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And now, on with the show ...
And now, on with the show ...
"Ladies and gentlemen - and I use those terms loosely - I am very proud to present to you my new tag team! Arn Anderson and Tully Blanchard! The Brain Busters!"
Bobby Heenan's strained holler echoed in the arena, the site of a September 1988 edition of WWF Superstars Of Wrestling. Although the faces of many ringside fans held a look of confusion, some of them were visibly stunned. Although there were only two of them, it could now be said that The Horsemen had ridden into the WWF. As for Tully and Arn themselves, their faces showed neither of those emotions as they dismantled the team of Scott Casey and Sam Houston (an old Horseman enemy from 1985) with cold precision.
For quite some time, nearly every WWF manager had taken a tag team under his wing. Heenan's duo of choice for about a year had been The Islanders. But when Haku became the WWF's "King" and Tama parted ways with the company, some thought Heenan had given up on tag teams. If anything, hindsight may show that he was only making room for Tully and Arn in the infamous Heenan Family.
Within weeks of their debut, Blanchard and Anderson began a series of matches with The Young Stallions, (future Horseman) Paul Roma and Jim Powers. Although the youngsters shined as brightly as they ever had before, the Busters beat the Stallions on all such occasions. The next step was to be a televised match against another team new to the area, The Rockers. Unfortunately, the match never even began. The Busters were still marching around the ring while Shawn Michaels and Marty Jannetty "ran the ropes" to loosen up. Anderson tripped Michaels from the edge of the ring, and Michaels responded with a flying bodypress to the floor. Before the bell could even sound to start the match, the four wrestlers brawled all the way back to the curtains!
In November, the two teams were on opposite sides of a twenty-man elimination tag match in the second annual Survivor Series. Both duos managed to eliminate some of the competition. In particular, Tully Blanchard gained a pinfall on Bret Hart in order to eliminate The Hart Foundation. However, when Tully called in Arn to administer an illegal double-team on Shawn Michaels, Jannetty ran in for the rescue. Once again, all four men duked it out with reckless abandon. As a result, both pairs were disqualified on that night.
The rivalry between The Brain Busters and The Rockers continued when all four men were entrants in the 1989 Royal Rumble. Arn Anderson was the sixteenth man in the ring, and both Rockers were there to "greet" him. Surprisingly, Anderson was assisted by Randy Savage as they got rid of Shawn Michaels with a double elbow. Tully Blanchard was the next man in the ring, and The Brain Busters worked over Marty Jannetty. Although he struggled to the end, Jannetty was sent to the floor by Tully and Arn. Worlds collided when these two top NWA stars tried to match up against WWF legend Hulk Hogan. Not only did the Hulkster fail to be dropped by their double clothesline, he steamrolled right through both men, eliminating them simultaneously!
In spite of their embarrassing encounter with Hogan, Blanchard and Anderson refocused their tag team efforts. A week after the Rumble, they pulled off a victory over The Rockers at Madison Square Garden. Another rematch was held on Saturday Night's Main Event. Early in the bout, Bobby Heenan lowered the top rope in order to send Michaels crashing to the floor. Instead of helping his team, Heenan was found guilty of the interference and escorted back to the dressing room. Even without Heenan, his men performed magnificently. Although this one ended with another double-DQ, the nationwide NBC audience was introduced to some of the best teamwork in wrestling history. When these four wrestlers returned to The Big Apple, The Rockers won the match on a disqualification. Still, this was an issue that remained to be settled.
On April 2, one of wrestling's oddest set of coincidences occurred, when The Brain Busters met Strike Force (Rick Martel & Tito Santana) as part of Wrestlemania V. Exactly one "wrestling year" ago, Strike Force had lost their WWF Tag Team Titles to Demolition at Wrestlemania IV. On that very same night, Tully Blanchard and Arn Anderson had lost their NWA straps to Lex Luger and Barry Windham. The similarities between the two teams seemed to end a few weeks later. Unlike Strike Force, Tully and Arn soon regained their titles in a rematch when Windham walked out on Luger in the middle of the match. Here, one year later, Blanchard and Anderson were victorious when Martel walked out on Santana in much the same fashion! Without a partner to tag, Santana fell victim to a spiked piledriver to end the match. It would appear as though The Brain Busters had developed a habit of seeing their opponents turn against on another.
