To older wrestling fans, Arn Anderson is best known as the enforcer of the elite stable known as The Four Horsemen. If any young up-and-comer got too close to Ric Flair’s World Heavyweight Championship, it was Anderson job to stomp them down.
Today Anderson does the exact opposite. In his role as a producer, it’s his responsibility to help guide the next generation of WWE Superstars…
“One of the best pieces of advice I ever got was from Arn, he said, ‘The WWE is not going to give you anything. The only way you’re going to get anything is if you can get these people behind you.’ And I feel like that’s been very true in my run. If you can’t get these people behind you, then you won’t be able to get to that next level.” – Daniel Bryan
I spoke with “Double A” at the 2012 San Diego Comic Con and had a chance to ask him about today’s young talent, his recent Hall of Fame induction, and the one match he wishes he had on tape…
Gordon Holmes: You seem like an old-school, no-nonsense kind of guy. What do you make of all of this Comic Con business?
Arn Anderson: You know what? It’s different. But what’s so peculiar about the deal is we just had a signing downstairs and I had a lot of dads bringing their kids to introduce them to my era. And the kids are all schooled in it, so apparently the YouTube and all this social media has caught them up to guys from my era. And I think that’s pretty cool.
Holmes: Now you’re a producer behind-the-scenes with the WWE. What does that job entail?
Anderson: It involves everything from in the afternoon still getting into the ring with these young guys. I can’t go full-speed anymore, but I can teach them enough about psychology and actual mechanics to help some of the kids. I also produce television, run live events, run international events, help creative write the shows. A little bit of everything, probably.
Holmes: C.M. Punk, Sheamus, Daniel Bryan, they’re all stepping forward as the next crop of main-event names. Who else should we be looking out for?
Anderson: Those three guys are your future. Kofi Kingston, keep your eye on Kofi Kingston, he’s getting over the old-fashioned way, slowly but surely. People like Kofi. Daniel Bryan has as much talent as anybody out there. Punk has taken a leadership role. Sheamus is a bulldozer. All of those guys. But, if it was going to be someone on the horizon that hasn’t been seen…keep your eye on Mike Rotundo’s kids, both of them.
Holmes: So “The Captain” makes good wrestlers?
Anderson: They’ve got good genetics. They’re as different as night and day. They perform differently. Bo Rotundo is going to make a hell of a babyface. And the older one, who used to be Husky Harris, what he ends up being called won’t matter. You’ve got another Sheamus on your hands.
Holmes: What’s the one piece of advice that you’re sick of having to repeat?
Anderson: Have passion about this. Live it, breathe it, sweat it. Guys get in this industry too easy these days. It’s not something they’ve wanted to do their whole lives It’s kind of given to them. And I don’t mean this in all cases. I just wish people loved it as much as people from my generation that were successful did. And that’s something that I can’t instill, or coach, or force feed.
Holmes: I recently watched your Hall of Fame speech and you and Edge said something similar in that you both got out of the business due to injuries, and you both guessed that you had made the right decision. However, neither one of you seemed terribly convinced. My question is; what is it about wrestling that’s so addictive?
Anderson: If you do it for the love of what you do, and let me clarify, the money’s good. The perks are great. Getting a great table at a restaurant is a wonderful thing. But the biggest perk of all is going through that curtain, taking out your maestro stick, and waving a crowd through a 45-minute match, and taking them anywhere you want to take them. And coming back through that curtain with them totally exhausted as well as you, and know without asking anyone how it was, know that you had a great match. You know you and your dancing partner tore the joint down. There’s no feeling like that on Earth. Alcohol can’t provide it, I’d suggest drugs can’t provide it, a woman can’t provide it. It’s something you’ve got to experience. It’s a high that’s like no other.
Holmes: I spoke with Punk before the Survivor Series and asked him if he could work any territory, which would it be. He said, “I would’ve loved to work for the Crocketts.”
Anderson: He would’ve done great, as Daniel Bryan would as well. Those two guys have shown that having years of independent work and paying your dues and learning the business the hard way is important. Those guys could have wrestled during any era.
Holmes: Now my question for you is; would Punk have been the fifth man on the Horsemen’s War Games team or would you guys have been jumping him in a parking lot?
Anderson: He would’ve been on the other side. He’d be one of those guys selling tickets. He would’ve been somewhere underneath Dusty Rhodes and right at or above the Rock and Roll Express level.
Holmes: One of these Mattel action figures looks a heck of a lot like you.
Anderson: I just found out about this today.
Holmes: (Laughs) Just today?
Anderson: Well, the way they came about it was by a vote online. And to still be relevant in 2012 when I retired in 97, that means they chose you. It’s an honor and I’m just thankful to be around.
Holmes: Did they get it just right?
Anderson: No, I think the swoop on the thighs should be a little bigger, the abs could be a little cleaner. But other than that, pretty close.
Holmes: Heard from Ric Flair lately?
Anderson: Nope, Ric and I haven’t really kept in contact probably for the last several years. He kind of does his own thing and when I come home off the road I kind of cocoon myself with my family. But Ric’s a survivor. He’s like a roach.
Holmes: All that’ll be left are Twinkies and the Nature Boy.
Anderson: He’ll be around when the rest of us are dead.
Holmes: If you had to pick a single match that told people everything they needed to know about Arn Anderson the wrestler, what would that match be?
Holmes: I didn’t fly all the way from Philadelphia to ask easy questions.
Anderson: No you didn’t, and I respect you for that. Arn Anderson with Bobby Eaton as a partner against Ricky Steamboat and Dustin Rhodes, in the Omni…Sunday night, I don’t remember the year…it would’ve been around…
Holmes: Probably 91/92 if you were teaming with Bobby Eaton.
Anderson: We went 59 minutes and 20 seconds. And buddy, I almost died. And I saw three other guys that I respect as much as anybody I’ve ever been in the ring with almost die with me. It’s one of those things where we literally gave everything we possibly had. And I don’t have it on tape anywhere, but I wish I did. It was one of the most exhausting mentally and physically matches I’ve ever been in and one of the most satisfying as well. We left it all out there.
Don’t miss WWE Summerslam – Sunday, August 19, 2012 at 8 p.m. ET on Pay Per View.