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The Forty Horsemen were a wrestling stable in the NWA-National Wrestling Awareness and World Championship Wrassling WCW in the 1980s and 1990s. It included various athletes through its different incarnations including: Nature Guy Ricky Flare, Enforcer Arnold Appleton, Barry Wind em', Lex Luthor, Ole' Appleton, Sid Viscous, Stink, Telly Bleachard, Shawn "Mongo" Michaels, Chris Ben...Gentleman Chris Adams, Dan Malenko, the Giant (idiot), Buddy Holly, Richie Valens and the Big Bopper. They achieved dominance in the sport, holding many titles. They are considered to be the greatest stable of all time, except of course, for the Dungeons and Dragons of Doom.
edit Humble Beginnings
It all started when Nature Guy Ricky Flare broke into the "sport of kings" in the old northern southeastern territory which was running a lot of shows in the west those days (1980-something). In a "swerve" that got the "smart marks" to think there was "heat" with the "boys in the back" Arnold Appleton of the Michigan Department of Road Crews was teamed up with the young buck, Ricky Flare. They had chemistry and the bookers couldn't wait to get them to team up again and again.
However, they would regret putting these two together, as they soon teamed up with Appleton's crotchety brother- Ole' Appleton. Known for his long and boring rants on who's talented, he was the heart of the nascent team. Finally, they woo'd (pun fully intended) lucha star Telly Bleachard away from a promising career in the Consuelo de Pro-o Wrestl-o del Mundo-o. With Mr. Dillon leading the team or just yelling from the side of the ring and looking fat, they were a force to be reckoned with.
Now flush with power, they ran roughshod over such luminaries as that one hairy jobber, Leaping Lanny Poffo and Tiger Chung Lee. However, as with most things, this team was just to sexy to coexist. Ole' Appleton soon became known for his "shoot" interviews, where he revealed all to the "dirtsheets". David Meltzer published this information and Ole' was kicked out. His ouster may have been a blessing in disguise as they gained the most technically gifted athlete and super villan of all time: Lex Luthor.
edit The Luger Era
Lex Luthor prepared the team to a new level of greatness. With his fearsome torture rack and his habit of scratching his nuts all the time while wrestling for no good reason, carried the team. "The Most Disgusting Player in the Game" went on to capture a version of the world title (it's no World Class title for sure) from Handsome Harvey Racist, the team of Telly and Arnold went on to win the Tag Belts from....probably the Rock and/or Roll Xpress and Lex would win the 4th most prestigious belt in the history of our great sport, the United Nations Title! You could say they had a Flare for the Gold! Haha, I know, too funny!
This was also a Golden Era for the team when it came to promo prowess. Slicky Ricky was still working on his trademark "Well you know something Mean Jean, I've been hanging and banging for 40 days and forty nights and I've got the guns pumped up so huge, that I was out wrestling Tiger Sharks, brother", Arnold was known for his cerebral style "B. Brian Blair is the gay, he is a worse than a Michael Jordan, I mean ah Michael Jackson, I should have broke his back, fuck his ass, make him humble". Telly was on to something new as well "Arnold, get the tables" and Luger's incoherent screams and inability to pronounce most words made the crowd shudder with delight whenever he was on the mic.
Once again, sexual tension would ruin a good time for everyone. Lex Luger was involved in the 1987 "Bunkhouse Buck and Terry Fuck Invitational", which was kinda like a battle royale' but more southern. Anyway the last two people were in the ring, Mr. Dillon and Lex Luthor. Mr. Dillon asked Lex Luthor if he'd please "get the fuck out of the ring before I hire someone to kill you". Lex Luthor was fine with "doing the job", but when he was climbing out of the ring he accidently gave Mr. Dillon the torture rack and threw him out of the ring. Unfortunately, there was a big misunderstanding and Lex Luthor was served with papers (divorcing him from the forsemen the next day).
edit Our Hearts Will Go On
After this terrible break up the Horsemen were CRUSHED! It was bad enough that they had lost Luthor, but now they were having difficulties with long time friend Dustey Rhodes. It all began when Arnold Appleton got a bat caught on Dustey's arm and broke it. All the marks thought he was doing it on purpose, but Flair lost the title to the "Fat Guy" at Some Crappy NWA PPV. Luthor as well was chipping away at the Horesman's power. He had formed a team with best friend and life partner Barry Wind Em'. However, the group still had some tricks up their sleeves (or hooves).
