Wrestler of the Day – December 20: Fabulous Freebirds

Time for one of the most famous tag teams of all time: the Fabulous Freebirds.

Now of course you’ve heard of the Freebird Rule, which means any two members can represent the team at any time. Therefore, this is going to be a big mix of combinations in chronological order.

The Freebirds actually got started back in the very late 1970s. The team consisted of the leader Michael Hayes, the power Terry Gordy and the technical Buddy Roberts. We’ll start things off with the team’s greatest rival and the team they’re easily best remembered against. From the David Von Erich Memorial Parade of Champions.

Six Man Tag Titles: Freebirds vs. Von Erichs

Kevin, Mike and Fritz here. The Birds are the champions and the titles are represented by a big trophy instead of belts. Mike is one of the saddest stories you’ll ever hear: He wasn’t a good wrestler in the first place and then he was injured. The injury resulted in toxic shock syndrome, which resulted in brain damage. His dad, Fritz, made him get back in the ring anyway. He committed suicide later in the 80s.

This is anything goes. Fritz is in a dress shirt and jeans. Everything breaks down quickly and chairs are thrown in. The referee says anything goes but you have to tag. Ok then. Kevin is bleeding from the big brawl. Ok so it’s officially Buddy Roberts vs. Kevin to start. Kevin beats him down and it’s a brawl in less than 10 seconds with everyone coming in. Off to Mike who goes straight for the leg.

Mike is a very small man. Hayes comes in and stomps away as the fans HATE him. A middle rope splash misses and here’s old man Fritz. Everything breaks down again and Fritz whips Hayes’ back with a belt. Kevin vs. the monster known as Terry Gordy. Gordy starts his boxing and the fans are erupting more and more every second now. If the Von Erichs win, Kerry gets Fritz’s title since Fritz is retired. I’m glad they cleared that up.

Kevin tries the Iron Claw but Gordy fights it off at the five minute mark. Hayes comes in and the fans are louder in this match than they’ve been in the whole show so far. Hayes takes off his boot to get in some shots and it’s off to Roberts. In one of the oddest moves you’ll ever seen, Roberts thrusts his hips forward so his belt buckle hits Kevin in the head. Fritz comes in and everything breaks down. Claw to Hayes and to Roberts at the same time. Hayes is busted bad. Various people are rammed into each other until Kevin comes off the top with a cross body to pin Roberts for the title.

Rating: C. This was the first decent match of the entire show. Granted a lot of that was probably due to the crowd finally being interested. This was without a doubt the feud that defines the promotion so you knew they were going to have something going on here. Not a bad match, but the rematch in July won Match of the Year from Meltzer, so check that out instead since it had Kerry so Fritz didn’t look so out of place.

And the aforementioned rematch.

Six Man Tag Team Titles: Von Erichs vs. Freebirds

The titles are vacant and this is a Badstreet Match, meaning anything goes. The heat on Michael Hayes is just nuts but the Von Erichs are as over as free beer in a frat house. It’s Kerry, Kevin and the lowly Mike here. Mike tried but he just wasn’t very athletic and it caught up with him. The brawl is on while the announcer is still doing the intros and we’re told there are NO tags, instantly making this more awesome.

The Von Erichs clean house to start but the Freebirds are right back in to keep fighting. Kevin takes off his belt to hammer on Terry Gordy but Mike is thrown to the floor to give the Von Erichs a disadvantage. Terry is sent to the floor almost immediately after and Mike comes back in, only to hit Kerry by mistake. Gordy hits Mike low to put him down and this is going WAY too fast to keep up with.

Kevin has a boot off and is hitting any bird that he can find before a triple dropkick puts Terry outside again. He gets back in and nailed with the boot over and over again before Hayes is pulled back in over the top rope. Mike spends too much time beating up Buddy Roberts though and Hayes gets in a boot shot to the back of his head. Kevin slaps the Claw on Hayes but Gordy makes the save, only to get nailed with the boot some more.

Kevin is knocked to the floor as things slow down to just insane instead of unable to keep track of anything. Gordy rakes Kerry’s face as a cameraman goes down. Mike’s foot is caught in the ropes and Kevin is busted open. Terry hits Buddy with a boot by mistake and Mike sends Roberts to the floor. Everyone is back in again and with everything going nuts, Killer Khan comes in and blasts Kerry with something, giving Hayes the pin.

Rating: A-. Oh yeah I see why this is loved. They did not stop for nine minutes straight and just beat the tar out of each other the entire time. There’s no way you can have the Von Erichs lose a straight fight and this sets up the Von Erichs vs. Khan which is fine to keep things going. Great match, though I’m not sure on Match of the Year.

The team would head to the WWF in 1984 for a handful of matches before Andre yelled at them for being late, basically sending them back to Texas. Here they are in MSG on August 25, 1984.

