On a recent episode of Talk Is Jericho, Chris Jericho had on The Brain Busters, Arn Anderson and Tully Blanchard, for their first ever podcast appearance together. In an interview a few years ago, Four Horsemen manager JJ Dillon said that The Brain Busters had left Jim Crockett Promotions because they had exhausted all they could with The Horsemen. However, on Talk Is Jericho, Anderson said that it a dispute about pay that led to them leaving NWA for WWE.
“Well, Barry Darsow was already there. He was half of Demolition, and he was having a good run,” Anderson explained. “And they liked him up there. He had sent word to me a couple of times, ‘hey Vince has kind of said if you guys are ever not happy, come on up.’ Well we were happy ’til then because things were going well, and if we would have gotten paid like we should have got paid for the pay-per-view that they told us we were going to make.
“When your boss walks in and says, ‘listen, we got a pay-per-view coming up. We want to pay you guys x-amount of dollars.’ Don’t you think that’s going to happen? Why would you ever do that beforehand? You have the show, you get paid what you get paid, and go from there. We got our checks and mine was way less than half. It was less than half of what he talked about, and and I got a hold of Barry and I said, ‘hey, they’re not going to make this thing right for us.'”
Anderson also talked about his booking during the end of their NWA run in 1988. He said that he had contacted Darsow to arrange a meeting with Vince McMahon where they met outside of McMahon’s house by the pool.
“And then they started beating us real quick on TV for no apparent reason with some good guys. We went out one night and had a 15-minute match with the Midnights,” Anderson recalled. “I think it was Houston or something, [and we] tore the joint down. This is right before we quit. Well, 30 minutes later, they had me go right back out with Steve Williams and put him over in three minutes. Steve Williams could’ve beat me in 30 seconds, that’s not the point. They just buried us and the Midnight Express. It was one of those deals.
“I talked to Barry. I said, ‘Tell Vince we’re interested like pretty soon.’ He said, ‘let me get back to you, call me back in 30 minutes. Where are you guys at?’ Well, we were going to Philly. That was going to be the next show. He says, ‘tell me where you going to fly. Where you going to be and all that.’ So we came in on the private plane, Philly.
“Next morning, we got up early, flew to New York, had a limo pick us up [and] took us to his house. We met with him out by the pool which, I thought, ‘man, what the hell we been waiting on?'”
Jericho wondered where their tag team name, The Brain Busters, came from. Blanchard said it came from the late, legendary manager Bobby Heenan. Anderson said that being paired with Heenan gave them instant credibility, and he said that McMahon went up to them during their run to tell them that they gave his company credibility as well.
“We couldn’t come up with anything. He and I tried to,” Anderson admitted. “They said, ‘we’re going to put you with Bobby Heenan’, and I think Bobby said, ‘hell, let’s call them The Brain Busters’, which gave us immediate credibility. And Chris, our costuming was just normal, just red and white boots [and] red tights. It was nothing special and he didn’t mess with that. He just let us be ourselves.
“He said about about six months into, one day we’re talking to him, he just went, ‘you know, you guys give credibility to my to my company, to my business.’ I think he said, ‘you lend credibility to my business,’ and I think, looking back on it, that’s why he didn’t dress us up.”
Jericho also asked what, if any, were the major differences between Jim Crockett Promotions and WWF? Anderson noted that the ring sizes were different, which caused them to have to adjust their timing in the ring.
“Crockett’s ring was smaller and that ring really felt big,” Anderson revealed. “Things like reversing a turnbuckle, there were more steps involved, and when you first do it, the first night, you’re starting to turn and you’re still about four or five feet out. You figured out, pretty soon, okay that makes a difference in the steps because they were just automatic in your head.”
Anderson also pointed out that the WWF ring at the time was harder than JCP’s ring. He shared an altercation that occurred between him and Darsow, and he shared a theory as to why that era of wrestling was filled with eccentric characters that were highlighted by their promo work.
