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Herman Gustav Rohde Jr. (February 20, 1921 – June 26, 1992), better known by the
ring name A ring name is a type of stage name A stage name is a pseudonym A pseudonym () (originally: ψευδώνυμος in Greek) or alias () is a fictitious name that a person or group assumes for a particular purpose, which differs from their o ...
"Nature Boy" Buddy Rogers, was an American
professional wrestler Professional wrestling is a form of entertainment and performing art, which combines athletics with performance. It comprises of exhibitions, called 'matches', held by touring companies called Professional wrestling promotion, promotions, in ...
. One of the biggest professional wrestling stars in the beginning of the television era, his performances inspired future professional wrestlers, including "Nature Boy"
Ric Flair Richard Morgan Fliehr (born February 25, 1949), better known as Ric Flair, is an American professional wrestling manager In professional wrestling Professional wrestling is a type of athletic exhibition and entertainment involving wrestli ...

Ric Flair
, who used Rogers's nickname, as well as his look, attitude and finishing hold, the figure-four leglock. Rogers was a thirteen-time
world champion A world championship is generally an international competition open to elite competitors from around the world, representing their nations, and winning such an event will be considered the highest or near highest achievement in the sport, game, o ...
, notably holding the top championship in both the
NWA NWA or Nwa may refer to: Music * N.W.A ("Niggaz Wit Attitudes"), a hip hop group from Compton, California, US * New Weird America, a subgenre of psychedelic and indie music, popularized in the '60s and '70s Places * Nwa, Kale, a village in Burma * ...
and the WWWF, today known as
WWE World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc., commonly shortened to WWE, is an American integrated media and entertainment company that is primarily known for professional wrestling Professional wrestling is a form of entertainment and performin ...
(he was the
inaugural In government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by t ...
WWWF World Heavyweight Champion). He is one of three men in history to have held both world titles, along with Ric Flair and
AJ Styles Allen Neal Jones (born June 2, 1977) is an American professional wrestler Professional wrestling is a type of athletic exhibition and entertainment involving wrestling matches whose progress and outcome are planned in advance, typically betwe ...
.


Early life

Rogers was the son of
German German(s) may refer to: * Germany (of or related to) **Germania (historical use) * Germans, citizens of Germany, people of German ancestry, or native speakers of the German language ** For citizens of Germany, see also German nationality law **Ger ...

German
immigrant parents. He was athletic, and took up wrestling at age nine at the local YMCA, joining the Camden YMCA Wrestling League and winning its heavyweight championship. Rogers also excelled in football, boxing, track and swimming, winning the YMCA's three-mile swimming championship in 1937. Rogers joined the Dale Brothers Circus as a wrestler at age 17. He later worked at a shipyard, and became a police officer.


Professional wrestling career


Early career and National Wrestling Alliance (1939–1963)

Rogers visited the offices of
professional wrestling promoter A promoter works in entertainment industries, including music and sports, as an individual or organization in the business of Promotion (marketing), marketing and promoting live, or pay-per-view and similar, events, such as concerts/gig (musical p ...
s Ray and Frank Hanley, who gave him his first
match A match is a tool for starting a fire BBQ. Fire is the rapid oxidation of a material in the exothermic chemical process of combustion, releasing heat, light, and various reaction Product (chemistry), products. Fire is hot because the co ...
on July 4, 1939 against Moe Brazen, which he won. Rogers soon became a top professional wrestler using his real name around his hometown, where he gained his first major win over
Ed "Strangler" Lewis Robert H. Friedrich (June 30, 1891 – August 8, 1966), better known by the ring name Ed "Strangler" Lewis, was an American Professional wrestling, professional wrestler and trainer. During his wrestling career, which spanned four decades, Lewis w ...
. He continued his career in
Houston Houston ( ) is the List of cities in Texas by population, most populous city in Texas, List of United States cities by population, fourth-most populous city in the United States, most populous city in the Southern United States, as well as th ...

