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  1. #1

    The Fragments That Form Flair, The Greatest World Champion Vol 4: Hammering Down the Violence.

    The Fragments That Form Flair, The Greatest World Champion Vol 4: Hammering Down the Violence



    Https://Ric Flair and Greg Valentine/the Andersons/ NWA World Tag Titles/1976-1977




    The makings of the Horsemen go back to Ole Anderson and Ric Flair. When you think of Horsemen traits you think of the following: manipulating and mastermind, psychological and cunning, violent and dangerous, partying and championship winning. Ole carried some of those traits, Flair some, and the rest they shared.


    In early 1976, Flair returned from his plane wreck and teamed with Blackjack Mulligan and his kayfabe cousins, the Andersons. As they say, there’s no honor amongst thieves, and thieves never got thicker than the Andersons, thus in this interview, Flair couldn’t help but place his eye on Ole and Gene’s NWA World Tag Team Titles. Flair, on a whim, threatened to challenge his cousins.


    Flair declared, “there is excitement in the air with Mulligan and Flair...everybody knows, individual or as a team, we're the greatest wrestlers in the world. We can go anywhere in the world and beat anybody, and let me tell you something: it gets down to me, I just came to the realization that the Blackjack and I are gonna be tagging up a lot in the future, and you know what, Cuz? We might even remove you from those belts, there.”


    Flair and Mulligan walked off, leaving Bob Caudle to grill Ole. Ole dismissed the comments, saying he doesn’t want to get into family matters. Then, Anderson turned on the NWA officials for driving those young talents to target their vim and vigor at he and Gene. He vowed his team would hurt everyone who got in their paths to discourage other challengers. In his Disney’s Goofy kind of inflection, Caudle rebutted, “You can’t maim everyone you face, Ole.” Ole double downed that they indeed can and would.


    Here, we see the Anderson psychology at its best: planting the seed that Flair had his eye on their belts, while watering it with a personal reaction from Ole. They didn’t go all out, here. That way when they harvested the seed, there’d be something juicy to pick. I’ve seen Matt Hardy and his brother, Jeff, wrestle matches where their brotherhood didn’t feel real. Here, we have a kayfabe family letting you feel what it’d be like if your brash cousin made a spontaneous threat to challenge you on your hometown television.


    Between here and September, Flair warred those previously documented battles with Wahoo. Aside from their single bout bloodbaths that brought about Mid Atlantic heavyweight title exchanges between Flair and Wahoo, Flair often teamed with Blackjack or the Andersons to challenge Wahoo and men like Andre the Giant or Dusty Rhodes or Paul Jones.


    But, it wasn’t until September that Flair found his greatest tag partner in his entire career, Greg Valentine. This part of Flair’s legacy is often not spoken of. Probably, because video tape, apparently wasn’t much a thing, and both men had distinguished singles careers in the 1980s. But for people, especially Carolinians, who lived through this time, I’ve heard them reflect on this team with fondness and some grandmothers, with fondling of themselves.


    The Blonde Bombers teamed from 1976 to 1978, with a lot of success. And if I can liken the team to any other as far as its impact on Flair’s career, I’d say his Blonde Bombers team with Greg, was like Austin’s Hollywood Blondes with Flying Brian. Now, the similarities between the characters’ styles may end with three things, both teams consisted of brash up and comers, both sought to take the throne of the rough, veteran Anderson family, and both had classics with Ricky Steamboat. But for Flair, the Andersons’ were his own family!


    However, rather than the teams’ similarities, it’s the importance of these partnerships, I wish to compare. As far as the impact on Flair’s career, his team with Valentine was as important as Austin’s with Pillman.


    To hear Valentine reflect on his team with the Nature boy, you know Flair grew to be the big heel in the area. It’s interesting to note Greg’s father, Johnny was taken out of action by the plane crash almost exactly one year before Greg came to town. Flair had been a partner of Johnny. And it’s his partnership with Johnny that segued Flair into his feud with Wahoo. Over the last eleven months, Flair replaced Johnny as the biggest bad guy in the territory. Valentine said by the time he came in, everyone wanted to be Flair’s partner because of the heat Flair drew with his promos.


