1998 Editors’ Award For Lifetime Achievement

Arn Anderson


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This article was originally published in Wrestling Perspective #71

1998 Editors’ Award For Lifetime Achievement: Arn Anderson

This year Wrestling Perspective introduces the Editors’ Award for Lifetime Achievement. We will give this award annually to someone we feel deserves to be recognized for his or her lifetime achievement in professional wrestling. The winner does not necessarily have to be a former world champion or headliner or even a wrestler for that matter. But the winner must have made a significant impact on this business during his or her career.

There were a number of people qualified to receive this honor. But when we conceived this award in the fall, we thought of it with one person in mind: Arn Anderson. Arn had to retire in 1997 because of a serious injury and though he will likely never return to the ring as a wrestler, his legacy in this business will continue.

Although we knew nothing about newsletters until 1989, we recognized Arn Anderson was a tremendous talent long before then.  We knew he had great matches, even against lesser opponents, and had an incredible knack for giving compelling and entertaining interviews.  It was a Four Horsemen sweatshirt Paul wore to a broadcasting law class in college one day that originally drew us together. It was the beginning of our friendship and in many ways, the beginning of Wrestling Perspective.  

When we were upper-classmen in 1988, The Four Horsemen were wrestling’s elite.  Forget about Paul Roma, Sid Vicious and the other also-rans who were called Horsemen at one time or another,  this was the strongest Horsemen line-up: Ric Flair, Tully Blanchard, Barry Windham and of course, the heart and soul of the group, Arn Anderson. They called him the Enforcer, but it wasn’t just a name or a gimmick, his presence gave the group the gel that held it together. Although Arn is only a few years older than us, our formative years as wrestling fans were spent watching him in action and he was always one of our personal favorites.

Primarily because he looked like Ole Anderson, Marty Lunde became Arn Anderson early in his career. Associating him with Ole was the career-boost he needed and with his talent, he quickly rose to the forefront of this business.  In a few years, Am had already surpassed his so-called family members in wrestling. That says a lot because few wrestlers were ever as talented as Ole and Gene.

Until the day he stopped being a wrestler, Arn had the uncanny ability to work believable spots, was a top-rate seller, had tremendous facial expressions, and of course, his work on the stick is legendary. He is in an elite class with Flair, Dusty Rhodes, Roddy Piper and Jerry Lawler as the best wrestlers behind the mic.  The only difference is unlike the rest, Arn was never anything but consistently excellent during interviews.  His interviews always told a story.  They established logical scenarios, explained the unexplainable, or sold an upcoming match, with  credibility sorely lacking from the speeches of today’s “shoot” orators.  Wrestling is often derogatorily referred to as a cartoon sport, but there was never anything cartoonish about Arn Anderson’s interviews.  In pro wrestling, that is high praise.

As a singles wrestler, Arn was solid worker, but like his good friend Bobby Eaton, it was in tag-team wrestling where he truly excelled.  Whether it was with Matt Borne, Ole, Blanchard, Larry Zbyszko, Flair, Windham, or  Eaton, Arn was top-caliber tag team wrestler.  His matches with Blanchard against the Rock and Roll Express and the Rockers were classics, as were his matches with Eaton against Ricky Steamboat and Dustin Rhodes.  Regrettably the later partnership ended all too quickly for no real apparent reason.

Suffering from a career-ending injury that stemmed from years of abuse in the ring, Arn gave a brilliant pre-surgery interview this past summer.  But, it was his retirement interview  a few months later that will be remembered as one of the greatest segments of all-time. The honesty of his emotion made the scene that much more dramatic.  Truth is, indeed, more powerful than fiction.

Arn is now working behind the scenes for WCW.  We hope he can take an on-camera role as a manager or announcer, because he is an excellent orator who would be an asset behind the mic.   But, whatever he does, we at Wrestling Perspective wish Arn the greatest of success. So for his career filled with greatness, the editors of Wrestling Perspective present the Lifetime Achievement award to a man of class and dignity: Arn Anderson. 

This article is Copyright © 1998, 2000 Wrestling Perspective. All Rights Reserved. This article may not be quoted, reprinted or distributed without written permission from Wrestling Perspective publishers Paul MacArthur and David Skolnick.

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