Houston
, where he assumed the name Buddy Rogers. Rogers would get his first
title A title is one or more words used before or after a person's name, in certain contexts. It may signify either generation, an official position, or a professional or academic qualification. In some languages, titles may be inserted between the firs ...
during his tenure there, winning the
NWA Texas Heavyweight Championship The NWA Texas Heavyweight Championship is a professional wrestling Championship (professional wrestling), title that has existed since the 1930s. Though its exact date of creation isn't known, it is among the oldest championships used in profess ...
four times, once from
Lou Thesz Aloysius Martin "Lou" Thesz (April 24, 1916 – April 28, 2002) was an American Professional wrestling, professional wrestler. He was a List of NWA World Heavyweight Champions, three-time NWA World Heavyweight Championship, NWA World Heavyweight ...
, beginning a long
feud A feud , referred to in more extreme cases as a blood feud, vendetta, faida, clan war, gang war, or private war, is a long-running argument or fight, often between social groups of people, especially family, families or clans. Feuds begin because ...
between them both in and out of the ring. After leaving the Texas territory for
Columbus, Ohio Columbus is the List of US state capitals, state capital and the List of cities in Ohio, most populous city in the U.S. state of Ohio. With a population of 905,748 for the 2020 United States census, 2020 census, it is the List of United States c ...
, Rogers bleached his hair, and was given the moniker "Natural Guy" by promoter
Jack Pfefer Jack Pfefer (also commonly spelled as "Pfeffer"; December 10, 1894 – September 13, 1974) was an American professional wrestling promoter during the early-to-mid twentieth century. He pioneered an earlier form of sports entertainment, as he was ...
. The moniker later evolved to "Nature Boy". In the early 1950s, Lillian Ellison (under the moniker Slave Girl Moolah) worked as his
valet A valet or varlet is a male Domestic worker, servant who serves as personal attendant to his employer. In the Middle Ages and Ancien Régime, valet de chambre was a role for junior courtiers and specialists such as artists in a royal court, bu ...
. Ellison claims that the partnership ended after Rogers pushed for a sexual relationship, which Ellison refused. With the advent of television, Rogers's flashy look, great physique and bombastic personality instantly caught the ire of audiences. The first sign of Rogers's impact was his involvement in
Sam Muchnick Samuel Muchnick (born Jeshua Muchnick, August 22, 1905 – December 30, 1998) was an American professional wrestling Professional wrestling is a form of entertainment and performing art, which combines athletics with performance. It compri ...
's opposition
promotion Promotion may refer to: Marketing * Promotion (marketing), one of the four marketing mix elements, comprising any type of marketing communication used to inform or persuade target audiences of the relative merits of a product, service, brand or i ...
in
St. Louis, Missouri St. Louis () is the second-largest city in Missouri Missouri is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State ( ...

St. Louis, Missouri
, a major professional wrestling market at the time. He was pitted against Lou Thesz as a
draw Draw, drawing, draws, or drawn may refer to: Common uses * Draw (terrain), a terrain feature formed by two parallel ridges or spurs with low ground in between them * Drawing (manufacturing), a process where metal, glass, or plastic or anything e ...
. In the end, Muchnick's promotion was powerful enough with Rogers as its main star that the two promotions merged. Rogers continued control of the Midwest as a booker and professional wrestler, most notably in
Chicago (''City in a Garden''); I Will , image_map = , map_caption = Interactive map of Chicago , coordinates = , coordinates_footnotes = , subdivision_type = Country , subdivision_name ...

Chicago
, frequently selling out the 11,000-seat arena. In the 1950s, Rogers expanded into
Vince McMahon, Sr. Vincent James McMahon (July 6, 1914 – May 24, 1984), sometimes referred to as Vince McMahon Sr., was an American professional wrestling promoter. He is best known for running the Capitol Wrestling Corporation, which was later renamed WWWF (World ...
's
Capitol Wrestling Corporation Capitol Wrestling Corporation Ltd. was an American sports promotion company. It was run by Vincent J. McMahon from 1953–1982. Operating as the Capitol Wrestling Corporation (CWC), the company was originally a professional wrestling Prof ...
(CWC). He also wrestled in the Al Haft promotion out of Columbus, Ohio in the 1950s and through 1963. In 1961, the
National Wrestling Alliance The National Wrestling Alliance (NWA) is an American professional wrestling promotion A professional wrestling promotion is a company A company, abbreviated as co., is a legal entity In law, a legal person is any person A person (p ...
(NWA) voted him into an
NWA World Heavyweight Championship The NWA Worlds Heavyweight Championship is a world heavyweight championshipWorld heavyweight championship may refer to: * List of heavyweight boxing champions, World heavyweight boxing championship (professional) ** World Colored Heavyweight Champ ...
match. On June 30, 1961, Rogers took the title from Pat O'Connor in front of 38,622 fans at
Comiskey Park Comiskey Park was a baseball park A baseball park, also known as a ballpark or diamond, is a stadium, venue where baseball is played. A baseball park consists of the baseball field, playing field and the surrounding spectator seating. While t ...
, which set a new North American professional wrestling attendance record that stood until the David Von Erich Memorial Parade of Champions in 1984. In addition, the $148,000 gate in ticket sales was a professional wrestling record for almost twenty years. The contest, which was a
two out of three falls match Many types of wrestling matches, sometimes called "concept" or "gimmick A gimmick is a novel device or idea designed primarily to attract attention or increase appeal, often with little intrinsic value. When applied to retail marketing Once the ...
, was billed as the "Match of the Century", during which both men had gained a pinfall. However, when O'Connor missed a
dropkick A dropkick is an attacking maneuver in professional wrestling. It is defined as an attack where the wrestler jumps up and kicks the opponent with the soles of both feet; this sees the wrestler twist as they jump so that when the feet connec ...

