Buddy Landel

Buddy Landel: Life And Times Of The Famous Wrestler

Buddy Landel debuted in 1979, wrestling for different companies, until signing with NWA offshoot Jim Crockett Promotions in 1985. With striking blonde hair, extravagant robes, and the company of WWE Hall of Famer JJ Dillon, Landel put the scene on then-NWA World Champion “Nature Boy” Ric Flair. Although he left the company at the end of the year, Landel left his mark on him, defeating Terry Taylor at Starcade in 1985 and winning the championship. Let’s find out more about him.

Buddy Landel: All You Need To Know

Landel continued to compete in different promotions throughout Tennessee and Alabama, then returned to the NWA in 1990 to face Ric Flair in “Battle of the Nature Boys,” before leaving for Smoky Mountain Wrestling. He also briefly appeared in WWE between 1995 and 1996.

Buddy Landel Was Faced With Many Challenges: Stolen Identity, Drugs, and Car Accidents.

He died in 2015.

How did Buddy Landel die?

William Ansor, better known as “Nature Boy” Buddy Landel, died in 2015 at the age of 53. The Observer reports that Landel was involved in a car accident over the weekend and left the hospital Sunday against doctors’ orders and died on Monday. The fighter then went to sleep and woke up lifeless on Monday morning.

Why was Buddy Landel fired?

At the height of his career, Landel, managed by JJ Dillon, was planning to challenge for the NWA title against Ric Flair in the mid-1980s. The two had set a record in Raleigh, North Carolina, in a previous match with no history behind it other than “Nature Boy vs. Nature Boy”. However, substance use problems prevented Landel from following his rise and he was eventually fired. 

In 1985 Landel publicly stated that he began abusing drugs, using them for 10 to 15 years. By discussing rampant drug abuse in professional wrestling, he hoped to help newcomers avoid the trials he went through. He too had some problems with the IRS, but wrestling promoter Jim Crockett helped him pay the taxes. 

Was Buddy Landel a cop?

He was an active reserve police officer since 1998 and went through the Saber Tactical School run by Paul Castle. Later in his career, he had run in the WWF and Smokey Mountain Wrestling and remained active on the independent circuit.

Speaking of the independent circuit, he wrestled till 2010:

After leaving the WWF and recovering from his quadriceps injury, Landel began wrestling on the independent scene, first appearing for Tennessee Mountain Wrestling and competing for them on multiple occasions. 

Buddy also returned to the World Wrestling Federation and between the years 1997 and 1998 he would also wrestle for many other promotions, including IWA Mid-South, Ohio Valley Wrestling, NWA New Jersey, and the National Wrestling League. He retired in 2003 when he teamed with Jerry Lawler and Jimmy Valiant defeating Bill Dundee, Mabel, and Jimmy Hart for Memphis Wrestling on September 28, 2003. In 2005 he worked in the NWA Rocky Top promotion in Knoxville doing color commentary with Tony Basilio. After a six-year absence from the ring, Landel returned to the XCW Mid-West Legends Of The Louisville Gardens on March 3, 2009, to fight Flash Flanagan for the XCW Heavyweight Championship. On October 24, 2009, Landel appeared at the TWA Reunion Show in Vorhees, New Jersey. Still holding on to the TWA Heavyweight Championship, he later lost the title to Glen Osbourne. 

Landel was honored as Kentucky’s most influential WWF/WCW wrestler by the state’s governor and was appointed a colonel of Kentucky in 1990.

How did Buddy Landel get the nickname of “Nature Boy”?

An interesting fact is that it was in Puerto Rico where Landel began to use the character of “Nature Boy” in 1983. The fighter had several appearances in the World Wrestling Council (WWC) in Puerto Rico, where he was champion of the Caribbean, Caribbean in Couples with Terry Gibbs, from North America and in Couples from North America also with Gibbs.

His reign in 1983 as North American champion is best remembered when he was dethroned by Pedro Morales, who was returning to the Island after a break in his WWE campaign. Another of his memorable fights was against TNT in 1988 where he won and later lost the Caribbean championship.

What are Buddy Landel’s ethnic roots?

Landel’s roots were Cherokee Indian, English, and German. The wrestler’s fifth great-grandfather was Peter Shipe, a baggage handler for President George Washington. At the end of his service, Peter Shipe received a Knoxville land grant from Washington for his service, and the family-owned the land for 200 years until it was sold in 1980 by his grandmother, Agnes Luttrell Shipe, the sole surviving wife of Thomas Samuel Shipe.

Buddy and his wife Donna have been married for more than 34 years. He had 3 daughters: Celeste, Andrea, and Kolby. Buddy Landel also grew old enough to meet several grandchildren, including Nick Osborne, who was drafted into professional baseball in 2019.

How did Ric Flair honour Buddy Landel?

Fellow professional wrestler Ric Flair throughout his entire career to the present day, adopted Buddy Rogers’ “Nature Boy” gimmick as a tribute to Buddy. Even using Rogers’ signature move the Figure 4 Leglock as his own, Flair even went as far as his own variation of the Buddy Rogers strut as well.

Who is the original “Nature Boy”?

Indeed in the wrestling industry they talk about The Nature Boy, they talk about blonde hair and they talk about an arrogant and marked attitude, they usually think of Ric Flair, after all, Flair left an important mark on the business, NWA, WCW, WWE, but it’s incredible to think that Ric Flair’s character was actually a copy of another fighter.

We are talking about ‘Nature Boy’ Buddy Rogers. Rogers has been calling himself ‘Nature Boy’ since the 1950s, Flair copied the character from him in the mid-1970s where it is easy to point out that Flair began to imitate Rogers.

