The Four Horsemen (professional wrestling)

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The Four Horsemen
Logo of the Four Horsemen
Stable
Members Ric Flair (leader)
Arn Anderson
Tully Blanchard
Barry Windham
Name(s) The Four Horsemen
The Horsemen
Yamazaki Corporation
Debut 1986
Disbanded 1999
Years active 1986-1999
Promotions NWA
WCW

The Four Horsemen was a professional wrestling stable in the National Wrestling Alliance and later World Championship Wrestling. The original group featured Ric Flair, Arn & Ole Anderson and Tully Blanchard. Ric Flair and Arn Anderson have been constant members in each incarnation of the group except once following Arn Anderson's neck injury where Curt Hennig was given Arn's spot in the Horsemen.

History[edit]

The original Four Horsemen (1986–1987)[edit]

The Four Horsemen formed in January 1986 with Ric Flair, with Flair's storyline cousins Arn Anderson and Ole Anderson, and Tully Blanchard, with James J. Dillon as their manager. They feuded with Dusty Rhodes (breaking his ankle and hand), Magnum TA, Barry Windham, The Rock 'n' Roll Express (breaking Ricky Morton's nose), Nikita Koloff (injuring his neck), and The Road Warriors. Animal, Hawk, Ronnie Garvin and many others fought Ric Flair for the NWA World Heavyweight Title during that time period. They usually had most of the titles in the NWA, and they often bragged about their success (in the ring and with women) in their interviews.

The Four Horsemen moniker was not planned from the start. Due to time constraints at a television taping, production threw together an impromptu tag team interview of Flair, the Andersons, Tully Blanchard and Dillon; all were now united after Ole Anderson returned and, along with Flair and Arn, tried to break Dusty's leg during a wrestling event at the Omni in Atlanta during the fall of 1985. It was during this interview that Arn said something to the effect of "The only time this much havoc had been wreaked by this few a number of people, you need to go all the way back to the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse!"[1] The comparison and the name stuck. Nevertheless, Arn has said in an RF Video shoot interview that he, Flair and Blanchard were as close as anybody could be away from the ring while they were together. They lived the gimmick outside of the arena, as they took limos and jets to the cities in which they wrestled. Baby Doll was Flair's valet for a couple of months in 1986, after previously managing Tully Blanchard during 1985.

Lex Luger and Barry Windham (1987–1989)[edit]

Arn Anderson (left) and Tully Blanchard, two founding members of the Horsemen

In February 1987, WCW newcomer Lex Luger was made an associate member of the group after he expressed his desire to become a Horseman. The others started to leave Ole out of things, after he cost him and Arn Anderson the NWA Tag Team Title at Starrcade in 1986, and eventually he was kicked out in favor of Luger that March. The fact that Ole missed a show to watch his son Brian wrestle was used against Ole in the split as Blanchard and Dillon questioned Ole's loyalty and Blanchard called Brian a "snot-nosed kid."

During this time, they wrestled Rhodes, Nikita Koloff, the Road Warriors and Paul Ellering in a series of WarGames matches. These matches were brutal and ended up with all five members of each team in the cage at the end trying to make somebody submit. During the first match, Dillon suffered a separated shoulder from a botched attempt at the Warriors' finishing move, the Doomsday Device. Dillon landed directly on his right arm and shoulder, and was replaced for the series of matches by the masked War Machine, later known as the Big Boss Man.

Luger was later kicked out of the Four Horsemen. First, he (Luger) blamed Horseman manager, J.J. Dillon, for costing him the U.S. Title when Dillon's attempt to help Luger win the match, by cheating, backfired. Lex subsequently did not allow Dillon to win a Bunkhouse Stampede match, as the Horsemen had agreed to among themselves. In January 1988, he teamed with Barry Windham, to feud with the Horsemen. The pair even defeated Anderson and Tully Blanchard for the NWA World Tag Team Championship, at the inaugural Clash of the Champions. In April 1988, Windham turned on Luger. Windham took his spot, in the Horsemen, during a title defense against Anderson and Tully Blanchard. This particular lineup, of Horsemen, has been called the greatest faction, as far as a group of technical wrestlers goes. It was, at that time, due to all members of the faction holding every major title: with Flair, as the World Heavyweight Champion; Windham, as the United States Heavyweight Champion; and Arn and Tully, as the World Tag Team Champions.

In September 1988, Arn Anderson and Tully Blanchard left, to join the World Wrestling Federation (WWF). This forced them to drop the Tag Team Titles, at the very last minute, to the Midnight Express (Stan Lane and Bobby Eaton). Anderson and Blanchard were known as "The Brain Busters", in the WWF, and were managed by Bobby "the Brain" Heenan.

