For you southerners that spent your childhood from the mid-80s on out, there was a staple of the home that should never be overlooked when remeniscing about the good ol' days: wrasslin'. There was something alluring about watching grown men on TV almost pummel themselves while wearing tights, boots, and occaisionally make up. Yet we could get involved with the half-believeable plots and cheer for our heroes. However, nothing was better than loving to hate the bad guy, and there were no better bad guys than Ric Flair and the Four Horsemen.
WWE put out this documentary on DVD to chronicle the rise and fall of the four horseman, wrestling's first "coalition" of athletes that traveled as a gang in the ring. As a brand, there were no more successful and influential elements than the 4 Horsemen. But for every move, every jumping, and every off-camera push of who they were, a price was paid.
I loved this 2-disc DVD because you had a chance to experience a re-telling of how the Horsemen came to be and what it was like for the stars to push those storylines on and off television. It was so amazing to see the contrast of their characters and the environment they were playing for. The Horsemen didn't have the luxury of NWO and DX and Evolution of playing to sold-out arenas. These guys started in a 100-person studio on Superstation TBS. The Horsemen didn't have action figures, T-shirt lines, movie roles outside of wrestling like John Cena, Hogan and The Rock. There were no guaranteed contracts. They had a lifestyle based solely on performance. So when the Horsemen spoke, injured somebody, or sold their moves to the point of serious injury, they were doing it as earnestly as a wrestler could. Back then these guys were real to us, and watching the DVD gave them more life because you can see the drive behind their actions.
What's interesting is the way the interviews are conducted. For one, you don't hear from Ole Anderson, a core Horseman. And when the Horsemen and their "foes" talk about the matches, they speak of them as true storylines that took place and not as actors who played in them. When Tully Blanchard speaks about the day they kicked Gene out of the group, he doesn't say "well, we had this storyline where Gene was booted out for not spending time with us. Really, he just needed a break." He speaks of it as if it were a true betrayal.
Yet the ultimate politics that led to their demise is chronicled with most drama by Ric Flair and Barry Windham. They provide the most insight to how the Horsemen franchise fell out of favor once corporations took over. Whether you like wrestling or sports entertainment or not, the element of corporate takeover is always controversial.
Disc 2 is full of matches from when the Horsemen ruled. If you've never watched a match involving them, be prepared to get sucked in. The camera angles that were used were so risque because a wrestler's ability to sell a move can make or break an industry, and these guys were top sellers. There were many lesser-known competitors that were afraid to get in the ring with these guys because, more often than you think, they didn't mind landing a real punch or two. I winced many, many times watching the Horsemen chop a guy in the chest or truly kick someone in the ribs. The match between Ricky Morton and Ric Flair, who makes his entrance via helicopter and red carpet, was a steady reminder of how much you loved to hate the Horsemen. Ric Flair was cursed, given the finger, and harassed from start to finish- by the fans!
If you want to watch wrestling back when it wrasslin, this is a must-rent. The Four Horseman begat DX, NWO, Evolution, NOD, The Acolytes, and any other coalition you could think of.There was always a first, and the Horsemen were them.