Friday, August 25, 2017

Action Figures Friday: Gene and Ole Anderson, the Minnesota Wrecking Crew

Depicted: Bob Caudle interviews NWA World Tag Team champions Gene and Ole Anderson
on the set of Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling.

The Anderson Brothers were multi-time NWA World Tag Team champions over a seven year period beginning in 1975 and stretching to 1981. They had memorable feuds with Paul Jones and Wahoo McDaniel, Mr. Wrestling Tim Woods and Dino Bravo, Dusty Rhodes and Dick Slater, and Paul Jones and the Masked Superstar. But the most intense rivalry they had was a family feud of sorts.

In October of 1976, a rift took place within "the family" and the Anderson's young cousin Ric Flair took Greg Valentine as his partner to challenge the Minnesota Wrecking Crew for the NWA World tag team championship.

In December of that same year, Flair and Valentine were successful in capturing those titles and a feud began which lasted for nearly two years before Flair finally reconciled with older cousin Gene and eventually Ole as well.

These cool photos of custom designed and modified action figures by collector Mike Simmerman depict that time period. Seen above is Mid-Atlantic Wrestling host Bob Caudle interviewing Gene and Ole Anderson. Befittingly, Ole is running his mouth, while Gene stands silently by. Gene Anderson lived by Teddy Roosevelt's motto "speak softly, and carry a big stick." But Ole Anderson liked to swing that stick, and let you hear about it, too.

I especially like the detail of the stripes on the Anderson's boots on these custom figures. Mike worked especially hard to create these. No official figures of either Gene or Ole Anderson were ever produced. The belts are pretty cool, too, although at the time of the family split and the feud between these two teams, there were different style tag belts being used. But you get the picture.

Depicted: The Minnesota Wrecking Crew Gene and Ole Anderson prepare to fight their cousin
Ric Flair and his partner Greg Valentine on "Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling."

Ric Flair's family relationship with his cousins went through its ups and downs over the years following their split in 1976. Every detail of that relationship is documented in timeline format in the book "Minnesota Wrecking Crew" available in the Mid-Atlantic Gateway bookstore.