As the world of professional wrestling counts down to WrestleMania XXVII, we—the fans, the marks and the nostalgic addicts of wrestling years gone by—have been treated to a returning host of "Attitude Era" talent in the last few weeks.
With Austin and The Rock back on the scene, an Undertaker-Triple H showdown set in stone, Edge and Christian reunited and Trish Stratus once again dishing out a dose of Stratusfaction, the casual viewer would be forgiven for thinking he or she had gone back 10 years in time to WrestleMania X-Seven.
But with the WWE’s decision to promote the notion that WrestleMania XXVII will celebrate the stars of years gone by, one has to take into account the location for this year’s grandest spectacle: Atlanta, Georgia—WCW territory.
With such a landmark consideration in mind and the WWE Hall of Fame in the process of announcing its class of 2011 inductees, this writer is going to make a case for another iconic name to return to WWE television before the closing of WrestleMania weekend.
Amidst the idols of the 1990s and the rising stars of the 21st century, one hopes the powers that be can make room for one more legend—a man whose name is synonymous with 1980s professional wrestling, tag-team psychology and the concept of the stable; an individual deserving of Hall of Fame recognition from his peers if there ever was one.
Arn Anderson..."The Enforcer."
In the process of making a successful transition from wrestling in regional territories to performing for a national company, Arn Anderson’s passionate understanding of the business made his association with so many of its defining moments more than coincidence.
As an original member of "The Four Horsemen"—the first stable in nationally televised American wrestling history—Anderson showcased his merits, redefining the significance of the interview promo with intelligent wordplay and a calm demeanor that so effectively conveyed the illusion of genuine feeling.
Anderson’s reserved charisma would combine with an in-ring intensity that solidified his status as a credible in-ring technician, a trait best represented by his systematic dissection of opponents—a strategy The Enforcer would employ with tag-team partners Ole Anderson, Tully Blanchard and later Bobby Eaton.
Enjoying spells with premier American wrestling organizations the National Wrestling Alliance, World Championship Wrestling and the World Wrestling Federation, Arn Anderson’s career spanned approximately 15 years, a testament to his desire to compete in the industry, before retiring due to neck problems in 1997.
During this time, "Double A" would not only reign as a tag-team champion with each company but also enjoy success in a singles career where he held the WCW Television Championship four times. "The Enforcer" would also compete in the first WarGames contest alongside his fellow Horsemen, competing in no less than 19 variations of the match throughout his time with WCW.
With his days competing in the ring now behind him, Arn Anderson continues to be a presence in the world of professional wrestling, producing matches in a backstage capacity with World Wrestling Entertainment. Since his own days as a wrestler, Anderson’s strain of technical aggression has been adopted and adapted by some of the finest in ring competitors to grace the squared circle: Barry Windham, Steve Austin, Triple H, Chris Benoit, Dean Malenko and Bryan Danielson are to name but a few.
Upon reflection, Arn Anderson has embarked on a diverse and successful career comparable to many elites in professional wrestling’s history. During a week where Tammy "Sunny" Sytch was revealed to be the latest member of WWE’s Hall of Fame, certain issues must be raised. With all due respect to Sytch, Anderson’s continued absence from arguably the most prestigious historical institution that professional wrestling has to offer is one of the industry’s greatest travesties.
The Enforcer's time will surely come. However, passing up the opportunity to broadcast the ultimate recognition of Anderson’s accomplishments and contributions in a city so significant to his career would surely mean missing out on a definitive feel-good moment for fans old enough to truly embrace the WWE Hall of Fame for what it represents.