Flair, Windham, and Dillon continued to refer to themselves as "the Horsemen" and the NWA even flirted with the idea of bringing in new members. Butch Reed was signed to wrestle solo matches with Dillon as his manager. Then in February 1989, Barry's brother Kendall Windham appeared to have joined them and even held up the four fingers after turning on Eddie Gilbert during a tag team match. Then Dillon left to take a front office job with the WWF, and they dropped the Horsemen name, hiring Hiro Matsuda as their new manager and changing their name to Yamazaki Corporation. Their major feuds were with Lex Luger, Eddie Gilbert, Ricky Steamboat and Sting and they did everything they could to get rid of these opponents. After losing the U. S. title to Luger, Barry Windham left the group due to an injury (a broken hand which occurred in his match against Luger at Chi-Town Rumble and required surgery; this enabled him to leave the promotion and show up in the WWF as "The Widowmaker") and Kendall was not used as much more than a jobber and the group seemed like a shell of the unit it looked like on paper when it formed. They added Michael Hayes after Barry's injury and he feuded with Luger but the group disbanded when Hayes reformed The Fabulous Freebirds in May and Matsuda left the promotion.

The Horsemen concept helped define the NWA in the mid to late 1980s. The departure of Anderson and Blanchard was huge at the time, Dillon and Windham's departure made it worse, and despite numerous revivals over the coming decade, things were never quite the same.

Reformation; Sting and Sid Vicious (1989–1991)[edit]

The Horsemen reformed in December 1989 in the NWA. Flair, Arn and Ole Anderson, and long standing rival Sting formed the group in a shocker. Tully Blanchard was set to return as well, but failed a drug test while still with the WWF. WCW heard of this, and decided not to rehire him. They were faces and feuded with Gary Hart's J-Tex Corporation of Terry Funk, Great Muta, Buzz Sawyer and The Dragonmaster. At the culmination of this feud the group returned to being heels, kicking Sting out for daring to challenge Ric Flair for the World Title. "Sting, you never were a Horseman" Ric Flair would say afterwards in a TV spot. Woman soon became Flair's valet. They feuded with Luger, Sting, Rick Steiner, Scott Steiner and El Gigante during this time.

In May 1990, Ole became the manager, Barry Windham returned to WCW and the Horsemen, and Sid Vicious was added to fill out the group. They feuded with the Dudes With Attitudes which consisted of Sting, Luger, the Steiner Brothers, Paul Orndorff and Junkyard Dog. By the end of 1990, Ole and Woman left the NWA. Ted Turner had bought Jim Crockett Promotions, the largest faction of the NWA, and turned it into World Championship Wrestling.

In October 1990, another Horsemen legend occurred. WCW World Champion Sting was defending his title against the Horsemen's Sid Vicious at the Halloween Havoc pay-per-view. During the match, Sting and Vicious brawled backstage. A few moments later, they returned to the ring. Sting attempted to slam Sid, but lost his balance and fell to the mat with Sid on top of him. Vicious got the pin and became the new World Heavyweight Champion. It was revealed, however, that the Horsemen had attacked Sting after the brawl into the backstage area. It was then that Barry Windham (in matching Sting gear and face paint) inserted himself into the match and let Vicious pin him. The real Sting showed up after the three count, which caused the match to be restarted. The real Sting was able to defeat Sid and retain the title.

The Horsemen line-up of Flair, Anderson, Windham and Vicious eventually broke up and went their own ways. In April 1991, Sid left for the WWF. Flair was fired from WCW in late May and was in the WWF by August. Windham was part of a double turn at The Great American Bash shortly after Flair's firing, where he lost to Lex Luger in a match for the vacant WCW world championship (Windham became a face, Luger a heel). Anderson went on to form a tag team with Larry Zbyszko called The Enforcers and later became part of the Paul E. Dangerously-led Dangerous Alliance with Zbyszko, Rick Rude, Madusa, Bobby Eaton, and Steve Austin.

Three Horsemen (1993)[edit]

The next incarnation was from May 1993 to December 1993. Flair returned from the WWF to WCW to rejoin Arn and they promised a Horsemen reunion at the Slamboree pay-per-view. Pretty Paul Roma became the third horsemen after Tully Blanchard and WCW could not come to terms on a deal for him to return. Ole Anderson was on hand as the adviser but made only one appearance on A Flair for the Gold. This group of Horsemen is considered by many wrestling fans to be the weakest incarnation of the group. They were faces again and feuded with Barry Windham and the Hollywood Blondes (Steve Austin and Brian Pillman). This group ended, due to Arn Anderson's stabbing incident with Sid Vicious during a tour of England in October, and Paul Roma turning on Erik Watts during a tag team match to join Paul Orndorff as the tag team of Pretty Wonderful.

