Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Speaking Softly and Carrying The Big Stick

"As Teddy Roosevelt said, 'Talk softly and carry a big stick.' You'll hear very little out of Gene Anderson."
     - Les Thatcher, Mid-Atlantic Wrestling, August 20, 1975
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Bob Caudle: "Gene Anderson, the quiet one of the pair of Gene and Ole Anderson. David, a lot of the wrestlers are talking about it, and a lot of the fans, too, and even though Gene Anderson is quiet when it comes to talking, I’m not so sure he’s not the more deadly of the two Andersons."
David Crockett:   "He is deadly. He lets all his actions speak for himself in that ring."    - Mid-Atlantic Wrestling, Nov. 12, 1975

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I Believed in Gene Anderson
by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway / MinnesotaWreckingCrew.com

People occasionally comment on the fact that Gene Anderson rarely spoke during interviews conducted with the Minnesota Wrecking Crew. The very fact that Gene Anderson didn’t talk during interviews made him more of a threatening character to me when I was first watching wrestling in the mid-1970s. He just stood there beside his brother Ole, with that menacing twitch and that icy stare.

It also added to the personality and uniqueness of the team: Ole did all the braggadocios talking, Gene backed it up.

Then, of course, there were all the other things so iconic about the Anderson Brothers, going back to the original Minnesota Wrecking Crew in the 1960s:
  • The maroon-and-gold striped "Anderson boots"
  • The "tag and block" team maneuver, keeping their opponent trapped in the the corner while they tagged in and out
  • Selecting one body part and then working it over
  • That famous hammerlock slam, the "Anderson slam", on an opponent's arm.

I loved the "Anderson slam." Bob Caudle and David Crockett talked on and on about that hammerlock slam on television, really putting it over. No other team did any move quite like that slam at that time. “Pick one part of the body, and stay on it”, Bob and David would say. It was their signature maneuver.

It was so simple back then, and it just worked.

And then there was the famous “Supreme Sacrifice” match the Anderson Brothers had with Wahoo McDaniel and Paul Jones. This was the match that got me hooked on wrestling at 13 years of age. Near defeat, a desperate Ole Anderson threw Wahoo McDaniel into Gene Anderson who was waiting in his corner, their heads violently colliding, knocking both men out. Ole covered an unconscious Wahoo for the pinfall. Gene lay motionless on the floor outside the ring. The Andersons had regained their championship, and a brother had sacrificed a brother to get it done.

I guess that was supposed to make the Andersons seem more like the bad guys, but to my twisted way of looking at it, they were more like heroes. At first, I was shocked that Ole would sacrifice his own brother to win the titles. But when they showed the tape again, it seemed almost inspired that Gene had gone along with this, leaning over the ropes at ringside, head extended, as if asking for the shot. I remember my friends and I having this long discussion about which brother actually made the bigger sacrifice? Was it Ole giving up his own brother? Or Gene sacrificing himself? Either way, as kids we were blown away that they would do such a thing to get those World Tag Team championship belts back. We loved Wahoo and Paul, but we were impressed that the Andersons wanted it that much more. This seemed real to us.

The following week when the Andersons came out on TV with the belts they had regained in that match, Gene, as usual, never said a word. He just stood with Ole, both of them holding their belts. This was no angle to tease a break up of the team, like what would be automatically expected today. The brothers weren't going to turn on each other. On the contrary, the sacrifice had united them as never before. It seemed to us that no one had a chance of getting those belts from the Andersons now.

Gene Anderson had sacrificed himself so that he and his brother could get their world championship belts back. Without saying a single word, that was one powerful statement.

Gene Anderson always said more by saying less.

And I believed every word.

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Dedicated to Gene's son (and my friend) Brad Anderson.

Originally published on the now-defunct Minnesota Wrecking Crew website in 2006.
Subsequently published on the Mid-Atlantic Gateway.