It is hard not to hear the passion in every word when Andrew Anderson speaks about pro wrestling. Inside the ring, the blonde-haired wrestler is known as the Reinforcer. The name fits the New Jersey native well due to his six-foot-plus and 300-pound frame.
Let us not forget that he is almost always seen with an intimidating large tow chain, and the intensity of his personality is consistantly turned up to a maximum volume. Currently, Andrew’s bullying tactics have become familiar to those who follow SWE Fury, a national promotion based out of Texas.
After parting ways with the veteran of the squared circle, one can’t help to have a stronger appreciation for professional wrestling. The moniker of the Reinforcer goes well beyond his ability to annihilate his opponents while he is competing, it also reflects the respect and integral philosophy that he has for the sport.
“I’ve been in wrestling for 26 years and if a guy has been in the business one day longer than me, I will carry his bags,” Andrew Anderson said. “It is out of respect.”
Professional wrestling has changed a lot since Andrew entered the business in 1991. Everything is different. The wrestlers are different and the wrestling style itself has evolved. Today wrestlers are flying around the ring so fast that the storytelling falls short. And the wrestling psychology, well that’s a lost art too.
The business end of things is also distinctive. Back then the athletic commissions were strict and all the wrestlers had to be licensed. Today, basically anyone who wants to be a wrestler can be one. Andrew tells stories of the way wrestling used to be, and it is easy to classify him as an old-school wrestler. The grappler adopted a cold-war gimmick with the name Siberian Tiger when he worked alongside his tag team partner Nikolai Volkoff. Eventually, a promoter would influence the young man to change his persona.
“In his Italian accent, Mario Savoldi told me that the cold war was dead,” Anderson recalled. “And because he thought I looked like Arn Anderson he suggested I should use my real name so I did.”
To get a full grasp of Andrew Anderson, you have to look at the men who have influenced him over the past two and half decades. A lot of the guys coming into wrestling don’t get the chance to be mentored by one of the greats. Andrew was fortunate enough to be under the learning tree of Jimmy Snuka, Greg Valentine, and Kevin Sullivan.
Andrew considers all three of these men to be his “wrestling dads.” Heartfelt emotion is prominent and genuine when he speaks about each man. His relationships with the three legendary wrestlers go way beyond friendship.
“I love them all. They are my family,” Anderson expressed. “They gave me the rub in the business; you can’t make it in wrestling without a rub.”
For more than four decades, Superfly Jimmy Snuka was a superstar. No matter where he wrestled his presence was made known by his tremendously muscled physique and his ability to fly, dive, or jump off of the ring ropes. One of Snuka’s most memorable moments came during a match in 1983 while wrestling against Don Muraco at Madison Square Garden. The Fiji-born wrestler dove from the top of a 15-foot steel cage to land on his opponent while he lay on the mat in the center of the ring. It is safe to say a pin drop could be heard when Jimmy leaped.
Snuka did not only receive notoriety for his wrestling, but he also made headlines when he became a suspect for the death of his girlfriend Nancy Argentino in 1983. Snuka always maintained his innocence. Due to the deterioration of Snuka’s mental and physical health, charges were dismissed in 2017 because he was deemed not fit to stand trial.
“Jimmy was the man that brought me up into the business and one of the nicest human beings I have ever met,” Anderson attested. “Despite what was said about him on the Dark Side of the Ring, I love him dearly. I miss him every day.”
The second man to mention who has made an impact on Andrew is Greg “The Hammer” Valentine. Valentine started wrestling in 1970 and one might ask if he has officially retired from the business. However, no one will ever question his toughness and ability to finish off his opponent inside the ring. To mention all of Valentine’s accomplishments would be difficult because there are so many.
Some fans might remember the storyline in which it was believed that Greg broke the leg of Wahoo McDaniel. Die-hard wrestling fans will recall the days when Valentine teamed with Brutus Beefcake or feuded with Tito Santana. But the dog collar match he had with Roddy Piper at the Starcade event in 1983; will go down as one of the most brutal matches in wrestling history.
A lesson passed down to Andrew from Greg was the ability to make money by understanding his worth and value. Since most wrestlers on the independent circuit are freelancers, they are not signed to guaranteed contracts. They also anticipate making extra money by signing autographs and selling merchandise before and after the matches. Greg believed if a wrestler knew his value, he could make money in the business.
“He is one of my best friends of all time. I don’t see him as much as I used to, but the friendship is always there,” Anderson continued. “Greg comes off a bit grouchy, but I have a lot of pictures of him smiling. We have had a lot of great times and good laughs together.”
The third man in this trio is Kevin Sullivan. Whether you know him as the Great Wizard or the Taskmaster, Sullivan unmistakably has a brilliant mind for professional wrestling. In his career that has already lasted five decades, the 71-year-old has wrestled all over the world and in every gimmick match thinkable. Trying to question who Kevin has wrestled against would be easier if you asked about who he has never stepped into the ring with.
Narrowing down a favorite highlight for Sullivan is not easy considering the number of promotions he has worked for. In the mid to late 70s, he wrestled in World Wide Wrestling Federation, Big Time Wrestling, and Georgia Championship Wrestling. Sullivan may never duplicate the magic he created in Florida during the early 80s when his rivals were Dusty Rhodes and Barry Windham. The feud ran for a couple of years. It gained national attention when it was covered in almost every monthly issue of the hottest wrestling magazines. Sullivan also took over the booking duties at WCW in 1997 where he found himself in a battle for ratings with the WWE in what was called the Monday Night Wars.
“From Kevin, I have learned how to keep myself strong. He is always good about reminding me that I am somebody in this business,” Anderson added. “Kevin taught me wrestling psychology and he taught me how to tell stories and how to come up with great finishes. Kevin is a genius in this business.”
Because professional wrestling is such a physical sport, its athletes have the potential of getting hurt or injured. Unfortunately, some careers have been cut short due to accidents or missteps in the ring. Some wrestlers have the body for the sport and even some amount of potential, but for whatever reason, they do not have “IT.” For Andrew, he has the looks, the gift of gab, and the size and strength. On top of those significant qualities he also had three legendary wrestlers who believed in him and for the man from New Jersey, that has made all the difference.
“I consider myself fortunate when it comes to my three Dads,” Anderson stated. “They took care of me and taught me how to make money in this business. I will never forget what they have done for me.”