Tossing Salt – Worldwide News
May 28, 2015
Hello and how the heck are you? I’m Doug and this is pro wrestling’s most eclectic wrestling column since 2002, “Tossing Salt – Worldwide News”. I’m in a writing mood and have wrestling on the mind. I’m thinking about the most elite faction in wrestling history, the Four Horsemen and also have that little thing coming up on Sunday, the Elimination Chamber, on my mind. There’s no time for small talk. Let’s just get right to it, shall we? And away we go…
The Four Horsemen…
So here I am at the house on a hot and very humid Thursday morning. It’s a rare day off where I have no committments or responsibilities to anyone and actually have a full day for myself. And having just said that out loud, I’m sure my phone will start ringing at any moment now or else someone will come knocking at the door and say those magic words, “I need a favor”. I just hope that whoever it is, he’s cute. But anyhow, what was I saying? It’s a lazy day and I’m fresh out of the shower and going through my drawers looking for something comfortable and appropiate to wear as I attempt to find creative ways to hide from the world and avoid any and all responsibility. A pair of shorts? Check! And a t-shirt? Absolutely, but what shirt should it be? The nWo black and white? Nah! How about the nWo red & black Wolfpac shirt? Nah! The “Peep Show” shirt? My Kevin Nash “Big Sexy” shirt? How about the classic DX t-shirt with HHH, Chyna, X-Pac and the New Age Outlaws gracing the front? Once more, it’s a negative. And then I see it. One of my classic favorites, the vintage “Four Horsemen” t-shirt, with Ric Flair, Arn Anderson, Chris Benoit and Steve “Mongo” McMichael on the front. It’s fading and worn out and even has a small hole in the front , but it’s one of my favorites and since it’s the Horsemen, it never goes out of style.
And that got my mind to working and pondering about something. We all know that the legendary Four Horsemen franchise is one of the most revered and elite names in professional wrestling. There are many groupings of professional wrestlers that are respected and made an impact in our sport such as Evolution, the nWo, Degeneration X, The Corporation, The Hart Foundation and the Mean Street Posse, for example, but when it comes to being first, setting the standards and being the symbol for excellence, the Horsemen are the top of the line. Some may argue and disagree, but when you lay out the history, the impact, the legacy and just the amount of championship gold held by the men who represented that infamous faction, the arguments are pretty mood. When it comes to groups and factions in professional wrestling, you have the Four Horsemen and then you have everyone else. ‘Nuff said!
But who are the best Horsemen? Who are the men who really set the standards and fit that “elite” status the best? Yes, I’m going to take a few minutes and look at the fifteen men who wrestled as part of the Horsemen and do my best to rank them as to who, in my opinion, was the worst to the best. I’m not including the managers and valets (James J. Dillon, Woman, Miss Elizabeth, Debra, Baby Doll, Dark Journey, Hiro Matsuda, Fifi) because while they were a part of the mystique and image of the Horsemen and each served to helping and building the legacy in some way to varying degrees, they were not active wrestlers and not technically “Horsemen”, at least not in my opinion. I also won’t include the men who were associated with the Horsemen, like Butch Reed, Michael Hayes, David Flair or Kendall Windham. They were associates and allies, but not true Horsemen. This is about the men who walked that aisle, styled and profiled and had that true moment in the sun as one of wrestling’s most elite.
So far as my methods and standards for how I’m doing my ranking and determining the best and worst of the group, there are no set standards. I’m just calling it like I see it and who I felt helped set the bar and truly belonged and who I felt was in over their heads and were not up to the Horseman standard. We’re doing this from the bottom to the top with the least effective Horseman starting things off and we’ll move up to bigger and better as we determine who the best of the best really and truly is / was. So let’s do this…
Jeff Jarrett: Why is the so-called “Chosen One”, who had a brief stay with the group in 1997, at the bottom of the list as the worst Horseman? It’s pretty simple actually. In his book, Arn Anderson says that Jeff Jarrett was never a true Horsemen and was never part of the group. While I actually like Jarrett as a performer and think he’s an excellent wrestler, if “the Enforcer” says that Jarrett was not a Horseman and doesn’t belong, then so be it.