    The two wore long robes and blonde hair, but under the lapels and glitter and bleach, these two only had two things in common – they had their whole careers in front of them and were out to gain it all by any means necessary. How a man at the start of something goes about achieving his goals says something about him. Maybe, it’s stress that makes the cockiness and the hard work. But dare I add the irreverence, too? Flair went about attaining everything through ring work, great cardiovascular conditioning, and going wild in his character and promos. Valentine would go sixty minutes, he’d bleed too, he’d work, but he had his own, quiet way of being irreverent. He took a piece of his opponents. He was a rabid bulldog, as thick as he was tall, and he’d take a chunk out of anyone who came in his path. In his early career, he hurt everyone he wrestled. They called him the Hammer because of his clubbing blows, whether it be a forearm to the chest or an elbow to the head. He came into the Mid-Atlantic with vignettes breaking wood with his elbow, and sure enough, he put the beloved Mid Atlantic hero, Johnny Weaver, out with a flying, middle rope elbow.


    Now, Flair began something with Valentine, which would last the rest of his career. By that I mean, Flair’s character didn’t get his hands too dirty; he was a boss. And here, he had Valentine doing the dirty work. It’s much an early version of the Horsemen, but Valentine was his one-man entourage! They backed each other up. They were two hasty, young men ready to take on the world, and the world meant its tag champions, Flair’s cousins, the Andersons.


    After all, Flair set his eyes on those NWA World Titles eight months prior to Greg entering the Mid Atlantic, and he became increasingly frustrated with his cousins giving him direction in their six-man tag matches. He felt he knew better than them what to do. He was Lucifer, proud and better than the highest, themselves. If only he had a chance to do it his way, he’d do it better. Now he had to prove it. With that, the combat, I couldn’t be more excited to see, started!


    You had Ole and Gene, Ole with his mouth but with his grit and Gene with the same grit, who was the first of the Andersons but the quietest. Still, Gene kept a cold, clean countenance that made you know, behind the face-twitching and blinking, he’d seen and done all the Anderson evil. Before all the single acts came to the Mid Atlantic, it was first and foremost a tag area, and the Anderson reinvented tag wrestling inside those ropes. They were the first Mid Atlantic version, NWA tag champions. Those belts would one day evolve into the WCW Titles. They cut the ring in half and were the first to do it! They hurt people. Everything they did, they wanted it to be believed.


    Now, Flair and Valentine, somehow, made the Andersons sympathetic figures. For Ole that’s not an easy task. For Ole as a babyface is like the Uncle, who abuses your poodle, while you’re working. They’re no traits to like about him, but, hell, he’s family and built into the fabric of the area. When he tells you, he’s taking a turn for good, you must give him shelter; though you know, deep down, he’s beating that damn poodle, still!


    But there’s something to love about those four men in the ring— Flair against his cousins and the battle of the bulge between Valentine and the Andersons. These matches often spilt the blood from all four competitors. There were double disqualifications and special guest referees to try to control it. They went at it in cages. But in December, Flair and Valentine bested the veterans for the Titles!


    Flair boasted of holding his first World Title, when he and Valentine came out with the straps. He taunted Ole, telling Ole the one he paraded around had been Ole’s! There’s no good video footage of Flair and Valentine promos from this time, but transcripts and audio have told me Flair evolved much into his Flair character, by now. He did have an injury that put him on the shelf during the month of February, 77, and from Florida, he had a couple women with him. He said he hated taking time away from them to be hassled by reporters, but as one of the World Champions, he felt obligated to tell the audience that he could not wrestle due to his injury. Despite the injury, he asked the ladies if he was still more a man than Wahoo and Ole, and of course they didn’t say no.



