An Article by Mike Mooneyham
(Published Sept. 9, 1997)
They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.
But don’t tell that to The Four Horsemen.
Last week’s Monday Nitro was dedicated to Arn Anderson, who had announced his retirement a week earlier in an emotional interview, but the show was turned into a comedy skit when NWO members Kevin Nash, Syxx (Sean Waltman), Konnan (Charles Ashenoff) and Buff Bagwell conducted their own in-ring parody of the previous week and made a mockery of the Anderson tribute.
[ad#MikeMooneyham-336×280]Admittedly the spoof was hilarious, the mannerisms of Nash (as Anderson), Syxx (as Ric Flair), Bagwell (as Curt Hennig) and Konnan (as Steve McMichael) were right on target, and the segment was entertaining.
The Horsemen, though, were not amused.
Flair and Anderson, feeling that Eric Bischoff had once again caved in to the demands of the Nash-led faction, were irate following the parody. Bad blood has existed behind the scenes between the Nash group and Flair’s “old guard” for some time now, but tensions had eased somewhat in recent weeks. This latest incident, however, apparently has stirred the pot to the boiling level.
The original plan was for The Horsemen to do a run-in at the end of the segment, but WCW booker Terry Taylor notified Flair prior to the show that the plan was nixed. Sources say Taylor, who has taken over most of the booking duties from Kevin Sullivan, was acting on orders from Bischoff. The consensus is that Bischoff was swayed by Nash, who wields considerable power in the promotion, to alter the original plan and make the angle a full-scale Horsemen bashing.
Flair, who was scheduled to do an interview later in the show, re- fused and never made an appearance on the program. More upset by the NWO’s treatment of Anderson than any other part of the skit, Flair was particularly offended by Nash’s portrayal of Anderson as a womanizing alcoholic and felt the mocking had gone overboard, although the Horsemen have long espoused the philosophy of “wine, woman and song” and “partying all night long.”
Anderson, 39, joined Flair, Tully Blanchard and “cousin” Ole Anderson (Rock Rogowski) in 1985 to form the original Four Horsemen. Anderson, who retired from the ring following major neck surgery which left one of his hands so weak he couldn’t even button his own shirt, reportedly was angered to the point that he was considering quitting the promotion following the show. Anderson’s wife also was said to have been highly upset by the segment.
Adding fuel to the fire was Hulk Hogan’s thrashing of WCW front office man J.J. Dillon – former spokesman and manager of The Four Horsemen. Although all of these events point to an in-ring battle between The NWO and The Horsemen at War Games, the scheduled main event pits Team NWO (Nash, Hall, Syxx and Randy Savage) against the unlikely team of Flair, Lex Luger, Diamond Dallas Page and a mystery partner. Look for that lineup to change by the end of this week’s Nitro. Dean Malenko, who was promised the fourth slot in The Horsemen but was passed over by Curt Hennig, has been assured by management that he will be in the group by December. Watch for a Hennig turn in the not-so-distant future, but it’s not a given that he’ll join The NWO. A lot of heat still exists between Hennig and Hall dating back to their days in the WWF. Hennig was partly responsible for bringing Hall into the company despite the fact that Hall was an unproven commodity at the time.
As Hall parlayed his Razor Ramon gimmick to success in the WWF, a low-key feud developed the two, with Hennig pulling some of his legendary pranks on his former AWA world tag-team title partner. Differences between Hennig and Hall reportedly remain unresolved.