dropkick
and hit his head, Rogers pinned him to win the match and being recognized as the new NWA World Heavyweight Champion. At the time, Rogers was working at two different jobs in Chicago, but he never walked into work again according to his autobiography. Many promoters felt that Rogers favored northeastern promoters over other territories. Promoters and noted shooters Bill Miller and
Karl Gotch Charles Istaz (August 3, 1924 – July 28, 2007) was a Belgian-born German-American professional wrestler and trainer, best known by his ring name Karl Gotch. In Japan, Gotch was known as the "God of Wrestling" due to his influence in shaping the ...
confronted Rogers in Columbus and broke his hand. Rogers sustained another injury in
Montreal Montreal ( ; officially Montréal, ) is the second-most populous city in Canada Canada is a country in the northern part of . Its extend from the to the and northward into the , covering , making it the world's . Its southern and w ...

Montreal
against
Killer Kowalski Walter Kowalski (born Edward Władysław Spulnik; October 13, 1926 – August 30, 2008), known professionally as Killer Kowalski, was a Polish-Canadian Professional wrestling, professional wrestler. Kowalski wrestled for numerous Professional w ...
, which kept Rogers on the sidelines. Upon his return, the NWA voted to switch the title back over to Lou Thesz, who publicly disliked Rogers. On January 24, 1963, the match took place in Toronto. Rogers was hesitant about
dropping Drop, DROP, drops or DROPS may refer to: * Drop (liquid) Raindrops in a plant. A drop or droplet is a small column of liquid A liquid is a nearly incompressible fluid In physics, a fluid is a substance that continually Deformation ...

dropping
the title, so promoter Sam Muchnick put three safeguards in place to guarantee Rogers's cooperation. The first safeguard was formatting the match as a , rather than the traditional best two out of three falls. The second safeguard was his threat to give Rogers's bond away to charity, rather than returning the deposit to the dethroned Rogers. Every NWA World Heavyweight Champion was required to pay a $25,000 deposit to the NWA Board of Directors, before winning the
championship belt A championship belt is a large, extravagantly designed belt Belt may refer to: Apparel * Belt (clothing), a leather or fabric band worn around the waist * Championship belt, a type of trophy used primarily in combat sports * Colored belts, such ...
. The deposit was held by the NWA for the duration of the champion's reign. The third safeguard was Thesz, who could "take" the title if necessary. Ultimately, Thesz won the match and the title. Rogers was a co-holder of the NWA United States Tag Team Championship with tag team partner "Handsome" Johnny Barend. They won the championship on July 5, 1962 from Johnny Valentine and “Cowboy” Bob Ellis on Capitol Wrestling's regular Thursday night Washington, D.C. television show. Arnold Skaaland was a last minute replacement for Ellis whose flight was delayed and unable to get to the arena. With the championship on the line, Rogers and Barend isolated Skaaland whom Rogers forced to submit with his figure-four leglock to win the first fall. After Skaaland was carried from the ring on a stretcher, Valentine continued to fight alone in the second fall. Valentine fought valiantly, but was worn down by Rogers and Barend. Just when it looked like Valentine was going to succumb to the vicious attack of the heels the crowd erupted. The television cameras swung from a view of the ring to "Cowboy" Bob Ellis running down the aisle in street clothes and carrying a travel suitcase. Ellis jumped into the ring, applied multiple
bulldog The Bulldog, also known as the English Bulldog or British Bulldog, is a medium-sized dog breed A dog breed is a particular strain of dog that was purposefully bred by humans to perform specific tasks, such as herding, hunting, and guardin ...

bulldog
headlock A grappling hold, commonly referred to simply as a hold that in Japanese language, Japanese is referred to as ''katame-waza'' ( "grappling technique"), is any specific grappling, wrestling, judo, or other martial art grip that is applied to an op ...

