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  • Michael Rickard II

Book Review: "Minnesota Wrecking Crew: A Brief History of the Anderson Family in Wrestling.&quo

Originally presented at Canadian Bulldog's World.

Jim Crockett Promotions (later sold to Ted Turner and renamed World Championship Wrestling) was one of the most prestigious promotions during the territory era featuring a who’s who of wrestling’s elite (and future elite). JCP ‘s original focus was on tag team wrestling but by the early 70’s, it was shifting to singles competition as well. That didn’t mean the territory lacked for great teams though. A look at the promotion’s tag team championships, including their version of NWA World Tag Team Championship (at the time several NWA territories had their own version of the world tag team championship since few fans knew what was going on in other territories) and the NWA Mid-Atlantic Tag Team Championship, reads like a who’s who of wrestling. One of the names you’ll see frequently is the Andersons, a team of kayfabe brothers also known as the Minnesota Wrecking Crew. Fans can look back at the family history in the book, Minnesota Wrecking Crew: A Brief History of the Anderson Family in Wrestling. Wrestling historian Dick Bourne has compiled a history of the various incarnations of the Minnesota Wrecking Crew, and the group that sprung out from it; the legendary Four Horsemen.

Minnesota Wrecking Crew: A Brief History of the Anderson Family in Wrestling is an excellent example of the different types of wrestling books fans can enjoy. There are autobiographies (Have a Nice Day by Mick Foley which still ranks as the gold standard), histories (National Wrestling Alliance: The Untold Story of the Monopoly That Strangled Pro Wrestling by Tim Hornbaker and Titan Sinking: The Decline of the WWF in 1995), obituaries (Tributes by Dave Meltzer), match results (Battleground Baltimore: How One Arena Changed Wrestling History by Graham Cawthon), and career retrospectives (The Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame: The Heels by Greg Oliver and Steven Johnson). The Minnesota Wrecking Crew is something different, a timeline of the wrestlers who worked as the Andersons, including key matches, title wins, and important angles. The book covers a timeline from 1961 to 2009, including the different members of the Anderson dynasty.

The Anderson Brothers were originally made up of Lars Anderson, Gene Anderson, and Ole Anderson. None of them were related but their pedigree would lead to one of wrestling’s greatest kayfabe families. Ric Flair entered JCP as the Andersons’ cousin during the 1970’s, giving him instant credibility as a heel and tough guy. During the 1980’s, Arn Anderson was introduced as Ole’s cousin (or nephew, depending on what the promoters felt like at the time), again giving him instant heat. During the late 80’s, Gene Anderson’s son Brad Anderson entered the squared circle, becoming the first actual blood relative of the Andersons to wrestle.

While Lars Anderson teamed up as an Anderson, the team of Gene and Ole are the best-known pairing of the Anderson Brothers. Gene and Ole Anderson terrorized JCP during the 1970’s, bringing a brutal and stiff style to their matches. The Minnesota Wrecking Crew became known for their modus operandi of targeting a body part on their opponent and working it over until it was useless. They weren’t afraid to sacrifice their bodies in pursuit of championship gold, as seen in the unforgettable “Supreme Sacrifice” The famous angle happened when Gene and Ole Anderson challenged Paul Jones and Wahoo McDaniel for the NWA World Tag Team Championship. Ole whipped Wahoo into the Andersons’ corner where Gene was waiting. Wahoo’s head struck Gene’s, knocking both men out, and allowing Ole to cover Wahoo for the win.

Like any family, there was bound to be in-fighting, so when “Nature Boy” Ric Flair started getting cocky, one thing led to another and he found himself at war with his cousins. Flair teamed with Greg “The Hammer” Valentine and launched a legendary feud with the Andersons that kept JCP fans coming back for more. The matches took both teams to the limit and even the hospital on occasion. When Flair turned babyface, he scrapped with Gene Anderson and Gene’s stable of wrestlers.

Eventually, Flair patched things up and by the mid-80’s, Ole and Arn Anderson were watching Flair’s back while he defended his NWA World Heavyweight Championship. The trio teamed with Tully Blanchard in 1985, forming the Four Horsemen. During at least one interview, Ole Anderson acknowledged the Horsemen’s descent from the Minnesota Wrecking Crew.

Minnesota Wrecking Crew has everything covered when it comes to the Andersons and their matches. However, it’s important to note that this book is a bit different than what you may be used to. Author Dick Bourne sums things up early on in the book when he describes what his book is and what it isn’t:

Minnesota Wrecking Crew is not written as a narrative; it is written as a timeline. That is an important distinction because the goal is to document what and where things happened, not necessarily why things happened. It is intended as a historical record, a reference book of sorts, a month by month, year by year guide to the major turning points in the careers of the members of wrestling’s greatest family.

Minnesota Wrecking Crew: A Brief History of the Anderson Family in Wrestling is everything as described, but more importantly, it is an entertaining read and an excellent resource for any Minnesota Wrecking Crew and/or Four Horsemen fan. The book has some excellent black and white photos of the Andersons which is another reason to pick it up. It’s a quick read at 120 pages, but a fun read.

In addition to his book Minnesota Wrecking Crew: A Brief History of the Anderson Family in Wrestling, Dick Bourne has also authored United States Championship: A Close Look at Mid-Atlantic Wrestling's Greatest Championship, Big Gold: A Close Look at Pro Wrestling's Most Celebrated Championship Belt, and Ten Pounds of Gold (2nd Edition): A Close Look at the NWA World Championship Belt. All of these books can be found at Mid-Atlantic Gateway and Amazon.

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