Arn Anderson was an original, constant member of the Four Horsemen. They were legendary drinkers and partiers, and this road story of Arn getting drunk, passing out, and waking up lost was probably just a typical night on the town for pro wrestling’s most elite group.
Date: mid 1980s
Location: Chicago, IL
Source: What Happened When podcast with Tony Schiavone
The Four Horsemen gimmick was never planned. Like most successes in pro wrestling, it was an organic, accidental move that the NWA lucked into, and the rest was history.
Every weekend on TBS, the NWA had a rigid formula of squash matches and in-studio promos. It was basic and repetitive, yet the shows were still entertaining thanks to a collection of some of the best promo guys in wrestling history. The marquee matches were saved for the arenas and syndicated shows like WorldWide Wrestling.
Tony Schiavone handled the announcing and promos from 1984 to 1989, mostly with David Crockett as his sidekick. Week after week, we got endless great promos from seasoned talkers like Ric Flair, Dusty Rhodes, Jim Cornette, Tully Blanchard, JJ Dillon, the Road Warriors, Gary Hart, and the list went on and on. One of the best on that list was Arn Anderson, who despite looking like he was 40, was really in his mid 20s.
In one promo, Arn nonchalantly referred to himself, Ric Flair, Tully Blanchard, and Ole Anderson as ‘the Four Horsemen.’ It was totally off the cuff and not intended to be anything other than a compelling line of the promo.
Instead, people showed up at the next TBS taping with “4 Horsemen” signs. Tony Schiavone looked at Arn and told him he had just given his group a new name. From that point forward, it just kept growing.
The Horsemen lived their gimmick, being rock stars at the local bar being flown from town to town. Ric Flair was slaying women almost every night, running up enormous bar tabs that ate up most or all of his paycheck. They drank a ton, yet were professional enough to never let it affect their performance in the ring. However late they stayed out, they always showed up for work on time and outwrestled almost everyone else on the show.
In real life, Arn Anderson was perhaps the funniest guy around. He had a dry sense of humor, with a face that was often expressionless and made people around him want to laugh. To this day, he remains Ric Flair’s best friend. The two had terrorized numerous towns in the Southeast together for years, and then did it again in WCW in the 90s after each had short stints in the WWF.
On this night in question, the NWA was all watched on TBS was still owned by Jim Crockett Promotions, well before Ted Turner had purchased the company. They had a house show in Chicago, and after the event, Arn hung out on Rush Street with, among others, Tony Schiavone and David Crockett. Arn had been drinking a lot, and the last time he was standing upright, he was leaning up against the wall with his drink on the ledge, talking to Schiavone.
He then suddenly collapsed. There in the middle of a bar in the Windy City lay the Enforcer, completely out cold.
Schiavone and Crockett, who also had been drinking, had no choice but to drag Arn’s lifeless body to a cab outside. They instructed the driver to take them to the Marriott in Chicago. Once they got there, they continued to drag Arn inside the building.
And then, in a scene straight out of Weekend at Bernie’s, Schiavone held Arn (still passed out) behind a big plant so that nobody at the front desk could see him drunk. Crockett went to the front desk and checked them in, and then came back to Schiavone and helped drag Arn into the elevator.
While Arn was not one of the larger wrestlers in the 1980s steroid era, he was still a husky, powerful, heavy man compared to the average human being. Schiavone and Crockett were just normal civilians, and the two of them had a hard time carrying and holding this big, tough pro wrestler. If you’ve ever had to drag around someone who is unconscious, you know how hard it is even if the person isn’t all that heavy. In addition to the dead weight, you have to also be careful not to drop him/her and you always have to protect the neck and head.
They finally got to Arn’s room, which we hope wasn’t too far of a walk down the hallway. They unlocked it, propped it open, and were so frustrated that they threw Arn’s limp body on the bed and shut the door.
For several hours, Arn lay passed out in this dark, cold, empty hotel room in Chicago. Schiavone and Crockett didn’t even have the decency to write him a note so that he’d wake up and know what happened, although in their defense, it was probably the last thing on their minds.
The Next Morning
As expected, Arn woke up the next morning and had no idea where he was. This was of course long before cell phones, so it’s not like he could just call or text Schiavone and ask what happened. It’s not known why Arn couldn’t just step outside his room and go to the hotel lobby, or simply call them with the phone number no doubt written on the notepad on the desk with the Marriott logo that all hotels have. Obviously he knew he had a show in Chicago, he knew he drank a lot, and he had to have figured someone put him up in the hotel.
Instead, Arn panicked. He called Bruce McArthur, who was a heavy hitter in Chicago, a wealthy businessman who was a friend/mark to the wrestlers. Bruce’s secretary told Arn he was busy in a meeting.
“I don’t give a sh*t, get him on the phone! I’m in a room and I don’t know where the f*ck I am! Tell him it’s Double A!”
Eventually Bruce came on the phone, and he later sent someone out to get Arn. We have no idea why Arn would have to call someone like Bruce in this situation, rather than call the front desk and ask for any number of Crockett employees who also might be staying in the hotel. Granted, it’s possible Schiavone and/or David Crockett stayed at a cheaper hotel nearby, but there had to have been someone like Flair or Dusty staying there too. While they probably didn’t use their real names or even their wrestling names in the hotel, they must have had known aliases that the boys all knew. Was Arn really this helpless that he needed to call someone to come and get him?
Schiavone did say that in hindsight, they should’ve left him a note. Then again, Arn took it upon himself to drink well past the point of no return, and when that happens, you’re responsible for whatever happens next.
Some of you will think of this story and then remember how Kevin Nash mocked Arn’s drinking in that infamous nWo parody of the Horsemen in 1997. It should be known that Arn had no problem with that parody, but his family absolutely did. It’s unfair to single Arn out for a drinking episode that almost everyone else in the locker room has done before too. Anyone who has hung out with Flair knows how much they’d drink when they were around him, and Arn was around him all the time. When that happens, stuff like this happens.
We’re glad Arn was okay, and we think the visual of the supposed toughest Horsemen alive lying motionless and helpless on some hotel bed, being left for dead by Schiavone and Crockett, is hilarious.