The Fabulous Freebirds
|The Fabulous Freebirds|
|Members||Michael Hayes (leader)
The Fabulous Freebirds
The Screaming Eagles
|Years active||1979–1994, 2016 (reunions)|
NWA St. Louis
The Fabulous Freebirds were a professional wrestling tag team that attained fame in the 1980s, performing into the 1990s. The team usually consisted of three wrestlers, although in different situations and points in its history, just two performed under the Freebirds name.
The Fabulous Freebirds started performing together in 1979 when promoter Bill Watts teamed up the trio of Michael "P.S." Hayes, Terry "Bam Bam" Gordy, and Buddy "Jack" Roberts. Originally meant to be a tag team, they became a "three man gang" type of tag-team—an unusual concept at the time. They usually worked as heels but also had several face runs as well.
The group wrestled in the Dallas-based World Class Championship Wrestling territory, where they had a legendary feud with the Von Erichs (David, Kevin, Kerry, Chris and Mike). This feud was ignited by an infamous incident in which Terry Gordy slammed Kerry Von Erich's head in a steel cage door. During this feud, they started using the Confederate battle flag as a group symbol as the Von Erichs would wave the flag of Texas so they chose to use the flag of Georgia, which at the time contained the Confederate battle flag, to counter it.
They also performed in the NWA-affiliated Georgia Championship Wrestling and World Championship Wrestling, the American Wrestling Association, and the Oklahoma-based Universal Wrestling Federation. While in the AWA they feuded primarily with The Road Warriors, costing them the World Tag Team Titles in a match against long time Freebird ally Jimmy Garvin and his partner Steve Regal.
They had a very brief run in the World Wrestling Federation in 1984, where they were a part of the Rock 'n' Wrestling Connection period. In the WWF, they wrestled under the guidance of Cyndi Lauper's manager David Wolff, but soon left the promotion after an altercation with Andre the Giant, who was upset when the Freebirds arrived late to a show.
The group then moved on to their AWA run, returned to World Class, and then started a stint in the UWF where Gordy became the promotion's champion, Roberts held its TV title, and Hayes usually acted as their manager or served as a heel commentator on television broadcasts. After JCP purchased UWF in 1987, Hayes wrestled in World Class and several independent promotions, sometimes with Gordy, who began spending most of his time in Japan, and Roberts began to wind down his career.
Hayes and Garvin were paired as the Freebirds in WCW in 1989, enjoying several reigns as World and United States tag-team champions, and were joined by Gordy for a while as well. They later employed the services of masked third partner Fantasia/Badstreet and manager Little Richard Marley. The Freebirds were last together when Hayes, Gordy, and Garvin worked for the Global Wrestling Federation in 1994, ending the group after 15 years.
Their name was inspired by the Lynyrd Skynyrd song "Free Bird", which would be their theme song until "Badstreet USA" (sung, composed, and co-written by Hayes) replaced it in 1984. It is often claimed that the Freebirds were the first wrestlers to use entrance music for their ring introductions, although Gorgeous George's use of "Pomp and Circumstance" predates the Freebirds. They were thought to be the first to use a rock song as entrance music, though Chris Colt may have preceded them by a year through his usage of Alice Cooper's "Welcome To My Nightmare."
Gordy died of a heart attack, caused by a blood clot on July 16, 2001 at age 40 while Roberts died on November 29, 2012, at the age of 67, of pneumonia and on November 1, 2012 Badstreet died of a suspected heart attack making Hayes and Garvin the only living members of the Freebirds. Hayes (who retired from in-ring competition shortly after the Freebirds disbanded) is currently the head of the road agents/producers within WWE, while Garvin retired from wrestling shortly after disbanding and has become an Airline Transport Pilot.
On March 21, 2016, The Fabulous Freebirds were inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame by The New Day.
The Freebirds concept was heavily derived from the Lynyrd Skynyrd song "Free Bird" and the image of "Southern pride" evoked by the band. For most of the team's early existence, the song was used as their entrance music, in both television and live appearances. On occasion, they would also enter the ring to Willie Nelson's rendition of "Georgia on My Mind".
During the mid 1980s, a number of North American wrestling promotions who licensed copyrighted music faced difficulties in continuing those licenses. Other promotions which did not license music were under scrutiny for the practice. Promotions began looking for solutions. The WWF, which hired Jimmy Hart and Jim Johnston in 1985, used their talents to write and produce music under which the copyrights could be controlled by the company. Around this same time, Hayes recorded the song "Badstreet USA" and released a music video, which included the other Freebird members. This song would largely be used as the entrance music for the Freebirds from that point forward, though they would use the other songs on occasion.
During the Freebirds' career in the NWA, they won its tag team championship. While holding the title, promoters added a sub-gimmick to the team – "The Freebird Rule" – which allowed any two of the three members of the team to defend the title on any given night.
