When you say the words “Four Horsemen”, most wrestling fans tend to get a bit nostalgic, waxing for the good old days of a time when Ric Flair and his cronies ran roughshod over the old Crockett territory. While they weren’t the first group of wrestlers to watch out for each other (there had been wrestling stables years and years before them), one could argue that they were among the most influential. Even good ol’ JR would tell you that without the Horsemen, there would be no nWo or D-X.
Truly, the original unit of Flair, Tully Blanchard, and Arn and Ole Anderson were the stuff of legend. Flair’s interviews at the time of the first incarnation of the group were, I would say, the best mic work until the heyday of Steve Austin and the Rock. The in-ring combination of Arn and Tully provided fans with one of the best tag teams of the modern era. And as much as I don’t personally care for Ole Anderson, he was perfect as the grizzled, grumpy old veteran cornerstone of the group. Add in JJ Dillon as their manager, and it was truly a magical time. Heck, even when Ole was dropped and Lex Luger was added (and Barry Windham following Luger’s face turn), it seemed the Horsemen could do no wrong.
Well, except for…
The Saga of Precious
So Flair is feuding with “Gorgeous” Jimmy Garvin, and being the Nature Boy, decides to starts making goo-goo eyes towards Garvin’s valet, Precious, she being a woman and all, and that being fair game for another ride on Space Mountain. Whoo. Boy, that just doesn’t have quite the same impact in print as it does when Flair audibilizes it.
Anyway, all of this leads up to a match between the two with the stip that if Flair wins, he gets a date with Precious (a stip which would be replayed in an even worse angle, if you can believe that, with DDP, Kimberly, and Evad Sullivan – man I need to recap that soon). Much to the dismay of Precious, Flair wins, and is going bonkers thinking about what he and Patti are going to do on their date. When I say bonkers, I mean, “making out with mannequins wearing blonde wigs” bonkers.
So the big day arrives, and Flair is at his penthouse suite waiting for Precious to show with JJ. Dillon asks if he can stay and watch, and Flair says, “No prob, just hide in the closet!”
Maybe it’s just me, but I’ve never wanted to watch any of my friends banging a chick. That seems kinda gay to me.
Anyway, Precious shows up, Flair goes up behind her and starts giving her a massage. She repays this gesture with a gesture of her own: a KO punch right to the jaw. For you see, it wasn’t actually Precious, but rather Jimmy’s brother Ronnie…in drag.
Flair would also wind up losing his title to Garvin in a match that the Horsemen would like to forget. In fact, the fans hated it too, viewing Garvin as anything but a legitimate champion, one who would soon enough drop the belt right back to the Nature Boy.
But even during their run at the top of the wrestling world, the Horsemen also had stupid stuff going on outside the ring. Such as…
Four Horsemen Vitamins – And CHEWABLE WAFERS!
No, that’s not some lame Photoshop job; Jim Crockett, in his infinite wisdom, decided for whatever reason to market Four Horsemen vitamins. Please do not ask why, with freakish physical specimens such as the Road Warriors on his roster, he felt the best way to sell these supplements was to tie them in with his top HEEL group. Don’t know. Just know that yes, Virginia, there were in fact Four Horsemen vitamins, complete with a goofy commercial that proclaimed how these pills would give you “endurance beyond the ordinary!” Not only that, but in addition to the standard caplets, you could also get Four Horsemen CHEWABLE WAFERS. I don’t know about you, but I like my vitamins chewable, like the Flintstones crap I used to gulp down like M&M’s as a kid. Heck, if they tasted like Fred & Barney, I’d probably down so many that I’d wind up looking like Lex Luger myself.
Of course, the real problems with the group didn’t come from silly skits or stupid product tie-ins (that was just something I’ve been wanting to mock for years and needed an excuse to do it). No, when things really started to fall apart was when the group itself did, and the promotion decided to continue on as if nothing happened. Soon enough, Tully and Arn left for the WWF, with Dillon following shortly therefter. Those of you with a math degree might be able to figure out that with half the group now working elsewhere, there were 1/2 as many Horsemen as before. Yet instead of renaming the group the TWO Horsemen, the promotion continued to promote them as a foursome. It’s probably best not to ask. Just know that in short order we would get…
Kendall Windham: HORSEMAN!
