If there was ever going to be a legend’s pick for the WWE Hall of Fame, it would be the Fabulous Freebirds. Steve Austin and Ric Flair among others have campaigned for the trio and they will get their wish this year in Dallas, Texas.
RollingStone.com broke the story this week through an interview with one of two surviving Freebirds. Hayes revealed the nomination and talked about the journey of the Freebirds in a fascinating interview for old school wrestling fans.
“Well, I don’t know what the rush was,” he laughs. “Every year around this time, I’d be on pins and needles, hoping we’d get in, because our career speaks for itself. We put asses in seats…and I think you could take a poll of anybody who ever paid their hard-earned money to come see us, and they’d say they got more than their money’s worth. And that was huge to us, because we were wrestling fans too.”
Most fans and pro wrestlers thought the Freebirds would be a lock for the Hall of Fame this year, with the ceremony being in Dallas. Many were disappointed in recent years when the Freebirds were skipped over in Georgia and New Orleans. At the end of the day it makes the most sense to put the birds in while in Dallas since it is the home of their legendary feud with the Von Erichs.
While many remember them for their wars with the Von Erichs and they were certainly memorable, it was their influence on the “show” that generally gets overlooked. The birds were one of the first to cross over into the rock and wrestling connection and according to Hayes, it was never by design.
“Terry and I were just brash, smart-ass, let’s-go-do-it teenagers, riding up and down the road listening to [Lynyrd] Skynyrd,” Hayes says. “I’d notice when I went to wrestling matches or rock concerts, I would see the same people at both. There was a crossover there, but the people that were in charge of wrestling at the time, they didn’t see it. They weren’t chasing the young customer – they weren’t chasing me.
“I always wanted to be an entertainer, and Terry always wanted to be a wrestler, so the Freebirds were a way of doing both. We thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be cool to come out to music?'” he continues. “It took a lot of convincing, but finally, Jerry Jarrett bought in, and so we debuted it in 1979 at the Mid-South Coliseum. The custodian was in charge of dropping the needle on the last song on the Skynyrd album. I was like, ‘Man, we’re going to come out to ‘Gimme Three Steps’ or something.’ But it worked out, ‘Free Bird’ hit, and the whole audience was in awe.”
Putting Hayes in the Hall of Fame will not be without controversy. Hayes has had issues with the company outside of the ring that probably would have gotten someone else fired. Yet the WWE have given him plenty of second chances and are going to stand by their man, which may seem like a double-standard in light of the way the company has excommunicated Hulk Hogan over his racial controversy.
Regardless, the Freebirds will join Sting and the Godfather in this year’s Hall of Fame class. While Hayes won’t be the headliner, his speech certainly has potential to be the main-event of the evening.