This week on the “ARN” podcast, Arn Anderson talks about his time in the World Wrestling Federation in late 1988 and 1989.
Arn talks about teaming with Tully Blanchard as The Brain Busters managed by Bobby Heenan, winning the WWF Tag Team Titles, the decision to leave the company, and much more.
Here are some highlights from the podcast:
Arn Anderson was asked what his reaction was when Dusty Rhodes showed up in the WWF in 1989: “It was different. I was the first one to go up to him and shake his hand and say I hope there are no hard feelings. He agreed there was not. I’m a guy that will forever be indebted to Dusty Rhodes for three years with Jim Crockett Promotions and he was in charge of that. He set the foundation for the rest of my life as far as being financially successful, having a long run with the company, and pretty much learning the business. I learned so much being in the company that was under his watch. It was cool. I was sitting there gritting my teeth trying to figure out how they were going to punish this guy who openly said they were going to kick Vince’s ass. Word gets out and that’s a challenge and if you do, more power to you. If you don’t, somewhere down the road the guy is going to make a comeback. That’s what he does. When I saw the polka dots and all that stuff, I knew that the options were minimal. Dusty led a grand lifestyle. He had a big home, nice cars, and nice things and provided nice things for his family, but he had a pretty good lifestyle pumped up. That was the only place you would have been able to work and make the kind of money that he was used to making. He was smart enough to grin and go with the flow.”
Arn was asked what it was like working NBC’s Saturday Night’s Main Events: “Dick Ebersol, for whatever reason, loved us and we loved him because he got us on all those Saturday Night Main Events. The number one thing was the exposure. The numbers were ridiculous on that show. Everybody was watching. Even more so, you got a double payoff. You got a payoff from NBC and you got a payoff from the company. They were always packed. They were always in big buildings and you were paid just like it was a house show, so it was a very profitable night.”
Arn talked about giving notice one month after winning the WWF Tag Team Championship: “Yep. How could we be $50,000 behind what we had made with Crockett at that point in the fiscal year? It wasn’t because the business was down. So, when you ask that question, there are probably two answers. One would be, ‘Oh God, I had no idea, I will fix that.’ Or, ‘Oh well, s**t happens.’ and we got the oh well, s**t happens. If you are the tag champions, which are not paid like a single main event, it’s split four ways vs two ways. So, you’re not going to make singles money no matter where you are positioned if you are in a tag. We figured out three weeks later when we were told, ok, let me research this and I will get back to you at the next TV taping and it was a no go to catching us up to where we needed to be so we could go forward with the rest of the year, so we turned in our notice.”
Arn talked about giving notice and then Tully Blanchard failing a drug test as well as the fall out from this: “In those days, they weren’t concerned with your health and well being and sent you to rehab. They left you off for 90 days without pay. That was the punishment. If you got popped for the drug test, there were levels of punishment. It wasn’t about spending $100,000 to send you to rehab. That wasn’t one of the options. He (Vince) was insulted that we would leave him. When you send a guy home like that, a guy that is that high profile, it’s going to make news. It’s going to be a negative that he is going to work with the other company, even though 90% of the guys in the locker room were doing something. It was going to be a black eye on us returning there (WCW) before we ever got there. That’s where Vince is smart. He knows how to play the game and use everything to his advantage. Here is the real rib. Let me tell you how smart and diabolical he is. After Tully was sent home and however many weeks that I had left (on his contract), we were working with Demolition. Suddenly my pay doubled. Every week it was like, wait a minute. Am I getting the right check here? He ended up paying me more than I had made with Crockett, substantially. So at the end of the day, he did what he said he was going to do, even though he didn’t tell us at the time he was going to do it. It was like a F.U. to Tully and a F.U. to me that hey guys, see, I told you to stick with me. I can do anything I want, anytime I want. That ended up being my biggest year in the business, year to date.”