By virtue of their Wrestlemania victory, The Brain Busters were granted a title shot against the dominant WWF World Tag Team Champions, Ax and Smash of Demolition. Better still, the match was shown on the Memorial Day weekend edition of Saturday Night's Main Event. It was a hard-fought, action-packed match. The excitement was building as Demolition put their extremely physical style to the test against the technical expertise of the Busters. Although touted as one of the most gifted men in the sport, Bobby Heenan could do little to coach his men in this fast-paced match. At one point, a clothesline by Ax sent Blanchard over the top rope, landing in a heap on top of his own manager! When The Brain Busters regained control of the match, they used every underhanded tactic in their arsenal to keep Smash from making the all-important tag. Patience is a virtue, but it was not amongst Ax's qualities on this night. Frustrated, he stormed the ring without a tag and heaved the referee to the mat. The champions then handed Tully and Arn a relentless thrashing, but the match was officially over. Demolition had been disqualified, and Heenan's team earned another title shot.
With a technical victory over the champions, The Brain Busters were claiming to be the top tag team in the world. On the other hand, Demolition still had the belts. At the July edition of Saturday Night's Main Event, the Worcester Centrum hosted a special best-of-three falls match to end the controversy. The challengers felt that their conditioning would improve their chances as the match went longer. Therefore, the champions tried to end this one quickly. Within five minutes, Smash dropped Arn Anderson neck-first onto the top rope, earning a pinfall for Demolition. Things got out of hand in the second fall. Heenan attempted to get involved, but Smash rammed the manager into the steel ringpost. Total chaos ensued, and Demolition proceeded to administer their patented Decapitation maneuver. It looked like the end for Tully Blanchard, but the referee did not count the pinfall. He had disqualified Demolition for excessive double-teaming without tags. The match was now tied at one fall per team. At this time, Andre The Giant stomped down to ringside to tend to Bobby Heenan. When Ax made a tag to Smash, he started battling both opponents, and total anarchy ruled the ring again. Amidst the confusion, Andre slid his chair into the ring. Smash had Anderson pinned, but Tully cracked the chair over Smash's skull. Immediately after the chair was removed, the referee turned around in order to count the pin. Although it required two matches and a steel chair, The Brain Busters had dethroned Demolition to win the WWF World Tag Team Titles, ending the longest single reign in the history of the championship.
Needless to say, The Heenan Family was ecstatic. Andre was awfully proud of his participation, and Tully Blanchard's bragging reached an all-time peak of annoyance. As a co-host for Prime Time Wrestling, Bobby Heenan gleefully requested that the match be broadcasted again, in order to show how his team won the titles "fair and square." When his fellow announcers Roddy Piper and Gorilla Monsoon agreed, they were appalled to see that Heenan had blatantly re-edited the tape in order to delete the scenes involving the steel chair! This was insult to injury, and Demolition demanded a rematch at Summerslam. They soon found out that The Brain Busters had already made other plans.
Apparently, Blanchard and Anderson were slated to take on The Hart Foundation at Summerslam '89. To make matters worse, they insisted that it had to be a non-title match because they had signed for it prior to having won the belts. Grudgingly, the Harts agreed to the stipulation. It was a fantastic match. The Hit-Man was on par with both Busters when it came to technical wrestling. On the other side of the coin, The Anvil's power moves nearly wiped out the tag team champions single-handedly. As the Busters tried to confuse their opponents with quick tags and double-teams, The Hart Foundation kept their cool and countered every one of their schemes. In the end, Neidhart actually bodyslammed his own partner onto the prone body of Tully Blanchard! However, as the referee tried to evacuate Jim Neidhart, Arn Anderson connected with a blow from the top rope onto Bret Hart's neck. The official turned around just in time to count Blanchard's pin on The Hit-Man.
