Buddy Roberts is the latest member of the Fabulous Freebirds to have passed away. Roberts had a long career in pro wrestling but will be most remembered as the big-mouthed, bleached curly blonde scrapper of one of the most iconic tag teams in 1980s pro wrestling.
I started watching pro wrestling in 1982 and Roberts was immediately on my radar. Thanks to monthly articles in the “Apter magazines” I became enamored quickly with the Fabulous Freebirds. The pictures and stories about the bloody, brutal battles with the Von Erichs instantly grabbed my interest. I couldn’t wait to watch the Freebirds on television and thanks to cable I didn’t have to wait that long.
I watched the Freebirds for the next several years on television as well as home video years later. If I was to describe Buddy Roberts to someone who never watched him I’d probably compare him to the loud-mouthed sidekick to the bigger bully in 1980s movies, think the little kid with the cap in A Christmas Story. That was Buddy Jack Roberts!
As a kid I always wanted to see Buddy get a beat down from the babyfaces. Whether it were the Von Erichs, the Road Warriors, or Steve “Dr. Death” Williams, I just wanted to see someone shut that punk up. It would be years later as I understood the business and psychology of pro wrestling where I would learn to appreciate the greatness of Buddy Roberts inside of the ring.
Buddy is not someone that generally comes to mind when you discuss the great wrestling psychologists of the past. Guys like Jake Roberts, Ted DiBiase, and Arn Anderson generally come to mind. However, thanks to a very cool experience while traveling with ECW I was given a lesson in just how great Buddy was as a ring psychologist.
Raven held a series of seminars for the wrestlers in ECW. These seminars were generally aimed at the younger inexperienced talent, but talent at all levels would sit in on these sessions. Raven take a match and point out the little things that the wrestlers inside of the ring were doing right, focusing on the psychology of the match. Raven was gracious enough to invite me into those sessions and that particular seminar featured a match from UWF (Mid-South) Wrestling with Buddy Roberts vs. Terry Taylor for the UWF television title.
Raven broke down the match and pointed out all of the little things that Buddy was doing throughout the match, using these as examples of what to do inside of the ring. I was given a completely new perspective of Buddy Roberts. Every step, every movement, every pin attempt, every facial expression meant something. The guy was simply brilliant! Keep in mind that you had an experienced wrestler using Buddy as an example to other wrestlers on the art of ring psychology. I can’t imagine a much better compliment from your peers.
As a fan my favorite Buddy Roberts’ matches were any with the Von Erichs. As a fan of wrestling for 30 years, I don’t know if there are many wrestling feuds that had as much intensity, realism, and bloody as the Freebirds vs. Von Erichs. Roberts certainly deserves credit for his part as the obnoxious villain that everyone wanted to see get clawed week to week by their Texas heroes.
Not many wrestlers can boast a legacy that Buddy Roberts’ had. For that he should be celebrated. R.I.P. Buddy Jack!