An Article by Mike Mooneyham
Published on 08/31/97
Arn Anderson, telling a nationwide audience that he didn’t have the strength in his hand to hold up a glass or even button his shirt, publicly announced his retirement in an emotional interview last week on another record-breaking episode of Monday Nitro.
Before a crowd of more than 8,000 at the Carolina Coliseum in Columbia, Anderson was flanked by fellow Four Horsemen Chris Benoit, Steve McMichael and Ric Flair as he bid farewell to the wrestling business.
The segment was truly a magic moment in wrestling history, and the emotion reflected on the face of Ric Flair told the story. Tears welled up in the eyes of the Nature Boy as his real-life best friend and longtime partner said that he wanted fans to remember him the way he was.
The interview also served to set up Curt Hennig as the fourth Horseman. Hennig, who for the past several weeks had refused to give Flair a direct answer on whether he would join the Horsemen, accepted Anderson’s offer to take his spot in the legendary group.
[ad#MikeMooneyham-336×280]Anderson, 39, who as “The Enforcer” was a driving force behind the success of pro wrestling’s most infamous stable, underwent major neck surgery several months ago. The thickness of the muscle in his neck, which had served him well during his 16-year pro career, proved to be an obstacle during the surgery as doctors had to cut through the thick muscle during a lengthy operation that required a foot-long incision in his neck to remove several vertebrae. Anderson suffered from complications, including fluid in his lungs, following surgery and spent nine days in the hospital.
Doctors recommended that Anderson, who has severe nerve damage in his left hand, hang up the tights for good.
Anderson, who rose to fame in the early ’80s as a member of the famed Anderson wrestling family and was alternately billed as a brother and cousin of Ole Anderson (Al “Rock” Rowgowski), began his mat career as a high school star out of Rome, Ga. Anderson, whose real name is Marty Lunde, was no relation to the Anderson Brothers, but he was a childhood friend of future wrestling referee Randy “Pee Wee” Anderson.
“Arn and I grew up together,” recalls Randy Anderson. “We used to go to wrestling together. He always wanted to be pro wrestler, but I was too small. I was state champion in high school in the 119-pound weight class. Arn went to a rival school.”
Both were trained by journeyman performer “Nightmare” Ted Allen. The two got their first big break when Allen got them booked in Cowboy Bill Watts’ Mid South promotion in the Oklahoma-Louisiana area.
“When we left here, Arn and I had $80 in our pocket when we went to Louisiana,” Anderson recalls. “We stayed in these dumpy motels, and there were a lot of nights we went hungry. We had to wait two weeks to get our first check. I was shooting pool at night trying to get Waffle House money. I look back, and that’s the fun of it.”
Last week’s Monday Nitro attracted the largest audience ever to watch a cable television wrestling show.
The program did a 4.97 rating with an 8.2 share and peaked with a 5.8 (4.15 million homes) rating from 9:15-9:30 p.m. for the Eddie Guerrero-Steve McMichael match, which now holds the distinction of being the most-watched wrestling match ever on cable television, breaking the previous mark set by Hulk Hogan and Ric Flair in their 1994 Clash of the Champions showdown. Five of the matches on the show registered in the top 10 of the most-watched matches in history.
The show also drew the largest crowd (8,000) and gate ($130,000) in the history of wrestling in Columbia.
WCW will go to three-hour Nitros the next two Mondays.
War Games at the Fall Brawl pay-per-view in Winston-Salem, originally scheduled to be Lex Luger, The Giant, Diamond Dallas Page and The Steiners against Hulk Hogan, Kevin Nash, Scott Hall, Randy Savage and Syxx, may be changed to feature The Horsemen against The NWO.
Flair has proposed that Arn Anderson assume J.J. Dillon’s former role as Horsemen spokesman, but has been turned down by WCW management.
Anderson’s appearance last week, however, should surely change the minds of some WCW brass who must realize that he was and continues to be one of the best interviews in the wrestling business.
Roddy Piper, whose interviews as well as wrestling ability have sadly deteriorated, will be brought back into the picture to meet Hulk Hogan in a cage at WCW’s Halloween Havoc pay-per-view in Las Vegas.
Wrestling personalities who celebrated birthdays in August include: Kensuke Sasaki (31 on Aug. 4); Stan Lane (44 on Aug. 5); Pat Tanaka (34 on Aug. 5); Fred “Shockmaster” Ottman (41 on Aug. 10); Hulk Hogan (44 on Aug. 11); Terry Taylor (42 on Aug. 12); Bobby Eaton (39 on Aug. 14); Buddy Landell (36 on Aug. 17); Tom Prichard (38 on Aug. 18); Tim Horner (38 on Aug. 19); Kevin Sullivan (48 on Aug. 22); Vince McMahon (52 on Aug. 24); Rocky Johnson (56 on Aug. 24); Ivan Koloff (61 on Aug. 25); and Sgt. Slaughter (49 on Aug. 27).
Longtime area favorite Burr- head Jones will celebrate his 60th birthday on Labor Day.
The inimitable Burrhead, a Moncks Corner native who still dons the tights for an occasional match, is best remembered in this area for his feud with Black Jack Mulligan.