There have been a lot of heel stables over the years. The New World Order is infamous, WWE is pushing The Authority and TNA seems obsessed with the idea of “a stable fighting for control of the company” on a regular basis. But when you talk about the best heel stable of all time, there’ really only one true choice: The Four Horsemen.
Formed in 1985 and going through various incarnations through 1999, they were truly an elite group with Ric Flair the world champion, flashy and stylish but backing it up with amazing in-ring ability. Arn Anderson was the tough guy with his own great promos. Tully Blanchard was the awesome arrogant playboy but a technical wizard. Ole Anderson was strong, Lex Luger brought the power while Barry Windham was a spectacular athlete. The 1988 grouping is the best with James J. Dillion providing his help and holding the major titles of the NWA at the time. They also pushed a wild party style, truly living the high life and loving it and selling themselves as almost “evil businessmen” who could also be a formidable force in the ring. From attacking opponents to winning titles, the Horsemen could rile up fans like no group before or since and why they are so well remembered.
They had their low moments to be sure. Paul Roma was never a fit for them, nowhere near the star power to be convincing for this revered group. While Steve McMichael is put over well as having the Horsemen attitude with partying, he was likewise not the skilled worker or star to hang with them. It wasn’t like the nWo where practically everyone with a pulse in WCW at the time was made a member. The Horsemen were different, they had to be a good worker but also able to party hard and look good doing it, heels but with just enough of the right charisma that fans loved to boo them. Thus, imagining the right guys who could have been Horsemen is tricky as only a few really seem to be elite enough to be considered serious candidates. However, there were some guys who could have fit the bill quite nicely from the 80s prime of the team to their later incarnations. Here are 10 men who could have lived up to the Horsemen legacy and perhaps even led them to even greater glory.
10 Chris Jericho
Jericho is famous for his terrible WCW tenure as the company obviously had no idea how to handle his rising stardom. He may have seemed an off pick for a Horseman at first but between his ring skills and his utterly magnificent promos, he would have been a nice fit for them in that late ‘90s period (more than Dean Malenko in many respects).
To see the arrogance of Jericho mixing with Flair and Anderson would have been fun as hell, the guy bringing a youthful energy and his rock star sensibilities to the fore and the Horsemen would have given him the backing for a main event run that WCW had denied him before. Either way, the future Y2J was the young spark the Horsemen could have used to launch themselves big for the late ‘90s WCW.
9 Triple H
The common misconception is that Hunter only became a main-eventer because of his relationship with Stephanie. The truth is that this guy always had the talent to rise, Flair saw it in his WCW tenure but the politics of the time kept him from breaking out. Had he stayed in WCW, it’s quite probable that Triple H (then called Jean-Paul Levesque) could have taken off more, especially with Flair’s backing.
We all know what an amazing heel he would become, especially on the mic, so being a Horsemen is easy to imagine, especially as Hunter has always cited Flair as one of his idols and is known for his own wild style outside the ring (especially in the ‘90s). His ring work would have been the right mix of power and technical ability to push the Horsemen up more in that time period. If nothing else, working alongside his idol was something Triple H always liked so having him with the group would been a good fit.
8 Ricky Morton
In various house shows of the 1980s, Flair and Morton tore things up with a wild feud where fans really believed the tag team star had a chance of winning the NWA title. While that was mostly due to Flair, Morton was still a great worker, the major talker for the Rock n Roll Express and truly popular with female fans. You can imagine a scenario of Morton turning on Gibson (as he’d do in reality years later) and joining the Horsemen and intriguing how his youth, speed and high-flying could have shifted their attack style up.
The guy was known for his partying ways and would have hung with Flair and company well there and it would have been a good boost to his career to hang with an even hotter team and prove himself more than just another tag team guy.
7 Steve Austin
Practically everyone who saw him from his debut in 1990 seemed to know for a fact that Austin was going to be a mega-star. Flair was ready to give him a singles push in 1994 before Hogan was hired and WCW eventually pushed Austin out. It’s forgotten how skilled Austin was then and he had more of a classic heel persona than the “Rattlesnake” we know today with blond hair and a cocky demeanor fit for a Horseman.
Had he been able to stay, you could easily see Austin reuniting with Pillman as Horsemen and those two balanced with Flair and Anderson would have made one utterly awesome Horsemen grouping that could have turned WCW into their personal playhouse. True, it would have robbed us of the rise of Austin 3:16 and the Attitude Era but one can’t help but think of how Stone Cold could have driven the Horsemen well.