    https://youtu.be/DBn3126DPA0



    Getting a glimpse of these 1977 matches between the teams, I see Flair taking the most beating of the four, which makes sense as it’s a bloodbath with Flair not reputed as the others for his pure toughness. At Ole’s hands he found himself in an upside-down position, and did Ole act as if he struck oil with his blows on Flair! In a standing position, he blinded Flair by the Nature Boy’s own blood and proceeded to dig into him with enough decisiveness to end any boxing match. Flair wasn’t useless in the encounter, however. He did his cousins’ own tactics against them. He’d tackle them down to keep a tired man in the corner. He and Valentine made quick tags. With only a few hammering blows, Valentine evened the score, and at one-point Valentine held Gene in a Demolition guillotine, as Flair flew onto his neck with a top rope knee. It offed the man’s head! Great, rare Flair move!


    Any of the four on the apron were sharks to stay away from! At one point, when Valentine was stiffing the shit out of anything in his path, Ole reached over the top and wrestled Valentine, like he was trying to control a wild beast. The Andersons, as always, did a great job cutting the ring in half. I noticed Ole back break Valentine towards his side of the ring, as I’ve seen him do many times before. Great touch.


    At one -point, Gene fought back at the blows they gave him and sacrificed his own head with a desperate headbutt to get to Ole’s hand. All four men bled. You can’t beat the Andersons at their own game, unless you’re willing to get some color for it.


    Aside from these gruesome battles, Valentine and Flair defended against every babyface who’d come through. They fought Wahoo and Andre. Wahoo and Bobo Brazil. The Briscoes even came through in hopes to win their first tag titles, as both had great singles careers, Jack as World champ and Jerry as junior weight champion. Now, as brothers they wanted to do something special, together. Alas, nothing special for them would happen against Flair and Valentine. The Blonde Bombers were invincible together, only not against the Andersons.


    In Greensboro, Ole and Gene came through to challenge them, again. With these teams having a history of getting out of control, the NWA put a fence around them and brought Flair and Valentine’s number one nemesis, Wahoo, to keep order as the referee!



    Here’s a clip of the match where Flair lost his first World Tag Title.



    https://youtu.be/Y5GD38k9PMk


    Man, I wish I had this full match. We start off with Gene in trouble, and Flair and Valentine making quick tags. We see the knee plunge from Flair on Gene. Ole gets the hot tag and special guest referee, Wahoo, is knocked down during it. Flair trips over Wahoo. This causes Flair and Valentine to lose their Titles.


    The hell Flair and Valentine would bring on all three of these men, post their first Title reign, began. I’m trying to stay an unbiased Flair fan here, but Flair’s enemy, Wahoo, was the referee. Furthermore, Wahoo’s body tripped Flair, and Wahoo counted the three, anyway! How are Flair and Valentine not justified? Nevertheless, here we get someone I’m becoming somewhat not fond of, Paul Jones, coming to the aid. How this little, bland individual won over twenty titles in the Mid Atlantic with such other talent around him is beyond me. But he’s in here again, sticking his nose where it doesn’t belong and saving the day. I suppose they don’t call him “Number One” for nothing.


    Gene was taken by a stretcher, and this was only the beginning of Flair and Valentine’s holy hell unleashed. See, Valentine and Flair both had singles title side-chicks going on, as well. Flair had been in the TV Title picture that will need to wait for another column, while Valentine fought Wahoo over the Mid Atlantic Title, which Wahoo had taken from Flair. Here’s a match between Wahoo and Valentine with Flair’s involvement. Along with the match, there’s the fallout promo from Wahoo. And in here, we will find another fragment that made the Nature Boy!


