The Fabulous Freebirds
Real Names: Michael "P.S." Hayes, Terry "Bam Bam" Gordy, and Buddy Jack Roberts
There have been many great, competitive tag teams throughout the long history of professional wrestling -- some lasting for years, others only weeks or months. However, very few of them truly stand up to the test of time as being innovative, dominant, influential and lasting forces within the sport. It seems each generation has but only two or three such teams, ones that are remembered long after their time has passed. Michael "P.S." Hayes, Terry "Bam Bam" Gordy, and Buddy Jack Roberts -- The Fabulous Freebirds -- is one of those teams.
During the incredibly competitive decade of the 1980's, there were many great tag teams...the Wild Samoans, The Fabulous Ones, The Rock `N Roll Express, The East-West Connection: Jesse "The Body" Ventura & Adrian Adonis, Steamboat & Youngblood, The British Bulldogs, The Hart Foundation, Ivan & Nikita Koloff, The Steiner Brothers, Arn Anderson & Tully Blanchard, and many, many more top teams. However, along with The Road Warriors and The Midnight Express, The Fabulous Freebirds -- with their unique 3-man concept -- must undoubtedly go down as one of the most innovative, influential, and successful tag teams of the 1980's.
They first burst onto the wrestling scene in the N.W.A.'s Mid South promotion, and on November 24,1979 young Michael Hayes and Terry Gordy teamed to win the Mid South Tag Team title by defeating "Cowboy" Bill Watts & "Col." Buck Robley. The young, brash team dominated the competition for over 6 months before being defeated by The Junkyard Dog & Robley on June 9,1980. It was at this time that The Freebirds (who had not yet added Buddy Roberts to the team) started a bitter war with JYD...so bitter that it resulted in the Freebirds "blinding" JYD with an abrasive powder. "The Dog" was out for months, and eventually gained a degree of revenge and alot of respect during a series of "blind" Dog Collar Matches against Hayes.
In 1980, Mr. Wrestling I&II and The Assassins were in the middle of a bitter, bloody, and long-running feud in the N.W.A.'s Georgia Championship Wrestling. After months of fighting over masks, pride, and the Georgia Tag Team titles, the two teams agreed to battle one last time, for the tag title and bragging rights, in match to be held at the famous Omni in Atlanta. But what the two masked teams, or any of the thousands of fans in attendance, didn't count on was The Fabulous Freebirds -- Buddy Roberts and Terry Gordy, led by Michael Hayes -- coming down to the ring with Lynard Skynard's "Freebird" blaring through the sound system prior to the match starting and demanding to have a chance at winning the prestigious Georgia Tag Team title. The masked men all agreed. Little did anyone know that the Freebirds would actually walk out of the Omni as Georgia Tag Team champions -- on their 1st day in the promotion, no less!
In the next several weeks, Hayes, Gordy, and Roberts made it apparent that the 3 wrestlers were a team...and that any combination of 2 of the 3 members would/could defend the Georgia Tag Team title...it just depended on who they felt like putting in the ring that night. Usually, it was a combination of Gordy and Roberts...but sometimes the belts would be defended by Hayes and Gordy, other times Roberts and Hayes. No one, especially the Freebirds' opponents, knew who would be wrestling when The Fabulous Freebirds were scheduled to defend the belts.
Obviously, Ted Dibiase (who suffered three brutal Gordy piledrivers on the concrete floor during a sneak attack that injured him for months), Ron Fuller, Tommy Rich, and the other men battling the 3-man tag team were not happy about the arrangement...and the debate over whether The Freebirds should be able to use 3 men to defend a tag team title was a major issue at the time.
On November 27, 1980 the Georgia Tag Team title was renamed the National Tag Team title, thus making the Freebirds the last Georgia Tag Team champions and the first National Tag Team champs. Then on January 31, 1981 Ted Dibiase and the 7`0, 400+lb. Stan Frazier defeated Roberts and Gordy for the National Tag Team title. The Freebirds did not have to wait long to get their belts back, though, and on January 31,1981 they regained the National Tag title, and held the prestigious belts for nearly 6 months before Ted Dibiase again defeated them...this time with partner Steve Olsenowski. But losing the belts was not the only problem, and after Gordy and Roberts turned violently on Hayes (who had just become a fan favorite), it seemed that The Fabulous Freebirds had broken up forever...
Buddy Roberts, a silent but integral part of the trio, then dropped out of the Georgia scene. "Bam Bam" Gordy went on to form a devastating new tag team with ultra-violent (at the time) "Superfly" Jimmy Snuka. Michael Hayes, in between his war with Gordy, pursued a solo career.