6 Bobby Eaton
Most know Eaton as the mostly silent but ultra-talented half of the Midnight Express but he had a good run as a singles wrestler in WCW, holding the TV belt and part of the Dangerous Alliance as tag team champion. The man has been put over by a lot of folks as more talented than WCW gave him credit for and could have done better on the mic if surrounded by such great talkers.
Plus, his high-flying skills would have given the Horsemen a new offensive capability while hanging with Jim Cornette definitely taught him how to cheat. “Beautiful” Bobby would have held quite well with Flair and a natural tag team partner for Anderson and the addition of a guy used to flying so well could have helped the quartet soar even higher than they already did.
5 Jimmy Garvin
Garvin feuded with Flair in 1987 but the guy really was much better off as the flashy heel. He’d ruled that way in World Class with his shiny robes and great mic work, selling himself as a Hollywood playboy but backing it up with terrific ring work. It wouldn’t have been out of the realm of possibility for him to turn on “brother” Ronnie and join the Horsemen himself and would have fit in well.
Again, he was a great mic guy and proved himself able to shine either as a singles athlete or in a tag team. He had his own valet, Sunshine, and she would have been a good help as well with her ever-present can of spray to use. As for the partying, Garvin hung out with the Fabulous Freebirds and that alone proved he could have easily handled the Horsemen lifestyle. While he might see it as a step down from the Freebirds, Garvin would still have been a kick-ass Horseman.
4 Larry Zbyszko
On his own, Zbyszko is a so-so worker with his stalling and rough style. But this guy was a great heel on the mic and when paired with the right guys, he could shine much better. He and Arn Anderson worked together as a fantastic team as the Enforcers and then the Dangerous Alliance and Zbyszko was a fill-in for the Horsemen in a War Games match back in 1991. Maybe making him a full-fledged member could have done a great job, adding another conniving mind to the group with a wicked boasting style.
Zbyszko could have easily been their enforcer while joining Flair and Arn for killer promos and who better to join this top heel group than the “Living Legend” in all his arrogant glory?
3 Eddie Gilbert
Dying far too young, Gilbert was one of the best heels of his time. Skilled and smooth, boasting of his prowess, especially with women, Gilbert was also a terrific worker who could get technical one minute and brawling the next. His fireball trick would have been a nice ingredient to spice up a match and few knew how to do a sneak attack strike as well as he did. Gilbert was known for his own party style (a major contribution to his early death) and could give Flair a run for the money in wild antics outside the ring.
He was also quite smart with knowing how to work the fans and even booking stuff and that careful planning would have led to classic matches and angles. “Hot Stuff” could easily have given the team some fire in interviews and as an expert cheater, he would get the fans riled up just the way the Horsemen needed it.
2 Curt Hennig
Among the many, many examples of WCW dropping the ball, Hennig as a Horseman was one of the biggest. When Arn Anderson was forced to retire after neck problems, he did a great heartfelt speech that ended with him picking Hennig as his replacement. The New World Order then mocked it with an overly abusive parody, including a shot at Arn’s drinking and WCW nixed the planned Horsemen run-in/beatdown. This led to Fall Brawl where Hennig turned on the team to join the nWo.
It was a real shame as Hennig fit in so well and WCW threw it all away to keep pushing the tired nWo. While he’d slowed down, Hennig was still fantastic in the ring with his technical work and a kick-ass heel on the mic and his well-earned reputation for crazy pranks backstage would add more luster to him as a Horseman and he just fit perfectly. A shame WCW couldn’t see that and give Hennig a chance as he was truly perfect for this team.
1 Rick Rude
Of all the guys you’re amazed were never picked as Horsemen, Rude has to top the list. This guy was made for the team, a brilliant egotist who could back up his words in the ring with a smarmy matter. He gets a hard rep for his steroid use but his party ways were perfect for the rest of them and his ring work made him even better, a true master of carrying a crowd along in massive booing.
Terrific on the mic, his promos would have been great joined by the rest of the team and Rude more than knew enough cheating to hang with them and be a great worker. True, it’d be a clash between him and Flair for who got the most ladies but that would just make it more fun to see the Horsemen work with the “Ravishing One” among them to push them even higher.