Fourtune: Tarnishing the legacy

On June 17, Ric Flair gave a nearly incoherent rant about rebuilding his legendary stable the Four Horsemen, but would instead be calling it “Fourtune” (most likely because the WWE owns the trademark to the Four Horsemen name). His normal goon squad of A.J. Styles, Kazarian, James Storm, Robert Roode and Desmond Wolfe all seemed to be likely candidates, as they had been aligned with Flair for months.  Flair assured them that their spots were not guaranteed, and threw Wolfe out of the group in the first week.  The other four?  They all made it in without having to really try.

Back in WCW, the Four Horsemen was something Ric Flair was linked to throughout much of his lengthy tenure – and for good reason.  When Flair was the golden child of the franchise, the Horsemen were the perfect stable for him.  The blonde-haired, shimmering robe wearing pretty boy surrounded by an army of goons in Arn and Ole Anderson and Tully Blanchard.  Flair could say anything he wanted and the others would decimate any that challenged him.

As the original Horsemen faded away, the roster went through shifts with some questionable additions here and there (Paul Roma, anyone?), but it remained a highly touted name in the company.  It was a pretty big deal when the stable became yet another sacrifice to push the nWo (in the memorable addition of, then betrayal by Curt Hennig).  In 1998, when Ric Flair returned from a forced hiatus to reform the Horsemen (again to combat the nWo), it was a huge deal.  The reformation happened over the course of several weeks as Dean Malenko went to each former Horseman and convinced them to reunite.  The entire time, fan excitement built until the night where Arn Anderson reintroduced the members of the stable – Chris Benoit, Steve McMichael and newly inducted Dean Malenko – all clad in tuxedos, then welcomed Flair back to the company.  The atmosphere was electric, and the stable did quite well for itself – especially the tag team of Benoit and Malenko.

No fan would dispute the matter – the Four Horsemen were wrestling’s elite.  Even Mongo McMichael had an air of dignity to him when he was involved with the others.

When TNA put Fourtune together, it seemingly had good premise.  With Flair in the advisory role (formerly held by the likes of J.J. Dillon or post-retirment Arn Anderson), the likes of A.J. Styles, Kazarian, James Storm and Robert Roode seemed to have the potential of excellence that their predecessors had.  But things quickly started working against them.  Right after their formation, Kazarian got himself demolished by Rob Terry in less than a minute.  Styles eventually upset Terry for his Global championship, but only squeaked out a win with the help of Kazarian.  Both men, as well as Flair himself, were repeatedly unable to defeat Jay Lethal.  Beer Money failed to capture the tag team titles from the Motor City Machine Guns, then lost a best-of-5 series to them.  James Storm didn’t tweak his gimmick, so he remained a beer-swilling redneck, which definitely lessened the aura of “elite” in the group.

If nothing else, Fourtune lacked an enforcer, which was always an important aspect of the group.  Sure, Ric Flair was a trash-talking pretty boy, but if you went after him, chances were that you’d be on the receiving end of a beating from Arn Anderson.  The enforcer role was what kept Steve McMichael in the role in its waning days, though it wasn’t quite as necessary when the Horsemen were faces.  Beer Money would be the thoretical choices for this role, but their repeated inability to defeat the Motor City Machine Guns quickly dampened that prospect.  Chris Sabin and Alex Shelley, while two of the most athletically gifted wrestlers in TNA, are also two of the smallest.  How could Storm and Roode stand up to the likes of Kevin Nash or Samoa Joe when they couldn’t even beat the Guns?

Fourtune seemed to have a moment of excellence when they demolished the ECW revival group E.V.2.0 the night after Hard(core) Justice, but in doing so, made themselves by their very name a joke amongst fans.  The angle suddenly brought two more people into the group – Douglas Williams and Matt Morgan.  With that, the name Fourtune became a misnomer, as the stable suddenly had six active wrestlers in it – seven if you count Flair.  At least the move gave the stable some air of dominance in TNA as they have demolished E.V.2.0 at every turn.  Granted this is a stable led by Tommy Dreamer, whose job for over a decade has been to take savage beatdowns.  The feud is also irrelevant to the whole of TNA.  Because they are feuding with the ECW alumni (Mick Foley, Raven, Rhino, Dreamer, Sabu, Stevie Richards), the whole of Fourtune is out of every title picture in the company.  A.J. Styles has a belt – the renamed Television title – yet he has never defended it on TV since the week he renamed it.

If the legacy Fourtune tries to honor hadn’t been tarnished enough, the stable began devolving into sophmorish antics.  Where the older Horsemen had shown up in tuxedos and demolished opponents with authority, Fourtune plays outdated fraternity pranks, making Ric Flair chug a Smirnoff Ice while giggling like a bunch of idiots.  Even the legendary four finger sign of the Horsemen has been “updated” by members of the stable, using the thumb instead of the ring finger for the count.  That, for those not in the know, makes the “shocker” – an old sex joke in which two fingers are used for…you know what?  Just go to Urban Dictionary and look it up.

Or maybe they're just MFers.

In the few months that Fourtune has been around, they’ve managed to take the idea of the Four Horsemen – one of the greatest stables in professional wrestling history – and turn it into a lame fraternity stable with a bad name.  Perhaps the name “Mean Street Posse” would fit their antics better than “Four Horsemen”.  I’m sure Pete Gas is open for bookings.  It is just a tragic shame that TNA has taken such an easy and celebrated formula and sullied it so.  After all, they’ve managed to take this:

and turn it into this:

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