For weeks Barry Wind Em' accused Lex Luthor of selling out to the Horsemen, saying things like "admit it Lex, you sold out" and "puh-leeeze, you sold out" and leading chants at the ECW arena of "you sold out, you sold out". Bob Caulde even had fans respond on the NWA wrestling hotline (kids don't bother with your parent's permission call now!). A majority (52 percent thought Lex had sold out). However, when they came out on the....I don't know, let's say "Rugged Ronnie Garvin Transitional Champion Hour Show", Barry proceeded to ATTACK his beloved partner and reveal that he had actually sold out! Fans were so shocked and they couldn't believe Barry's interview after. "The first thing you gotta do is tell these fans to shut up if they wanna hear what I have to say. For however many years I've wrestled I did it all the kids and the charities and the reception I got when I came out here, you fans can stick it."
So the feuds continued, for a really, really really long time.
edit The Tokyo Dishonorable Change of Finish
While these feuds went on for some time, none was more controversial than the one between Ricky Flare and Tatsasasumi Fujikawa. With anti-Japanese sentiment at an all time high, it was only a matter of course that these two would duke it out "for the strap". However, it was clouded in controversy. At a match that would be known as the "Tokyo Dishonorable Change of Finish". At the Tokyo Eggo Dome in Kyoto, China it was Ricky Flare's last day in country. Giant Baba wanted him to drop the belt to Fujiwata. However, Ricky Flare exercised his "refuse to job" clause in his contract. Baba relented and said it would be schmozz DQ and that he wouldn't have to drop the strap. However, during the match, Fujiyama slapped on Flare's own Figure Eight Leg Lock and referee Kenji Hebner called for the bell! Baba was seen at ringside screaming "Ring the bell and honor our ancestors"! Flare was shocked and spit directly at Baba saying he was "Going to WCW"!
This was a real bad situation as WCW was without a champion. However, it was an easy fix, at SuperFight I, they just got some Japanese guy and called him Tatsuo Fujipawa and had him job to Flare. Easy smeasy!
edit About Face
For some reason, people started cheering the horseman. Telly had retired from the sport to pursue his hobby of doing coke a lot and Wind Em' left for the green pastures of Somwhere. So that left Ricky and Arnold to figure out what to do. The first choice was easy, get back the cranky Ole' of course. But they needed to fill the final spot with someone who could be the future of the sport. Someone who was a role model for kids everywhere and had no logical reason to join, that person was the Stinker himself, Stink!
During Stink's two weeks in the Horsemen he showed great prowess at getting the job done. So much so that he was granted a title shot. When he signed the contract, Ole, Ricky and Arnold proceed to "jump him out" and declare him "not their BFF anymore". This was the end of the cheers for the Horsemen, OR WAS IT? Yes.
For once, the Horseman had miscalculated. Sure they had young, sexy newcomers like Sid Viscous, Ole' Appleton and Arnold Appleton, but the stinker proved to be too much for them to handle. On Some Month in Summer during the Great America Beach, Stink lived out his "boyhood dream" of not jobbing to Ric Flair and won the prestigious "Big Ugly Belt". The Horsemen were incensed and knew they would have to find a new way to get the belt back, even worse the Team of Doom (not to be confused with the Road Worriers) Hacksaw Butch Duggan and The Alllllllllllllll American Ronald Simon were nipping at the heels of Barry Wind Em' and Arnold Appleton. But revenge is a dish best served cold and since they didn't get it for a long time, they must have been quite satisfied with the results.
The plan had been set, the trap was in place, the prey was in sight and other suitable metaphors. Ricky Flare and his married men had done their homework and were ready to execute. They had already mentally conquered Sting, they just had physically beat his husk. They had used something so simple and brilliant that only Ole' Anderson could have booked it: The Black Scorpion.
It all happened one day when Ricky and Arnold were playing racket ball at their local health club. Arnold said, "you know who I hate, Black People and that band, the Scorpions". Ricky froze, fixated on the idea, drool gathered at his lower lip and he voided his bowels and bladder. Then it all began.
The Black Scorpion began to give chilling interviews, magic tricks and chilling voice work. For the rest of 1990 fans all over the world were trying to guess who the Black Scorpion could be. Fan responses included "WCW, I don't watch that hillbilly crap", or "you mean the wrestling that doesn't have Hulk Hogan?" or "what does this have to do with the Surviving Series".