Curt Hennig: Another fantastic wrestler and amazing talent who should be near the top in theory and if given the opportunity, could easily have been one of the top men in WCW, a potential World Champion and a true leader for the Horsemen. But the powers-that-be at WCW used Hennig as their pawn, forced the Horsemen to take him in as a member and then did the whole “betrayal” thing a few weeks later. He took Arn Anderson’s “spot” and then turned on the team a couple of weeks later and while this doesn’t detract from Curt’s abilities or reputation as an incredible performer and talent, it does destroy any chance for a potential legacy as a member of the Horsemen.
Paul Roma: I’m kind of mixed about Paul Roma. Everyone was expecting Tully Blanchard and we got “Pretty” Paul Roma instead. He was a good looking kid and was actually pretty decent in the ring, as multiple tag-team title reigns with both Arn Anderson and Paul Orndorff proved. But was he “Horseman” material? If Arn and Ric had the time and opportunities to work with him and build him up as (for example), Ric and HHH did with Batista and Randy Orton in the Evolution faction, I think that Roma could have had a great future. But things didn’t work out and his legacy as a member of wrestling’s elite is more of a footnote than anything else.
Dean Malenko: Dean Malenko is one of the best pure wrestlers in the world and probably one of the most intense men in the business, but was he really and truly what a Horseman should be? I loved watching Dean perform and his matches against Chris Jericho for example, show just how talented and skilled this man truly is. But when I think of the Horsemen, there should be a touch of bravado and cockiness mixed with the intensity. There should be some of that killer instinct bubbling just below the surface and a willingness to do “whatever it takes” to achieve your goals. I didn’t see that with Dean. He’s a great wrestler and a technician second to none, but as a member of the Horsemen, it just seemed like a strange fit and that he was there more from his relationship with Benoit than any other reason.
Sid Vicious: He’s big and strong and mean and intense and has that great look. He was perfect for the role of the big strong man of the group except for one minor thing. His actual wrestling skills pretty much sucked. With that look and intensity, he really didn’t need to do much in the ring except for a few power moves and look mean and he did that well so he was right for the group at the time. I don’t think he was really ever truly part of the team though and worked better as a solo performer.
Sting: Sting as a opponent for the Horsemen, the “David” against their “Goliath” was perfect. But Sting, who was the top baby-face for the company, alligned with the manipulative and out-for-themselves ego-maniacs known as the Horsemen? It just didn’t seem or feel right, especially when you’d see Sting standing next to Arn or especially Ole Anderson. It made for some good TV and an entertaining and stimulating time for us fans, but it was obvious from the get-go that Sting and The Horsemen was a marriage made in hell and couldn’t last. It wasn’t a question of if they would eventually turn on Sting, but just when.
Steve “Mongo” McMichael: I’m probably one of the few, but I liked Mongo as a member of the Horsemen. His in-ring wrestling ability pretty much sucked and his promos weren’t really all that, but think about it. He didn’t get into wrestling until he was in his late-thirties and that was after a long and extremely successful career in the NFL, including a Super Bowl ring. The body was already broken down at this point so we couldn’t expect much. He gave it his all though. He wasn’t a great wrestler, but Mongo was legit tough and there was something about him that just said “this man is freakin’ crazy!”. Flair and Arn picked him to be a Horseman and he gave a legit sports credibility to the franchise. Also, adding someone like Mongo to a group that included Flair, Arn and Benoit would hide the weaknesses and allow the strong points to shine through. It’s a strategy that Paul Heyman used quite often in ECW with his wrestlers and it worked for Mongo as well. Maybe he wasn’t a great wrestler, but in my opinion, Mongo was a great Horsemen.
Lex Luger: Looking back, Lex was the perfect person to bring in as the Horsemen’s first “associate” and then later on, recruit to replace Ole Anderson. Lex was young, fresh, arrogant and had that great look. That brief time with the Horsemen, and then the later feud after he was “fired”, was what took Lex to the next level and made him a star. Lex might catch a lot of heat these days for his ego or politics, but there’s no doubting that he did a great job in this initial sink-or-swim spot as a member of the Horsemen. He eased right in there and really made a good, strong impact that got people talking and made them stand up and take notice.
