Friday, July 25, 2008

Ric Flair & the Four Horsemen DVD

Whooo! (just felt like giving one for old time's sake)- the great thing about this documentary is that none of it is WWE footage because the Horsemen have never been in the WWE. I enjoyed most of this documentary, going a little over 2 hours in length because you got to hear about a group that was a groundbreaking entity through it's highs and lows and really get to know how these guys lived. There are tons of stories throughout about the high life that they lived and the notoriety they had and that came with the name Horsemen. There were a lot of bad times too and members they didn't necessarily agree with and that all came to light as well. I thought Flair was surprisingly candid, stating his career was over, he didn't care anymore. Arn was as well spoken as always and had a lot of insight. Other people featured on the DVD were J.J Dillon(who was just happy to be at the parties), Tully Blanchard(who was a real heel in his day), Barry Windham (looking really bad but forgave Flair for leaving with the World Title), Paul Roma(who for some reason buried Flair and Arn and put himself over), Chris Benoit(who was still marking out over being a Horseman) and Dean Malenko(who takes 20 minutes to tell a joke that he telegraphed), as well as Horsemen adversaries such as Dusty Rhodes and Paul Ellering. The only thing that gets old on these DVD's are the retreaded stories, such as Flair and Dusty's feud, Flair and Steamboat's matches and Flair's WWE debut. All of these things have their place in history but have already been covered on other DVD's and didn't need to take up time here. Eric Bischoff came off as a real ass (no surprise) and back stepped through a lot of his words and actions, offering no real reason for his hatred of Flair and why he wanted to bury him. All in all, I thought it very sad that Arn asked the fans not to remember how they died, but how they were born and it was Arn that coined the phrase 4 Horsemen. I thought this was one of the more enjoyable releases WWE has offered.

As far as the other extras like interviews and vignettes, most of them were quite entertaining, such as the attack on Dusty Rhodes in a parking lot. That was a hell of a piece of business. You realize while watching these that the Horsemen weren't just a stable, but they were doing innovative things like that attack which up until that point, had been pretty much never seen. They didn't just beat people up and win a lot of matches, like Evolution, they took charge and did what they had to do. I'd say the extras are well worth taking a peek at as well.


1) Ric Flair/ Ole & Arn Anderson v. Pez Whatley/ Rocky King/ Italian Stallion (06/22/85)- 5

This was one of the wildest jobber matches I've ever seen. The face team just attacked the Horsemen right off the bat like they were Russell Crowe fighting off paparazzi. You could see Ole off in the corner just dropping bombs on guys. It was real fun. It finally got cornered off and the Horsemen went to work but the faces had another comeback spot even and the Horsemen were making 5 and dime guys look like a million dollars, just like they said they did.

2) Ric Flair v. Ricky Morton (Steel Cage Match,Great American Bash 07/06/86)- 8

"She'll be coming around the mountain when I come," a Flair quote but damn, I'm even singing it along with the praises of this match. I've seen a lot of old NWA stuff recently and the Rock n' Roll's aren't the great team I keep hearing about, but Morton is on fire in this one. First off, Flair makes a Donald Trump like entrance and comes out onto a football field in a helicopter. Then, the action; Flair is selling everything like the greatest in the world and millions of women swoon and millions of men say "Damn, Natch can sell an ass beating!" Then, Morton tries to top him and takes hellacious bumps into the cage and gets a nasty bulging cut over his eye and spews man blood from his head. These guys work the cage and use it to every advantage, nothing about the stip is a hindrance like so many cage matches before that I've seen involving guys like Hogan, Kane, or Raven. Morton and Flair's chemistry is just off the charts; they do reversals, transitions and tons of great fluid moves that resemble a dance number in a finely oiled machine of a match. Flair gets his token blood and there's a figure four spot and more cage banging and some close near falls and Morton really is the face in peril of legend. Flair finally gets the win in this one which turns into a near marathon of frenzied work that still holds up against some of the best matches in the world today. This is the match I'll remember Ricky Morton for from now on and just another golden gem in Flair's awesome collection.

3) Tully Blanchard v. Dusty Rhodes (1st Blood Match, Starrcade '86 11/27/86)- 5

This match was all psych, unfortunately that didn't leave much room for action. Dust splits J.J. open even before the match starts with an elbow to prove he can do it, so Tully is real apprehensive, you know like when you buy tomatoes at the grocery store or agree to go out as
"wingman" for your newly single friend. Anyways, the ref is checking everything, the pace is real slow, as Tully keeps ducking out of the ring. Everything was calculated and all the strikes were dead on, real sharp and accurate. They ended up pulling that old "wipe your guy's head with a towel trick" and Tully used an object to bust open Rhodes head (these days it would simply take him an eyebrow raise to do it) and Tully walks away with the TV belt.

