411’s Wrestling Hall of Fame Class of 2007: Arn Anderson
As a lot of wrestlers do, Arn Anderson (real name Marty Lunde) started as a high school athlete and wrestled at the 167 lb weight class. He was able to become a state champion, as well as place as high as 2nd in national competition. Long time WCW referee Randy Anderson attended the same high school in Rome Georgia, was a friend of Lunde and also on the wrestling team (at the much lighter 119 lb weight class.) As friends, Arn and Randy would attend local matches together and dreamed of becoming wrestlers. Arn realized the need to get bigger and improve his look, so he turned to power lifting and would go on to add another 40+ lbs of muscle weight to his frame.
Arn’s dream would come true as he would debut in 1982 against “Bullet” Bob Armstrong. He would lose that debut in Florida, but that was the start of his pro-wrestling career. As was the way in the territory days, Arn would move from Florida to the Louisiana territory and that is where he would taste his first success. He would team with Matt Borne (who many fans will remember as the original Doink the Clown) and formed a solid unit. They quickly moved to the NWA Georgia area, where the team hired Paul Ellering as their manager. With Ellering at their side, they aimed at the National Tag Team Titles that had been vacated by the Samoans. But after losing in the tournament, Paul Ellering dumped them for the winners of the tournament, one of the most dominating tag teams ever, The Road Warriors. After Arn and Borne broke up, Arn would turn face and battle Ellering’s stable with “Uncle Ole” and “Wildfire” Tommy Rich. This lasted until the end of 1983 and then Arn would move on again.
The new location was the NWA Southeast, Florida and Alabama areas where he would don the masked Super Olympia persona. He would tag with Mr. Olympia (Jerry Stubbs) as well as feud with him. Super Olympia won a mask match vs. Mr. Olympia, then the unmasked Jerry Stubbs defeated Super Olympia and he was then unmasked. After their feuding, they teamed again, unmasked and captured the NWA Southeastern Tag-Team Championship 3 times. Eventually they would fall out of graces with one another, Stubbs would disappear and return as the masked Mr. Olympia again in an effort to take Arn down. Arn would go on to team up with Jimmy Golden, Lord Humungous, Pat Rose, and Bill Ash to form the group known as the Tennessee Stud Stable, managed by Ron Fuller. He and Golden would capture the NWA Southeastern Tag-Team Championships together, but when they lost, Arn would again move on and this is where is career would truly begin.
Arn left and joined Jim Crockett Promotions, the place where not only Ole, but also Ric Flair had been trying to recruit him to. He would feud with his “Uncle” Ole and had a great series of matches, that in the end the result was mutual respect, and Arn would join his Uncle Ole. They captured the NWA (Georgia) Nat’l Tag-Team Champions and Arn started to truly emulate Ole, and no one had any clue that they weren’t related. Things were working out well, but about to get even better.
The start of 1986 was one of the most historical in wrestling history. It started as Arn defeated Wahoo McDaniel in a tournament final to capture the first of his 4 NWA/WCW TV Titles. Shortly after this title win, with TV time running short on the taping of the TBS Saturday Night show, Arn, ole, Ric Flair and Tully Blanchard along with James J. Dillon were all placed into a group interview segment, and with the phrase, “This right here, is you 4 Horsemen of Wrestling…” With those words coming out of Arn’s mouth, such a simple phrase, one of wrestling most dominant groups were born. They would run rampant over the NWA, with a vicious beat down of Dusty Rhodes in a steel cage, and legitimately breaking Ronnie Garvin’s hand, Ricky Morton’s nose and injuring Robert Gibson’s back. Arn would win Tag titles with Ole, and then Tully Blanchard in the NWA. The Horsemen were unstoppable. But, towards 1988, with changes happening in the NWA, Arn and Tully took a meeting with Vince McMahon. That meeting would break up the Horsemen as Arn and Tully were headed up north.
Arn and Tully were from the straightforward land of the NWA, where you could just go out and wrestle and get over doing just that. But in the land of the WWF, the gimmick ran wild. With Bobby Heenan as their manager, they were named “The Brain Busters” as did what they did best; wrestle. They had a great series of matches with the Rockers, and also played a huge part in Strike Force breaking up. In 1989, they defeated Demolition to become the first team to hold the NWA and WWF tag team titles. After a loss back to Demolition, and a short WWF run, Arn returned to the NWA and Tully was unemployed as he failed 2 drug tests.
Upon returning to the NWA, the Horsemen were quickly reformed, with Arn, Ole, Flair and Sting. He would win the TV title 2 more times from Muta and Tom Zenk. He would then lose it to Bobby Eaton, and with Flair off to McMahon-land the Horsemen were once again in shambles. Arn would hire Paul E. Dangerously as his manager, and become part of another deadly faction, the Dangerous Alliance. Arn would form a new tag team, this time with “The Living Legend” Larry Zbyzko as the Enforcers and capture the WCW Tag Team Titles. The Enforcers would eventually break up, and Arn would again find another tag team partner in Bobby Eaton and win another tag team championship. After their break up, Arn would capture another tag title with Steve Austin. He feuded with former Tag Team partner Bobby Eaton over the TV Title, carrying the feud into Smokey Mountain Wrestling as well as a fledgling ECW. But as always, things seemed to lead back to one place; The Four Horsemen.
With Ric Flair back in WCW, the Horsemen were reborn yet again with Arn, Ole, Flair and the newest member Paul Roma. With Roma, Arn would capture another tag title and continue as “The Enforcer” of the Horsemen. In 1993, Arn was in a confrontation with Sid Vicious in England where Sid attacked Arm with a pair of Scissors. Through the years, Arn was a loyal soldier to the Horsemen, and put his body through a lot. Suffering form a neck injury, much similar to the ones of Austin and Benoit, Arn underwent surgery for his injury, but when a surgeon slipped, Arm’s career was over when he was left with partial paralysis in his left hand, and limited strength in his left arm.
In August on 1997, Arn Anderson gave an emotional retirement speech where he gave his spot in the Horsemen to Curt Hennig. The retirement was due to an accident during a neck surgery, which left Arn with limited use of his left hand and lingering pain. Hennig would turn on the Horsemen in War Games and join the n W o.
With his career at an end, Arn was mostly a backstage road agent with WCW, only reprising a managerial type role with the Horsemen when Benoit, Malenko and Steve McMichaels were part of the unit. When WCW was bought by the WWE, Arn was a short-lived announcer and then road agent with the WWE, which he still is to this day.
Why Arn Anderson was selected …
I am thrilled “Double A” made the Hall of Fame. I covered most of the real early stuff, because a lot of fans only know him as “the older dude who appeared at WM 18 and gave the Undertaker the swank spine buster then got beat down by Taker again.” Arn was a great worker through out his entire career, but one thing that seems lost in many is his great promo work. One of the greatest phrases, which I quote to this day is, “They don’t ask you how you won, just how many you won.” Arn won many, and definitely deserves his place in the 411 Hall of Fame.