Fabulous Freebirds vs. Butcher Vachon/Ron Shaw/Pete Doherty

Now here’s a rarity for you. This is 2/3 falls and to the best of my knowledge, this is the maybe five matches for the Freebirds (Michael Hayes, Buddy Roberts and Terry Gordy) in the WWF. The Birds are good guys here and it’s Hayes vs. Vachon to start things off. Feeling out process to start with Hayes avoiding a shot in the corner before it’s off to Shaw. Hayes puts on a headlock and kicks Shaw in the face for good measure. Off to Roberts who pounds away on Shaw for a bit as we seem to be in squash territory.

Gordy comes in for a one arm slam before it’s off to Doherty. Back to Roberts who chases Doherty into the corner for a tag to Vachon. A slam puts Butcher down and here’s Hayes again, only to have him miss an elbow drop. The unnamed team pounds on Hayes in the corner but Gordy comes in for a save. Michael slides through the legs and tags in Gordy for a cross body to pin Vachon for the first fall.

After a break we start the second fall with Gordy locking up with Vachon. A few slams put Butcher down and it’s off to Shaw again. This goes about as well as you would expect for a jobber against a team the company is trying to get over as Buddy snaps Ron’s neck over the top rope. Doherty comes in and starts some triple teaming on Buddy which goes nowhere so here’s Hayes again to pound away. Doherty misses a legdrop and everything breaks down. Gordy gets all fired up and Doherty is backdropped down. An elbow from Roberts gets the pin.

Rating: D. I’m getting tired of writing that but it’s another uninteresting match which just kept going. The Birds would be back to likely Texas soon after this as the WWF wanted to split them up. To be fair, a three man team was only going to be able to do so much in the WWF, so the Freebirds weren’t the best fit around here.

Back to Texas now with two thirds of the original team on WCCW TV on January 6, 1985.

Terry Gordy/Chick Donovan/Buddy Roberts vs. Mr. X/Skandor Akbar/The Missing Link

This is an odd occasion where the Freebirds are faces in this company which is like Ricky Steamboat as a heel. You just don’t see it that often. The second team is Devastation Inc., which was a top heel stable for a long time. This is elimination rules, tornado rules, and you can lose by pin, submission or being thrown over the top rope. It’s also loser leaves town.

The announcer is a very different style. His voice is fine as he apparently used to be a legit sports commentator in the Dallas area, but the way he speaks is odd. He goes over the ways you can win (being counted down for the 1-2-3, being ejected from the ring or giving in via a submission. It’s just kind of odd sounding but in a refreshing way). We’re part of the NWA here also.

Missing Link is RIPPED but he has a green face. Literally, along with black hair that looks like Bozo the Clown’s. The referee is in a WCCW t-shirt and red pants. Odd looking indeed. It’s a big brawl to start as it’ll likely be the whole time. Link almost goes out but manages to come back in. If I were his manager I’d suggest that he Try Force. That should work.

Link goes out but comes back in anyway. This is all over the place and rather hard to keep up with. Only one announce here too which is kind of weird. I told you it was like ECW. Ok apparently you can go through the ropes but not over them. Got it. X tries to get rid of Gordy forever but can’t manage to get him out. Why not autoban him? Donovan is fighting Akbar who is the leader, on the floor.

Never mind as they’re back in now. And never mind that again at Donovan is thrown out. He’s out of the company apparently. Oh wow ok this just got more interesting. X gets pinned by Roberts off a sunset flip but there goes Roberts, leaving us with Akbar/Link vs. Gordy.

Gordy gets Link tied up in the ropes and gets a spike of some kind into the neck of Akbar (A guy named Akbar at a show called Star Wars? Sounds like a trap to me) but Link saves. A few seconds of double teaming later, Link misses a charge to put out Akbar and is dumped out seconds later to end it. Well that was quick.

Rating: D+. It was very exciting but from a quality standpoint it was pretty bad. To be fair I have no idea on the backstory of this though so it’s kind of hard to know why all of this is going on. The match was certainly fun and the gimmicks didn’t overwhelm it. Having it go more than 8 minutes would have helped a lot though. Still not terrible but it could have been better.

The team headed to the AWA for a bit, including this match at SuperClash 1985.

AWA Tag Titles: Freebirds vs. Road Warriors

The Warriors are defending. This is Hayes/Gordy and they have their faces painted with the Confederate Flag. The champs clear the ring before the bell and are mad over because this is in Chicago. Hawk and Gordy start as Hayes walks around the field with people yelling at him. Hawk pounds on Terry so Terry heads off to bring in Hayes. Off to Animal as the Birds stall. Ok it’s Animal vs. Gordy.

The squashing continues with the Warriors taking their shots at Gordy. Michael comes back in again and gets pounded so much he crawls back to Gordy for a tag. Terry is like uh….not right now. Gordy finally wakes up and goes after the eyes before dodging a charging Hawk to send his shoulder into the post. Hayes comes back in and hits a side suplex for two. Piledriver by Gordy mostly works but Hawk doesn’t feel like selling that much.