    https://youtu.be/9-S2C26XcVk


    https://youtu.be/scK0ixB2t48


    It’s Wahoo versus Valentine, 2000 silver dollars versus the Mid Atlantic Title, and the elbow versus the chop! Flair gets kicked out of ringside early on but stops by the announcer’s booth to state, the only reason he’s leaving is because Valentine will have no trouble pounding the Indian into hamburger. Wahoo starts out trying to out wrestle Valentine and does so, by using holds and chain wrestling. Not bad for a man his size! Still, this doesn’t make for great strategy as, instead of wrestling Wahoo, the Hammer starts hammering. Every blow from Valentine had a nasty reputation, the knee to the stomach the announcers cringed at, the snug forearm to the chest; they said made him the hammer, and the hard elbow; they said once put a man out of wrestling. I believe these blows shoot hurt from all I’ve read and from what I’m looking at. Wahoo is as much a nail as Greg is the hammer. He’s disappearing under the beating. But finally, he realizes the old wrestling thing aint working for him, and he reaches in his repertoire for his own infamous strike, the chop! He slaps the shit out of Greg’s chest, and after a two count, he must be frustrated, because he drops the big hand sideway across the Hammer’s face!


    The two go back and forth between Valentine’s gut punches and Wahoo’s chops. David Crocket says, “It doesn’t take 10 blows from Valentine, just one good one.” Very shrewd comment, from a man who’s usually loud, incoherent, and the type of hillbilly who probably took the fifth grade five times. Poor Caudle. Such a good announcer who must deal with a powerful man’s slow brother. But in this match, I give David credit for hanging in there with Bob.


    Valentine eats another chop across the nose. Goddamn, that looks painful! But Greg turns the tide with a single-leg submission, this was prior to Greg using the figure four. Yet, from Wahoo’s selling, it’s meant to be viscous. Wahoo’s screams like he’s giving birth. Then, Wahoo submits! The leg is broken. Flair re-emerges to celebrate with Valentine, hoisting him up and rubbing his hair. He’s not seen anything better than Wahoo’s leg broken! And it’d be a true celebration for these brash youngsters! Hammer would show his cocky youth, too, in upcoming television shows, wearing a T-Shirt that said, “I broke Wahoo’s leg.” What a great way to book Greg Valentine to be dangerous, by the way! If only someone could think of that for Samoa Joe.


    It’s worth mentioning at the end of the match, we see Paul Jones, again sticking his nose wear it doesn’t belong. He checks on Wahoo, and then creeps behind Valentine and Flair with a veiny neck and grimacing, shit face that he holds so long it hurts my own neck and head to look at it. Steamboat is with Jones and begins here, at this ripe young age, learning from Jones to have a baby face but a busy body.


    But to be fair, by now, Flair and Steamboat have their own history, one that warrants its own column.


    It’s in the fall out promo, where Wahoo says, “Flair, I know you were behind this.” Flair, the man in the T-shirt, who disrobed Valentine, held his water in this match a little, came back and hoisted the new champ up; that Flair carried an agenda for his own selfish needs. That’s the dangerous side of Flair’s character. He’s behind a lot of violence. He keeps his hands clean to an extent, but he’s a man that will find a way to make his adversaries hurt.


    And Ole and Arn, his cousins, aren’t exempt. When those devils came back down from Georgia with the NWA Tag titles in October 1977, Flair and Valentine got their attention by betting their blonde locks in a hair versus Title match. Ole, being of the cruel mind, did not resist the opportunity of giving them a famous Anderson hairstyle.


    I cannot find the match, but there’s before and after promos, where we see clearly that Ole’s plan doesn’t work out. Flair and Valentine not only win the Titles, but they finish what they started on Gene in the cage. By all counts, Flair and Valentine won the war with the Minnesota Wrecking Crew. The last title exchange of the belts between them was here. And Flair and Valentine walked out NWA World Tag Team Champions, once more.



    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DNp2iMYeX6U



    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kvDGIRumSR0



    To show you the rich, forgotten WCW history, the Minnesota Wrecking Crew were the first team to win the Tag Titles that carried its legacy past the days in which Arn won it multiple times. What a team to start with, the Andersons, who reinvented tag wrestling! And Flair and Valentine became the fifth team to capture those belts—those same belts the Hollywood Blonds would win in the 1990s. Flair and Valentine’s two World Tag Title reigns totaled to 291 days, and they hurt a lot of people during those dog days.