“Rings were hard. And funny story, our first house show loop, we work with Jimmy Powers and [Paul] Roma. And we went out and we just did what we always did. We had a match with them,” Anderson stated. “Well, as we came back through the curtain, there was Barry Darsow right here. ‘Come with me.’ He pulled me aside and he said, ‘what the hell was all that bulls–t. [Why] are you guys out there bouncing around for those guys for? They’re underneath guys,’ and I looked at him and he looked at me.
“I was kind of shocked because he was pissed. He said, ‘you know, we don’t do that up here. You need to check with me on this stuff.’ Well the thing was, the ring was so hard. We made everybody look bad. We’re bouncing around out there, and that was part of the reason, the unsaid reason I bet you. If you could get guys from that era to tell you the truth, the reason everybody was into the walking, and the talking, and the character stuff is because they didn’t have to take bumps because that ring hurt. It was a big difference, that one and Crockett’s ring.”
Blanchard opened up about his failed drug test in WWE that halted his move to WCW. Blanchard talked about how his failed drug test ended up hurting Anderson which would cause heat between them for quite sometime, and how that led him to become a born-again Christian.
“Well it’s all my fault because the situation was that Crockett had sold his company to Turner, and Turner was giving big contracts away. And they had promised a big contract to me and Arn if we leave the WWF,” Blanchard explained. “And so we gave our notices and worked out a finish date, and I flunked a piss test. And so with like 25 days left, I don’t have a job. I don’t get sent to drug rehab. But I’m gone, and in 22 days we’re going to sign our contract with WCW. Then they called up, on November 13. Flair called me at 1:00 in the morning and told me they reneged on the deal, and so I am now unemployed. And the most tragic thing about that is that it affected [Anderson].
“That’s my biggest, today, regret. Not that I lost a job but it affected him, and I was sitting at home. And I said, ‘how in the world can I be out of the wrestling business?’ But in all of that, when Flair called me at 1:00 – 4:00 in the morning, I said, ‘Jesus take over my life, and that’s what changed my heart and changed my life.'”
Anderson gave his perspective on the negotiations between him and WCW boss at the time, Jim Herd. He said his pay was cut $150,000 over three years, and he criticized Herd for not understanding how the wrestling business worked.
“The biggest reason was there was an a–hole named Jim Herd at the helm, and he figured out some way somehow when I came in for my meeting that I wasn’t worth as much to the company that had made a deal for he and I,” Anderson stated. “And you’re not worth as much as you two guys were together, so we’re going to cut your contract by 150 grand over a three-year period. At that time, that was a lot of money at my house. And then he saw I was not happy as you could imagine.
“And he went, ‘Arn, hey, no big deal. You can go back to Vince if you want. No hard feelings.’ That’s how little he knew about our business. What I’m going to walk back in the door with my tail between my legs, stick my head in the window fan in Vince’s office? See, if there’s anything left, go ahead and bury it.”
Anderson admitted that he was stuck in WCW for a few years. However, he stuck with it because while his pay was cut, he was still making a lot more money than he would have if he had gotten a job outside of wrestling. He also notes that he learned early on that he would have more longevity making good enough money for an extended period of time rather than making top-level money and having a short wrestling career.
“I was stuck with that. It’s one of those things in the business,” Anderson admitted. “It always doesn’t go well. I could have pitched a bit, sued him [or] whatever the deal was. But the reality is, sometimes you have to look, and I went okay. Say that spends me a little money to have to sue him, what if I don’t win? This is still more money than I’m qualified to make anywhere out in the free world. So, I’ll bite my lip. They were only working six or seven days a month and I’ll just go with it.
“I just toughed it out. As you know, it’s a rollercoaster ride if you stay in this business a couple of decades. This will be my 38th year. I figured out pretty quickly, as long as you stay employed and make pretty good money, you don’t have to make that top top money for a couple, three years, like a lot of guys then disappear. You’ll still do okay.”
If you use any quotes from this article, please credit Talk Is Jericho with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.