Hayes goes up but Hawk slams him off the top but manages to tag before Hawk can. That’s kind of impressive. Gordy and Hawk collide but there’s the hot one to Animal. Hayes stays on the apron as Animal destroys Gordy, getting two off a powerslam. Everything breaks down and even Roberts and Ellering come in. Ellering gets dropped with a chair and Gordy accidentally pops Hayes. Powerslam to Hayes by Animal and a shoulder to Gordy looks to finish but Hayes comes off the middle rope with something around his hand to knock Animal out for the pin and the titles! The place is stunned.

Rating: D+. This one didn’t quite work either. The whole match was a mess and the ending was hard to follow due to everything going all nuts. The Warriors were still in the period where they would do nothing but run people over, which ran for about the next six or eight years. Bad match for the most part, but you know what’s coming.

And this one at WrestleRock 1986.

Road Warriors vs. Freebirds

Thank goodness this is the last match. This actually took place before the other tag two cage matches, but Verne had to go on last on the real card. The tape version makes him seem more humble at least. This is Hayes/Garvin. Hawk and Hayes get things going. Hayes immediately hits a piledriver which is of course no sold. Let the pain begin. Hayes goes into the cage a few times and he’s busted quickly.

Gorilla press to Hayes and Hawk drops a right hand. Garvin runs away from a tag so Hayes tries to climb out. Hawk goes up top as well and Michael is knocked to the floor. Garvin finally gets the tag and he’s tentative at best. Why no Animal yet? Oh there he is, for a TEN REP gorilla press. Now Hayes runs from the tag.

And never mind as he comes in a few seconds alter. Hayes gets in a few shots but Hawk runs him over quickly. He bites the cut on Hayes’ head because Hawk is a little nuts. Garvin comes in to pound on him and it’s back to Hayes for a figure four. Hawk easily breaks it and it’s back to Garvin, whose offense is shrugged off. Not hot tag to Animal and everything breaks down. Hayes pulls out some brass knuckles but he hits Garvin by mistake so Animal gets the easy pin.

Rating: D. According to the announcer that gives the Warriors revenge for something, but again it’s not important enough to tell us about. This was about as dominant of a match as you can see without it being a squash. The Birds never had a chance but they were against the Road Warriors so that shouldn’t be a shock. The Warriors left the AWA after this match.

It’s off to the NWA now as Jimmy Garvin will start taking over the role of Hayes’ partner with Gordy heading to Japan and Roberts retiring. However, they did have a few major matches together, including at the 1987 Great American Bash.

Freebirds vs. Paul Jones/Manny Fernandez/Ivan Koloff

The Birds are faces here which takes some getting used to. This is the original lineup too with Hayes, Gordy and Roberts. Hayes and Fernandez start us off and Fernandez looks like an idiot after that exchange. Roberts comes in and gets double teamed by a cheating Jones (normally a manager) and Koloff. Koloff comes in to beat on Roberts and its hard to believe he was WWF Champion at one point. Jones comes in and isnt very good. Heres Terry Gordy and this would be like Sheamus vs. Runjin Singh. Things break down and an elbow drop ends Jones quickly.

Rating: D+. Just a quick match here that didnt mean much. Gordy was a monster though and ran through everybody at the end. He would team with Williams in 1992 in one of the most successful yet boring tag teams of the period. Anyway, nothing match and Paul Jones is one of the worst characters and managers of all time. This was from Atlanta as well.

Time to hit TV with Hayes and Garvin entering a tournament for the vacant NWA World Tag Team Titles. Here are the finals and semifinals at Clash of the Champions VII.

World Tag Team Title Tournament Semifinals: Dynamic Dudes vs. Freebirds

The Dudes are Johnny (John Laurinitis) and Shane (Shane Douglas), a couple of guys that ride skateboards. The Freebirds are Michael Hayes and Jimmy Garvin, the latter of whom is a replacement for Terry Gordy (in the corner tonight) who wanted to be a singles wrestler again. Garvin has been affiliated with the team for years but never officially joined them. Johnny and Shane beat Rip Morgan and Jack Victory in the first round while the Freebirds beat the Road Warriors. One more note: it’s roughly 100 degrees in the building as there are about 1000 people there and there was no air conditioning.

The Freebirds try to get in a cheap shot to start but walk into a pair of suplexes, sending them outside. Johnny and Michael get things going with Hayes quickly being taken down by an armdrag. Garvin comes in and gets the same treatment before the shorter Dude comes in for a wristlock of his own. A double elbow drop has Garvin in even more trouble Michael and Shane come back in with Hayes getting caught in a sunset flip for two. Back to Johnny who misses a cross body and crashes to the mat, allowing Jimmy to come back in and stomp away.