headlock
s and pinned Barend to win the second fall for his team. The third fall featured everyone fighting inside and outside the ring. Finally, Ellis and Barend collided in the corner and knocked each other out. The
referee A referee is an official An official is someone who holds an office (function or Mandate (politics), mandate, regardless whether it carries an actual Office, working space with it) in an organization or government and participates in the ex ...
was distracted by Valentine trying to get into the ring as Rogers grabbed an unconscious Barend by his hair and back of his trunks and threw him on top of Ellis for the victory. Rogers and Barend defeated Valentine and Ellis in a title rematch at Madison Square Garden on July 13, 1962. They defended the championship until March 7, 1963 when they lost to Killer Buddy Austin and The Great Scott on Capitol Wrestling's regular Thursday night television broadcast. Rogers and Barend split briefly and feuded, but they reunited that summer to defeat
Bobo Brazil Houston Harris (July 10, 1924 – January 20, 1998) was an American professional wrestler Professional wrestling is a form of entertainment and performing art, which combines athletics with performance. It comprises of exhibitions, called ...
and
Bruno Sammartino Bruno Leopoldo Francesco Sammartino (October 6, 1935 – April 18, 2018) was an Italian-American Professional wrestling, professional wrestler, best known for his work with the WWE, World Wide Wrestling Federation (WWWF, now WWE). There, he held ...
in a best two out of three falls
tag team match Many types of wrestling matches, sometimes called "concept" or "gimmick A gimmick is a novel device or idea designed primarily to attract attention or increase appeal, often with little intrinsic value. When applied to retail marketing Once the ...
. During the Rogers-Barend feud, Rogers regularly teamed with a masked wrestler, The Shadow. Prior to his title reign with Barend, Rogers frequently teamed with the "Big O" Bob Orton. During the 1950s, Rogers's main tag team partner was The Great Scott.


World Wide Wrestling Federation and semi-retirement (1963–1969)

After Thesz defeated Rogers for the NWA World Heavyweight Championship, Northeast promoters
Toots Mondt Joseph Raymond "Toots" Mondt (January 18, 1894 – June 11, 1976) was an American professional wrestler Professional wrestling is a type of athletic exhibition and entertainment involving wrestling matches whose progress and outcome are planne ...
and Vince McMahon, Sr. withdrew their membership from the NWA and formed the World Wide Wrestling Federation (WWWF, now
WWE World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc., commonly shortened to WWE, is an American integrated media and entertainment company that is primarily known for professional wrestling Professional wrestling is a form of entertainment and performin ...
). The promoters felt that Thesz was not a strong draw in their territory, therefore the WWWF billed Rogers as their world champion as did Fred Kohler's Chicago promotion from January 25. Rogers was formally recognized as the first ever WWWF World Heavyweight Champion on April 11, 1963 when promoter and first WWWF President Willie Gilzenberg handed Rogers the WWWF World Heavyweight Championship belt on Washington D.C. television. Gilzenberg explained that Rogers won a wrestling tournament in
Rio De Janeiro, Brazil Rio de Janeiro (; ), or simply Rio, is the second-most populous city in Brazil Brazil ( pt, Brasil; ), officially the Federative Republic of Brazil (Portuguese: ), is the largest country in both and . At 8.5 million square kilome ...

Rio De Janeiro, Brazil
, although it was fictional. WWE.com currently cites April 25, 1963 as the beginning of Rogers's reign. Rogers was a top draw, but his reign was ultimately cut short by a mild heart attack which greatly hindered his endurance and in-ring performance. Vince McMahon, Sr. and Toots Mondt were in a panic and hid Rogers's medical problems. In an emergency title switch, Rogers put over
Bruno Sammartino Bruno Leopoldo Francesco Sammartino (October 6, 1935 – April 18, 2018) was an Italian-American Professional wrestling, professional wrestler, best known for his work with the WWE, World Wide Wrestling Federation (WWWF, now WWE). There, he held ...
in a quick 48 second match on May 17, 1963 in Madison Square Garden. The match had to be kept short for fear of Rogers having a major heart attack and dying in the ring. After putting over Sammartino, his health problems forced Rogers to wrestle in only a limited number of short singles matches that lasted a minute or two. He participated in a few tag team matches with partner Handsome Johnny Barend where he spent almost the entire match in his corner on the ring apron while Barend did the wrestling. Rogers defeated Hans "The Great" Mortier in less than a minute with the figure-four leglock in Madison Square Garden and teamed with Handsome Johnny Barend to take two out of three falls via pin from Sammartino and Bobo Brazil, with Rogers pinning Sammartino for the final fall. The big rematch was to be held October 4, 1963 at Roosevelt Stadium in Jersey City, New Jersey. The tickets were printed with Rogers–Sammartino on them. However, it was announced that Rogers was retiring and
Gorilla Monsoon Robert James Marella (June 4, 1937 – October 6, 1999), better known by his ring name A ring name is a type of stage name used by an athlete such as a Professional wrestling, professional wrestler, Mixed martial arts, mixed martial artist, or ...
, who had won a tournament, got the title shot that night. In 1966–1967, Rogers wrestled in 18 short matches in Canada. In 1969, Rogers appeared in 19 quick matches in an Ohio-based promotion called Wrestling Show Classics before he realized his health was not getting better to the point where he could wrestle. He spent time on television talking with his former manager Bobby Davis. A decade later, Rogers would try to make a legitimate comeback.


