‘Double A’ Arn Anderson has enforced the tale of the then World Wrestling Federation doubling his pay as a dig on his way out of the company in 1989.
The Brain Busters, one of the greatest tag teams in professional wrestling history and an inspiration for FTR, had been with the company less than a year when they not only ended the historic reign of Demolition and captured the WWF Tag Team Championships, but weeks later, decided to hand in their notice.
Wishing to return to the NWA/WCW from whence they’d came, the technically excellent duo felt as if they weren’t being paid enough and as Anderson told on his ARN Podcast, took their gripe to WWF management:
“How could we be $50,000 behind what we had made with Crockett at that point in the fiscal year? It wasn’t because the business was down. So, when you ask that question, there are probably two answers. One would be, ‘Oh God, I had no idea, I will fix that.’ Or, ‘Oh well, s**t happens.’ and we got the oh well, s**t happens. If you are the tag champions, which are not paid like a single main event, it’s split four ways vs two ways. So, you’re not going to make singles money no matter where you are positioned if you are in a tag. We figured out three weeks later when we were told, ok, let me research this and I will get back to you at the next TV taping and it was a no go to catching us up to where we needed to be so we could go forward with the rest of the year, so we turned in our notice.”
With their notices handed in and the gold transferred back to Demolition, disaster struck when Tully Blanchard was released from his contract for failing a drugs test.
Anderson went on to recount the story of the failed test as well as the company doubling his pay on his way out just to prove a point:
“In those days, they weren’t concerned with your health and well being and sent you to rehab. They left you off for 90 days without pay. That was the punishment. If you got popped for the drug test, there were levels of punishment. It wasn’t about spending $100,000 to send you to rehab. That wasn’t one of the options. He (Vince) was insulted that we would leave him. When you send a guy home like that, a guy that is that high profile, it’s going to make news. It’s going to be a negative that he is going to work with the other company, even though 90% of the guys in the locker room were doing something. It was going to be a black eye on us returning there (WCW) before we ever got there.
That’s where Vince is smart. He knows how to play the game and use everything to his advantage. Here is the real rib. Let me tell you how smart and diabolical he is. After Tully was sent home and however many weeks that I had left (on his contract), we were working with Demolition. Suddenly my pay doubled. Every week it was like, wait a minute. Am I getting the right check here? He ended up paying me more than I had made with Crockett, substantially. So at the end of the day, he did what he said he was going to do, even though he didn’t tell us at the time he was going to do it. It was like an F.U. to Tully and an F.U. to me that hey guys, see, I told you to stick with me. I can do anything I want, anytime I want. That ended up being my biggest year in the business, year to date.”
Arn Anderson returned to WCW in December 1989 sans Blanchard, who couldn’t regain a deal with the company thanks to his checkered past. Going on without his partner, Anderson re-joined The Four Horsemen and had a successful mid-card career until his retirement in 1997.
Currently, Anderson is contracted to All Elite Wrestling where he works as a Producer and also an on-screen mentor to Cody Rhodes.
Credit for the interview: ARN Podcast
h/t for the transcription: Fightful