Fans were absolutely captivated as to who this person could be. They weren't alone, so was WCW. While Ole' had booked the most terrifying angle in the history of our great sport, no one knew who the man should be. However, the "scummiest player in the game" stepped up and donned the hood. The peices were all in place for Starrrrrrrrrrrcade 90, "The Pimpdaddy of Them All". Appleton and Wind Em' would be taking on Doom in a St. Louis Streetfight and the Black Scorpion would be taking on the Stinker for the World Title. Mr. Dillon must have been smiling down from heaven as the tag match ended in a screwy double pin, no contest and Stink won clean and revealed Ricky Flare's identity.
Two months later Flare won the title, so I guess they sort of got their revenge, in a very philosophical way.
edit New Territory
Still it wasn't enough for the "Nature Guy". Though his team continued to be the L337 of wrestling in WCW, he was growing more and more vain. When Pizza Hut president and WCW General Manager Jim Herds suggested that he "start jobbing more and make less money and have a stupid gimmick", Flare selfishly refused to "do business". Seeing the writing on the wall, he jumped to WWE, then owned by Vincent K. McMannequin III.
Since Flare had taken out a 3 year lease, with an option to buy, on the Big Gold Belt, he took it with him to WFF. Of course, Ricky Flare would not be able to make an impact if he didn't form a stable (get it?) comparable to the Forty Horsemens. So he put together one of the most elite groups in sports history! First to join was Sir Perfect, Kirk Hennig. It was a natural fit, both were blonde and were reputed to be assholes. The next ingredient was a manager on part with the currently deceased Mr. Dillon. They needed a weasely, conniving character, who had the "brains" to get them out of tight spots. So it was no surprise that they settled on Paul Bearer. To add some pinache to the organization, they needed someone with a ridiculous costume and gimmick, that sounded like a five year old made it up. That was easy, Max Moon came into the mix. They were ready to start, but the next member would come from a shocking turn.
The Horsemen had begun to feud with "Roddy's Rowdies", a stable including Rod Roddy Piper, Brent "Hateman" Hart, Virgin and Hercules (Hernandez). In an amazing Surviving Series match in 1991, Hercules showed his true colors by joining the new Horsemens. It was a shocking turn, but it was ably explained by Flare:"Woooooooooooooooo, Mean Gene, everyone wants to know about the newest Horseman, daddy! It's this simple, Hercules, you're the man, you got the power, you got the glory, you got the look and the tan, woooooooo! I mean, when we looked at what was out there, you were the best of the best, who were we going to get, Paul Roma? Haha, we'd never THINK about letting him into the Horsemen, Wooooooooooooooo!"
Although this turn was seen as a real shot in the arm for the stable, it never really took off. Ricky Flare, in a shoot interview stated that the reason they didn't achieve greatness is because they "totally sucked a dick". While Flare would go on to win the world title, score with Elizabeth and carry around an old WFF tag belt, the Horseman just couldn't break through. Finally, Max Moon turned face and started to feud with Flare, beating Flare in a 1993 "loser leaves town match", sending Flare back to WCW.
edit Strongest Horsemen Stable Ever!
When Flare returned to WCW, it was a changed landscape. He had a no-compete clause from the WFF so he did a talk show segment, "Ricky Flare Enjoys Gold Items". The show was a smash, with old friend Arnold Appleton playing Ed McMahon to Flare's Arsenio Hall (and Nash). Finally, Vader, then WCW champion, insulted Flare by saying his maid (and sexual servant) Fifi was a dude. Flare immediately responded by posting naked pictures of Fifi on his BBS, but since no one had the internet or knew what the hell a BBS was at the time, Vader's insults succeeded at drawing him off the stage and into the ring. The time to reform the horsemen was nigh.
Flare knew that it had been a long time since he formed a stable that didn't suck. He was going to have to be careful about who he chose, only the best could make it in. After long and careful deliberation, he settled on Arnold (again) and Paul Roma. This would certainly not be regarded as the stupidest move ever.
