Welcome back to Rotten Ink. We are here at the Rotten Ink Arena as its time for us to once more take a look at a “R.W.I Wrestling Legend.” This is a very special update as we will be talking about one of the biggest icons of the Golden Age of wrestling and was the first Nature Boy to step foot in the squared circle. I am sure you all know who I am talking about, but for those of you fans who do not, it’s Buddy Rogers! Buddy is a true legend of wrestling and is a name that almost every fan knows due to his legacy and impact on the sport. And this update, as you can see, has packed the arena with fans and with the update about to start, we should find out seats order some drinks and watch The Nature Boy do what he does best, and that’s cheat to win.
Buddy Rogers started his Pro Wrestling career in 1939. He was trained by Joe Cox and Fred Grubmeyer and from the start was a NWA guy working his first match for them by beating Moe Brazen. He would be sent around the NWA Territories, and when in Texas, he would win his first of many world titles as he captured the NWA Texas Heavyweight Championship title, a belt he would win a total of four times and during this run is when his life long feud with Lou Thesz started. He then would leave for Ohio and was given the nickname “Natural Guy” that would later be changed to “Nature Boy” and with this he would become a very hated heel as he would be featured on TV and would have a massive ego that rubbed the fans the wrong way. Even for a short time he had Fabulous Moolah going as Slave Girl Moolah as his valet! Buddy Rogers proved to the NWA that he was a major draw and brought fans to the arena to watch him wrestle the fan favorites as the crowds wanted to see him lose so badly as they really disliked him. Roger’s draw was so massive that he even got two promotions in Missouri to merge and in 1961 the NWA placed him in an NWA World Heavyweight title match against Pat O’Connor that seen him capture the title and set a NWA attendance record that was in place until 1984! During his run many NWA Territories as well as fellow wrestlers were not a fan of the cocky Nature Boy Buddy Rogers so they forced him to lose the title to Lou Thesz, a wrestler he really did not like in real life, but was a shooter and would take the belt off Roger forcefully in needed. But while the NWA did not want him as their World Champion he would go on to capture Tag Team Gold for them and was still used as a major draw to bring fans him who love to hate him, but they still respected him for his in ring work. But Buddy Rogers would leave the NWA in 1963 for New York as the WWF was calling his name and Vince McMahon Sr. had some big plans.
Vince McMahon Sr. withdrew from the NWA after they took the belt off Buddy Rogers and put it on Lou Thesz as he did not think the later was a big enough draw for New York so he created the WWF and Nature Boy Buddy Rogers became the company’s first WWF World Heavyweight Champion! Buddy Rogers was a huge draw for the new company and he was packing the houses but sadly his run with the title was cut short as he would suffer a heart attack that would take him out of action for some time. Once he returned his in-ring performance went down slightly and this caused them to have him lose a quick title match against Bruno Sammartino so they could get the belt off him, and Bruno then became the main face of the WWF. Buddy Rogers, who was still a draw, stayed around the WWF and would wrestle short matches and would even “retire” at one point only to take on a few matches on the indies, and by 1969, it was clear that Buddy Roger’s health was declined and that he need to step away from the world of wrestling and try and get better.
In 1978, to wrestling fans’ shock, Nature Boy Buddy Rogers returned to wrestling while in his late 50’s and started his comeback in Florida and was cheered and loved by the fans this time as who don’t love a good comeback story! He then went to Jim Crockett Promotions and became a heel manager and had such names as Big John Studd, Jimmy Snuka, Ken Patera, Gene Anderson and Dewey Robertson under his stable! While working for Crockett he also put over Ric Flair, who was now using the Nature Boy nickname, in an almost passing of the torch moment in mid 1978. He would then head to Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling before heading back to the WWF this time as a Face Manager as well as a part time wrestler, but after breaking his hip, he once more claimed he was done and retired, but he would stick around WWF making appearances up until 1984. In 1992 Buddy Rogers was going to step out of retirement for one more match that would have had him facing Buddy Landel who was also calling himself Nature Boy for Tri-State Wrestling Alliance…but they went out of business in 1992 before the match took place. On June 26, 1992 after suffering from several strokes Nature Boy Buddy Rogers passed away at the age of 71 and the world of wrestling lost a true legend.
