The following are highlights of a new WGD Weekly interview with J.J. Dillon:
How the idea for the Four Horsemen first came about: “It wasn’t really an idea that had been laid out in advance…Baby Doll was there with Tully and there was the deal where I orchestrated the thing and got Tully away from Baby Doll…Dusty came to her aid…and that’s how I’m with Tully. Flair was the World Champion, Ole and Arn were the World Tag Team Champions, and Tully was the National Champion, and he was the only one I was managing…One of the weeks, I don’t know if it was short on time or what, somebody said, ‘You guys have all the belts, all of you go out together. Just tell everybody where you’re gonna be this week. That’s what happened.
“Flair went out with the World Title over his shoulder, Ole and Arn went out with the tag belts, Tully went out with his belt, and I went out because I managed Tully. As the mike passed around, Arn Anderson took it and said, ‘You people at home take a good hard look at your screen, we’re all champions. Never have so few wrecked so much havoc on everyone,’ and he said, ‘you’d have to go back in the history books to the Four Horsemen of the Apocolypse,’ and he held up the four fingers. It was just a statement that he threw out there. Then, the next thing you know, when one of us went out there in the studio, it became an interactive thing, holding up the four fingers…it was probably a couple of weeks before Jimmy Crockett said, ‘what is this Four Horsemen thing I keep hearing about.'”
What made the Horsemen such a special group: “I don’t think anyone could’ve ever imagined that it would become as big as it became and last as long as it did. But what happened was, it was a group of guys, who the chemistry was just there. Every night, even though we weren’t always in the same match, actually, I think Arn in his WWE Hall of Fame acceptance speech said, a guy would go out there and basically throw down the gauntlet and challenge the rest of us to go out and top what they had done. So, it was a friendly competition, and the ultimate winner was the fan, because they knew when we were on the card, they were going to see our best effort, every single night, in every town, no matter where it was or the size if the crowd.”
“The differences in traveling and other aspects of the wrestling business in his days on the road as opposed to today : “It was a different time in the business then. Because, we didn’t fly around, we traveled. The guys had opposite dressing rooms. The guys that we wrestled against, we had very little contact with, we would rarely even see them. In the small towns, like Amarillo, if you would go to a restaurant and see a guy who would be across the ring from you, you would go somewhere else. It was just how it was in those days, and I think that has a lot to do with why the fans had a lot more respect for us, because we commanded that respect by not giving them any reason to disrespect us. In the middle of the night on those long trips, we would pass each other, and here we would be on a stretch of highway between Colorado Springs and Albuquerque in the middle of the night. We would flash our lights to pull over, we’d get out and have a beer together and a hug and nobody would ever know. But it was the camaraderie driving in the car where more ideas were created that drew tremendous amounts of money…It was the kind of things we did, like that, and we drew money, and the business was fun…The trips were long, it was physically demanding…it was just pride that the people in the business and gave up their bodies for it had.”
Ric Flair’s work ethic earning him the respect of the fans: “Flair would give you the same effort if it was an arena with a crowd the size of 25,000 people or if we went to somewhere where the television show that week didn’t air because there was a problem and there was only 500 people. You would think, here is a night where he is just going to go through the motions, but that just was not Ric. He would give you the same match and that is what the fans came to respect.”
How he lived out his dream to wrestle at Madison Square Garden in 1984: “Eddie Graham came into the office one day, which he would often do. I was working in the office and I told him how I had dreamed of one day going to wrestle in the Garden, too. This was 1984, I broke in in 1971…father time was not on my side. Eddie never said anything, he got up and walked out. A day or so went by, and he walked back in and said, ‘you are booked on the next card at Madison Square Garden. They are going to send you a plane ticket, you will be booked on the card, you will fly up and then fly back. After our conversation, he called Vince McMahon, Sr., who remembered me and at the time, it was right when Vince, Jr. was declaring war on everybody and taking over. The father was very sick at the time with lung cancer…I called him to thank him…he told me that he remembered me fondly and that he heard I had this dream and he wanted to make it happen. I still have a copy of the program on my wall…April 23, 1984… they juggled the card around and I ended up wrestling Tito Santana, who was the Intercontinental champion at the time.”
Check out the complete interview below.