Brian Pillman: Brian Pillman had been around WCW for a while and was a good wrestler, but never really impressed me much until two things happened. The first was the tag teaming with the future “Stone Cold” Steve Austin as the Hollywood Blondes. I think that partnership and the time they spent as a team was really the main thing that took them from mid-card level to the main events and pointed each man to the direction it took to really take their career to the top of the card. Austin, as we all know, went on to the WWE and became a beer drinking, hell raising bad ass. Pillman went from the tag team ranks to a certifiable “loose cannon” who would literally do or say anything. He also, around this time, became a member of the Four Horsemen. The main thing I remember from Pillman’s time is that he constantly stirred the pot and caused some major problems between Kevin Sullivan’s “Dungeon of Doom” and the Horsemen. It kept things interesting and exciting and you never knew what to expect when Pillman came to the ring or got ahold of a mic. His time as a Horseman was short, but the impact he was was eternal.
Ole Anderson: I hate putting Ole down this low because in my opinion, if there wasn’t an Ole Anderson, there never would have been a “Four Horsemen” to talk about. Ole was the seasoned veteran of the group and really seemed to be the brains of the group in the early days, setting the direction of the group, be it protect Flair’s title, go after Dusty, etc. The whole gang warfare mentality and sacrifice and protect the titles at all costs were from the Anderson Brothers playbook and Ole, as the mentor for the group, passed it on and helped to make those sentiments part of the Horseman legacy. Ole was stubborn, tough as nails and one of the most dangerous men to ever step into a ring and having him there just gave the group a credibility that few other teams or factions could even dream to match. I may have five other men ranked above him on this list, but have no doubts, Ole was everything that a Horseman could ever strive or hope to be and is a true legend in every way. And on a personal note, the “Four Horsemen” may be in the WWE Hall of Fame, but without Ole’s name being included, put an asterick by that induction because it’s not real or complete. Just saying.
Chris Benoit: The ability and the intensity said it all. If there was any man, aside from the original four or Barry Windham who was meant to be a Horseman and represented everything that a Horseman should be, then Chris Benoit is that man. While not physically the biggest man, the heart and soul of Benoit always made him the biggest man in the room. “Silent but violent” was the description used and how appropiate it truly was. While the way his life ended and the tragedy surrounding those final days will always overshadow what Benoit did in the ring and his legacy as a wrestler and a Horseman, the time he did spend as a wrestler truly made an impact and left an impression as well.
Tully Blanchard: If Ole was the foundation for the original Horsemen, then Tully would be the attitude. Tully was the perfect heel in so many ways, always able to get under the skin of everyone, be it an opponent or a fan and looking great while doing it. He was such a dick, you couldn’t help but feel a grudging respect and admiration for the man even as you booed him and hoped that someone would kick his butt. He would out-wrestle his opponents and then hit them with a chair just because… he didn’t need to cheat to win, but did it because he could. He had the nice cars, the fancy clothes, the beautiful women in Baby Doll and Dark Journey and always made sure that everyone knew that he was better than they are. With Flair, he was entertaining and you liked him despite his tactics. With Ole and Arn, they were straight forward and blunt and even if you didn’t like them, you respected them for their toughness. With Tully, there were no redeeming qualities. He was so annoying and such a brat, you hated him, yet respected him at the same time. And that’s what made him great as both a wrestler and a Horseman.
Barry Windham: A man with so much natural talent and ability, a second generation superstar (son of the great Blackjack Mulligan) and for the longest time, the ultimate baby-face wrestler. No one was sure how he would work out as a heel when he was recruited as a Horseman, but the second he did that turn on Luger and gave the tag team titles to Tully and Arn, arguably the greatest Horseman who was not one of the original was born. He had the size to work as a big man, but had the speed and technical ability to match up against anyone as well. He was (no offense to Lex Luger) the true “total package” of professional wrestling. And while he had many good runs as a “good guy” over the years, if you’ll look at the promos and matches he had as a heel and as a member of the Horsemen, that’s when he really seems to be enjoying himself the best and having the most fun. Barry was a natural heel and truly one of the greatest ever to lace up a pair of boots. That’s what made him a great Horseman.