4) The Four Horsemen (Flair, Anderson, Blanchard, Windham, Dillon) v. Dusty Rhodes, Lex Luger, Nikita Koloff, Dr. Death, and Paul Ellering (War Games)- 6

You know War Games- 5 men, two sides, 10 total, 1 cage, 2 rings, tons of blood and lots of brawling- this one was no different. Arn and Dusty started off the right way with both men spewing from their foreheads early and often. The crowd was really hot for this, just screaming at the top of their lungs like they were being pelted with money from high above. I had a problem with this though: the face team's selling- some out and out lazy sells and some blantant no sells while at the same time the Horsemen were bumping and selling their asses off. For some reason every face that came in after Flair did a spot where his chops didn't hurt them and then they would double clothesline Flair and Windham and get some heat. This is still War Games and is still very fun to watch so it's recommendable.

5) Arn Anderson/ Tully Blanchard v. Barry Windham/ Lex Luger- 6

Barry and Lex were the young babyfaces in this match and the crowd was erupting fireworks for them. They were both young and still very mobile while the heels were just bumping machines. I loved that the Horsemen let the faces get their heat for a big spot, but then they took it right back and started working over them. Windham worked over 85% of the match and was brilliant, bumping big for Arn's high spots (DDT and Spinebuster). Tully was fantastic over acting when Windham kicked out of his finish (Slingshot suplex) The finish was good in theory, but Anderson taking a chair bump from Dillon with Luger in control wasn't as smooth as it would have been with Windham. Jim Ross said this started a new era in Tag Team wrestling; he must have been right because Arn and Tully soon left after this one for greener pastures (New York)

6) Sting/ Nikita Koloff v. Arn Anderson/ Tully Blanchard- 7

The match started out in a pier sixer, for you Gordon Solie marks, with Sting and Tully bitchslapping each other. This trend continued throughout the whole match, as neither guy seemed to give an inch against the other. Anderson was smoother than a frappachino during this one and kept a great pace. Nikita bumped like a madman especially on an Arn DDT that made me squirt. They had complete control of the momentum of this match and they took the fans on a roller coaster ride before settling on a Dusty finish that actually worked. I'd be remissed if I didn't mention Sting's Balls to the Wall plancha that set me on fire so bad I wanted to paint me and my friends' faces right then and there.

7) Ric Flair v. Arn Anderson (Fall Brawl '95)- 9

I really can't say enough good things about this match. I've never seen it before so i wasn't sure what I was expecting but it surpassed them. Both men show PASSION here and it's so fucking lemonade (refreshing). You have to know they know this will probably never happen again but it's totally worth them getting pissed at each other just to do this match. They work it hard for nearly 25 minutes and prove that even in '95 both men were an asset to the company and to the sport. The pace is built damn near perfectly, with lots of great but basic scientific wrestling to start off the first 8 to 10 minutes then they start exchanging strikes; Flair chops and Anderson left hands and both men are giving them their due credit. The pace keeps building from there where you even have some floor bumps with Flair getting backdropped and Arn taking a vertical suplex. The fans pop big every time Arn outshines Flair and Tony Schiavone and Bobby Heenan are on during this whole match, just pushing the story aspect and comparing them as near equals except for the fact Flair's a bazillion times World Champion, with the most honest and poignant exchange being Heenan asking "How come Flair never gave Arn a title shot?" and Tony responding with an enthusiastic "That's a good question!"

Arn works the arm of Flair and Flair works the leg of Arn and we've seen all these spots a million times and they just make you want to stand up and salute because they may have never looked better than here. Oh, fuck, i just switched the score from an 8 to a 9 just writing this review- if there's a better more deliberately worked match that works on so many levels than this one please fucking find it and mail it to us for a review- there's so much genius going on in the ring it both pleases and hurts me to watch it. When Flair locks on the figure four and Arn reverses it, I think the world stood still at that time and proclaimed it as a great wrestling moment because the crowd, the announcers, the ref and everyone watching it were total MARKS. Pillman interferes in the finish but it almost doesn't matter because Arn pinning Flair was so huge, the announcers just bypass the fact that he cheated. This rocked my whole reviewing world and I totally didn't expect it to and they didn't use chairs, tables, ladders or even blood to up the ante; they just fucking wrestled and they did it better than anyone out there at that time. Bloody kudos to you, Horsemen.

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