Jim Crockett Promotions and return to WWF (1978–1992)

In 1979, Rogers returned to wrestling as a fan favorite in
Florida Florida is a U.S. state, state located in the Southeastern United States, Southeastern region of the United States. Florida is bordered to the west by the Gulf of Mexico, to the northwest by Alabama, to the north by Georgia (U.S. state), Geor ...

Florida
, although he was in his late 50s. He later moved up to
Jim Crockett Promotions Jim Crockett Promotions Inc. was a Family business, family-owned professional wrestling promotion headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina, United States. Founded in 1931, the promotion emerged as a cornerstone of the National Wrestling Allianc ...
(JCP) in the Carolinas as a villain manager managing professional wrestlers like
Jimmy Snuka James Reiher Snuka (born James Wiley Smith; May 18, 1943 – January 15, 2017) was a Fijian Americans, Fijian American Professional wrestling, professional wrestler. He is better known by the ring name Jimmy "Superfly" Snuka. Snuka wrestled for ...

Jimmy Snuka
,
Ken Patera Kenneth Wayne Patera (born November 6, 1942) is an American retired professional wrestler Professional wrestling is a type of athletic exhibition and entertainment involving wrestling matches whose progress and outcome are planned in advance, ...
,
Gene Anderson Eugene Avon Anderson (October 4, 1939 – October 31, 1991) was an American professional wrestling, professional wrestler and manager (professional wrestling), professional wrestling manager. He is best known as one-half of the tag team The Minn ...
,
Dewey Robertson Byron James John "Dewey" Robertson (February 28, 1939 - August 16, 2007) was a Professional wrestling, professional wrestler, known best by his ring name The Missing Link. As The Missing Link, Robertson wore blue and green face paint and shaved po ...
and
Big John Studd John William Minton (February 19, 1948 – March 20, 1995) was an American professional wrestling, professional wrestler and actor, better known by his ring name, Big John Studd. Studd is best known for his appearances with the WWE, World Wide W ...

Big John Studd
. His most notable moment during his run in the Carolinas was his feud with the new "Nature Boy"
Ric Flair Richard Morgan Fliehr (born February 25, 1949), better known as Ric Flair, is an American professional wrestling manager In professional wrestling Professional wrestling is a type of athletic exhibition and entertainment involving wrestli ...