    Flair’s violent-orchestrating behavior has been attained!
    Though Flair’s toughness is more coy, there’s something to be said about hanging with those guys!


    Flair’s yet to gain the World Title, that I will argue he held better than anybody from 1983 through 1990, but thus far, we’ve gathered many fragments to make him that man, and we’ve documented the following Titles that he’s won.


    One Mid Atlantic Tag Title!


    One Mid Atlantic/NWA/ WCW TV Title!


    Four Mid Atlantic Heavyweight Titles!


    Two NWA/WCW World Tag Titles.



    When I say his waist never went naked, I mean never. And, still, we must take a Steamboat back and gather even more singles and tag titles. Woo! A World Tag "woo!”
    Last edited by Benjamin Button; 06-09-2019 at 05:57 PM.

  2. #2
    The Brain
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    What a beautiful column! It's flown under the radar but it shouldn't have. This transformed into a love letter to this era, and it's an era that deserves such mail. Aside from the great bits of Flair, look at what else we have! Wahoo vs. Valentine, how did anyone survive that?? Arn appears on the scenes! The family drama, cousin against cousin! Flair's hair on the line! Broken bones, titles created and legacies defined. Wrestling history takes shape. I've set aside the time to check out every one of the links in here. This series has officially hit the next level and I couldn't be happier about it, amazing work Ben.

  3. #3
    Member #25 SirSam's Avatar
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    Hot damn, what have I missed while I've been away from the CF. This is a proper history lesson Benny, I didn't know like 90% of all this and love your passion for it as you tell the story. I had no idea that Valentine and Flair had such a long history together and it really adds to their singles legacy that they wrestled together before then, it is the kind of long term story that really gets me pumped up.

    I've got to go through and watch all the videos but don't have the time right now.

    I love the way you wrote this, feels like we are sitting down for a beer and you're just telling me the story as a yarn. Great stuff man.
    SIR SAM'S COURT
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  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by mizfan View Post
    What a beautiful column! It's flown under the radar but it shouldn't have. This transformed into a love letter to this era, and it's an era that deserves such mail. Aside from the great bits of Flair, look at what else we have! Wahoo vs. Valentine, how did anyone survive that?? Arn appears on the scenes! The family drama, cousin against cousin! Flair's hair on the line! Broken bones, titles created and legacies defined. Wrestling history takes shape. I've set aside the time to check out every one of the links in here. This series has officially hit the next level and I couldn't be happier about it, amazing work Ben.
    I have enjoyed the other bits, too. When I was a teenager, I use to trade tapes to watch 1980's territories. But never really seen much of the 1970's so it's definitely fun getting to know the Mid Atlantlic at this time. If you have the WWE Network, its definitely worth a watch. Bob Caudle is a great announcer. And Ole and Gene were major team. I'm a huge Ole Anderson fan. The fact they put Flair and Valentine over the Andersons shows the star power these guys were building in the territory.

    Cousin against cousin is an interesting concept. I thought it was a big deal in the nineteen nineties when Arna nd Ric wrestled, but the first Flair, Anderson feud was Flair vs. Ole and Gene. It's interesting that Ric Flair was part of the Anderson family years and years before Arn was.

    Thanks again for the kind words!


    Quote Originally Posted by SirSam View Post
    Hot damn, what have I missed while I've been away from the CF. This is a proper history lesson Benny, I didn't know like 90% of all this and love your passion for it as you tell the story. I had no idea that Valentine and Flair had such a long history together and it really adds to their singles legacy that they wrestled together before then, it is the kind of long term story that really gets me pumped up.

    I've got to go through and watch all the videos but don't have the time right now.

    I love the way you wrote this, feels like we are sitting down for a beer and you're just telling me the story as a yarn. Great stuff man.

