Ole Anderson (Alan Rogowski) dies at 81

Ole Anderson, who was among the most powerful brokers in the industry, has died at the age of 81.

Born Alan Rogowski, the future wrestler would wear many different hats in the industry and his role as booker placed him among the most influential of his era.

His in-ring career began when came up through Verne Gagne’s training and debuted in 1967 and formed an early team with Bill Watts.

He was most recognized during this period for his work as a member of the Minnesota Wrecking Crew with Lars Anderson (Larry Heiniemi) and Gene Anderson as a three-man unit.

It was Lars who reportedly suggested the “Ole” name and made him a member of the Anderson wrestling family when they ventured to the Carolinas, which was the territory he would be closely linked with. When Lars left the territory in 1968, it left Gene and Ole to work as a team. Years later, Marty Lunde would be indoctrinated into the fictitious family as Arn Anderson.

Ole and Gene would go to Georgia Championship Wrestling for the first time in 1974, after leaving once, they returned with the two assuming booking duties for the major territory. By 1980, Ole claimed he was making $2,400 per week in Georgia as a booker, plus receiving main event payoffs as an active wrestler.

Ole’s most daunting booking duties occurred in 1981 when was booking Jim Crockett Promotions and Jim Barnett needed a new booker in Georgia after George Scott left. Rather than pick one over the other, Ole decided to book both territories concurrently and guaranteed race toward burnout by booking five to six towns per night which lasted until the fall of 1982.

After Barnett was removed from Georgia and Ole took over as president, the next power play was one where Ole was blindsided by a group with percentages in the territory.

After secretly meeting with Vince McMahon, Jack & Jerry Brisco orchestrated a sale of Georgia Championship Wrestling to McMahon and secured McMahon the coveted television slots on WTBS with Ole, Gene Anderson, Ralph Freed, and Fred Ward left in the dark and powerless to prevent the hostile takeover.

They tried to have the sale held up in court using the language in the articles of incorporation, but it was struck down and WWF programming launched on the Superstation in July 1984 and dubbed, “Black Saturday”.

Ted Turner saw the reaction from the fanbase that wanted its authentic version of professional wrestling and gave Ole a Sunday morning slot at 7 a.m. Jim Crockett Jr. would eventually buy out McMahon for the slots for a reported $1 million and assume the slots.

In 1985, he was famously part of the first incarnation of The Four Horsemen with Ric Flair, Arn Anderson, Tully Blanchard, and J.J. Dillon. Ole was not part of the Horsemen inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame when they were honored in 2012.

In 1988, JCP was sold to Turner and Ole worked as an agent in the rechristened WCW in 1989, later to be added to its booking committee. It was during this run that he re-joined the Horsemem and was part of a memorable angle where they kicked Sting out of the group and laid the groundwork for Sting’s first World Heavyweight Championship win later that year by defeating Flair at the Great American Bash. 

In 1990, Jim Herd appointed Anderson as his booker and it was not a great fit with Anderson bringing back many stars from the past, which didn’t resonate. He only lasted five months and left before the conclusion of the infamous
“Black Scorpion” revealed, the voice of which belonged to Ole.

When Bill Watts was put in power in WCW, he brought back Ole in 1992 as a referee and had a hand in the booking before being transferred to the WCW Power Plant.

He was later relieved of his duties when Eric Bischoff assumed the role of executive producer of the company.

Anderson battled health issues for several years and was largely out of the spotlight.

We will have a more complete story on the career of Ole Anderson later this week.

With notes from Inside Out: How Corporate America Destroyed Professional Wrestling

About John Pollock 5519 Articles
Born on a Friday, John Pollock is a reporter, editor & podcaster at POST Wrestling. He runs and owns POST Wrestling alongside Wai Ting.