Arn Anderson 4 Ever: A Look Behind The Curtain
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Arn Anderson is one of wrestling's most respected orators. After retiring from the ring in late 1997, Wrestling Perspective bestowed Anderson with the first ever Editors' Award for Lifetime Achievement. He deserved it for his career's work inside the wrestling ring and behind the mic. He still does. As a good, but not spectacular, offensive wrestler Anderson's style was enhanced by his facial expressions and excellent selling. His interviews made him special. Thus, one could stand to reason, then, that this gifted communicator would write one of the best books on pro wrestling. One could, but one would be wrong.
A Look Behind The Curtain is a kayfabe account of Anderson's pro wrestling career. The first words of the book sum it all up: "Pro wrestling is not fake." This is followed by Anderson discussing all of the legitimate injuries he's had and the legitimate stress the wrestling business has placed on his life. But Anderson goes one step further. Not only are the injuries real, but so are the matches. For a book copyrighted in 1998, this is pretty amazing stuff. Apparently, Fall Guys (copyright 1937) and all those articles and books that have suggested pro wrestling matches are predetermined have been wrong. According to Anderson, they are legitimate athletic contests where combatants enter the ring with the sole intention of winning the match.
In his misguided attempt to kayfabe the world Anderson entertains the reader with a number of ridiculous statements. For instance: "I broke my opponents arm. I don't even remember the kid's name, he was just in the wrong place at the wrong time."
How about this one: "When Dusty Rhodes go injured, I got a little anxious and didn't want to wait until the tournament to get my crack at the belt. Back then, the 30-day title defense rule was strictly enforced. If a champion did not defend his title at least once within any given 30 days, he would forfeit the belt. No exceptions, not even if it was the World title and your name was Hulk Hogan."
Stop it Arn, you're killing me. Wait, that's not me you're killing, it's your reputation.
Check out Arn's take on an angle he did with Dusty Rhodes: "Crutches or no, the rivalry, professional and personal, between Dusty and me was strong. Dusty had not surrendered the belt and I was young and impetuous. I enlisted Tully Blanchard's help and we kicked out Dusty's crutches and took the belt from him. The Four Horsemen didn't exist yet, but I was able to enlist Tully's help because he hated Dusty as much as I did."
Yeah, Arn, bet you and Tully hated the fact that Dusty booked you guys in main events.
When Anderson and Blanchard signed with the WWF, on their last night in the NWA, they dropped the tag titles to the Midnight Express. Anderson's explanation is rather entertaining: "We went out there haphazardly and we lost the World Tag Team Titles. We weren't concentrating, we weren't focused and we didn't care that we were leaving. We went out there and lost a match we should never have lost."
Guess that time honored tradition of dropping the straps on your way out of a promotion had nothing to do with it. Anderson also gets a little delusional when he suggests that his team with Blanchard was better than the Midnight Express.
Nonetheless, Anderson does relay a few interesting anecdotes about life on the road and some of the people he's known. You get a clear sense of just how much he loved and respected for his grandmother. You learn how Ted DiBiase and Bob Armstrong played important roles in his life. But Anderson never gives you anything more than a cursory look at these people. He talks about Buddy Landel in Charlotte during the mid-Eighties, but never tells us why Landel's career went south (drug use). He describes in detail the average day in the life of party animal Rick McGraw, but never says what killed McGraw (see Landel). For reasons only he knows, Anderson holds these revelations - many of which are well known - close to his vest. Anderson also denies ever having taken Hulk Hogan or Four Horseman vitamins.
A few extra sections in the book are entertaining. His ranking of U.S. cities for instance is kind of fun (Dallas: "take it or leave it." Houston: see Dallas. Detroit: Burn it.). His favorite airline: Delta. His reminisces of Andre the Giant are nice. But these little nuggets hardly makeup for the boulders of BS.
With books like Mankind's Have A Nice Day, Lou Thesz's Hooker, and even Ted DiBiase's non-expose Every Man Has His Price, Arn Anderson's book stands out as an embarrassing reminder that some people in this business are working the public all the time ? or at the very least, working themselves. More's the pity, because I suspect a man with Marty Lunde's intelligence actually could have written an insightful book about the wrestling business. Instead, he chose to insult the intelligence of his fans.
In the Wizard of Oz, Dorothy, the Tin Man, the Cowardly Lion, the Scarecrow, and even Toto, learned that the Wizard wasn't a giant flaming head, but just a kindly old man who liked to terrify his visitors and see to it that the future Maxwell House lady was disposed of properly. In other words, the fearsome Wizard was a work. But, after he was exposed, the Wizard came clean.
In A Look Behind The Curtain, Arn Anderson is still trying to pull the controls and tell the public to pay no attention to that man behind the curtain. This, even though the wrestling business -- and consequently Arn Anderson himself -- have been exposed as a work more often than the Wizard of Oz has aired on television.
Apparently, Anderson has yet to wake up from his dream.
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