At the time of the soon to be renamed Brainbusters’ departure, Barry’s younger brother Kendall had begun competing for the promotion. Though green, Kendall looked EXACTLY like Barry…if Barry had frizzy blonde hair, was about two inches shorter, and 150 pounds lighter. No joke, the guy looked like a pipe cleaner in human form. And he wasn’t much in the ring. Heck, even Barry admits as much on the DVD.
That would have been bad enough, but soon enough, JJ also headed north for an office position, leaving the Horsemen without a manager. No problem; just get them a new manager, right? Like maybe Jim Cornette? Nah, scratch that – how about we get a guy who can’t speak English? Better yet, let’s just sell the entire group to the land of the Rising Sun:
Japan Buys The Horsemen
Oh yes – the Horsemen were actually bought out for a period by the YAMASAKI CORPORATION. And the very capable mic work of JJ Dillon would soon be replaced by Hiro Matsuda, who didn’t speak a lick of English. Why this was done, I cannot say. I can only theorize that perhaps Jim Herd, in charge of WCW at the time, had just seen Gung Ho and thought a wrestling equivalent would be keen.
Sadly, Long Duk Dong Did Not Buy Out the Horsemen
At this point, the Horsemen were in a complete shambles, and the incidents following this era, including the infamous Black Scorpion and Paul Roma: Horseman, have been well documented on this here site in the past. So let’s fast forward a bit, to the mid 1990’s when WCW had decided to once again bring the Horsemen name out of the mothballs, this time with the group consisting of such talents as Chris Benoit and Brian Pillman. So far, so good, right? Well, things would soon derail again as we got…
Steve McMichael: HORSEMAN!
It seemed at times, WCW was not so much concerned about who was in the Horsemen, but rather just wanted to make sure that the group consisted of four men. While you could make a strong argument that Paul Roma was the biggest disappointment as a debuting Horseman, I would argue that Steve McMichael was a gazillion times worse. Roma was a huge flop due to the fact that he a) spent the majority of his career as a WWF jobber and b) was the first real outsider to join up. Even with those strikes against him, I’d rate him a better pick than McMichael because hey…at least the poor guy could wrestle.
Check and mate.
The Death of the Horsemen
Even though I’ve written an entire book on the subject, it still completely boggles my mind the utter foolishness that permeated WCW during its dying days. The company seemingly had golden opportunity after golden opportunity handed to them on a silver platter, only to piss every single one of them away. And perhaps none was as perfect as what ultimately lead to the Horsemen being sent to the glue factory once and for all.
In the middle of 1998, Ric Flair was legitimately suspended from the company, due to an incident in which he was taking his son to a wrestling tournament. Flair claimed that he had given WCW plenty of notice, and therefore was justified to miss a date, in this instance a taping of Thunder. Eric Bischoff, at the time in charge of WCW, has stated that Flair had not, in fact, cleared the absence. It all lead to a gigantic pissing match that saw lawsuits flying. And of course, all that matterd to the fans in the stands was that there was no Ric Flair on WCW TV.
And WCW TV was where he was sorely needed; the nWo had been running roughshod for nearly two years, and was in dire need of a new foe to battle, a strong force that fans would buy into as a legitimate threat to end their reign of terror. So when Flair made his return and joined back up with the Horsemen on September 14 to one of the loudest ovations you will ever hear, it seemed as if everything was in place for a feud that would carry the company for a long, long time. The nWo versus the Horsemen, the hottest stable in wrestling versus the original bad boys of the squared circle, was too perfect a situation for even WCW to botch.
But, of course, they did, with the Horsemen soon enough doing opening matches that meant nothing.
The group would flounder until 2000, when both Benoit and Dean Malenko would get the hell out of Dodge and head for WWE. The Horsemen were well and truly dead.
If you are interested in learning more about the Horsemen, allow me to suggest that you pick up WWE’s new Horsemen DVD.
Trust me, it’s well worth the price, if for no other reason to see Paul Roma, on a WWE DVD release in TWO-THOUSAND-SEVEN, claim that Ric Flair was jealous of him.
That’s just good stuff.
Announcer explains how you too can have “endurance beyond the normal” via chewable wafers!