Evolution of Excellence: The ever-changing line up of the Four Horsemen
The Four Horsemen weren't the first wrestling stable, but they are the measuring stick by which all factions are judged.
For as long as most wrestling fans remember, sticking four fingers in the air has a specific mythology.
When you put those fingers in the air, you are acknowledging the excellence of pro wrestling's premier group, the Four Horsemen.
Though the line up changed over the years, the Horsemen were always the standard by which all other wrestlers were judged. Here's a look at the Horsemen's ever-changing lineup, and speculation about which variation was the 'best'.
It's a story that's legendary, but it bears repeating.
The Horsemen were created utterly by accident!
In order to save TV time, the scheduled interviews for Tag champions Ole and Arn, US champ Tully Blanchard and World champion Ric Flair were squashed together in one mass segment.
The wrestlers, while friendly with each other backstage (particularly Ric and Arn) weren't in any sort of alliance. But since all were heels, it didn't break kayfabe for them to associate with each other. Then Arn said the words that would be scrawled across the face of wrestling history;
"The only time this much havoc had been wreaked by this few a number of people, you need to go all the way back to the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse!"
It was meant to be a one-off, a device to save television time. But Jim Crockett looked at the four men standing together and saw a license to print money. They were bundled into a group, and not for the usual reasons.
Most of the time, when wrestlers are banded into a stable it's because management doesn't believe the individual wrestlers can draw on their own. But in the Horsemen's case, it was quite the opposite. All of the wrestlers were fabulously over with the crowds, getting wall to wall boos, and they were also arguably the most skilled wrestlers of their generation.
The result was instant magic. With the addition of veteran wrestler JJ Dillon as manager, the Horsemen in 1986 seemed nigh unstoppable.