Ric Flair: The 16-time World Heavyweight Champion and the leader of the Four Horsemen. The original purpose of the Horsemen was to protect Flair and protect that NWA / WCW World Championship. The group did it’s job and did it very well. Flair was the leader and called the shots throughout the years and truly is the primary purpose for the Horsemen. The only reason he’s not number one and the top Horseman of all times in my opinion was that often times, Flair seemed to stray a bit and put his own personal interests over that of the group. There was also a few times where it seemed to me as if Flair was taking the team for granted. It all boils down to perception and Flair may have been the leader of the Horsemen, but he wasn’t, in my opinion, the greatest Horseman of all. That honor falls to…
Arn Anderson: The heart and the soul of the group of elite athletes known as the Four Horsemen. While Flair was a multiple-time World Champion and was often out doing things as a singles star, with Arn, it was all about the group dynamic and doing what’s best for the team. Arn had success to be sure, but his best times were always as part of a team, be it the Dangerous Alliance, the Heenan Family and most especially the Horsemen. With every match and every promo, Arn always gave 150% of everything he had and you could always see, hear and feel the pride he had when performing. And the pride he had when he held those four fingers in the air. Flair was the leader of the Horsemen, but Arn was the motivation, the soul, the resolution, the best of the best. Arn and the Horsemen were one and the same in every way that counts and I don’t think Arn would want it any other way.
Diamonds are forever and so are the Four Horsemen. Woooooooooooooo!
And now, with that complete, let’s talk about what’s coming up on Sunday night, exclusively on the WWE Network. Yes my friends, I’m talking about the Elimination Chamber special event. It looks as if it will be a decent show with a lot of great wrestling action and of course, I have some predictions to make. Let’s do this…
WWE Elimination Chamber Predictions…
Elimination Chamber Match for the vacant Intercontinental Championship
Sheamus versus Ryback versus R Truth versus King Barrett versus Dolph Ziggler versus Rusev
As I’m writing this (Thursday afternoon), Rusev is a question mark for this match. It seems that the big Bulgarian bruiser has suffered a leg injury of some type at the Smackdown tapings on Tuesday night and may not be available for this match. If that is the case, I’d expect to see either Bray Wyatt or maybe Luke Harper injected into the match as his replacement. I’d love to see Zack Ryder be given the opportunity, but we all know that’s not going to happen.
This should be an interesting match and it really could go to anyone. Well, anyone but R Truth because we know that he’s not going to win. I don’t think Ryback will either. There’s a role for the “big guy” in the company, but I don’t see the IC title in his future. Not right now anyhow. And Dolph has the Lana / Rusev love triangle thing going on so that’s going to be occupying his time for the next few weeks. The way I’m thinking, it’s going to come down between one of two men, either Sheamus or Wade Barrett. Wade has been losing to everyone on the roster as of late and since being made “King of the RIng”, can’t buy a victory. Sheamus has looked impressive as of late and is probably the obvious favorite. Of all the people involved in this match, he’s the one I’d have the least interest in seeing as the new Intercontinental Champion. So I guess that means he wins. Of course it does…
Winner and NEW Intercontinental Champion: Sheamus
Tag Team Elimination Chamber Match for the WWE Tag Team Championship
The New Day (Kofi Kingston, Big E & Xavier Woods) (c) versus Lucha Dragons (Kalisto & Sin Cara) versus Tyson Kidd & Cesaro versus The Prime Time Players (Darren Young & Titus O’Neil) versus The Ascension (Konner & Viktor) versus Los Matadores (Diego & Fernando)
Where are Axelmania and Macho Mandow? Where are Harper and Rowan? How are they going to fit all of these men in those tiny little pods anyhow? I’ve got a feeling that whoever had the idea for this match made the decision before actually looking at the logistics of this match. Six pods and you’ve got thirteen men, a Diva and a tiny bull all involved in the match. It’s going to be interesting to see how things go and how they prevent this match from becoming total OINGO BOINGO chaos. I really want to see Cesaro and Tyson Kidd back as the champions, but I don’t think that’s going to happen here. The New Day are growing on me more and more each week and I’m really starting to enjoy them as they grow into their gimmick and develop as great heels. It seems as if they’ve really embraced the characters and are just having fun. I like that. I don’t think that the PTP’s, the Lucha Dragons or the Matadores really have a snowball’s chance in hell of winning. I think this would be a great opportunity to really allow the Ascension, who have been pretty much second-rate jokes since coming to the main roster, to really jump out and show why they were so successful in NXT as the tag champions there. Just a quick note here. If the Ascension are going to be viewed as a modern day version of the Road Warriors, why not add to the team a modern day “Precious Paul Ellering”? I know a certain charismatic Canadian who is currently on the roster, but not being used who would be great in a role of that nature, plus it would make the “Peep’s” happy. Just a thought. Yeah, I’m going to pull for the team that I think could do the most with the belts at this point who are not part of the main mix. It’s time for some Ascension.