    I definitely love this sort of old school wrestling. Like you say, it's the long term story-telling I like most. Flair and Valentine are far from done with each other. They had some years of a story, together. And the closer it gets to the 1980s the more video footage, I think I'll find.

    My passion stems from that I grew up watching WCW and this is the origins of it and the origin of Flair, my all time favorite wrestler. Love the spirit of the Mid Atlantic territory, the blood and the grit.

    Thanks again for reading and feeding!

  5. #5
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    I love this. I learn something new with every fragment. I had no idea Flair was in an actual tag team that spanned two years, with Greg Valentine of all people. I'm a bit confused with The Andersons. I thought it was Ole and Arn who were the Andersons as I've never heard of Gene before. And I think more spotlight should have been put on them over the years, considering they created the most famous tag team wrestling trope: cutting the ring in half.

    I've heard many a tale of Ric Flair's bloody battles and this column almost presented how he made his bones. By hanging with the tough guys and still finding a way to win. Perhaps theses matches with The Andersons instilled a toughness in Flair hidden in the depths of his styling and profiling lifestyle. But despite the beautiful robe he has walked in to many a bloody war and came out victorious.

    This was the best one of the series yet. Fantastic work Benny.

  6. #6
    Thanks for reading this. And believe me this is one of the bench markers I couldn't wait to get to. It's too bad the Anderson's legacy isn't more celebrated. Part of it could be that outside the money WWE makes for showing this stuff on the WWE network, they don't honor the past a lot, anymore. Part of it is Ole isn't on good terms with anybody.

    One spin off from this series, I'm hoping to do, is an Anderson series. I love good kayfabe families. Gene is the only real Anderson and he had a kayfabe brother named Lars. Lars went off on his own, so another kayfabe brother, Ole, became Gene's partner.

    I like Gene. He's cold, calculating. Had a great ring presence with his blinking and twitching. But Ole, to me is the backbone of the Andersons. Ole and Gene cut the ring in half and worked a part of the body. The Andersons when I was growing up as a WCW fan were always credited for being the ones to bring about cutting the ring in half. Much of this was because Arn was still winning tag titles when I was growing up. Anyway, Gene and Ole, in the time frame of this series, took Flair on as a cousin. I don't think Arn had even started wrestling by this point. It wasn't until the 1980's when Arn became an Anderson. He and Ole picked up where Ole and Gene left off. They cut the ring in half and worked a part of the body. When Crocket started trying to go national, Flair's history with the Andersons became a thing, again, and Flair worked with Ole and Arn. This brought about the beginning of the four Horsemen.

    Arn took a lot from Ole and to many, took it to another level. He was a great talker and had many great tag teams that did that Anderson style.

    Thanks again for reading and feeding!
    Last edited by Benjamin Button; 06-16-2019 at 04:49 PM.

  7. #7
    The Brain
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    An Anderson series sounds like a dream! There's much I could learn about Ole and Gene, in particular. I watched all the clips except Valentine/Wahoo, which I'll get to soon. Those Flair & Valentine/Andersons tags must have truly amazing to experience live. So rugged, so bloody, so unapologetically violent! Hard to look at some of the "grudge" feuds today in the same way after seeing that kind of raw hatred hammered home.

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by mizfan View Post
    An Anderson series sounds like a dream! There's much I could learn about Ole and Gene, in particular. I watched all the clips except Valentine/Wahoo, which I'll get to soon. Those Flair & Valentine/Andersons tags must have truly amazing to experience live. So rugged, so bloody, so unapologetically violent! Hard to look at some of the "grudge" feuds today in the same way after seeing that kind of raw hatred hammered home.

    Truly bloody matches. How often do you get four men bleeding each other dry? And the best thing is the blood meant something. It wasn't just wild hardcore antics for the sake of it. It's the punctuation on the grudge.

    One thing clear, too, in the matches is how well flair and valentine worked as a team. Great fast tags. Loved the flying knee drop from flair, while valentine guillotined the opposing team.

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