Sunday, August 30, 2015

Andersons Don't Wear Fedoras

by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

Arn Anderson (1985)
As you might have already guessed, I'm a huge fan of the Anderson family in wrestling as is demonstrated by the large number of posts on the Mid-Atlantic Gateway related to them. There is also this little book project titled "Minnesota Wrecking Crew" which details the entire Anderson story. (If you haven't picked up your copy, you should!)

So it was with great pleasure that I and some friends had the chance to visit recently with the legendary Arn Anderson. We chatted about a few bits of Anderson trivia that I had not known before.


BECOMING A MEMBER 
OF THE ANDERSON FAMILY

One of the things that interested me was how Martin Lunde became an Anderson to begin with. I had always assumed, as I suppose did the rest of the world, that Ole had given him the name when the team of Arn Anderson and Matt Borne, managed by Paul Ellering, debuted in Georgia Championship Wrestling in April of 1983. At that point, Arn was billed as the nephew of Ole Anderson. He had an uncanny likeness to Ole and so the whole story was immediately and easily accepted by fans.

Arn had grown up in Rome, GA as a fan of Gene and Ole Anderson, and even remembered watching as a young child in the 1960s when the original version of the Anderson Brothers, Gene and Lars, battled the Torres brothers over the Southern tag team championship.

So when I asked Arn about the origin of his membership in the Anderson family, I expected the answer to be tied to Ole. But Arn was quiet for a moment and took on a very reflective tone.

"You know, it's funny how one brief moment can change your entire life," he said. "I was working under my real name for Bill Watts (in 1983) and he had this meeting with the talent, and he told the group he needed someone to go with Matt Borne to Georgia as a tag team to be managed by Paul Ellering." Arn shifted in his chair as he spoke. "Junkyard Dog was sitting over in the corner; he had never spoken five words to me while I was there. He pointed at me from across the room and said, 'Lunde's ready, send him. He looks like Ole Anderson anyway. Make him an Anderson.'"

"That's how it happened," Arn said. "In that one brief moment, my whole life changed, although I didn't really know it yet."

Arn had written in his book about JYD's suggestion that Arn be the one to go with Matt Borne to Georgia, but until now, it had not been known that JYD also suggested he be an Anderson.

When Arn arrived in Atlanta in April of 1983 and had his first meeting with Georgia booker Ole Anderson, Ole reluctantly agreed with JYD's earlier assessment.

"Ole just looked at me and said, 'Well I have to admit it, you do look like me.'"

So Ole made Arn his nephew, although he was later billed as both a brother and a cousin.

The rest, as they say, is history.



TONY SCHIAVONE & THE FIRST FOUR HORSEMEN PROMO

The origin of the "Four Horsemen" name in wrestling has always been attributed to Arn Anderson, but how it actually came about has frequently been misrepresented.

In a late-fall 1985 promotional interview, Arn said these words:

"Not since the four horsemen of the apocalypse have so few wreaked so much havoc on so many."

One of the common stories was that Arn said this at the end of a WTBS broadcast when he and partner Ole Anderson were in the same interview segment as Ric Flair and Tully Blanchard with his manager James J. Dillon.

But it didn't happen there, and in fact no promo has ever surfaced on all the WWE documentaries about the Four Horsemen where that original phrase was uttered. The WWE owns the Crockett video tape library, so if it was said on WTBS, they would have it.


The original Four Horsemen: Ole Anderson, Tully Blanchard, manager J.J. Dillon, Arn Anderson, and Ric Flair

I have long thought that Arn made that fortunate reference to the biblical Four Horsemen in a local promotional spot, and not within the main body of one of their national or syndicated broadcasts. And during our conversation, Arn confirmed that.

"Yes, it was on a local promo," Arn said. "And in fact, I just said it off the cuff, not really intending to be coming up with a name for us or anything like that. It was Tony Schiavone who actually validated the whole thing. He looked at me after the promo was over and said, 'I think you just named yourself.' And that led to us starting to refer to ourselves as the Four Horsemen."

And again - - the rest, as they say, is history.



THE FEDORA

When Arn arrived in Georgia in 1983 and began his tag team with Matt Borne, he began to wear a fedora to the ring. It was a trademark he kept through his time in Georgia, and later in Southeastern Wrestling in Alabama, and on through his early days for Jim Crockett Promotions.

I asked Arn about the origin of the fedora.

"That was all Matt Borne," he said. "He wore it when he was part of the "Rat Pack" in Mid-South Wrestling teaming with Ted DiBiase. I liked it and so we started wearing them as a team." Their manager, Paul Ellering, would occasionally wear one, too.

Right away, Ole didn't like it.

"What the hell are you wearing?" Ole asked Arn.

"It's a fedora," Arn replied.

"Well I hate it," Ole shot back.

"Ole just shook his head and walked away," Arn told me. "I'm not sure I completely fit the Anderson mold yet."

When Matt Borne was fired from the Georgia promotion a few months later, Arn also lost his spot with the company. Bob Armstrong was leaving the territory too, headed to work for the Pensacola, FL booking office known as Southeastern Championship Wrestling. Bob got Arn booked there and the fedora went with him.

Arn formed a very successful tag team with Jerry Stubbs. Stubbs wore a mask working as "Mr. Olympia" and Arn came in also under a mask as "Super Olympia." Eventually they both worked without their masks and held the Southeastern tag team championships many times. Just as Matt Borne had passed on the fedora tradition to Arn, Arn now passed it on to Stubbs, and the two wore the trademark hats during their championship run there.


Southeastern Tag Team Champions Jerry Stubbs and Arn Anderson in 1984

When Arn went to work for Jim Crockett Promotions in the spring of 1985, he occasionally wore the fedora there, too. This time, when paired with Ole Anderson as the new Minnesota Wrecking Crew, Ole put his foot down.

"Ole told me, 'Andersons don't wear fedoras.' And that was that."

Ole made Arn ditch the fedora (although it popped up a time or two after that) and order the trademark maroon and gold striped boots that had been worn by Andersons going back to 1966 when Gene and Lars first wore them in Georgia. Those boots became the Anderson trademark, and had been worn by Gene and Ole ever since. While Arn didn't wear them all the time, he did often wear them teaming with Ole in 1985 and 1986.

Personally, I always loved Arn in the fedora. It just suited him well and was a common thread through his early career in his first three territories.

So at least one Anderson did wear a fedora. And in the great tradition of the Anderson family, that Anderson had one of the great tag-team careers in the history of wrestling.







Check out the complete timeline history of the Andersons in the book "Minnesota Wrecking Crew" available on Amazon.com or directly from the Mid-Atlantic Gateway (look for the PayPal link.).

For more information visit the Minnesota Wrecking Crew page on the Mid-Atlantic Gateway.