Buddy Rogers is a name that I knew even as a very young wrestling fan thanks to my Dad as well as of course the Wrestling Magazines who spoke about his legacy, and over the decades when friends of mine who are into wrestling talk about the true legends, Buddy Rogers always comes up. Over the years, thanks to wrestling trade tapes as well as later on YouTube, I have been able to watch many of his matches and can see why he is considered one of the best in the business as well as why at one point he was one of the world’s most hated as he was the perfect heel who just always seemed so damn cocky! Plus let’s be 100% honest, without Buddy Rogers the world of wrestling would not have Ric Flair as we know him as he took almost all of Rogers’ gimmick and then added his own flare to become one of the biggest names in the sport, and even Buddy Landel, who was a skilled worker, owes his success to Rogers! Both Flair and Landel took the Nature Boy name and style from Rogers and they both owe him so much for making them stars. And let’s not even get started on Indie “star” Nature Boy Paul Lee who is a copy of a copy of a copy…yeah. I think the thing for me that makes me a fan of Buddy Rogers is not just his great in-ring skill but his work making the fans hate him so bad. He is one of the masters of Heeldom and the mold of that super cocky heel was broke after him. And I am so happy that Coliseum Of Wrestling & Boxing had this two disc Best Of set available as when I started these R.W.I Golden Age Of Wrestling updates I knew Buddy Rogers was one that I had to cover! While I did not grow up watching him in his prime, over the many decades of being a fan I have always been a fan of Buddy Rogers as he really was the true Nature Boy!
We are now at the point of this review where we will be taking a look at the DVD set and review some of the matches on the discs like always between 4 to 8 of them. I want to thank Coliseum Of Wrestling & Boxing for having this set in stock and also want to thank Buddy Rogers for his hard work in the world of wrestling. I also want to remind you that I will only be breaking down randomly select matches from this set and will be breaking down the match and will be rating the matches on a 5 Star rating system. I also only choose from single matches, as I want to break down his matches that showcase his style. Here is what the stars mean: ½ means a really terrible match, * means a bad match, ** means a below average match, **1/2 means a good average entertaining match, *** means a good match, **** means a great match, ***** means an epic match. So if you are ready, let’s step into the ring with Nature Boy Buddy Rogers.
Best Of Buddy Rogers
Match 1: Buddy Rogers vs. Cyclone Anaya
This is a best two out of three falls match. At the start of the match, Anaya is able to get Rogers into an arm lock and holds it with lots of pressure. And Rogers is able to get out and locks Anaya into a headlock. Anaya escapes and gets Rogers back into his arm lock and really cranks it in. Once out of the lock Rogers and Anaya try to truly size each other up as both want to take this first round, and then Anaya starts working on the leg of Rogers. Once out, the two exchange locks, holds and punches until Anaya locks in a abdominal stretch and Rogers gives up and the first round goes to Anaya. The second round is much like the first as they both just exchange holds, punches and locks and this time around Rogers even tries a few cheap shots. But after a piledriver, Rogers gets the three count and locks the second round. The third and final round goes to Rogers from the start as Anaya was so injured from the pile driver that he could not continue. A classic style match that is really lots of rest holds, but yet it is telling a story in the ring and is entertaining. But I also need to say that the rest holds do get a little boring as they are kept on way to long and are just chained together. Buddy Rogers, as always, plays a great heel in the match and his over selling at times is fantastic work as it fires up the crowd who think he really was in such pain. And Roger’s pile driver looks great and very devastating. As for Cyclone Anaya, while a skilled golden age wrestler, he mostly did basic rest holds and turning over the third round made him kind of look like a jobber as he was to beat up to continue. The crowd loved the match and were very much into it and the commentator was also fun and had weird phrases and calling methods. A great classic match that showcases Buddy Rogers well and shows how he was a mix of heel and in some people’s eyes a baby face.
Match 2: Buddy Rogers vs. Hans Schmidt
As soon as the bell rings Hans is on Rogers and grabs him by the hair and flings him across the ring and as Rogers rolls out of the ring Hans chases him around ringside. Once back in, Hans gets Rogers in a wrist lock and then whips him around and goes for a pin and only gets a two count. And after a cheap shot, Rogers takes control of the match and starts working on the neck of Hans who in turn is able to take back over the match with a big hit, and once more Hans gets the two count on a pin attempt and it was Rogers getting his leg on the rope that breaks the pin. And this angers Hans who starts stomping on Rogers and then works on his knee. Hans is not done torturing Rogers as he also starts choking him and keeping him down on the mat. And after Hans goes for a top rope knee drop that he misses, Rogers is able to get his figure four leg lock on Hans who is forced to tap out. This is a good match but it clearly was edited for TV, as the match is fast paced and edited very oddly in spots as they use cuts to fans in order to edit the match down. Buddy Rogers in this match is a total chicken heel who begs, cheats and runs from his opponent but when he needs to be he is sneaky and gets the win. Hans Schmidt is very aggressive in the match and stomps and even does heelish moves in order to take down Rogers, and comes very close to winning if not for that failed top rope move. The match is good, and I am sure it could have been great if not chopped down so short, but even with the poor editing, it was an entertaining match and that’s why I have to give it two and a half stars as its above average even in the chopped down version.
