Few stables have had as lasting of an impact on the modern professional wrestling scene than the Four Horsemen. Their name echoes throughout the United States, and sometimes farther. As a younger fan, I first knew the Four Horsewomen of WWE. What a shock that kid was in for when her dad told her about a group of wrestlers that that old man Ric Flair (who I only really knew as Charlotte’s dad,) was once a part of.
Heel heat seems to be eluding many wrestlers of 2020. There’s a new, ongoing debate about the difference between genuine heel heat and plain, shoot bigotry. The Four Horsemen were masters of heel heat. There’s no clearer example of their ability to rouse pure hatred out of the audience (and also an example of questionable venue security) than their infamous attack on Dusty Rhodes in September of 1985. The crowd rushing the ring, and trying to break into the cage is in my opinion one of the most stark images in American pro wrestling. Not many wrestlers can say they’ve sparked that much heat in their whole careers as the Horsemen did that night.
Who Would Be AEW’s Four Horsemen?
AEW has had some influence from the Four Horsemen for months, most notably with the debut of Arn Anderson as the head coach of the Nightmare Family over a year ago. Tully Blanchard came in some time later as Shawn Spears’ manager. FTR’s debut, though, has put a new spotlight on the stable. Their constant praise of Blanchard and Anderson, combined with Blanchard’s recent appearance at ringside for FTR, seems to suggest that the stage is being set for a stable of new horsemen.
With the direction AEW is heading in now, the reasonable assumption is that their Four Horsemen would be FTR, Hangman Page, and Shawn Spears. Given his connection to Arn Anderson, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Cody in Hangman’s place, but given who Cody’s father is, that possibility is repulsive to me. Also, with Cody’s recent loss to Brodie Lee and his anticipated absence from TV for the next 3 months, now would be a perfect time for Arn Anderson to distance himself from the Nightmare Family and join Blanchard in managing FTR, Shawn Spears, and possibly Hangman, to make a more formal stable.
Reliving the Dream
One of the few positives I could see coming out of this is a feud between the new Four Horsemen and Cody. It would be a nice balance between the past and the present; old fans would get to see a reboot of sorts to one of the greatest feuds in American wrestling, and new fans would likely find a new appreciation for the original Four Horsemen. It’d also be a great chance for Shawn Spears and Hangman to build their star power as heels. Hangman, as we know, is insanely popular with the AEW fan base, and could become the star of the industry if given the chance.
Also, we know how much Cody loves his father and honoring Dream’s legacy. In that sense, I think it’d be very poetic to give Cody a babyface run against a group of dastardly heels as his father had before him. Knowing Cody’s theatrics, I wouldn’t be surprised if they recreated the Four Horsemen’s attack on Dream in a parking lot, the breaking of Dream’s leg, and other iconic moments in their feud.
Though there are upsides to a possible Four Horsemen of AEW, the primary of which is the chance of an explosive feud between them and the Son of a Son of a Plumber, I think AEW needs to be careful; they shouldn’t rely on big names of the past too much. Instead of constantly referencing the past (most of which their prized demo is too young to remember), AEW needs to balance the old with the new. Yes, Four Horsemen might get a pop, but the company shouldn’t get in the habit of making their younger stars play dress up as old legends. That being said though, Hangman’s slow-burn storyline needs to go somewhere, and perhaps a stable with FTR and Shawn Spears is the right direction.
EDIT: Hangman’s sabotage against the Young Bucks, and him consequently getting kicked out of the Elite, seems to suggest that they’re moving closer to Hangman joining forces with FTR, though he’s clearly feeling some emotional distress over his actions. I guess we’ll have to wait for All Out for his final decision.