Reformation and feud with the nWo (1995–1997)[edit]

In 1995, Flair and Arn (back to being heels) were teaming with Vader to torment Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage. After Vader lost to Hogan in a steel cage match at Bash at the Beach, Flair entered the cage and lambasted him. Vader snapped and attacked Flair, and Arn came to his rescue. This led to a handicap match at Clash of the Champions XXXI, in which Vader defeated the team of Flair and Arn. Flair and Arn began to bicker, as Arn always felt he was doing Flair's dirty work; a feud developed that led to a match at Fall Brawl on September 17, 1995 in Asheville, North Carolina. Arn defeated Flair with the help of Brian Pillman. Flair begged Sting to help him against them and though Sting did not trust Flair he eventually agreed. Flair ended up turning on him at Halloween Havoc to reform the Horsemen with Arn and Pillman. They added Chris Benoit to complete the group. This version of the Horsemen feuded with Hogan, Savage, Sting, and Lex Luger. Flair eventually took Miss Elizabeth and Woman from Hogan and Savage, and they were his valets for the next six months.

In early 1996, Pillman started his infamous "Loose Cannon" storyline and started a feud with Kevin Sullivan. He ended up leaving WCW, going to ECW, and eventually the WWF in February. Leading towards Uncensored the Horsemen briefly joined forces with the Dungeon of Doom and formed the Alliance to End Hulkamania to battle mutual rivals Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage. The two stables were unable to coexist and lost the Tower of Doom Steel Cage.[2] The Horsemen then engaged in a brief feud with the Dungeon of Doom, including a feud with Sullivan and Benoit which became one of the most talked about feuds of all time. In this feud, Woman, who was really married to Sullivan, left him for Benoit. However, life imitated art, and Woman actually left Sullivan for Benoit. This feud got heated and some of the matches were shoot-style with the performers using stiff or even full contact moves, rather than the typical North American style of softening maneuvers.

In June 1996 at the Great American Bash, former football player Steve "Mongo" McMichael turned on Kevin Greene in a "gimmick match" and joined them. During this match, McMichael's then-wife Debra was chased to the back by Woman and Elizabeth, but later came back with them and a steel briefcase, which she handed to her husband. Mongo opened it to reveal a Horsemen t-shirt and money; after thinking it over, he closed the briefcase and hit Greene with it, allowing Flair to score the pin on Greene. McMichael was officially inducted as the fourth Horseman, and in the process gave the group another ringside valet in Debra. The rumors said that Debra and Woman did not get along behind the scenes. This played out on TV, as they constantly bickered, and Benoit and Mongo had to step in.

When the New World Order (nWo) was founded the next month, the Horsemen became de facto babyfaces along with the rest of the WCW roster. In September, Flair and Anderson teamed with their bitter rivals, Sting and Lex Luger, to lose to the nWo (Hogan, Scott Hall, Kevin Nash, and an impostor Sting) in the WarGames match at Fall Brawl when Luger submitted to the impostor Sting's Scorpion Deathlock. This angered Anderson, and he feuded with Luger for the next month. In October, two developments occurred that affected the group. First, Jeff Jarrett came over to WCW from the WWF, and expressed his desire to join the Horsemen. He immediately gained a fan in Ric Flair, much to the chagrin of the other Horsemen. The next week, Miss Elizabeth officially announced that she had joined the nWo.

Flair finally let Jarrett join the group in February 1997 but the others did not want him. Jarrett began bickering with Mongo over Debra's attention, and in June won the U.S. Title from Dean Malenko, with the help of Eddie Guerrero; in July he was kicked out of the stable by Flair, who had enough of the instability Jarrett's presence caused the Horsemen. In a move uncharacteristic of the Horsemen, however, Jarrett was allowed to literally walk away, instead of receiving a classic Horsemen beatdown as was expected. He eventually took Debra from Mongo, but Mongo took Jarrett's U.S. Title. To this date, amongst fans and members of the Four Horsemen, there is still debate whether to include Jarrett as a Horsemen. In his biography, Arn Anderson states that "Jeff Jarrett was never a Horseman." His "membership" and his easy departure leave the situation ambiguous.

The Four Horsemen usually pick their own members, but at the time, WCW held extreme control over storylines and this may have forced them to accept a member for those purposes only and not by choice. In August 1997, Arn Anderson retired due to a neck/back injury that did not allow him to wrestle. Curt Hennig took his spot as "The Enforcer". The next month, Hennig turned on the Horsemen and joined the nWo. Flair disbanded the group and they went their separate ways.