Ric Flair
, before Rogers Flair on July 9, 1978. After his time in
Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling Jim Crockett Promotions Inc. was a Family business, family-owned professional wrestling promotion headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina, United States. Founded in 1931, the promotion emerged as a cornerstone of the National Wrestling Allianc ...
(MACW), he moved back into WWF where he was a fan favorite manager and part-time professional wrestler who also hosted the interview segment "Rogers' Corner" until 1983. Rogers was instrumental in helping
turn Turn may refer to: Arts and entertainment Dance and sports * Turn (dance and gymnastics), rotation of the body * Turn (swimming), reversing direction at the end of a pool * Turn (professional wrestling), a transition between face and heel * Turn, ...
Jimmy Snuka into a fan favorite, leading to Rogers managing Snuka for his feud with
Lou Albano Louis Vincent Albano (July 29, 1933 – October 14, 2009) was an Italian-American professional wrestler, manager and actor, who performed under the ring/stage name, "Capt." Lou Albano. He was active as a professional wrestler from 1953 until 19 ...
and
Ray Stevens Harold Ray Ragsdale (born January 24, 1939), known professionally as Ray Stevens, is an American country A country is a distinct territorial body or political entity A polity is an identifiable political entity—any group of people ...
. During the feud, Rogers broke his hip and retired from professional wrestling for good. His show was replaced by "Victory Corner", which would later be replaced by "
Piper's Pit Roderick George Toombs (April 17, 1954 – July 31, 2015), better known as "Rowdy" Roddy Piper, was a Canadian Professional wrestling, professional wrestler, Amateur wrestling, amateur wrestler, comedian and actor. In professional wrestling, Pip ...
". He would continue to make sporadic appearances in the WWF until 1984, right before the beginning of the Rock 'n' Wrestling era. He was set to wrestle yet another "Nature Boy", this time
Buddy Landel "Nature Boy" Buddy Landel (born William Fritz Ensor; August 14, 1961 – June 22, 2015) was an American Professional wrestling, professional wrestler. Early life Landel first became interested in professional wrestling when a friend of his sist ...
, in a comeback match for the Tri-State Wrestling Alliance (TWA, a predecessor of
Extreme Championship Wrestling HHG Corporation, doing business as Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW), was a professional wrestling promotion and media company that was based in Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The promotion was founded in 1992 by Tod Gordon and i ...
– ECW) in early 1992, but the promotion went out of business and the match never occurred.


Death

In early 1992, Rogers was weakened by a severe broken arm and suffered three strokes, two on the same day. He was not put on life support (as per request) and died a short time afterward on June 26, 1992, at the age of 71.


Legacy

Lou Thesz, Rogers's long-time colleague and frequent opponent, described Rogers's early impact in his memoir, ''Hooker'':
Rogers is remembered by fans and performers alike as one of the top all-time stars in the business, but it's probably not common knowledge just how influential he was... he broke into the business somewhere around 1941 as a hero-type personality, with little more going for him than a good body and natural charisma in the ring – which is actually a pretty good beginning – and he was a hit almost from the start. He had that indefinable something fans responded to, and he was sharp enough to build upon what he had, paying attention to what got a reaction from the fans. What evolved over several years was the "Nature Boy", the prototype of the cocky, strutting, sneering, arrogant peroxide blond villain that is almost a tired wrestling cliché today. Rogers invented the character, and I believe he did it better than anyone.Thesz, Lou, with Kit Bauman, ''Hooker: An Authentic Wrestler's Adventures Inside the Bizarre World of Professional Wrestling'', Mike Chapman, Editor (TWC-Press, 2000), pp. 95-96.
Thesz continued,
He was also one of the first guys to rely a lot on what we called "flying" moves in the ring – body slams, dropkicks,
piledriver Piledriver or pile driver may refer to: *Pile driver, a mechanical device used in construction *Piledriver (professional wrestling), a move used in professional wrestling Entertainment * Piledriver (album), ''Piledriver'' (album), a 1972 album by ...
s, ricochets off the ropes into his opponent, action moves that are commonplace today. All of those moves were in use before Rogers came along, but they were used sparingly; most of the wrestling prior to Rogers's emergence was done on the mat. Rogers was the first to use flying moves in quantity, staying off the mat, and the style was so popular with the fans that other wrestlers, including me, followed his lead.
Another Rogers contribution to modern professional wrestling was his bombastic interviewing style. Professional wrestlers might talk and converse with interviewers, but Rogers bragged and boasted about how great he was and how pathetic his opponents were. After winning the NWA World Heavyweight Championship from Pat O'Connor in Chicago in 1961, Rogers accepted the title belt and then took the microphone and shouted, "To a nicer guy it couldn't happen!". This type of bombastic style went over well with the fans and has been followed ever since. However, Rogers was not well liked during his prime years because he had a habit of taking advantage of opponents in the ring. During his prime years, he was known as much for his distinctive
peacock Peafowl is a common name for three bird species in the genera Genus /ˈdʒiː.nəs/ (plural genera /ˈdʒen.ər.ə/) is a taxonomic rank In biological classification In biology, taxonomy () is the scientific study of naming, def ...

