Mark this date on your wrestling calendars…August 25th, 2013. Why that date? It marks the 16th anniversary of the retirement of “The Enforcer” “Double A” Arn Anderson. It would’ve been nicer to write this article on the 15th anniversary…but alas…I wasn’t around…Whatevs…It still doesn’t negate what Arn meant and still means to professional wrestling.
On August 25th, 1997 Monday Nitro emanated from the Carolina Coliseum in Columbia, South Carolina. Aside from the historical moment involving Anderson and the 4 Horsemen, nothing spectacular happened on this show. Unless you were into matches involving Wrath and Mortis vs. The Faces of Fear or Steve McMichael successfully retaining the U.S. title against Eddie Guerrero. There was the segment where JJ Dillon (Via telephone…perhaps 1-800-Collect?) called in to announce a match between Hollywood Hogan and Sting would happen, but other than that…a ho-hum show.
Perhaps that was bad booking or maybe…just maybe…a well designed move by WCW management. The mediocre show allowed Arn Anderson to be the talk of Monday Nitro the day after. The Arn Anderson segment didn’t close out the show…that was left for Lex Luger vs. Randy Savage…it did open the 2nd hour of Nitro..before it eventually switched to a 3 hour format. With the remaining Horsemen of Chris Benoit, Steve McMichael and Ric Flair in the ring…Arn Anderson bid adieu to active competition as a pro wrestler.
The following is the exact transcript of Arn’s retirement speech…
Well, Gene, all I can tell ya’, to get a response like this makes what I got to say tonight mean that much more. Ya’ see, I’m a realist. As everybody knows, I’ve got average size and speed and average ability. But I’ve parlayed that into what I would call a very successful career. And I did that on sheer will alone. But another reality is four months ago they took four vertebrae out of my neck. Consequently, I’m left with a hand, my left hand, too weak to hold a glass, too weak to button a button.
But I thought in my mind, I knew in my mind I could overcome that too through sheer will. And I was doing just like that. I think I’ve come back a long way. But the other day I had something happen in the gym that was like a cold slap in the face of reality. A guy about your size Gene came up and he slapped me on the back and he said, ‘Double A, where ya’ been? We hadn’t seen you on TV.’ And just that slap sent a jolt through me and I dropped the water I was drinkin’ and just for a second my system shut down. And it became crystal clear as I watched the few little drops of water draining out of that bottle the symbolism that was involved. It was like someone had turned an hourglass over and the sand was runnin’ out on the career of Arn Anderson.
Now the fact of the matter is not only do I put myself in a suicide situation by trying to wrestle again, I endanger these two men’s careers and I respect them too much for that. And rather than being anything other than the Enforcer in my best friend’s eyes, I’d rather walk away. And for all of you people out there that have ever bought a ticket to see Arn Anderson wrestle, whether ya’ love me you hate me, you know that when that bell rang you got all I had that night. Whether I won, whether I lost, I gave you everything I had. And you knew that. And when you did this to me (the four fingers extended) that was your acknowledgement.
Well, the fact is I got nothing left to give. And I want you to remember me as I was, not as I am. But being the man that I am, my last act formally as a Horseman, I got one last challenge. And that is to you, Curt Hennig. And don’t misunderstand me. It’s not for a fight. You got something special. I’ve seen you in this ring. Your skills, your maturity, your commitment to excellence make you something special. And what my challenge is to you, Curt, is stand beside my best friend, Ric Flair, and lead these two men back to the glory and the prominence that the Four Horsemen once had. And I’m going to tell you what your prize is. It’s not a spot in the Horsemen. This is worth a lot more than that to me. I’m going to give you the only thing I got left. Not a spot. I’ll give you my spot.
This particular episode of Nitro was a huge ratings success scoring a 4.97 rating with an 8.2 share…a typical RAW rating nowadays hovers around the high 2’s with a recent RAW delivering a 2.96 rating…Just as a comparison.
The speech was ripe with real emotion, some sadness, some relief and some reassurance…all while his true long time friend Ric Flair wept by his side. The speech lasted a little over 9 minutes…9 minutes to say goodbye to a career that spanned over 15 years with some of the most memorable matches, promos and moments wrestling has ever witnessed. When Arn said farewell and retired, a piece of all wrestling fans who followed his legendary career retired with him. A piece of your childhood ended…you felt the emotion of that moment.
From his early days as “Super Olympia” to his infamous days as “The Enforcer,” Arn Anderson did everything and anything to help the sport grow. Protecting it and its history like he protected Ric Flair during a title match. The only thing that ever eluded him was becoming a World Champion himself. Something I’m sure he desired, but never complained about once. He was a 4 time NWA/WCW World TV Champion…5 time Co-holder of the NWA/WCW World Tag team Championship…1 time Co-holder of the WWF tag team titles and of course original and long standing member of the elite 4 Horsemen stable.
Arn Anderson epitomized what an Anderson was and meant…even though he was never a real Anderson. (none of them were) Marty Lunde (Arn’s real name)was well versed in all aspects of the squared circle whether on promos, technician or ring psychology.
Arn’s absence as an active wrestler is still in many ways felt today. His is a dying breed of wrestlers who protect its secrets and preserve its rich history no matter what. Thankfully, the WWE has enough respect and admiration for him to use his valuable wealth of knowledge as a “Road Agent.”
No doubt about it, Arn Anderson was/is an “unsung” hero of WCW history. After his emotional and powerful speech on August 25th, Eric Bischoff decided it would be a great idea to do a parody of it. On September 1st, 1997 they did just that. Nash (as Anderson), Syxx (as Ric Flair), Bagwell (as Curt Hennig) and Konnan (as Steve McMichael) made a mockery of a sincere, emotional moment. Many fans and the Horsemen were livid…In a way, the parody perhaps became an “unsung” victory for the WWE in the Monday Night Wars…Unsung…just like Arn Anderson himself.
4 thoughts on “Arn Anderson Is Pro Wrestling”
and we curse Bischoff to this day for it…Double A was one of the best in the ring and on the mic.
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