Johnny is sent to the floor and chopped by Hayes as the fans are all over the Freebirds. Back up and the two of them ram heads, allowing for the hot tag to Shane. Hayes breaks up another sunset flip attempt and everything breaks down. A double dropkick puts Hayes on the floor but the referee gets Johnny onto the apron. Shane rolls up Garvin for two but Michael slides back in and lays Shane out for the DDT, giving Jimmy the easy pin. This was the Dudes’ first loss.

Rating: C. Basic match here but there’s nothing wrong with that. The new Freebirds needed a win to establish themselves as a threat for later and the Dudes were far too new to be a threat. Surprisingly enough Gordy never interfered, despite being one of the most famous cheaters in wrestling.

World Tag Team Titles: Freebirds vs. Midnight Express

During the entrances, Dangerously comes out with a tennis racket and knocks Cornette silly. The Midnights take the racket and open the case, exposing a horseshoe and a chain inside. The Dynamic Dudes come out to carry Cornette to the back, leaving the Midnights at a 3-2 disadvantage. Hayes and Lane get things going with Stan scoring with some slams and armdrags, sending Hayes to the corner for a tag off to Garvin. Eaton comes in as well to drop an elbow on Garvin’s neck before bringing Lane back in for an enziguri.

A double back elbow gets two on Garvin and Jimmy is furious. The Freebirds have a meeting on the floor until Garvin comes back in for a knee to Eaton’s ribs. Bobby is thrown to the floor and Hayes pops him in the face with a right hand. Stan protects his partner from an even worse beating and get him a breather. Eaton makes it back onto the apron but gets knocked off onto the barricade to make things even worse.

Back inside and Garvin hooks a chinlock but Eaton fights up and sends him into the corner. Instead of trying to put up a fight, Eaton is smart enough to head right to the corner and tag in Lane who DDTs Hayes and tags Bobby back in far too soon. Everything breaks down and Lane dropkicks Hayes outside for a moment. Terry Gordy tries to interfere but gets knocked outside before Garvin takes the double flapjack for two. The referee is with Lane, allowing Gordy to come in and powerbomb Eaton, giving Garvin the pin and the titles.

Rating: C-. Not a terrible match here and the idea of the Midnights being off their game due to Cornette not being around made sense. This was quite the year for Hayes as he had a brief US Title reign after stealing the title from Lex Luger at WrestleWar. The Midnights weren’t having the best year but they would eventually round back into form.

Gordy would pop up for one more match at the 1989 Great American Bash.

WarGames: Freebirds/Samoan Swat Team vs. Road Warriors/Midnight Express/Steve Williams

In case you don’t know the rules: two guys start for five minutes and then we have a coin toss (the heels will win) and the winning team gets to send in another man for a two on one advantage. This lasts for two minutes until the losing team gets to tie it up at two. After two minutes the winning team goes up three to two. You alternate every two minutes until everyone is in there and when everyone is in there, it’s first submission wins it. No pins.

Eaton vs. Garvin starts us off. Williams is still in his Hogan attire here which makes me laugh. As JR puts it, it’s Beautiful vs. Gorgeous in WarGames which got a chuckle out of me. Garvin controls early but it’s not like it means anything. The Freebirds beat the Express in a tournament final to win the world tag titles so there’s your explanation for this part of the feud. This is more or less back and forth with nothing really to report on.

Dangerously, the Samoans’ manager, says that Hayes will be next about 10 times. Eaton controls for the most part and works on the back of the mullet-tastic Garvin before throwing on a Boston Crab. After Dangerously shouts about Hayes being in next, Terry Gordy comes in next. That’s another great example of a great heel manager. He didn’t accomplish anything but he lied BECAUSE HE COULD. So simple yet so effective.

Gordy comes in and it goes badly for Eaton to put it mildly. Garvin has a glove and tape or something or his hand so this is mainly punching and stomping. He eats a lot of cage too as Garvin is mostly fine. Apparently Eaton failed in his mission to hurt him. Williams comes in to even things up and in one of the most mind blowing spot I’ve ever seen, he picks up Gordy, who is probably 290 at the least, and gorilla presses him EIGHT times into the cage. Just insane.

After some more choking the heels get us back to about even for Samu to come in as Eaton is more or less dead. Double fishhook on him by Garvin which looked very painful. Everyone is in one ring and they need to spread it out a bit. Eacon somehow gets back up and holds the heels off a bit until Animal ties it up again. Again they’re all in the same ring and it’s WAY too crowded in there.

Ah there we go as he and Samu head to the other ring. Much better. They hate each other because of a big beatdown the Samoans gave the Road Warriors and then they beat up Ellering, the Road Warriors’ manager. The Warriors cost the Samoans a spot in the finals of the tag tournament, which brings us here. Animal just destroys everyone as Fatu will be in next.