The new duo of Snuka & Gordy defeated Dibiase and Steve O. on July 6, 1981 to win the National Tag Team title. A bitter, bloody feud developed between the two former Freebirds, and Hayes tried every way he could to destroy his old teammate...even going as far as to bring in Andre The Giant as a partner. He was eventually successful at taking the belts away from Gordy and Snuka when Hayes teamed with 7-footer Otis Sistruck, and the duo won the National Tag Team championship on Sept.27,1981. However, the team didn't last long, and they vacated the National Tag title when Sistrunk left the sport.
Michael Hayes, who was then among Georgia's most loved fan favorites, eventually convinced Gordy to renew their friendship and put the Fabulous Freebirds back together. The now-loved Freebirds defeated the hated masked man The Super Destroyer & "Big" John Studd to regain the National Tag title on July 2,1982. They held the belts for nearly 2 months before being dethroned by the rugged and experienced Wild Samoans on August 29,1982. Soon after, the team of Hayes & Gordy dropped out of the Georgia tag team picture completely...
They weren't gone for long, though, and on Christmas Day 1982, The Fabulous Freebirds entered Jack Adkisson's Dallas-based N.W.A. World Class Championship Wrestling promotion -- winning the brand new NWA World 6-Man Tag Team title w/David Von Erich (who was subbing for Buddy Roberts) their first night in the promotion.
Later in the card, special guest referee Michael Hayes gave Kevin Von Erich an unfair opportunity to win the NWA World Heavyweight title from Ric Flair. When Von Erich refused, Hayes felt insulted and The Freebirds went on that night to violently begin what would become a years-long feud, perhaps the most heated, bloody and famous feud in Texas wrestling's history...
Over the next several years, the Von Erichs and the Fabulous Freebirds squared off in dozens, maybe hundreds, of exciting, brutal, and intense matches. The feud lasted through the many Von Erich tragedy's, and through World Class's divorce from the NWA.
While in World Class, The Freebirds won 3 NWA World 6-Man Tag Team championships, the American Tag Team title, and were W.C.C.W.'s biggest attraction other than the Von Erich's during a time when Texas wrestling was experiencing a boom in popularity. Perhaps not so coincidentally, when The Freebirds left Dallas, World Class house shows experienced a sharp decline in attendance.
Throughout 1985 Gordy wrestled in Japan, and Hayes and Roberts (and occasionally working with Jimmy Garvin) concentrated on the southern territories of the American Wrestling Association (AWA). It was here that they first squared off against another legendary team of the 1980's, Hawk & Animal, The Road Warriors.
In 1986, The Fabulous Freebirds reunited and again switched bases of operation...this time relocating in Bill Watts' Oklahoma-based Universal Wrestling Federation (U.W.F.) after supposed "million dollar" contract. As always, The Freebirds established themselves as the #1 rulebreakers in the territory...taking on anyone who looked at them the wrong way. They renewed their old Georgia feud with Ted Dibiase, as well as starting altercations with the hated army of Gen. Scandor Akbar, the loved "Hacksaw" Jim Duggan, and everyone that got in their way...but especially with University Of Oklahoma football and wrestling All American Steve "Dr. Death" Williams. Although they would later become best friends and championship partners, Gordy and Williams started off as bitter, arch-rivals. Gordy actually broke Doc's arm during this brutal feud. And on May 30, 1986 Terry "Bam Bam" Gordy defeated Jim Duggan in the finals of a tournament that determined the inaugural U.W.F. World Heavyweight champion. With his Freebird "brothers" at his side, Gordy went on to defend the championship of this upstart wrestling promotion for the first 6 months of its existence...defending the prestigious new World Title against a wide variety of "rulebreaker" and "fan favorite" wrestling stars like The One Man Gang, Ted Dibiase, Jim Duggan, Chris Adams, and many more. But then unexpectedly, Gordy was involved in a serious car wreck and was forced to vacate the UWF World championship. It was a serious setback for The Freebirds.
After the UWF was absorbed by the NWA, the Freebirds made a few appearances on NWA television, and then unexpectedly returned to Dallas, the home of The Von Erichs...
The never-ending feud began again, and it seemed like the old times, as if the Freebird-Von Erich war that had raged on for years was back. But Hayes and Gordy would eventually have another falling out, with Michael Hayes actually becoming a Von Erich ally (during a very dramatic interview) and one of Texas' most popular wrestlers. Gordy and Roberts replaced Hayes with "Iceman" King Parsons, and the "new" Freebirds again won the World Class 6-Man Tag title on January 4,1988. Hayes, not to be outdone, teamed with Kevin & Kerry Von Erich and on July 6,1988 they defeated The Freebirds to win the W.C.W.A. World 6-Man Tag Team title. Kevin, Kerry, and Hayes was the last team to wear the World Class 6-Man belts.
