Thursday, March 02, 2017

The Windham Brothers channel Anderson and Blanchard

The team of Barry and Kendall Windham very clearly mimic Arn Anderson and Tully Blanchard after forming their tag team in the wake of the Horsemen departures.
by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

In January of 1989, the Four Horsemen as they existed at that time were on their last legs as a unit. Tully Blanchard and Arn Anderson had jumped to the WWF a few months earlier. In the storyline, Hiro Matsuda would soon purchase the contracts of remaining members Ric Flair and Barry Windham from James J. Dillon, along with others under Dillon's managerial direction at that time. (Behind the scenes, Dillon also was leaving for the WWF.)

Just before Matsuda entered the picture, Kendall Windham turned on tag-team partner Eddie Gilbert in a match against his brother Barry and James J. Dillon. it was a turn anyone should have seen coming a mile away, but apparently Gilbert missed it.

After making the turn, Kendall executed a surprising move on Gilbert - a "slingshot suplex." It was not a move he had used previously and of course immediately evoked images of the only other wrestler known to use that maneuver at the time - - a former Horseman - - Tully Blanchard.

After Kendall's heel turn, he and brother Barry Windham formed a regular tag-team for a short period of time, first managed by Dillon and then by Matsuda. In their first match together as a heel team on World Wide Wrestling on 1/28/89, they work the match in what can only be called "Anderson style", isolating one body part and continuing to work over that body part throughout the match. In this case, it was the arm.

Going back to Gene and Lars Anderson as the first combination of the Minnesota Wrecking Crew in the 1960s,  the Andersons were famous for this style of work; pick one body part and stay after it until submission or the injured opponent is set up for pinfall. That approach became Anderson tradition through the subsequent pairings of various Anderson family members over the years, including Ole and Arn Anderson in the Four Horsemen.

It was striking to see The Windham brothers taking a page out of the book of the Anderson brothers in their first match together in 1989. They tagged in and out frequently while working over the arm. They even used the familiar "Anderson slam" on the arm, that famous hammerlock-style body slam where an opponent is body slammed on his own arm locked behind him. That had been one of the signature moves of the Andersons over the years. And Barry even added a new twist: adding a "power slam" when bringing his opponent down on the arm. It was awesome looking, indeed.

Added all together - - Tully's "slingshot suplex" and Arn's "Anderson slam" - - and it became clear that the Windhams were intentionally channeling Tully Blanchard and Arn Anderson. These new moves that the Windhams were doing for the first time weren't just a coincidence.

You have to wonder why, though. What was the point? All it did was remind fans of the two Horsemen who had left the NWA and were now wrestling for the WWF. And that didn't seem very wise to me - - then or now.

In the end, things were getting ready to change so quickly that it didn't really matter. Barry and Kendall didn't team regularly for too much longer, and both left the promotion in the following few months.  Ric Flair renewed his old rivalry with the returning Ricky Steamboat and so the Horsemen were done for the time being.