On the June 17th, 2010 episode of TNA Impact, Ric Flair announced he was going to reform the legendary Four Horsemen stable under the name Fortune. The group included AJ Styles, James Storm, Robert Roode, and Kazarian, with Flair as their teacher and leader. The group lasted almost 2 years and continued to add new talent to the group, including Christopher Daniels, Douglas Williams, Rob Terry, and Matt Morgan.
During the 83 Weeks Podcast, Eric Bischoff talked about the group Fortune and why they were first created. Bischoff said the group was mostly created to continue to push AJ Styles as he branched out from his stale character and became a new one. He also said there were never plans to reform the Four Horsemen, but instead, to make a new stable because strong stables typically work in wrestling.
“I think there was a combination of people who were supportive of that move. I was one of them,” Bischoff said. “It wasn’t so much about creating a TNA version of The Four Horsemen as much as it was about creating a faction.
“The idea of them dressing up and taking on the Flair persona – I think the idea was for Ric Flair to embrace this group and have them emulate a lot of Ric’s tried and true formulas. Flair was certainly excited about it, I was supportive of it, Hulk [Hogan] was very excited about it, and Dixie, of course, loved the idea because everybody loved the idea.”
Bischoff also mentioned that he and Hogan had made it a mission to push Styles out of his comfort zone to enhance his character. He said his original character was getting stale and it was time for him to grow.
“Hulk and I felt, AJ, as fantastic as he was, was recognized as what a special athlete he was, but we collectively felt AJ was lacking in character,” Bischoff said. “He was doing that homegrown talent, TNA thing for a long time, and he just wasn’t emerging or growing as a character in our opinion.”
“A lot of people would disagree with that, and that’s fine. Perhaps this move with Flair wasn’t the right move for AJ, but I’m explaining why we did it. If he could elevate his character and take it to the next level, he’d be even more special. This was collectively our attempt to do that.”
Bischoff continued to talk about his relationship with Styles and talked about how close they became when he worked in WWE last year as the Director of SmackDown. He also revealed he was a major factor in the Styles/Claire Lynch storyline being used to push Styles into more character involvement.
“Me and AJ are pretty close now,” Bischoff said. “When I was working in WWE last year we shared a locker room for a while and we chatted for a long time. Everybody’s perspective of the situation and each other changed as the years evolved. I don’t want to put words in his mouth, but I think AJ looked back at this effort from a different perspective than he did then. He didn’t really like it then. AJ didn’t feel like it was the right character for him; it didn’t feel natural to him.”
“One of the reasons that I was supportive of it, as I was pushing AJ outside of his comfort zone for the Claire [Lynch] angle, which was more my idea than anybody else’s, for better or worse. But the reason I liked it for AJ is because it forced him to think outside of himself and forced him to become a character rather than think for himself. In order to grow, you have to try new things, and get comfortable with new things, and develop a range in your character so that you can fit into storylines, and play different roles, and utilize all the physical skills and god given talents.”
Bischoff also continued to talk about Bully Ray, who was a major player in TNA during Eric’s time with the company. He also said he’s surprised Ray isn’t working in a wrestling company today in any role.
“Bully is incredibly smart, incredibly experienced, and he knows how to carry himself,” Bischoff said. “There’s a culture in WWE. I found out the hard way. If you’re going to fit into that culture, you have to shed your skin and bring the skin that’s provided to you by the head of culture in WWE. You just have to. Some people can do that, Adam Pearce is doing a fantastic job. Certain people do, certain people don’t.
“Bully knows what it’s like to be in WWE, especially in that role as a producer and on the creative team. I’m guessing that he just doesn’t want it. I’m not sure if anyone has ever offered it to him, and maybe if they did, he’d make a fool of me. Bully’s a man’s man. He’s very much an individual. He’ll compromise to a point and then he won’t. I’m guessing that’s probably why.”
Bischoff continued on to say AEW could really use Bully Ray right now as another type of Chris Jericho. He said Ray would add something that AEW is missing and could help their roster in tons of ways.
“As far as AEW goes, I don’t know,” Bischoff said. “There’s not a lot of really experienced, talented people who understand the art of creating emotion, and that’s what Bully was best at. I don’t know why Bully’s not there in AEW because he’s valuable.”
“There’s some really talented people there, and obviously, Chris Jericho is maybe one of the most creative people right now. But wouldn’t you like to have 2, or 3, or 4 people that have Chris Jericho’s kind of experience and feel, but maybe come at it from a couple different perspectives so you have options? I would think somebody like AEW would really benefit from Bully’s experience.”
If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit 83 Weeks with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.