Buddy Roberts later became a hated manager, guiding The Samoan Swat Team (The Headshrinkers) to many championships and continuing a bitter war against Michael Hayes. Gordy, meanwhile, left the United States and renewed his incredibly successful career in Japan. Both Gordy and Hayes claimed they'd never call themselves a Freebird again...
It was at this time that Michael "P.S." Hayes began a true solo career. Although in 1988 he teamed with protege' Steve Cox to win the W.C.W.A. World Tag Team title (twice, against Roberts' Samoans), Hayes concentrated on becoming a proficient singles wrestler. It proved to be valuable experience when Hayes left W.C.W.A. and moved up to the NWA-WCW in 1989...
Hayes entered the NWA (soon to be renamed WCW) as a fan favorite, and teamed with Sting and JYD among others against the (heel) Road Warriors, the Varsity Club, and other NWA "bad guys". But after several months, Hayes returned to his old Freebird ways, and won the U.S. Heavyweight championship in the process -- thanks to the illegal help of his long-estranged Freebird "brother", Terry "Bam Bam" Gordy. On May 7,1989 Hayes defeated "The Total Package" Lex Luger, in a major upset, when the returning Gordy stormed to the ring and nailed Luger in the head with a boot allowing Hayes to make the cover.
Although Luger regained the title a month later, once again, The Fabulous Freebirds were flying high...
But could The Freebirds really be The Freebirds without a third man? Not as far as the Hayes & Gordy (as well as the fans) were concerned...but the longtime third Freebird, Buddy Jack Roberts, was retired.
Enter the controversial and talented longtime Freebird ally "Gorgeous" Jimmy Garvin. Garvin was unveiled as the new Freebird, and the trio again went to the top. But even though Hayes & Garvin had won the NWA World Tag Team title on June 14,1989 by defeating the Midnight Express, Gordy was obviously unhappy with Hayes' choice in "Jimmy Jam" Garvin...and Gordy slowly faded out of the Freebird picture again, taking more and more Japanese bookings and appearing less and less with his Freebird "brothers" Hayes & Garvin.
As time passed, The Freebirds (Hayes & Garvin) eventually lost a feud with the Steiner Brothers, as well as slowly losing some of their steam, and began dropping more matches. Fan interest in the team dwindled. They added a masked man "Badstreet" (Brad Armstrong, named after Hayes' hit record) and "rocker" personalities like DDP, his Diamond Dolls, and Sir Oliver Humperdink to the Freebird team in an attempt to rekindle fan response...with all of it backfiring on them.
Realizing they were better off on their own, Hayes & Garvin soon dropped their entourage and focused on winning the WCW World Tag Team titles again. On February 24, 1991 they defeated The Steiner Brothers to win the WCW World Tag Team title and re-established he Fabulous Freebirds as one of the sports' better tag teams...
However, the impact the original Freebirds made (influencing teams like the Wild Samoans, Demolition, and other 3-man tag teams) in the 1980's seemed to be a distant memory by the early 1990's. Long gone were "Bam Bam" and Buddy Jack, and the glory days of the Von Erich feud.
Original Freebird Terry Gordy had returned to WCW, but not rejoin his "Badstreet" partners. Instead, Gordy returned to WCW with his very successful Japanese tag partner "Dr. Death" Steve Williams, and thoughts of a Freebird reunion were not even discussed. Gordy & Williams would dominate The Steiners, WCW, and go on to unify the NWA and WCW World Tag team championships in 1992.
Garvin & Hayes, although still a highly respected team, nevertheless became a shell of what the original Fabulous Freebirds were. Eventually, Hayes and Garvin left WCW altogether. However, it was not the end of The Freebirds...
When the Global Wrestling Federation began broadcasting their daily ESPN TV show from The Sportatorium, which was site of so many classic Freebird-Von Erich matches, it seemed only natural that The Freebirds show up in the GWF. They did, however this time it was yet another reincarnation of the original Freebird team...the unlikely Hayes-free duo of Gordy and Jimmy Garvin! "Bam Bam" and "Jimmy Jam" had put their past differences behind them, worked well as a team, and on June 3, 1994 they won the GWF World Tag Team title. They held the belts for almost 4 months before having to vacate the title when the promotion closed. That tag title would turn out to be the last championship won by a Freebird team, and was truly the end of an era...
The Fabulous Freebirds originated the idea of a 3-man team in wrestling, an idea that would be borrowed from them often in later years. They also dominated each and every region they went to...either by hook or by crook, The Freebirds were always the #1 team in any territory they wrestled in. Although in later years the team was somewhat diminished from their previous stature, there can be no doubt as to the original Fabulous Freebirds' impact on professional wrestling. The Ring Chronicle proudly inducts the inventive and talented Michael "P.S." Hayes, Terry "Bam Bam" Gordy, and Buddy Jack Roberts -- The Fabulous Freebirds -- into T.R.C.'s Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame...
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