All six in the same ring still and it’s just stupid. There’s (Rikishi) Fatu to make it 4-3. The Samoans beat down Animal as Williams and Gordy are in the other ring now to space things out a bit. Eaton and Garvin are still fighting and here comes Stan Lane to even it up at four apiece again. That leaves Hayes and Hawk as the last two. The Samoans eat metal as Lane cleans house.

Dangerously to Hayes: Ok so when you go in you go over here. Hayes: I GOTTA GO IN???” Dangerously: There’s no one left! Hayes: Dang. Funny stuff. There are 9 people in the match and 9 are in the same ring. Hayes DDTs everyone to take out the faces and then goes off into the other ring to taunt Hawk. The fans want Hawk with one minute left. Hayes drops Eaton with a hard left and here’s the bird man.

Now it’s first submission wins. Hawk cleans house as it is on in a big way. The faces are dominating here as was the custom in WarGames once everyone got in. Dangerously tries to force the phone through the cage and turns around to see a referee with his arms folded looking at him. I need some wawa music there.

Mainly just punching now with nothing of note as far as flow or anything but that’s a good thing here as there isn’t supposed to be anything remotely resembling order. Look at the first name of the match: WAR. Doomsday Device on Gordy is blocked so Hawk kills Garvin with a clothesline and works on his neck, throwing on a hangman (Hawk grabs Garvin for a reverse neckbreaker and lifts him onto his back in a neck crank/choke) which gets the submission to end it.

Rating: B+. Very solid battle in there which was exactly what this was supposed to be. It’s not a classic or one of the best ever but this was quite good for the point of blowing this feud completely off and have all the feuds in there at once. This was effective for what it was supposed to be and the match was as fun as ever. Good match.

Back to the regular tag team at Clash IX.

Freebirds vs. Road Warriors

Non-title. The Freebirds are still listed as World Tag Team Champions here, despite having lost the titles at a taped show a few days prior to this. Hawk and Hayes get things going and Michael runs from a big right hand. Animal throws him back inside so Hawk can kick him in the face.

The fans are all over the Freebirds here and it’s off to Animal vs. Garvin with Animal no selling Jimmy’s suplex. Hayes comes in and avoids a running shoulder block but it’s quickly back to Hawk to crank on the arm. Animal gets taken into the evil corner for some double teaming and Hawk doesn’t care for it. Everything breaks down and Hawk throws the referee down for the DQ.

Rating: D. This didn’t have time to go anywhere and the Freebirds were never really in control. The Road Warriors weren’t a good choice for opponents here as they were far too dominant to be threatened by the Freebirds. At least the fans reacted to the Warriors though and that’s the right idea for an opening match.

And again at Clash XI.

Southern Boys vs. Freebirds

The Southern Boys are Steve Armstrong and Tracy Smothers dressed like Confederate soldiers in their major show debut. The Freebirds jump them to start but get taken down by running forearms. Double clotheslines send the Freebirds to the floor and the fans are all fired up. Garvin and Smothers get things going with Tracy running into a knee in the corner. Hayes tries to interfere so the Southern Boys dropkick both Freebirds outside again.

Hayes comes in off the tag but gets in an argument with the fans before any action occurs. It’s off to Steve as well but Garvin gets the tag and scores with a backbreaker. Hayes cranks on an armbar before getting two off an elbow drop. A slam puts Armstrong down again but he gets up fast enough to slam Hayes off the top. Tracy and Jimmy come in off the tags as everything breaks down. Hayes takes Tracy’s head off with a clothesline but Steve comes off the top with a headbutt to Garvin’s back, giving Smothers the pin.

Rating: C-. The Southern Boys were a nice breath of air to the division as there was a big shift towards power teams around this time. They were both young and quick and a win over former World Tag Team Champions was going to make them look even better. The match didn’t have time to go anywhere but it was decent enough and the fans got into the ending.

The Birds would get a World Tag Team Title shot at WrestleWar 1991.

World Tag Titles: Doom vs. Fabulous Freebirds

There’s a somewhat famous story to this that I’ll get to after the match is over. Before the match, DDP, the Freebirds’ manager, brings out Big Daddy Dink to be their road manager, whatever that means. Simmons and Hayes get us going and Simmons hits a quick spinebuster for two. Hayes hits a left hand for the same. Both Birds take powerslams for two. Garvin and Reed come in with Reed clotheslining his head off.

Garvin hooks a sunset flip for two and it’s back to Hayes. Reed looks a bit uninterested in the match for some reason. Garvin makes a blind tag but doesn’t jump Reed while he’s busy for some reason. A double elbow takes Garvin down and it’s back to Simmons. Boring match so far. Jimmy gets sent to the floor and hammered out there before it’s back to Reed in the ring. This is heel vs. heel for the most part so the dynamic is a bit off. Powerslam gets two on Garvin but Dink gets on the apron. Reed loads up his fist but hits Simmons by mistake, giving Garvin the pin and the titles.