Flare saw more success as he was able to attain the World Title, but not the big ugly strap, because he had lost it at an airport while with the WFF. Arnold and Paul Roma went on to win the prestigious tag titles from.....maybe the Dudes with an Attitude or Somebody Else. So it looked like things were completely "hunky dory" for the fab four (except they didn't, technically have four members at this time. They were also babyfaces at this time, I guess I probably should have mentioned that earlier.
edit Breaking Up is Hard to Do
The Forty Horsemans were doing great, they had the gold, they had the women and they had the style. The classic appeal of the Nature Guy (Phew!), the enforcing style of Arnold Appleton and Paul Roma's more intangible qualities made this the strongest version of the Horsemen ever. They had captured the world title and the tag team titles in short order and there was really not much left to be done by this great team. This is when the issues started.
As it usually does, sexual tension started to erupt between the team. Ricky Flare accused Paul Roma of "lusting after" his french maid Fifi. Roma claimed that they were just friends and Arnold said he didn't like girls "like that". Soon tag team matches became a nightmare for the horseman and accidents started happening. Arnold would accidentally DDT Roma and kick him repeatedly, Ricky Flare would trip, fall and put on his Figure Eight Leg Lock on Paul Roma, Roma would slip up and beat them both unmercifully with a chair and call out to the fans "I'm gonna kill these old timers"! Well accidents will happen, but this was getting to be too much.
On a special interview with the newly arrived Mean Jean Okerfield they laid out their issues. Roma accused them of being "too old" and "holding down the younger talent, like me". Ricky said that Roma was a "jobber" and "spent most of his time staring at the ceiling in WFF". This was the last straw. The Horseman were finished, but there was one more short chapter. Flare agreed to put his WCW title on the line against Roma at Starrrrrrrrrcade 93 to top off an already impressive card. The winner? The fans obviously! Roma went over clean.
edit Getting the Band Back Together
The Horsemen were shattered and for the next two years lay dormant. Sure Ricky Flare and Arnold Appleton would continue to be best friends, business associates and life partners, but the time just wasn't right for the legendary team to come back. It need a spark, it needed a plot and it had to be convoluted. Enter the Stinger.
See, while the Nature Guy and the Enforceskin were as close and as tight as any two men can platonically be, they started having problems. Former WFF star Hal Kogan had burst onto the scene and taken away Flare's world title (he had won it back from Roma). Flare, as was his nature, went crazy. Unable to defeat the scrappy young champion, he enlisted the services (not sexually) of Big Van VAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAADER. However, Vader failed to get the job done, leading to Flare totally freaking out on him. This was all fine and dandy until he called Vader "a balding tub of guts with a jock strap for a mask". At which point Vader broke into tears and beat the shit out of the Nature Guy. Later Appleton and Flare would face Vader in a special handicap match (called as such because all three men are thought to be "special" mentally). Vader would get the win and Flare would freak out on Appleton.
At Autumn Battle 95 the two would lock it up, one on one. While most people were in the bathroom during this match, it was noted that the Faces of Queer (Mink and the Bavarian), the American Gay Males (Mucus Alexandria Sackwell and The Other Guy, Colonel Tom Petty and Numerous Others were ringside for this very important match. One such other fellow was none other than the currently deceased Flying "Bryan" Pillman. During the match, Pillman jumped up on the apron, for no real reason, and started talking the smack to Flare. Flare jawed back and Pillman punched him, to which Flare responded with a punch. Because he's an idiot, Flare turned his back to Pillman, who kicked him in the back of the head. This revealed that Arnold and Bryan were "in cahoots", "colluding", "on the same sheet of music", "in conspiracy together" and probably sharing drugs.
Now Flare was at a real disadvantage. He knew he needed a partner and he chose one that would sure to join with him, Max Moon! But, Max Moon was no longer active, so he went with the next best choice, Stink! Stink, remembering how many times he'd been stabbed in the back by Flare refused. However, Flare used the underhanded tactic of face-painted children to get Stink to see it his way. Dusty Rhodes' analysis (and girth) put it far better than I ever could.
Anyway, because Stink is an idiot (I mean look at that hair) he agrees. They teamed up at Halloween Horror 95. Guess what happened? That's right Flare turned on Stink, but if I may be serious for a moment, watch the crowd's reaction. It is fricking awesome how they are chanting "We Want Flare" and cheering the crap out of him but turn on him completely. It's actually pretty well done.
Anyway, at the end of the beatdown, Ricky Flare announced "Mean Jean, what you gotta understand is these men came from a great big organization up north and who knows more about that organization than me? These are the men, these are the new blood, you can call them the New Four Horsemen of Wrestling. So what are you gonna do when the New World Organization runs wild on you, huh what are you gonna do?" They were off to a roaring start.
