JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Seldom do you find a character in the pro wrestling world who was popular and relevant in 1984 who’s still popular and relevant as we close in on 2024. Arn Anderson is one of those few people.
Originally from Georgia, Arn Anderson (real name Martin Lunde) was billed as from Minnesota when he teamed with Old Anderson to form the “Minnesota Wrecking Crew” for Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling. But unlike many wrestlers of that era Anderson’s weekly wrestling show was the national one that was broadcast on WTBS, one of the early channels that was on cable systems in most of the country. That meant Anderson very quickly became known all over the country. Known for his ability both in the ring and one the microphone (two requirements of any great wrestler) he eventually founded a new stable in wrestling called “The Four Horsemen”. Alongside Ole and Tully Blanchard they rounded out their group with arguably the greatest wrester of all time, Ric Flair.
Each week the Horsemen would run roughshod over the competition either by legal means in the ring or “illegal” means out of the ring. Like a street gang the Horsemen were feared in the eventual World Championship Wrestling (they changed their name to WCW after billionaire Ted Turner purchased their organization) as they took on and beat all comers.
Anderson continued to be a fixture in the pro wrestling world after the initial iteration of the “Four Horsemen” in the mid to late 1980′s. He eventually left the company to work for the World Wrestling Federation (WWF) with his partner Tully Blanchard.
Then in the early 90′s he returned to WWF and re-started the Horsemen.
Enter the NWO
The eventual demise of the Horsemen as a viable top tier faction came when WCW made the major storyline shift and started something called the “New World Order” in 1996. That faction was originally started by three men: Scott Hall, Kevin Nash and Hulk Hogan. Hall and Nash had come over from WWF as part of an invasion storyline. While in WWF they were top stars so their appearance in WCW was unprecedented and drew intense interest. But intense interest turned into unprecedented interest when they brought a third man into their group. That third man was Hulk Hogan. Prior to this Hulk Hogan had been the face of pro wrestling and always played a good guy or “babyface”. When he turned bad or “heel” it shocked not only the wrestling world but attracted a lot of mainstream attention.
That move changed the trajectory of the company Eventually the NWO storyline became the dominant storyline for the company. Unfortunately for the “Four Horseman” that dominance came at the expense of all the other wrestlers. The way the shows were written had the evil, yet cool NWO destroying all the competition. One of their first major feuds was with the “Four Horseman”.
“It would’ve been fine if we could’ve fought back,” said Anderson. “That’s the way the creative went.”
One time when many in the wrestling world thought the NWO group went too far was when they did a parody of the “Four Horsemen” right after Anderson had to retire from in-ring work due to ongoing injuries. Many felt the parody took too many cheap shots at Anderson. “That would’ve been fine if I would’ve still been in a position to have a six week program or six month program as long as the guys that got wronged other then getting their nose rubbed in it week after week after that, if we could’ve just fought back,” said Anderson.
WCW goes out of business
Following the eventual demise of WCW in 2001 Anderson took a job with World Wrestling Entertainment (they changed from WWF to WWE in 2002). He worked backstage as a producer and in other capacities for around 19 years. Anderson would occasionally show up on WWE television in a “Legends” capacity.
Along the way he worked a lot with Cody Rhodes. Rhodes was the real-life son of Dusty Rhodes who Anderson feuded with back in the 1980′s with the original Horsemen.
Fast forward to around 2019 when Anderson admits he was starting to get burned out by the constant workload at WWE he got a call from Rhodes. At this point Rhodes had left WWE and started the new upstart All Elite Wrestling (AEW) alongside the son of Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shad Khan, Tony Khan.
“I was ready to be through with the business when I left WWE,” said Anderson.
“Working for Vince McMahon the expectations were unbelievable. And I had just got burned out. I was ready to be done then Cody Rhodes called me and said I’ve got a company that I’m working for here and working with I wish you’d just come have a look.”
Anderson said he has been with AEW ever since and will remain with the company as long as they’ll have him.
Arn Anderson loses his son
Earlier this year tragedy struck Anderson and his family. His oldest son Barrett passed away at the young age of 37.
“It’s been the hardest thing I’ve ever went through,” said Anderson. “Mornings now are still bad. Evenings when everybody’s went to bed and I’m kind of down on the couch winding down, I still hear a familiar cough. It’s Barrett.”
Some of Anderson’s contemporaries had gone through similar losses. Both Ric Flair and Kevin Nash had lost their sons in years past.
The “Four Horsemen” may ride again
During the interview Anderson surprised host Scott Johnson when he said that he owns the Trademark for the faction. He said he’s considering bringing it back at some point with current wrestlers. His other son Brock is currently a wrestler and Anderson said he’s waiting for the right time.
“The next version which will hopefully be the last,” said Anderson. “I would rather have my son be able to pull his own weight and I would want it to be three guys that you look at them and go ‘Oh S***! This should be good.’”