Rating: F+. This was a horribly boring match. The whole idea here was that Doom is still having issues and would be broken up very soon. The Birds would be the subject of the story that I mentioned earlier which I’ll get to in a minute. The match sucked though as it was basically a squash with a screwy ending.

Post match Reed destroys Simmons with the object. Teddy leaves with Reed.

So as for the story, the Birds had actually lost the titles before they won them. At a TV taping six days prior to this, they were taped losing the titles to the Steiners, as in nearly a week before they won the belts. That was a very different time, as whole PPVs would be spoiled at TV tapings. Can you imagine that happening today?

Here’s a US Tag Team Title match from SuperBrawl 1991, with a more detailed description of the -6 days title reign story.

US Tag Titles: Freebirds vs. Young Pistols

Ok now hold on because this one if about as confusing as possible. Actually this match isn’t but the story leading up to it is cool so I might as well go into it anyway. As for this match, the Steiners were the US champions but when they won the world tag titles from the Freebirds the US belts were stripped and put up in a tournament, which this is the final of. Ok, that’s very standard stuff.

The WEIRD part is how the Steiners got the world tag titles. The Freebirds won them on February 24, 1991 and lost them February 18, 1991. You read that correctly. See, back in the day WCW would tape MONTHS of shows in advance over about a three week period. Think of what TNA does now but on a much bigger scale.

Anyway, the Freebirds won the titles at a PPV called Wrestle War which we might get to later as there’s a great WarGames match on there, which is of course the greatest gimmick match of all time. Anyway, they won the belts on a Sunday, but the taping where they lost the belts (which no one had seen them win yet) took place on the Monday BEFORE the PPV where they won them.

I think you can see the problems that this could cause and it bit them in late 1993 when Sid was supposed to win the world title at Starrcade but at a show in England he legitimately stabbed Arn Anderson with a pair of scissors so obviously he was fired. WCW had about three or four months of tapes set up with him as world champion, so those were now worthless and they had to scrap the whole thing.

This is why in the mid to late 90s on syndicated shows like Worldwide or the Main Event, you never see guys with belts as the commentary could easily be redone. So yeah, the Freebirds lost a pair of titles almost a week before winning them. Their reign lasted -6 days, which is how it’s recorded in a lot of sources. Oh yeah there’s a match here.

The Young Pistols were a cowboy kind of tag team that did nothing at all. It was Tracy Smothers, who would become far more famous and I use that term very loosely, and Steve Armstrong, whose brother is Brian, or Road Dogg. The Freebirds were legendary heels in WCCW out of Dallas and revolutionized heel tag team wrestling. This pairing is nowhere near that as they’re both old and more or less worthless at this point.

The original trio of Buddy Roberts, Michael Hayes and Terry Gordy is gone and it’s now Hayes and Jimmy Garvin who by law had to have made at least 5 porn movies in the 70s looks like he does. Anyway, this is for the midcard tag titles. That’s saying a lot about the tag title scene. Not only was there a strong world tag title scene, but there was enough of one to warrant a midcard tag title. That’s saying a lot.

If nothing else the Freebirds have the greatest theme song ever with Badstreet USA. Oh and they’re part of a stable called the Diamond Mine, which is run by one Diamond Dallas Page. Oh and they have a manager named Big Daddy Dink, who you would know from the 80s as Oliver Humperdink. Ok most of you won’t but he existed. Page is just a manager here and is already in his mid to late 20s here so he started WAY late.

The Birds are supposed to be a rock band here and to their credit Hayes sings their theme song so there we are. The Pistols are from Wyoming of all places. My goodness this has to be a record for longest amount of writing just to set up a match. There’s the bell and it’s Armstrong and Hayes. I can’t tell the Pistols apart which is likely because I don’t want to. Uh oh Ross is using football analogies. This could be a long night.

Brad Armstrong, Steve’s other brother and the most talented of the three comes out to balance out Dink which makes sense at least. The referee throws Dink out so that’s good as Brad leaves also. Steve completely misses a clothesline but Hayes sells it anyway. Have to love that old school mentality and experience shining through there. The Pistols actually aren’t terrible. They’re not good but there are far worse teams.

Ah there we are with some nice cheating to get the advantage swung. Sometimes all it takes is pulling a rope down and the heels are very heelish. Tracy freaking DIVES for a tag which looked a lot funnier than it should have. In a bad looking spot, the Pistols both go for missile dropkicks. Armstrong misses completely and Smothers hits Garvin but Garvin doesn’t do anything and Smothers goes down.

The Pistols are all over the place but they’re not hitting a lot of stuff. Dusty says there are going to be new champions here. Gee Dusty you think? In a tournament final there will be new champions?

After a ref bump, a masked guy in what would be called a black chicken suit comes out and beats up the Pistols, hitting both with DDTs from the middle ropes which would be the same as they stand on the mat while he does them but whatever. That gets the Birds the titles. While it was never revealed on TV, the guy in the suit was Brad Armstrong.