peacock
-like strut as for his wrestling performance. He was also very skilled at drawing
heat In thermodynamics Thermodynamics is a branch of physics that deals with heat, Work (thermodynamics), work, and temperature, and their relation to energy, entropy, and the physical properties of matter and radiation. The behavior of these ...
during interviews, with a smug "to a nicer guy, it couldn't have happened" being his
catchphrase A catchphrase (alternatively spelled catch phrase) is a phrase or expression recognized by its repeated utterance. Such phrases often originate in popular culture and in the arts, and typically spread through word of mouth and a variety of mass ...
of sorts whenever he was victorious. He may have been the first authentic "charismatic" professional wrestler, who, along with almost equally charismatic Bobby Davis, would use cruel, yet hilarious, put-downs of his opponents, such as: "After I get through with him, he'll be back driving a garbage truck where he belongs". Almost like a tag team of pseudo-arrogance, Davis would incredulously say of Roger's opponents that they did not even deserve to be in the same ring as Rogers, bemoaning the fact that "this is a sport of kings!". Although he was viewed as a villain in most areas during most of his career, Rogers was always a fan favorite in cities throughout Ohio. This was probably due to his appearances for many years with the Al Haft Promotion who had their offices in Columbus. According to Thesz, Rogers, although admittedly an excellent professional wrestler and a superb showman, was a manipulative schemer behind the scenes and was fond of saying in private: "Screw your friends and be nice to your enemies, so your enemies will become your friends, and then you can screw them too". With age, however, Rogers mellowed and became a very respected veteran and spokesman for professional wrestling. Rogers had one of the longest consistent top drawing periods of any
main event In sports, a card lists the match A match is a tool for starting a fire BBQ. Fire is the rapid oxidation of a material in the exothermic chemical process of combustion, releasing heat, light, and various reaction Product (chemistry), p ...
er (15 years) and the ability to draw in several different territories successfully. In 1994, he was posthumously inducted into the World Wrestling Federation Hall of Fame
class of 1994 Class or The Class may refer to: Common uses not otherwise categorized * Class (biology), a taxonomic rank * Class (knowledge representation), a collection of individuals or objects * Class (philosophy), an analytical concept used differently ...
. Fellow professional wrestler Ric Flair from early in his career to the present day, adopted the "Nature Boy"
gimmick A gimmick is a novel device or idea designed primarily to attract attention or increase appeal, often with little intrinsic value. When applied to retail marketing Once the strategic plan is in place, retail managers turn to the more managerial as ...
from Rogers as a tribute to him. Even using Rogers's own signature move, the figure-four leglock, as his own, Flair even went as far as doing his own variation of the Rogers strut as well.