Match 3: Buddy Rogers vs. Pat O’Connor
Best of three for the World Title! When the bell rings, the two lock up with Pat being able to back Rogers into the turnbuckle, only for Rogers to sneak in a quick punch. After a second lock up and another cheap shot punch from Rogers, Pat is able to answer the hit with a punch of his own. The two then lock arms and are both pretty even on strength, but Rogers cheats and grabs Pat’s hair and takes him to the mat with an wrist lock. Once out of the hold Pat gets Rogers in a wrist lock and takes him down to the mat, making him taste his own medicine. Once out of the hold Rogers tries to take the momentum of the match back, but is taken down and Pat puts him in a spinning arm bar. The fans are cheer as they clearly want Pat O’Connor to win this match. Pat keeps on working on the arm of Rogers looking for a submission and he keeps the hold locked for a long time as Rogers tries to break free. And when Rogers does break free, he is able to hit Pat in the face and then tries for a submission hold that is stopped and Pat tries for a piledriver, but both men just fall into the ropes and are separated by the referee, and Rogers is able to get Pat into a headlock and tries to wear down his opponent. Pat breaks the hold and gets Rogers in the corner and starts punching him in the stomach and jaw and Rogers falls to the mat. Pat picks him up and throws him to another corner and as he charges in Rogers is able to knee Pat in the face and get the three count and the first pinfall victory. The second round starts, and Pat is angry and is going after Rogers, and of course once locked up Rogers starts to cheat by choking him and works him to the mat, but then Pat is able to switch the tide and works the leg of Rogers. After going back and fourth exchanging moves and punches it’s Pat who gets the pinfall win via a roll up. And the third round goes to Rogers via pinfall due to Pat missing a dropkick that causes him to hurt his stomach, and with that Rogers became the World Heavyweight Champion! This is a very classic style wrestling match with big punches being thrown and lots of locks be placed on one another as the fans in the arena are losing their minds for the match. And while the match has lots of rest holds, these two were telling a story and neither held onto the holds long enough to make the match feel boring or bogged down. Buddy Rogers is a great heel in the match as he takes cheap shots and takes any chance to get in punches. While Pat O’Connor is a great baby face who hits some big moves and gets the crowd drawn into the match. There is one botched moment in the patch when Pat goes for a piledriver on Rogers and they just can of fall into the ropes very awkwardly, and it’s so noticeable the commentator tries to make it sound like it was part of the match. Over all, a great classic match that was not overly long and showcased both wrestlers very well as neither looked weak and both came out looking strong.
Match 4: Buddy Rogers vs. Ric Flair
This is the battle of The Nature Boys! And from the start Flair stars hammering Rogers with some big fists as the fans are going crazy, as Rogers rolls out of the ring. Once back in Rogers is able to pull of a slam on Flair who in returns slams Rogers in response. Flair then gets him in a headlock and then starts pounding on the head of Rogers, and Flair keeps the attack on Rogers going. Rogers is bleeding now and is worn out, and Flair just turns up the heat keeps beating up Rogers. But the tide changes as Rogers then starts hitting big punches on Flair and works him over with body shots in the corner. Flair is able to make a comeback with an atomic drop and once more Rogers starts begging Flair to stop the butt kicking. The two exchange punches and once more Flair takes control of the match, and Rogers knocks Flair into the referee and as he is knocked out Flair gets the figure four locked in, and Rogers reverses it and the hold has to be broke. And after a bad edit, it appears Flair is bloody and is counted out and Rogers has won the match. Sadly this match is edited in a strange way and the cuts are harsh and really kills the story telling of the match and also does not draw you in as a fan as it feels more like a highlight reel then a match. With that said, what you do see is that Ric Flair is who the fans want to win and it looks like Flair hits all his big spots, and Rogers looks like the heel who also plays the coward who will cheat to win. I am sure if this film was not terribly cut, this would have been an amazing match, but the way that it is I would say it’s an okay highlight reel.
The Nature Boy Buddy Rogers is one of wrestling’s best heels and had a long an great career in the ring and was able to capture many titles as well as always got fans involved in his matches. And while Ric Flair is the Nature Boy that most modern fans know, Buddy Rogers is the original and is the true inspiration for all cocky heels that followed. Well as you can see, the Rotten Ink Arena clean up crew is out and it’s time for us to make our exit, but as we make our way to the doors I would like to tell you all that our next update will take us to the old west and I will be covering TV Show Shotgun Slade as well as the comic book from Dell that was made about it. So until next time, watch a wrestling match or three, read a comic or two and as always support your local wrestlers. See you next update for a Jazz filled good time in the west.