Winners and NEW WWE Tag Team Champions: Konner & Viktor – The Ascension
U.S. Champion versus NXT Champion (Non-Title)
John Cena versus Kevin Owens
This is going to be a slobber-knocker of a brawl and everything that a champion versus champion match should be. That means no conclusive winner, lots of shenanigans and probably an appearance of some sort by Samoa Joe. Neither man can or should take a clean loss at this point in their feud. It’s way too early so let’s go for the old double disqualification finish.
No Contest – Both Men are Disqualified or Counted Out. To Be Continued on RAW on Monday night…
WWE World Championship Match
Seth Rollins (c) versus Dean Ambrose
What do you get when you add the modern day version of Roddy Piper to a manipulative, desperate champion who has all the tools, but relies on two midgets and a monster to do his dirty work for him? One helluva great match. And that’s what we’re going to get. I’ve noticed that Roman Reigns isn’t on the card anywhere so most likely, he’ll be doing some sort of run-in here to counter the J&J Security and Kane presence. And Seth is going to win and retain the title. I don’t think we have to worry much about Seth losing until Brock Lesnar comes back. Until then, I think that WWE World Championship is pretty safe for Seth and the Authority.
Winner and STILL WWE World Heavyweight Champion: Seth Rollins
Triple Threat Match – WWE Divas Championship
Nikki Bella (c) versus Paige versus Naomi
I really don’t care about this match or any of these ladies, especially after watching the women at the NXT show wrestle. This is the go outside and smoke a cigarette break match. I don’t smoke, but my brother does and since he’ll hopefully be here watching the matches with me, this is where he’ll head out to the porch. I think Brie Bella will get involved and so will Tamina and when all the smoke clears, the one who chose to walk out alone, Paige, will also be the one to walk out with a new partner, the WWE Divas Championship.
Winner and NEW Divas Champion: Paige
Neville versus Bo Dallas
As much as I like Bo Dallas, I don’t Bolieve that he has a chance here. I Bolieve that Neville is going to fly and hit that Red Arrow thing that he likes to do and this match will be short, sweet and given the talents of these two men, do their damndest to steal the show. If these guys are given half the chance to show the mainstream WWE fans what they were doing down at NXT a year ago against each other, it will be one of the best matches of the night. Bolieve that!
And that’s it for the announced matches for the Elimination Chamber special event. As I noted, neither Roman Reigns or Bray Wyatt are officially in any matches on this card and we don’t know what the situation is yet for Rusev’s participation either. Also not wrestling as of yet are Stardust, Heath Slater, Zack Ryder, Adam Rose, etc so I expect that we’ll have another match added at some point between now and Sunday. If a match is announced, I’ll go on my facebook (facebook.com/saltpalace) or my twitter (@doug28352) and do a quick prediction there as soon as I can.
I guess that’s all for me today as well. I’ve talked about the Horsemen and the Elimination Chamber event. Now it’s time for a nap. Thank you for reading. I do appreciate that. Questions and comments can be sent to Doug28352@yahoo.com or the facebook / twitter accounts listed above. I’m Doug and I am out of here or as the great Baron Von Raschke would say, “dat is all de’ people need to know!”. Have a great day.