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WRESTLING COLUMNS

The Natural Part II
March 3, 2006 by Nathan Dewey


One of the most respected wrestlers in the history of the WWE is Bret "The Hitman" Hart. He is arguably one of the greatest wrestlers of all time and one of my favourite in ring performers. In the new Bret Hart DVD, current owner of World Wrestling Entertainment, Mr. McMahon Jr. said "His technical abilities are basically unparalleled, the only individual that comes to mind that would equal those of Bret's was the late great Buddy Rogers back in the fifties."

In "The Natural: Part I" I summarized the beginnings of the career of the legendary superstar, the "Original Nature Boy" Buddy Rogers. He had faced off against Lou Thesz in a 2/3 Falls match on January 24, 1963 in Toronto, Canada. As a result of a disqualification, however many NWA officials and promoters found the outcome to be distasteful. The promotion split, resulting in the creation of World Wide Wrestling Federation. Thus, making Buddy Rogers the first WWWF Champion on April 23, 1963!

Not only did Buddy Rogers become the first WWWF Champion, but he helped lead the formation of the new promotion along with many superstars, Vincent McMahon and Toots Mondt. Buddy Roger's championship reign was just beginning as he would go on to defend it for six months. Howevere, the younger, more powerful Bruno Sammartino defeated Buddy Rogers in a mere fourty seven seconds to become the second WWWF Champion. The loss was due to a mild heart attack which he suffered previously affecting The Nature Boy's performance drastically. The devastating defeat proved to be the beginning of the end for Buddy Rogers professionally. Unfortunately, he retired near the end of the year.

This shocking turn of events sidelined the veteran for a long period of time. However, Buddy Rogers was contently awaiting a possible return to the sport he loved. After time, his brash, arrogant attitude in the ring subsided. He mellowed out to become a respected veteran.

In 1978, Buddy Rogers made a surprise return in Jim Crockett Promotions as a babyface to battle the top heel at the time, a young man named Ric Flair who also shared the name "Nature Boy". The feud grew between the two to the point of a showdown called "The Battle of the Nature Boys." On July 9, 1978, Ric Flair defeated his childhood hero to officially adopt the name, and follow in his foot steps to become the sixteen time World Heavyweight Champion. Roger's influence on Ric Flair was also evident because of their similar reigns as World Heavyweight Champions and NWA Champions, Rogers being the first to accomplish this and Flair, the second. Flair would emulate all of Buddy Roger's traits, however, he never became the most hated villain in wrestling history. Rogers would then manage such superstars as: Jimmy "Superfly" Snuka, Ken Patera, Arn Anderson and Big John Studd, until his departure.

Buddy Rogers returned to the WWF. However, he didn't wrestle as much. Instead he hosted a segment known as "Roger's Corner" where he single handedly changed the persona of Jimmy Snuka by turning him against Capt. Lou Albino who - Roger's had uncovered - was ripping Snuka off contractually in the WWF. During a match, Buddy Rogers teamed with Jimmy Snuka to battle Lou Albino and Ray Stevens; Rogers broke his hip. Just as it all began again, it ended. Rogers would retire for good.

Buddy Rogers, one of the most influential personalities in the history of professional wrestling, had retired. In 1992, Rogers had recovered. During this time, Tri-State Wrestling Alliance Promotion, the predecessor of ECW, had planned a return match for the legend of seventy years. He was set to battle yet another "Nature Boy," this time Buddy Lindell. Unfortunately the promoter ran out of money, and the match would never take place. Buddy Rogers would suffer a severe broken arm later in the year. On July 6, 1992, The "Nature Boy" Buddy Rogers died after three strokes.

In 1994, Buddy Rogers was inducted to the WWE Hall of Fame for his accomplishments.

During the beginnings of the television era, one man captivated the audience like no other and turned into one of the most hated superstars in history. A man who would go on to become one of the greatest legends in sports entertainment. Before there was Ric Flair or Buddy Lindell, there was the "Original Nature Boy" Buddy Rogers. The man who started it all in the World Wide Wrestling Federation (now World Wrestling Entertainment). With a cunning ability and mat techniques which would go unmatched for a number of years, Buddy Rogers held numerous titles, one of which was the first ever World Wide Wrestling Federation Championship. He embodied the very essence of everything I love in professional wrestling. He was without a doubt, one of the greatest, most influential figures in the history of sports-entertainment. WWE as we know it today wouldn't of began if it wasn't for Buddy Roger's undeniable presence in the ring. However, every beginning has an end. But the legacy left behind, is the stuff of legend, and should be treasured by every fan of professional wrestling.

by Nathan Dewey ..


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