The premiere episode of the second season of Table For 3 couldn’t have gotten much bigger. The episode is titled “The Horsemen” and features three legends in Ric Flair, Arn Anderson and Tully Blanchard. I’m very interested to see this episode because these three are so steeped in wrestling history and the greatest stable of all time. The three men talked for about 20 minutes over a meal in an empty restaurant during WrestleMania week.
Let’s begin with a recap of their conversation:
-The show kicks off with Flair, naturally, starting the conversation. He says that it’s the third time he’s seen “Double A” in the last three hours and he’s been with him for three months. He comments that they saw Tully last at a wrestling convention. Flair says, “Here we are, the crux of the Horsemen.” Arn says it’s the first time they’ve all been together in 16 years. He follows up by saying it feels like J.J. Dillon should be sitting there as they cut to a promo where J.J. claimed, “Diamonds are forever! The Four Horsemen are forever!”
-Flair says the greatest experience and greatest story the three of them ever told was WarGames in 1987. Tully says they made a mistake by letting Hawk be the last one in the ring and it ended up in J.J. Dillon breaking his shoulder. Flair notes that they went for 42 days in a row. Arn says he spilled not 19, not 21 but 20 buckets of his blood across this great land in the WarGames. Flair goes into some detail about their travel on the infamous private jet, The Falcon. They flew every day from Vegas to another city to perform. Basing themselves at the Tropicana in Vegas is really the most Horsemen thing they could have done. Flair says the constant travel caused him to lose his mind, and on the 42nd night, he accidentally ended up in Arn’s bed. Arn claims this was just one of many times The Nature Boy lost his mind, a joke Tully seemed to love.
-After cutting to a clip of a classic Flair womanizing promo, Arn says he knows what he and Ric are up to and asks what Tully is doing with himself. He says that in addition to watching the WWE product every Monday night, he has spent the last 20 years speaking in prisons. He says when he was selling out arenas with The Horsemen he never envisioned that for himself. After being out of the business, Tully says people still talk to him about The Horsemen, as Ric throws up the four fingers for the first time.
-Arn says in their time they didn’t care who won or lost or who went on last, they just cared about stealing the show. They also cared about getting themselves paid. Flair talks about how the best heads of hair in the business were himself, Jimmy Garvin and Michael Hayes. He says Garvin doesn’t have a hair on his head and he himself blames his hair issues on four wives. He also says 44 years of bleaching had something to do with it. He then says Arn and Tully were so good that he always wondered how he was going to top them.
-Tully says they were able to thrive because the Four Horsemen weren’t contrived. The name happened organically in one of Flair’s interviews and it took off. That’s why they stood the test of time. I think that is an important point and one that could help the current product in a lot of ways.
-The next segment starts with Flair putting over the four beautiful girls called the Four Horsewomen. Obviously consisting of his daughter Charlotte, Sasha Banks, Becky Lynch and Bayley. He also says Ronda Rousey has her own Four Horsewomen and he hopes that is because of the respect they’ve gained. Arn says they earned it. He continues that it wasn’t because they beat everyone, but because of the work they did. He says he learned more in his first three years with The Horsemen than in the 34 years since. He tells Flair and Tully that they were better than him and that’s how you learn in the business, from those better than yourself.
-Tully says Arn was a joy to be around and Arn didn’t agree. Tully mentions when Ric had gotten a new stair climber. Flair says Tully may remember but Arn wouldn’t because he never did cardio. He says Arn and Triple H were the only men who could go 30-60 minutes without doing cardio. Flair then mentions the first time they stayed at Helmsley Palace in Manhattan and how he and Arn ordered two tuna salads, two spring waters and two Diet Coke’s and the bill was $300. Arn says he didn’t pay for it.