Demolition managed to get some revenge against Andre The Giant on that same night. With that issued settled, they were more determined than ever to recapture the titles from Heenan's champions. In countless rematches, Demolition had Tully and Arn "dead to rights" -- only to find themselves victorious via an intentional disqualification. The Brain Busters were desperate men, and they felt that losing in this manner was the only way to hold onto the belts. Time caught up with The Brain Busters in Wheeling, West Virginia. Demolition pounded their opponents with pure malice, en route to a decisive victory to reclaim the tag team gold. But was this, as Heenan might say, "fair and square?" The instant replay clearly showed that the Blanchard, who was pinned, was not the legal participant for his team at that point in the match. Considering all of the close calls that The Brain Busters enjoyed during their three-month reign, perhaps it was just as case of "turnabout fair play!"
Still licking their wounds from the loss to Demolition, an unhappy Heenan Family took part in the 1989 Survivor Series The quartet of The Rockers, Jim Neidhart, and The Ultimate Warrior was pitted against Haku, Andre The Giant, and The Brain Busters. The commentators and fans alike were very confused when Tully Blanchard failed to arrive with his teammates. Then, the crowd erupted in a mixture of boos and laughter when his replacement was announced: Bobby "The Brain" Heenan! To make his situation even worse, team captain Andre The Giant was counted out in the opening moments of the match! To his credit, Heenan did pin Marty Jannetty, thanks mostly to Haku's martial arts. Arn Anderson spiked Shawn Michaels to the mat with his spinebuster to gain a point for his team, but even Arn was no match for the Warrior's onslaught. Soon, Heenan was left to fend for himself against The Ultimate Warrior. The outcome was ... shall we say ... predictable.
Tully Blanchard's disappearing act caused a severe rift in the relationship between Bobby Heenan and his tag team. He decided to teach them a lesson, even at the expense of their shared success. In an edition of Saturday Night's Main Event aired just days after the Survivor Series, The Brain Busters met The Rockers in one last encounter for the best of three falls. Perhaps Bobby Heenan was just despicable enough such that he enjoyed seeing Blanchard lose the first fall within two minutes. Anderson, Blanchard, and Heenan spent much of the time arguing throughout the match. Although Anderson won the second fall, it was too late. The team had already been beaten on a different, intangible level. When The Brain Busters lost the third and deciding fall, they turned to their corner - perhaps expecting another lecture from Heenan. They did not hear anything. Bobby Heenan had walked away from the match before it was over.
Ironically, The Brain Busters - a team that watched with glee as their opponents abandoned one another - saw their last noteworthy appearance in the WWF end with another abandonment. Their own.
It was later learned that Tully Blanchard's absence, and his eventual expulsion from the WWF, was due to failure in a drug test. Tully claimed that he purposely failed the test in order to become released from the WWF, even as one of its champions. No one knows how his relationship with Heenan affected such a decision. In 1990, Tully entered another organization, the AWA, under the guidance of another manager, Christopher Love. Although Tully's father held the position of AWA President, this portion of his career proved to be unsuccessful. After disappearing for years, Tully Blanchard made a surprise move to ECW in 1994 in a failed attempt to win Shane Douglas' ECW World Title. He even made a one-match appearance in WCW to battle Terry Funk at Slamboree '94. The lack of success in the ring could have been due to, as the saying goes, his heart not being into it. If so, then a likely place for Tully's heart has been his ministry. The formerly-evil Tully Blanchard has since then become an evangelist.
Arn Anderson, on the other hand, stepped into the limelight immediately after the disbanding of The Brain Busters. In the winter of 1989, Ric Flair issued a verbal challenge to his band of enemies: Gary Hart, Buzz Sawyer, Dragon Master, and The Great Muta. When they all tried to attack him, The Nature Boy was rescued (as planned) by two "cousins" who had been doing the same job back in 1985. Like it or not, Arn Anderson and Ole Anderson were back in the NWA!
"... where credit is due ..."