Rating: B-. I liked it. It’s a very formula based match but that’s often times the best thing you could ask for and this is no exception. It’s basic heel vs. face stuff but it held my attention for ten minutes which is more than most modern tag matches do. This was fine, but some people would be bored with it I think.

Off to the infamously awful Great American Bash 1991 with the team joined by the masked Badstreet, who didn’t last long but was incredibly talented.

Young Pistols/Dustin Rhodes vs. Freebirds

The Pistols are Tracy Smothers and Steve Armstrong (later named the Southern Boys) while the Birds are Hayes/Garvin/Badstreet, who is Brad Armstrong (Steve’s real life brother) in a mask. The Birds are the US Tag and Six Man Tag Champions and this is elimination rules. Rhodes and Hayes get us going and I guess you can call them the captains. Hayes spends the first minute gyrating and strutting. Rhodes does the same thing which is funny but still time wasting.

They finally make contact with some chops followed by Dustin slamming both of the regular team members. The Birds chill on the floor and Hayes yells at the crowd a bit. To his credit it gets the crowd to start a short Freebirds Suck chant, which is one of the first of the night. Garvin hits Rhodes in the back so Hayes can take over. The Birds hit the Pistols so Dustin takes both Birds down, allowing the Pistols to hit top rope shoulders. The Freebirds go to the floor again as things pause for the third time in less than four minutes.

Off to Garvin vs. Smothers and the Birds take more time to pose. Tracy hits a dropkick but misses his second, giving Garvin control again. Off to Armstrong who slams his brother off the top, followed by a BIG top rope clothesline. Badstreet goes to the floor and things stall again. Hayes comes in and it’s back to Smothers who works on the arm. Badstreet messes with Tracy enough to bring him to the floor where Tracy runs into a clothesline from Big Daddy Dink, the Birds’ manager.

Smothers finally gets back up to the apron but Hayes drops him with a right hand. We finally get back in and Garvin pounds away on him a bit. Off to Badstreet who dances in and clotheslines Tracy down. Hayes comes back in with a sleeper, which might be the most appropriate move that he could do. Tracy finally breaks out of it and gets a bit of offense in, only to run into a GREAT left hand to put him down.

Back to Garvin who gets two off a snap mare and hooks a chinlock. The fans chant what sounds like Gordy as Badstreet comes in and hits a neckbreaker for two on Smothers. Back to Hayes for some chops in the corner and a BIG left to drop Tracy. Hayes may be annoying but he can throw a mean left. The DDT is blocked though and there’s the tag to Armstrong. Everything breaks down and Armstrong goes for Badstreet’s mask. That lets Hayes and Badstreet hit a double DDT to eliminate Steve.

Maybe five seconds later, Hayes backdrops Tracy over the top rope to eliminate him (Hayes) by DQ. Garvin tags Badstreet in to slam Tracy, followed by a top rope ax handle. Back to Garvin and here’s Dink on the apron. Due to the distraction the tag to Dustin is missed, so the Birds DDT Armstrong to eliminate him. Again maybe five seconds later, Dustin clotheslines Garvin’s head off to get it down to one on one. So it’s Rhodes vs. Badstreet with the masked man in control. Dustin comes back with the lariat but Dink distracts the referee again. And never mind as the bulldog gets the pin to give Rhodes’ team the win.

Rating: D. This was another match that was long and boring. When the best thing in the match is a few left hands from Michael Hayes, you can tell you don’t have much. Dustin was brand new at this point and he had nothing as a result. The match here wasn’t so much bad as it was boring, which at this point is the worst thing they could have done out there.

One more US Tag Team Title match at WrestleWar 1992.

US Tag Titles: Greg Valentine/Terry Taylor vs. Freebirds

It amazes me how far tag wrestling has fallen. There are midcard tag titles here. The Freebirds are faces here and for the life of me I don’t get what was seen in Valentine and Taylor as a team. There are two rings here which is always kind of strange but it’s still cool. The Freebirds both use the DDT here so they’re looking for the quick win. Fonzie from ECW is the referee here.

Taylor and Hayes start us off and the fans more or less hate Taylor. At least they’re smart. It’s just strange seeing the Freebirds as faces. Also Greg Valentine is a champion in 1992. What’s weird about this picture? A backhand chop is a judo chop according to Jim. For those of you unsure, the Freebirds are Jimmy Garvin (no one of note really) and Michael Hayes, who is currently the head writer for Smackdown.

ALL Freebirds so far but this is a long match so there’s plenty of time left. We’re about eight minutes in and the champions haven’t been on offense longer than maybe 20 seconds yet. I could watch Valentine fall on his face every day. It’s just perfectly done. The heels take over for a bit and I emphasize the bit part since Garvin takes over again to get us to even.

