Name: The Fabulous Freebirds
Year Inducted: 2015
The Fabulous Freebirds
Being a Fabulous Freebird was more about attitude than anything else—the partying, the music and, yes, even the wrestling. For the purposes of this induction, we are talking about three Freebirds: the original two, Terry “Bam Bam” Gordy and Michael “Purely Sexy” Hayes (Michael Seitz), and the first addition, veteran Buddy “Jack” Roberts (Dale Hey).
As the story goes, Mid-South booker Buck Robley was going to trade Gordy and Hayes to Florida for several other wrestlers in 1979. Instead, the promotion’s honcho, “Cowboy” Bill Watts—who had seen them in Georgia and brought them in—stood up for the duo and did them one better by adding a new member. “When I spotted Gordy, I wanted Gordy and I didn’t really want Michael. But you couldn’t get Gordy without Michael,” Watts recalled. “Michael wanted to work in the ring, but he was the sh--- in the ring, so I ended up putting Buddy Roberts with them. That’s when the thing gelled. … They just became phenomenal. It was a perfect chemistry.”
Not only their chemistry was perfect; so was their timing. By hitting their stride as the ’80s MTV generation came into being, the ’Birds had both the sexy stud rock star Hayes for the new fans and the legit tough guys in Gordy and Roberts to appeal to the older generation.
Each Freebird brought something different to the table. Terry Gordy was a young prodigy from Rossville, Georgia and a promising athlete who dropped high school baseball and football in favor of training to wrestle at the young age of 13 with his uncle. In Memphis, Gordy met Lord Michael Hayes, a 17-year-old, hungry wrestler from North Florida with big dreams. They worked Mississippi and Alabama together and their friendship grew stronger. In 1978, while working for Nick Gulas in Nashville, Hayes had the idea to use Lynyrd Skynyrd’s Free Bird as entrance music, a song that they could bond to.
In Mid-South, Watts put Roberts into the team to help them improve in the ring and give them more stability away from it. A bodybuilder from Vancouver, British Columbia, Roberts had already been a star as half of the storied Hollywood Blonds team with Jerry Brown. “I had the knowledge of tag teams and they were just young kids. He wanted them to develop faster than normal so he put me with them,” said Roberts, who died in 2012.
Up next was their first national exposure on TBS, working for Georgia Championship Wrestling. The ’Birds debuted with a bang, winning the Georgia tag belts in a three-way match from the Assassins (Jody Hamilton and Roger Smith) and Mr. Wrestling I & II in their first match at Atlanta’s Omni. As a three-man team, The Fabulous Freebirds took the unique position that any two of the three members should be able to defend the titles.
But it was in Fritz Von Erich’s World Class promotion that they made their biggest mark, finding the ultimate babyfaces in the Von Erich boys. With an announced “$1,000,000 contract”, the ’Birds left for Watts’ Mid-South territory, now re-christened the UWF and fighting for national recognition. While the UWF was great for the Freebirds with awesome feuds, Hayes developed into a TV commentator and Gordy was pushed as a singles star. It was also the beginning of the end. Watts sold out to Jim Crockett and WCW, and the Freebirds had one last weak run in Texas.
In WCW, Hayes kept the name alive with Jimmy Garvin, before transitioning into a role as a commentator and then agent/writer behind the scenes in WWF. A huge star in Japan, Gordy died in 2001.
– STEVEN JOHNSON & GREG OLIVER