- The Midnight Express (Southeastern Championship Wrestling, 1980–1983)
- The Russians: Ivan Koloff, Nikita Koloff, and Krusher Khruschev (JCP, 1985–1986)
- Demolition: Ax, Smash, and Crush (WWF, 1990)
- The Heavenly Bodies: Stan Lane, Tom Prichard, and Bobby Eaton (SMW, 1993)
- The Wolfpac: Kevin Nash, Scott Hall, and Syxx (WCW, 1997)
- The Flock: Raven, Perry Saturn, and Chris Kanyon (WCW, 1999)
- The Jersey Triad: Diamond Dallas Page, Bam Bam Bigelow, and Chris Kanyon (WCW, 1999) (Unlike other uses, the Jersey Triad was allowed to switch between the three members during a match, as long as one member was on the floor)
- Triple X: Elix Skipper, Low Ki, and Christopher Daniels (TNA, 2003)
- 3 Live Kru: Konnan, B.G. James, and Ron Killings (TNA, 2003–2004)
- The Spirit Squad: Kenny, Johnny, Mitch, Nicky, and Mikey (WWE, 2006)
- Chri$ Ca$h, SeXXXy Eddy, Nate Webb and J.C. Bailey (Combat Zone Wrestling, 2004–2005)
- The Dudebusters: Trent Barreta, Caylen Croft and Curt Hawkins (Florida Championship Wrestling, 2009–2010)
- The Beautiful People: Lacey Von Erich, Velvet Sky, and Madison Rayne (TNA, 2010)
- The Band: Kevin Nash, Scott Hall, and Eric Young (TNA, 2010)
- The McGraws: Masky, Mini and Uncle Ulysses (Power League Wrestling 2010)
- The Family: Jessie Godderz, Rob Terry, Mohamad Ali Vaez and Rudy Switchblade (OVW, 2012)
- The Shield: Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins, Dean Ambrose (WWE, 2013)
- The New Day: Big E, Kofi Kingston, and Xavier Woods (WWE Raw, 2015–2016)
- Cerberus: Ilja Dragunov, Julian Nero and Robert Dreissker/Dirty Dragan (wXw, 2015–present) (Robert Dreissker was replaced by Dirty Dragan on April 22, 2016 due a shoulder injury)
- The Wyatt Family: Bray Wyatt, Randy Orton, and Luke Harper (WWE SmackDown, 2016)
In some cases, the Freebird rule has been applied to singles titles, most notably when Chyna and Chris Jericho co-held the WWF Intercontinental Championship in 2000. Other such cases included when 3 Count won the WCW Hardcore Championship in 2000, and when Matt Bentley and Frankie Kazarian co-held the TNA X Division Championship in 2004. In 2010, after Layla won the WWE Women's Championship, Team Lay-Cool (Layla and Michelle McCool) co-held the title. This was a slight variation to the Freebird rule, as while both divas defended the title, only Layla was recognized as the official champion. Later that year, the same rule was instituted when Michelle McCool won the WWE Divas Championship; both members of Team Lay-Cool defended the title, but only McCool was recognized as official champion.
The Blackbirds were formed in 1988 in World Class Championship Wrestling by Iceman Parsons. He had just teamed with Terry Gordy and Buddy Roberts as the "Blackbirds" in their feud with Michael Hayes. He teamed up with Perry "Action" Jackson and Harold T. Harris to form the Blackbirds. They also wrestled as the Blackbirds in the Global Wrestling Federation in 1992.
The original three Freebirds briefly appear in a match against Greg Gagne, The Tonga Kid, and Jim Brunzell during the opening sequence of the 1986 fantasy film Highlander, which occurs at a show in Madison Square Garden (although the scene was actually filmed at the Brendan Byrne Arena across the river).
Members and incarnations
- Main Members
- Michael Hayes was the leader of the group. Nicknamed "P.S." (Purely Sexy), he was known to get the crowd going with his antics.
- Terry Gordy was the powerhouse of the group. Nicknamed "Bam Bam", he loved to fight and beat his opponents down.
- Buddy Roberts, nicknamed "Jack" for his love of Jack Daniel's whiskey, was the speed of the group, who would often frustrate other wrestlers into chasing him, until Hayes and/or Gordy surprised them with a move. Buddy was also acknowledged as the best ring technician of the group.
- Jimmy Garvin's association with the Freebirds began in 1983, as he had often teamed with Hayes, Gordy, and Roberts in WCCW and AWA. In 1988, he teamed with Steven Dane while Hayes was injured as a watered-down version of the Freebirds, and with Hayes during a reignited WCW run between June 1989 and July 1992. He was always considered the fourth Freebird by Hayes, Gordy and Roberts, although no one really believed it until 1989, when Hayes and Garvin (nicknamed "Jam") teamed up for the NWA World Tag Team Championship tournament.