The final incarnation (1998–1999)[edit]

The last incarnation came in September 1998. On the September 14 edition of WCW Monday Nitro in Greenville, South Carolina when Ric Flair returned after a hiatus from the ring after a disagreement with WCW president Eric Bischoff. Dean Malenko and Chris Benoit kept going to Arn about reforming the Horsemen. He kept saying no. James J. Dillon, back in WCW's front office, even made a request. Arn eventually gave in and they reformed the Horsemen with Mongo, Flair, and Arn who was the manager. They feuded with the nWo and Eric Bischoff.

In early 1999, the Horsemen turned heel again. Mongo had recently departed the wrestling world and they were down to Benoit, Malenko, Flair and Arn as the manager. They also had a referee biased to them, Charles Robinson, whom members of the Horsemen even referred to as "Little Nature Boy" (due to his resemblance to Flair). Flair's personal nurse, Double D (aka Asya), acted as an enforcer for the group and Ric Flair's son David Flair, who wrestled with them and wore Horsemen shirts though never an official member. Ric Flair, the (onscreen) President of WCW at this time, had awarded him with the U.S. Title and had the Horsemen help David to keep it. Eventually, Benoit and Malenko left him in May in protest over Flair's selfishness, and joined Shane Douglas and Perry Saturn to form the Revolution, thereby effectively ending the Four Horsemen.

Legacy[edit]

The original Four Horsemen were innovative in developing and popularizing the concept of heel stables. According to commentator Jim Ross as he appeared on the 2007 Four Horsemen DVD, if not for the Horsemen, there would never have been a DX, a New World Order, a Million Dollar Corporation or an Evolution.

Team Package[edit]

In 2000, former Horsemen Ric Flair and Lex Luger reunited as a heel tag team in WCW for the first time in over 12 years as Team Package after having feuded on and off during that time, managed by Elizabeth. They primarily feuded with Hulk Hogan and Sting. This team would only last until May, while Vince Russo was feuding with both of them. Flair and Luger would reunite one more time in early 2001, with Luger joining Flair's Magnificent 7 stable just months before WCW was purchased by the WWF.

Xtreme Horsemen[edit]

The Xtreme Horsemen was a professional wrestling stable in Turnbuckle Championship Wrestling, and later Major League Wrestling, and also appeared across Japan, that disbanded in 2004. The groups name was in homage to the Four Horsemen, who in the 1980s were one of professional wrestling's top draws world wide. The group came together in Dusty Rhodes' Turnbuckle Championship Wrestling promotion, but the group later left Rhodes' promotion to join Major League Wrestling where Steve Corino and "The Enforcer" C.W. Anderson were joined by former ECW superstars Justin Credible and Simon Diamond. This incarnation was briefly managed by former Four Horsemen manager J.J. Dillon before Major League Wrestling ceased operations. Barry Windham also joined the group for a War Games match for one time only.

At WXW-C4's Sportsfest 2009, Steve Corino reformed the Xtreme Horsemen in the form of Corino, NYWC's Papadon, WXW-C4's A.C. Anderson, and Corino's student Alex Anthony. They are managed by Corino's personal manager, Rob Dimension.

Evolution[edit]

Main article: Evolution

In 2003, rumors began circulating that Ric Flair (at the time working for the World Wrestling Entertainment) was going to reform the Four Horsemen with Triple H, Randy Orton, and Batista. This group was eventually formed, but under the name Evolution instead of the Four Horsemen, and with Triple H as the leader instead of Flair. They served much the same function as the original heel Horsemen had, dominating the titles on Raw and feuding with that brand's top faces. The group slowly died between August 2004 and October 2005. Orton was kicked out of the group after he won the World Heavyweight Championship, which Triple H coveted. In February 2005, Batista left the group after winning the Royal Rumble, in a storyline where Triple H tried to protect his title from Batista. During a Triple H hiatus, Flair turned face, and at RAW Homecoming, Triple H returned as a face, but turned heel by the end of the night, hitting Flair in the face with a sledgehammer and officially ending Evolution. At Raw's 15th anniversary, an Evolution reunion as faces took place, though then-heel Randy Orton refused to participate and instead challenged the face versions of Flair, Batista, and Triple H to a match in which he partnered with then-heel, Edge and Umaga, and at the same time reforming Rated-RKO for one night. On the March 31, 2008 edition of Raw, Flair delivered his farewell address. Afterward, Triple H brought out many current and retired superstars to thank Flair for all he has done, including Four Horsemen members, Arn Anderson, Tully Blanchard, Barry Windham, J.J. Dillon and Dean Malenko. Also, it was the night in which Evolution got back together in the ring, except for Randy Orton (who was outside the ring). This would mark the last time both groups would be in the ring together. On the April 14, 2014 episode of RAW, Triple H, Orton, and Batista reunited Evolution full-time, once again heels, to feud with The Shield.

