pain.net/Wrestling Headlines.com welcomes Arn Anderson into the Hall of Fame class of 2022.
Related Links:Arn Anderson Calls Danielson vs. Page The Best Match He’s Seen In 25 Years
LOP 2013 Hall of Fame Inductees: The Four Horsemen
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