Championships and accomplishments

* American Wrestling Alliance ** AWA World Heavyweight Championship (Chicago version) (1 time) * American Wrestling Association (Ohio) ** AWA World Heavyweight Championship (Ohio version) (3 times) * American Wrestling Association (New England) ** AWA Eastern States Heavyweight Championship (1 time) *
Capitol Wrestling Corporation Capitol Wrestling Corporation Ltd. was an American sports promotion company. It was run by Vincent J. McMahon from 1953–1982. Operating as the Capitol Wrestling Corporation (CWC), the company was originally a professional wrestling Prof ...
** NWA United States Heavyweight Championship (Northeast version) (1 time) ** NWA United States Tag Team Championship (Northeast version) (
2 times "2 Times" is a song co-written and recorded by United Kingdom, British Italian-based singer Ann Lee (singer), Ann Lee. It was released in March 1999 as the lead single from her debut album, ''Dreams''. The single entered and peaked at number two ...
) – with
Johnny Valentine John Theodore Wisniski (September 22, 1928 – April 24, 2001), better known by his ring name Johnny Valentine, was an American professional wrestling, professional wrestler with a career spanning almost three decades. He has been inducted int ...
(1) and
Johnny Barend John R. Barend (March 27, 1929 – September 20, 2011), better known as "Handsome" Johnny Barend, was an American professional wrestler. Early life Born in 1929 in Rochester, New York, Barend started wrestling as an amateur at the age of eight. ...
(1) *
International Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame The International Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame (IPWHF) is an upcoming American professional wrestling Professional wrestling is a form of entertainment and performing art, which combines athletics with performance. It comprises of ex ...
**Class of 2021 * Midwest Wrestling Association ** MWA Ohio Tag Team Championship (4 times) – with Great Scott (3) and Juan Sebastian (1) * Montreal Athletic Commission ** World Heavyweight Championship (Montreal version) (3 times) *
National Wrestling Alliance The National Wrestling Alliance (NWA) is an American professional wrestling promotion A professional wrestling promotion is a company A company, abbreviated as co., is a legal entity In law, a legal person is any person A person (p ...
**
NWA World Heavyweight Championship The NWA Worlds Heavyweight Championship is a world heavyweight championshipWorld heavyweight championship may refer to: * List of heavyweight boxing champions, World heavyweight boxing championship (professional) ** World Colored Heavyweight Champ ...
( 1 time) **
NWA Hall of Fame #REDIRECT NWA NWA or Nwa may refer to: Music * N.W.A ("Niggaz Wit Attitudes"), a hip hop group from Compton, California, US * New Weird America, a subgenre of psychedelic and indie music, popularized in the '60s and '70s Places * Nwa, Kale, a vill ...
( class of 2010) * NWA Chicago ** NWA United States Heavyweight Championship (Chicago version) ( 1 time) *
NWA Mid-America NWA Mid-America was a professional wrestling promotion territory under the umbrella of the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA) that promoted shows in Tennessee, Kentucky and Alabama from the 1940s until 1981. The company was founded in the 1940s by N ...
**
NWA Mid-America Heavyweight Championship The NWA Mid-America Heavyweight Championship is a professional wrestling Professional wrestling is a form of entertainment and performing art, which combines athletics with performance. It comprises of exhibitions, called 'matches', held ...
( 1 time) *
NWA San Francisco NWA San Francisco was a professional wrestling promotion headquartered in San Francisco, California in the United States. Founded in 1935 by "The Utica Panther" Joe Malcewicz (1897–1962), the promotion joined the National Wrestling Alliance in 1 ...
**
NWA World Tag Team Championship (San Francisco version) The National Wrestling Alliance The National Wrestling Alliance (NWA) is an American professional wrestling promotion A professional wrestling promotion is a company A company, abbreviated as co., is a legal entity In law, a legal p ...
( 1 time) – with Ronnie Etchison *
NWA Western States Sports Western States Sports (also known as the Amarillo Territory) was a professional wrestling professional wrestling promotion, promotion headquartered in Amarillo, Texas in the United States. Founded by Dory Detton in 1946, the promotion enjoyed its ...
**
NWA North American Heavyweight Championship (Amarillo version) The Amarillo version of the NWA North American Heavyweight Championship was a top championship (professional wrestling), singles title in the National Wrestling Alliance's Amarillo, Texas territory, Western States Sports. It lasted from 1957 until ...
( 1 time) * ''
Pro Wrestling Illustrated ''Pro Wrestling Illustrated'' (''PWI'') is an American internationally sold professional wrestling Professional wrestling is a form of entertainment and , which combines athletics with performance. It comprises of exhibitions, called 'ma ...
'' ** Stanley Weston Award (1990) *
Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame and Museum The Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame (PWHF) and Museum is an American professional wrestling Professional wrestling is a form of entertainment and performing art, which combines athletics with performance. It comprises of exhibitions, ...
** Class of 2002 ( Television Era) * World Class Championship Wrestling, Southwest Sports Inc. **
NWA Texas Heavyweight Championship The NWA Texas Heavyweight Championship is a professional wrestling Championship (professional wrestling), title that has existed since the 1930s. Though its exact date of creation isn't known, it is among the oldest championships used in profess ...
(NWA Texas Heavyweight Championship#Title history, 7 times)*1 ** WCWA Texas Tag Team Championship, NWA Texas Tag Team Championship (WCWA Texas Tag Team Championship#Title history, 1 time) – with Otto Kuss * St. Louis Wrestling Hall of Fame ** Class of 2008 * WWE, World Wide Wrestling Federation/World Wrestling Federation ** WWE Championship, WWWF World Heavyweight Championship (List of WWE Champions, 1 time, inaugural) ** WWE Hall of Fame, WWF Hall of Fame (WWE Hall of Fame (1994), Class of 1994) * ''Dave Meltzer#Wrestling Observer Newsletter, Wrestling Observer Newsletter'' ** Wrestling Observer Newsletter Hall of Fame (Wrestling Observer Newsletter Hall of Fame#Inductees, Class of 1996) * Other titles ** Maryland Eastern Heavyweight Championship (3 times) ** World Heavyweight Championship (Jack Pfeffer version) (4 times) *Victory Championship Wrestling **VCW Hall of Fame (Class of 2018) 1 Five of Rogers's six reigns with the NWA Texas Heavyweight Championship occurred before the title came under the control of the NWA and before the NWA was created. The situation is the same regarding Rogers's reign with the NWA Texas Tag Team Championship.


References


External links

* *
WWE Hall of Fame profile
{{DEFAULTSORT:Rogers, Buddy 1921 births 1992 deaths 20th-century American male actors American male professional wrestlers American people of German descent NWA World Heavyweight Champions Professional wrestlers from New Jersey Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame and Museum Sportspeople from Camden, New Jersey WWE Hall of Fame inductees WWE Champions