Hayes gets a hot tag and cleans house. The crowd is hot tonight which gives me a good feeling about the main event. Hayes gets hit in the back of the head with the Five Arm, Terry’s finisher but it only gets two. Fans are completely behind the Freebirds. Taylor gets a gutwrench powerbomb for two on Hayes which is a move I wish we saw more often. We’re nearly fifteen minutes in and Jesse says it’s too early to go for the figure four.

Valentine works on the arm which is just weird for him but whatever. This has been a good match so I can live with that. Another hot tag to Garvin and he cleans house. Everything goes insane and Garvin gets a DDT on Taylor for the pin and the titles. Solid opener and the crowd is happy so everything worked. The titles would be retired in July so it’s not like it means much.

Rating: B. Great opener here as the crowd was way into it and the title change works well to open a show. Starting a show with a good tag match is pretty much a universally good idea and this was no exception. I’m not a fan of any of these four but this was a very solid match and has me wanting to watch more of the show, which is exactly the point of an opener.

The NWA decided to vacate their World Tag Team Titles in 1992 for a tournament because they’re annoying and not that bright. The Freebirds had a first round match at Clash of the Champions XIX.

NWA World Tag Team Title Tournament First Round: Silver Kings vs. Freebirds

The Silver Kings are Silver King and El Texano but they’re called #1 and #2 here. The Freebirds are the US Tag Team Champions, so of course they’re unseeded (just like the Silver Kings). Hayes reverses an Irish whip so #2 dropkicks #1 and Michael gets two off a slam. Garvin comes in and cranks on the wrist before it’s off to #2, sending Garvin running away.

#2 misses a missile dropkick and Garvin hammers away before getting two off a suplex. Hayes gets the tag and stomps away in the corner before strutting a lot. #1 comes in again as Jesse thinks this sounds like a Dr. Seuss book. A top rope elbow gets two for #1 and the Silver Kings clean house. Things settle down again and #2 hits a dropkick on Hayes and takes him down with a drop toehold.

Back to Garvin who grabs a chinlock for a few seconds before both guys get up and make tags. #1 comes back in and dropkicks Hayes in the ribs before #2 comes in with a missile dropkick for two. Hayes finally nails his big left hand and everything breaks down. The fans want the DDT but get a pair of bad dropkicks to send the Birds outside. The Kings use what would become the 619 to send the Freebirds running away before #2 dives on them both. Hayes accidentally punches Garvin but #1 misses a dive and hits #2. Michael slides in for a small package on #1 for the pin.

Rating: D-. This is a great example of two teams just completely clashing. There was no chemistry at all out there and both teams looked horrible. The Freebirds couldn’t keep up with the lucha libre team and the Silver Kings were very sloppy. I don’t know who thought this was a good match but it didn’t work at all.

And we’ll wrap it up with their second round match at Great American Bash 1992.

NWA Tag Title Tournament Quarter-Finals: Fabulous Freebirds vs. Hiroshi Hase/Shinya Hashimoto

There’s a possibility this is out of order as I’ve found two different match orders in different places. This might be the third match on the card but I’m not sure. Either way it doesn’t make a ton of difference as the other match is up next anyway. Hashimoto is a huge guy who throws a lot of kicks. Hase is pretty good, whereas the Birds are just kind of there. Hayes and Hase get us going and it’s time to strut.

Hayes controls with a headscissors on the mat but Hase escapes with ease. Off to an armbar by Hayes and Garvin gets the tag. Hashimoto comes in and things slow down. This is a horribly bad contrast of styles here and I don’t really expect that much from it. They head to the mat and this isn’t going to be pretty. You can see the big problem with tournaments shining through here: there’s no story to any of these matches so they’re just wrestling matches which may be good and may be bad. That makes it hard to get into them almost every time.

Hase comes in for a few seconds before Hashimoto comes in for his famous kicks. Hayes comes in to pound away with “American right hands”, a JR trademarked term. Hayes hooks a quick armbar but Hashimoto hits him in the throat to escape. Hase hits a gutbuster and shouts a bit. Bach to Shinya for more kicks which is about all his offense consists of. A fallaway slam suplex gets two on Hayes.

Michael gets double teamed in the corner as the announcers talk about skunks. The Japanese guys get thrown together and won’t get out of the ring. Hayes punches them down and tags Garvin as everything breaks down. Hase hits a northern lights suplex on Garvin to advance.

Rating: D. This was bad and uninteresting. Hase was good but when you’re the only watchable guy in the whole match (yes I know Hashimoto is a legend), there’s only so much you can do. This was nothing at all and thankfully it was the shortest match of the show. The Japanese guys got loudly booed by the southern crowd of course.

The Freebirds may not have been the best in ring combination but they were masters at talking people into the seats. They were HATED in WCCW and were the perfect rivals for the Von Erichs. Hayes was an amazing talker and there really wasn’t a combination that didn’t work at least to a degree. Even the Garvin/Hayes combination won a bunch of titles, even though they aren’t as famous. The Freebirds are as influential of a team as you’ll find and they’re well worth looking up.

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