Fortune[edit]

Main article: Fortune

Fortune was a professional wrestling stable in Total Nonstop Action Wrestling, announced by Ric Flair on June 17, 2010 as a "reformed" version of the Four Horsemen. Ric Flair had been loosely associated with A.J. Styles, Desmond Wolfe, Beer Money, Inc. (James Storm and Robert Roode) and Kazarian since April 5, 2010, and announced that each of them and anyone else who wanted to join Fortune (originally spelled Fourtune) would have to earn their place in the stable.[3] On July 11 at Victory Road, Styles and Kazarian became the first official members of Fortune by defeating Samoa Joe and Rob Terry in a tag team match.[4] On the July 29 edition of Impact!, Flair announced that James Storm and Robert Roode had earned the right to become the final two members of Fortune.[5] However, on the August 12 edition of Impact! Douglas Williams, who had helped Flair defeat his nemesis Jay Lethal the previous week, and Matt Morgan were added to Fortune as the stable assaulted EV 2.0, a stable consisting of former Extreme Championship Wrestling performers.[6] Fortune had since merged with Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff's Immortal stable, but turned on them months later, splitting them into two feuding factions. Ric Flair would turn on Fortune and remain associated with Immortal.

Members[edit]

Incarnations[edit]

The original Horsemen (1986–1989)[edit]

Yamazaki Corporation (1989)[edit]

Reformation (1989–1991)[edit]

  • Faces (1989–1990): Ric Flair, Ole Anderson, Arn Anderson, Sting
  • Heels (1990–1991): Ric Flair, Barry Windham, Arn Anderson, Sid Vicious, Woman (valet), Ole Anderson (manager)

Horsemen reunion (1993)[edit]

  • Faces (1993): Ric Flair, Ole Anderson (only one night), Arn Anderson, Paul Roma, Fifi (valet)

Reformation and feud with the nWo (1995–1997)[edit]

Final incarnations (1998–1999)[edit]

In wrestling[edit]

  • Entrance themes
    • "Also Sprach Zarathustra", 1st theme (1986–1989)
    • "Brain Decay, 3rd theme" (1990)
    • "Charge, 4th theme" (1991)
    • "Groover, 5th theme" (1993)
    • "Coast, 6th theme" (1995–1997)
    • "The Four Horsemen Theme, 7th theme" (1998–1999)

Championships and accomplishments[edit]

All titles and awards listed were won while they were Horsemen

Books[edit]

Videos[edit]

  • Ric Flair & The Four Horseman. Stamford, Conn: WWE Home Video. 2007. OCLC 144971907. 
  • The Ultimate Ric Flair Collection. WWE Home Video. 2003. 
  • Hard Knocks: The Chris Benoit Story. WWE Home Video. 2004. 
  • Brian Pillman: Loose Cannon. WWE Home Video. 2006. 
  • The Greatest Wrestling Stars of the 80's. WWE Home Video. 2006. 

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Flair, Ric (2005). Ric Flair: To Be the Man. World Wrestling Entertainment. p. 142. ISBN 0-7434-9181-5. 
  2. ^ prowrestlinghistory.com (March 24, 1996). "WCW Uncensored Results (1996)". 
  3. ^ Martin, Adam (2010-06-15). "Spoilers: TNA Impact TV tapings for June 17". WrestleView. Retrieved 2010-06-15. 
  4. ^ Caldwell, James (2010-07-11). "Caldwell's TNA Victory Road PPV results 7/11: Ongoing "virtual time" coverage live on-site from Orlando – four-way TNA Title match, Flair vs. Lethal". Pro Wrestling Torch. Retrieved 2010-07-11. 
  5. ^ Keller, Wade (2010-07-29). "Keller's TNA Impact report 7/29: Tommy Dreamer announces new name for ECW faction, Hulk Hogan addresses situation". Pro Wrestling Torch. Retrieved 2010-07-30. 
  6. ^ Bishop, Matt (2010-08-12). "TNA's 'The Whole F'n Show': Beer Money, Machine Guns put on match of year candidate; Fortune makes statement". Slam! Sports. Canadian Online Explorer. Retrieved 2010-08-13. 
  7. ^ "The Four Horsemen". World Wrestling Entertainment. Retrieved 2012-01-09. 

External links[edit]