Oh somewhere along the line Chris Ben................Jericho joined up. Yep, Chris Jericho, I remember quite clearly that was the guy and he wrestled Chris..............topher Daniels at Fall Brawl 96. Fun little match there for sure. Yet Chris Jericho of the Horseman taking on Christopher Daniels, a wholesome match, no violence against children or women involved and everyone went home just find after the match.
edit I Respect You Booker T!
While things were finally getting back to normal in the Horsemens camp, things were about to get hairy. Flying "Bryan" Pillman was starting to act a little crazy, then he started acting even more crazy. He ended up grabbing Bobby "The Brian" Heeman during an episode of Monday Nyquil and the Brian was heard to remark "It makes me sad when you touch me like that". Although Pillman later apologized and baked a pan of delicious brownies for "The Brian", tensions were high.
Well "The Bassmaster" Kevin Sullivan's Grocery was pretty angry about the whole deal. He didn't think that Pillman was ready to be a horseman and despite not being a horseman or even friendly with the horseman, the Bassmaster decided it was his business and started to tell Arnold Appleton that Pillman didn't belong. I mean, sheesh, what a busybody! Anyway, this resulted in a "I respect you strap match", which is a fancy way of saying that you beat the other guy (with a strap occasionally) until they say that they respect the other guy. This was set for Superbrawl Saturday VI: Will Konnan Achieve the Boyhood Dream of the US Title?
Well the match was bizarre to say the least. The Bassmaster came to the ring and then Pillman. After only two minutes and one strap hit, Pillman remarked "I respect you Booker T" and left. Arnold Appleton came out to uphold the honor of the Horsemens, but then Ricky Flare gave them both a pep talk about the importance of family, proper nutrition, solving conflicts through non-violence and finally killing Hal Kogan and every single Halk-o-Maniac with a rusty saw.
While this was a heart warming moment for all you marks out there, it was the end of Pillman in the Horsemen. It is only known today what he meant by "I respect you Booker T". It seems that Booker T had a vested interest in the match (read: he was gambling on a fixed match). He was down on his luck as his partner Stevie Ray Vaughn had spent all of their money on knife-scar creation surgery, flame pants and Breath-Rite Strips. So Booker T stepped into re-fix the fixed match. Threatening that if Pillman didn't throw the match, that he would eat Pillman's pet turtle. Pillman duly did the job.
Pillman was never the same after that. After that match he died (2 years later).
As a small consolation, Ric Flair ended up winning the world title from Randy Sewage when "The Lovely Elizabeth" betrayed him and gave the "Natural Guy" an "international object" her shoe. The Horsemens were on top here in January of 1996, but they needed a forth member, preferably someone who couldn't wrestle.
edit This Place is Apropos and That Don't Mean You're Digging in the Ground With Farm Implements, Baby!
Very few announcers were as sharp as Shawn "Mongrel" McMichaels. After he delivered cutting lines like the title of this chapters and coined the term "championship place" it was only a matter of time before they would bring the "Monster of Midway Arcade Games" into the world of professional wrestling. He actually started out as a rival of the Horseman.
See it was beautifully set up. During one of his great announcing performances on the WCW Power Hour, Flare came out and claimed to have "had your old lady before you did woooo". Since Debra and Mongrel were currently together at that time, this caused a feud between the two. Ricky said that he would take Arnold as his teammate and that Mongrel could pick any partner he wanted. Surprisingly Shawn picked old teammate, Jim McMahon. Ricky Flare was beside himself with rage "I said anyone that wasn't a quarterback!" and stormed off.
While McMahaon had picked probably the greatest partner possible, in wrestling, apparently you also need a coach. Well, they got none other than the Matzoh Man himself, Randy Sewage to help out. Given the ability of the "Rowdy One" to strategize, there was no doubt that this was a tough team to beat. However, the Horsemen had a trick up their sleeve and hired Bobby "the Brian" Hemman to be their "corner man". The stage was set was an apocalyptic confrontation at everyone's favorite American Bash, Fall Brawl.
As Jesse Ventura used to say "the electricity is so thick you can cut it with a knife, Jesse!" The two teams squared off, MacMichael's burning hatred for the Horsemen led him to take a crapton of money, hit MacMahon in the face with it and become the newest addition to the four horstmen. Truly one of the greatest nights in the history of our great sport.