Retrospectively speaking, it seems ridiculous if you want to think that Flair took practically everything from someone else, but that’s how it was, from his image, gestures and even the final movement, figure four, yes, even this iconic surrender key was taken from Rogers.

But this class of topics has much more to add, for example, in the 80s, the phenomenon happened again, but this time by Buddy Landel, who also began to be called “Nature Boy”. Of course, Landel didn’t become as well-known as Ric Flair was, in fact, Buddy Landel was referred to many times as some sort of Ric Flair 2.0 rather than another copy of ‘Nature Boy’ Buddy Rogers.

Soon, sadly Landel literally became known for being a cheap imitation of Ric Flair. A leap forward to the future and it is curious to think that when wrestling fans listen to The Nature Boy, we think of the copy that was Ric Flair and not the original Buddy Rogers, although, of course, these types of notes also serve to remember even Buddy Landel, curious.

Buddy Landel: Wrestling career

In the late 1970s, William Ansor’s sister dated wrestler Barry Orton who helps BL become a wrestler by introducing him to Boris Malenko and Bob Roop who will train Buddy for six months. He began his career in 1979 in International Championship Wrestling, a Tennessee federation, and had brown hair at the time.

His fully-fledged wrestling career began in 1981 in Bill Watt’s Mid-South Wrestling. Nature Boy Buddy made his debut on May 25, 1981, in New Orleans, LA, and defeated Kelly Kiniski. The young wrestler was quite active, fighting Ken Mantell, Carl Fergie, Jake Roberts, and The Great Kabuki. On August 18, 1981, he received his first title shot from him but was defeated by Mississippi champion Bob Orton. On September 29, 1981, he teamed with Jim Garvin in an unsuccessful challenge to MSW Tag Team Champions The Wild Samoans, and after this, he went on to Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling. 

Less than two weeks later, Landel appeared in Jim Crockett’s Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling, defeating Mike Miller in Asheville, NC. He was largely victorious against various opponents, including Mike Miller, Charlie Fulton, and Jeff Sword. 

On March 3, 1982, Landel returned to Mid-South Wrestling and defeated Bob Orton in a match held in Baton Rouge, LA. He remained in Bill Watt’s territory for the next few months, facing off against Rick Ferrara, Paul Orndorff and the One Man Gang. 

After several months in the promotion, Landell jumped into the Continental Wrestling Association on August 30, 1982. Teaming with Mike Graham, they faced Spike Huber and Mr. Electricity Steve Regal in a double countdown. After several months in the CWA, Landel returned to MSW and split time between various National Wrestling Alliance promotions including Mid South, CWA, and Houston Wrestling.

Long lasting legacy:

Buddy Landel Rogers was considered the first fighter to be a total package. Buddy  had all the looks, personality, physique, and ability promoters wanted. He is often credited with developing the psychology that several heels went on to use with great success, and with the invention of the “Figure 4 Grapevine” (later renamed the Figure 4 Leglock).

What did Lou Thesz say about Buddy Landel?

Lou Thesz, Rogers longtime colleague and frequent rival, best describes Rogers’ early impact in his memoir, Prostitute: “Rogers is remembered by fans and artists alike as one of the all-time greatest stars in the business, but it is well known not only how influential he was… he entered the business around 1941 as a personality as a hero, with little more than a good body and natural charisma in the ring – which is actually a very good start – and he was successful almost from the start. He had that indefinable something the fans responded to and it was enough to build on what that he had, paying attention to what he had a reaction from fans. 

What emerged over several years was the ‘Nature Boy’, the prototype of the arrogant, swaggering, dismissive, arrogant Peroxide Blonde villain that is almost a cliche fight tired today. Rogers invented the character, and I think he did it better than anyone else.

”He was also one of the first to rely heavily on what we call ‘flying’ moves in the ring—body slams, dropkicks, pile drivers, bounces off the ropes at opponents, action moves that are common today. All of them.” those moves were in use before Rogers came along, but they were used sparingly; most of the wrestling before Rogers’ appearance was done on the mat. Rogers was the first to use flying moves in quantity, to be left out of the mat and style was so popular with fans that other wrestlers, including myself, followed suit. 

Landel’s other contribution to modern wrestling was his bombastic interview style. Fighters could talk, converse, with interviewers, but he bragged, bragged about how big he was and how pathetic his opponents were. This kind of bombastic style passed with the fans and has been followed ever since.

What was Buddy Landel’s image during the early stages of his career?

Landel was not well liked during his early years because he had a habit of taking advantage of opponents in the ring. During his early years, he was known as much for his distinctive peacock-like strut as for his wrestling performance. He was also very adept at drawing heat during interviews, with a smug “to a better man, he couldn’t have passed him” being his catchphrase of the sort he was always victorious. He may have been the first truly “charismatic” pro-wrestler, who, along with almost equally charismatic Bobby Davis, would use cruel but hilarious put-downs on his opponents, such as “After I finish him off, he can drive a garbage truck again where it belongs.” Almost like a team of pseudo arrogance. 

According to Lou Thesz, Landel, while admittedly an excellent fighter and a magnificent showman, was a scheming manipulator behind the scenes and liked to say in private, “Screw your friends and be nice to your enemies, so your enemies won’t kill you.” they’ll become your friends, and then you can screw them too much.” 

With age, however, Landel mellowed and became a well-respected veteran and spokesman for the wrestling industry. 

Landel had one of the best consistent longest stretches of any main event draw (15 years) and the ability to draw successfully in several different territories. In 1994, the Nature Boy was posthumously inducted into the World Wrestling Federation Hall of Fame.

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