- Associated members
- During the Buddy Roberts and Terry Gordy feud against Michael Hayes:
- Iceman Parsons – in late 1987, he joined Terry Gordy and Buddy Roberts after Michael Hayes left the Fabulous Freebirds to help them get revenge on him. Parsons was known as the "Blackbird" during this feud.
- The Angel of Death teamed with Terry Gordy, Buddy Roberts and Iceman "King" Parsons in the late-1987–1988 version of the Freebirds. He had previously feuded with Gordy, Roberts and Michael Hayes in the UWF prior to joining the group.
- During the Michael Hayes and Jimmy Garvin tag team era:
- Steve Cox teamed with Hayes as The Freebirds in WCCW, CWA, and AWA. When Hayes was injured, he would team with Garvin.
- Badstreet – Brad Armstrong under a mask in WCW, and the group's light-heavyweight/cruiserweight. Originally appeared as "Fantasia", but WCW changed the name to Badstreet to avoid a legal confrontation with Disney.
- Big Daddy Dink – the Freebird alias of manager Sir Oliver Humperdink; in keeping with the Freebirds' "frustrated rock & roll band" gimmick, he was referred to as their "tour manager"/"road boss" in WCW (1991).
- Little Richard Marley – WCW jobber Rocky King, who as "Little Richard Marley" served as a ringside pest to Freebird opponents in late-1990.
- During the Buddy Roberts and Terry Gordy feud against Michael Hayes:
Championships and accomplishments
- Georgia Championship Wrestling
- Global Wrestling Federation
- Mid-South Wrestling/Universal Wrestling Association
- NWA Mid-America
- Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame
- Class of 2015 – Roberts, Gordy and Hayes
- Pro Wrestling Illustrated
- World Championship Wrestling
- World Class Championship Wrestling
- NWA American Heavyweight Championship (1 time) – Gordy
- NWA American Tag Team Championship (1 time) – Hayes and Gordy
- WCCW Six-Man Tag Team Championship (6 times) – Hayes, Gordy and Roberts (5 times) Gordy, Roberts and Parsons (1 time)
- WCCW Television Championship (1 time) – Roberts
- NWA Knuckles Championship (Texas version) (1 time) – Gordy
- WCWA Texas Heavyweight Championship (1 time) – Parsons
- Wrestling Observer Newsletter
- Tag Team of the Year (1980) – Gordy and Roberts
- Feud of the Year (1983) – Freebirds vs. the Von Erichs
- Feud of the Year (1984) – Freebirds vs. the Von Erichs
- Match of the Year (1984) – Freebirds vs. the Von Erichs (Kerry, Kevin, and Mike), Anything Goes match, July 4, Fort Worth, Texas
- Wrestling Observer Newsletter Hall of Fame (Class of 2005) – Hayes, Gordy, and Roberts
- WWE Hall of Fame (Class of 2016 – Hayes, Roberts, Gordy, and Garvin)
- Cohen, Daniel; Susan Cohen. Wrestling Superstars II. p. 88. ISBN 0-671-63224-8.
- Cohen, Daniel; Susan Cohen. Wrestling Superstars II. p. 89.
- Andre the Giant – Bleacher Report.com
- Kevin von Erich comments on Buddy Roberts' passing
- Jim Ross comments on Roberts' death
- Oliver, Greg. ""Crush" Brian Adams dead at 44". SLAM! Sports. Retrieved 2007-10-16.
- Fabulous Freebirds – WWE.com
- Freebird Rule – WWE.com
- Wrestling 93: Rulebreaker, Spring 1993 issue, p.10.
- Wrestle America, June 1993 issue, p.60.
- "Past Power League Wrestling tag team champions". Power League Wrestling.
- New Day – WWE.com
- wXw World Tag Team Championship
- Wyatt Family - WWE.com
- Difino, Lennie. "Catching up with Buddy Roberts". WWE.com. Retrieved 2007-10-16.
- Matt Mackinder (January 17, 2008). "Sir Oliver Humperdink recalls career of yesteryear". SLAM! Wrestling. Retrieved 2008-04-04.
- Davies, Ross. Diamond Dallas Page. p. 31. ISBN 0-8239-3493-4.
- "N.W.A. National Tag Team Title". Wrestling-Titles.com. Retrieved 2007-10-16.
- "N.W.A. Georgia Tag Team Title". Wrestling-Titles.com. Retrieved 2007-10-16.
- Oliver, Greg (2014-11-26). "Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame Class of 2015 announced". Slam! Sports. Canadian Online Explorer. Retrieved 2014-11-28.
- "Pro Wrestling Illustrated Award Winners: Tag Team of the Year". Wrestling Information Archive. Retrieved 2007-10-16.
- "Pro Wrestling Illustrated's Top 100 Tag Teams of the PWI Years". Wrestling Information Archive. Retrieved 2007-10-16.
- Greg Oliver and Steve Johnson (2005). "Top 20: #7 The Fabulous Freebirds". The Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame: The Tag Teams. ECW Press. ISBN 978-1-55022-683-6.