-Arn then says it’s time to fast forward and he brings up Tully’s daughter Tessa Blanchard, who is currently in NXT as a third-generation wrestler. He mentions Charlotte and says she is a phenomenon. He says he avoided Charlotte for a while in developmental because he didn’t want people to feel he was favoring her. Ric says that Arn spoke to the NXT crowd once and said that Sasha Banks was the best thing they had going. Charlotte called Ric and told him Arn thinks Sasha is better than her. Arn said Curtis Axel, Dustin and Cody Rhodes will say he is harder on them than anyone because of his expectations of them. He says his son is 18, and in four years when he’s done college he may wrestle. He says The Horsemen have a next generation and he’s happy he’s around to see it. Arn finishes by saying they had the best team ever and if you don’t believe it, pull it up on the network.
-In the third segment Arn starts discussing WrestleMania weekend and the role of the Hall of Fame. He says not many things blow him away but their Hall of Fame induction did. He even compared it to the feeling of having your first child and it changes your life forever. They cut to a clip of the Four Horsemen’s induction. Tully says if you are inducted in any Hall of Fame it means you were the best at what you did. Flair puts over the WWE Hall of Fame ceremony and says it surpasses any other sport’s Hall of Fame ceremony. I couldn’t agree more. They comment how much J.J. Dillon loved their induction.
-The final segment opens with Arn comparing the current WWE schedule with the schedule they worked. WWE has Wednesday and Thursday off and they knew they were working 336 days a year. He says working that schedule was a positive because it got performers in ring shape. He believes the current schedule doesn’t allow today’s talent to get in ring shape and it’s the cause of the rash of injuries. We will agree to disagree on that one. He also comments that today most of the work is TV, but in their day most of it was live events. Tully says they had a mindset that there were no days off and recalls how difficult it was to get them all a day off for his second wedding.
-Arn says they are very fortunate to be among a shrinking group of people that have the knowledge to pass on. He is afraid that when they are gone he isn’t sure who will be passing the information on. Flair jumps in and says two guys that he sees every day who have the most knowledge and passion for the business are Arn Anderson and Michael Hayes.
-Double A mentions again how much Ric and Tully taught him and how ironic it is that he can return the favor by passing that on to their children. Tully says that although his career was cut short after 13 years, the five years he spent with them were the best of his life. Arn says no one could lose as much as they did and still be talked about 25 years later. Fittingly, Ric Flair closes the show by throwing up four fingers while saying, “Four for life.”
As I said in the opening, just the legendary status of these three had me really excited for this premiere and I felt it delivered. It wasn’t necessarily as funny as some other episodes, but that isn’t what this one is about. This one was old school, about the wrestling business as it once was, about their place in it and a little bit about their perspective on today’s product.
One of my big takeaways from this one was Arn Anderson twice referencing the idea that all three of them may not necessarily be around much longer. He even said at one point that it may be the last time the three of them are all sitting together. With the passing of Chyna last week and Balls Mahoney two weeks prior, it is a harsh reality for anyone in the business and it’s interesting to see someone so openly aware of it. It’s something I hope the most recent generations can avoid. That actually leads into my next thought.
Arn’s idea that the old schedule was better for your body I think has proven untrue. The injuries, I believe anyway, are more a byproduct of the increased pace of matches, the added high spots and just the increased size, speed and strength of the athletes. I think it’s possible that the slightly lighter road schedule will prove beneficial to the future health and happiness of the performers we are watching now.
I really enjoyed hearing older guys in the business being complimentary of the next generation and excited about it. I know part of that is that all three have kids that will be part of that group, but it’s just nice to hear. I also loved Arn talking about how much he cherishes teaching the younger kids. In hindsight, I thought Flair would dominate this show but it felt to me like Arn Anderson really took the ball and ran with it.
I noticed a higher production value on this first episode of season two. They cut to a lot of clips of old matches and old promos and interviews which really added a lot. It’s always great to see those old territory clips in front of the live audience. If this episode is any indication, the second season will be even more enjoyable than the first. Starting off with three legends paid off and I am really looking forward to who’s next. That is not a Goldberg reference. Before I finish, I have to add that it is cool how proud these guys still are of the Horsemen and that they wished the other guys were there. The Four Horsemen will live forever to wrestling fans and it was fun spending 20 minutes with three of them.