My Buddy: The Underrated “Nature Boy” Of Wrestling

Growing up a major wrestling fan in the 1980s, I tried to watch as many of the territories I could (for those that may not know, as opposed to today, there were many wrestling leagues throughout the U.S. and Canada before the WWE bought most of them out).  As a kid in junior high when I started watching, I was usually cheering for the fan favorites, aka the “Faces,” such as Hulk Hogan, Sting, and The Rock N Roll Express among many. However, there were a few of the bad guys, called “Heels,” that I always cheered for, like managers Jim Cornette and Bobby Heenan, and wrestlers like Nick Bockwinkel, The Midnight Express, Curt Hennig, and Bill Dundee (when they were Heels-they were also Faces too in their career) There was an wrestler who I enjoyed watching as a heel and thought he was so underrated, and that was “The Nature Boy” Buddy Landel.

Newer fans may not know that many wrestlers used the same nicknames when they were in the different territories, unlike today where a wrestler would leave, the league has copyright property to the name (there are times when the wrestler owns their name, but that is becoming rare).  This is why when fans think of “The Nature Boy” gimmick, they think of Ric Flair. Flair actually took the gimmick from Buddy Rogers, who was the first WWWF Champion in 1963 (losing to Bruno Sammartino) and the NWA Title in 1961. Other “Nature Boy” wrestlers were Flair, Paul Lee, and Landel.

Landel started wrestling in 1979 in Bill Watt’s Mid South territory, where he started out as a jobber and caught my eye when he joined Jim Crockett’s NWA in 1985. I remember my first issue I ever bought of the wrestling magazine Pro Wrestling Illustrated covering the Great American Bash of 1985 (before Supercards on PPV, this was Crockett’s big summer card). At the time, Landel was teaming with Cowboy Ron Bass as part of J.J. Dillon’s stable. The storyline started that Dillon was paying more attention to Landel than Bass, which created Bass to turn good and face Landel at the Bash, which was declared a draw. Although some people thought of Landel as a fake Ric Flair, I loved watching his matches and interviews at the time, along with his “corkscrew elbow,” which set up his other finisher, the Figure Four, which Flair and Rogers also used. Wikipedia writes that a match in 1985 between Flair and Landel broke a North Carolina record held by Elvis Presley, so Landel wasn’t just a wanna-be star.

Landel won the NWA National Heavyweight Title at Starrcade 1985 in a decent match against Terry Taylor, when Dillon grabbed Taylor’s foot when Taylor was trying to do his finish, a superplex off the ropes. I remember the NWA showing the match on free TV after the card weeks later, and even then I was rooting for Landel over Taylor, which went against most of my young views that the Heels were bad.

Landel left the NWA when he refused to show up for a TV Taping on time and was fired that day. Landel said on a podcast later that he was tired of the management and other wrestlers playing politics, although he admits that he was having drug problems on top. He claims on that podcast that plan was that NWA Champion Flair was to drop the belt to Landel, and he was to either drop the belt to Magnum T.A. or Tully Blanchard. He also states that Blanchard’s manager at the time, Baby Doll, was to manage him, while Tully was to be paired up with Dillon. Nonetheless, Landel was fired from what was his shot at the big time.

Landel then went to the Memphis area in 1986, and then back to WCW (for a small time), before going to Smoky Mountain Wrestling, and the WWF before getting injured, and released. Landel’s time in Jerry Lawler’s Memphis area was very exciting, where he had some of his best work, especially teaming with Bill Dundee. One of my favorite spots at this time was when Landel and Dundee decided that they would announce the matches themselves, instead of Dave Brown and Lance Russell, and brought out their own table that had a sign titled “The Bill and Buddy Show.”  I remember watching this 1986 Memphis run with Landel and Dundee fighting Lawler and Dutch Mantel.  This territory was so different from the WWF, AWA, World Class, and NWA that I was used to, and was actually annoyed when my TV Station would pre-empt the show during some weeks where I live in Ohio.

Landel was a major reason, along with The Rock N Roll Express and Jim Cornette, that I was a huge fan of the Smoky Mountain Wrestling territory in the 1990’s, run by Cornette.  Just like the Memphis TV Show, I was not able to see Smoky Mountain every week, but with the Internet, I have gotten see every Smoky Mountain show in order. Landel came in Smoky Mountain in 1992, and then again in 94-95 before the league closed. Landel was the Smoky Mountain Champion as a Heel, and right before they closed, Landel was a Face, going against Cornette’s Militia group. I asked Cornette via his podcast, “Corny’s Drive Through” Podcast on MLW Radio (March  14, 2017) if there was plans for Landel to win back the title if the league didn’t close. Cornette said that was the plan. A memorable Smoky Mountain moment was an interview Landel gave admitting to his past mistakes with drugs and being unreliable to the bookers. His run in Smoky Mountain, especially his second run, included a great match with  WWF Intercontinental Champion Shawn Michaels. His WWF run included matches against Bret Hart, a young Matt Hardy, and HHH.

One interesting time in his career that I forgot about, but then rediscovered, was his time in USA Championship Wrestling in Knoxville, Tennessee (1988), run by Ron Fuller. Landel was usually paired with Hector Guerrero. This TV Show was interesting because the wrestlers sat at the announcer’s desk for their interviews. Several of the Smoky Mountain Wrestling stars were here at the time, such as The Armstrong Family, The Mongolian Stomper, and Ron Wright. The wrestling was decent, ( I believe it ended up being a part of Continental Wrestling) but Landel’s character was that he had an injured arm and wore a black arm band, that he “loaded” it with some foreign object. Although the fans bought into the gimmick, yelling at the referee every time Buddy would turn his back to the ref, I think it diminished the fact that Landel really was a great in ring worker that did not need to use a cheap prop gimmick to get over.

Buddy Landel was one of the most underrated wrestlers of the 1980s-1990s. He was still wrestling Indy Shows after he was released from the WWF. He had a short stint in the AWA in 1987 as well.  Some of the big names he wrestled during his career were: Magnum T.A., Sting, King Kong Bundy, Tommy Rich, Jerry Lawler, Tully Blanchard, Bobby Eaton, Ron Bass, Kamala, Jim Duggan, The Rock N Roll Express, and more.

I asked Hall of Fame Announcer Jim Ross, via his website, his opinion of Landel and if he was underrated. He replied, “ Buddy was a naturally talented wrestler whose own demons hurt him but Buddy was a good hand without question.”

I also asked Slam Sports Wrestling’s Producer and Author Greg Oliver (who helped give me my break in writing about wrestling) his views on Landel. Oliver writes via email:

Buddy Landel was criminally underrated as a performer. He had all the skills to make it to the top — look, microphone skills, in-ring magic (the story he told me for The Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame: The Heels about wrestling The Invisible Man is proof he could do anything). What he didn’t have was discipline or his head screwed on straight. To his credit, he always owned up to his shortcomings later in life, never bemoaning what could have been.

 

Buddy Landel died in 2015, at the age of 53, due to complications of a car accident.  Even though he was one of the few “Nature Boys,” his work and interview skills were not of a cheap knock off. Wrestling fans, go back and discover this talent. He was not only one of my favorite wrestlers growing up, but even now, going back and watching his matches still entertains me.

If you’d like to be notified when a new post comes up, click the “Follow Button” and fill out the form. I do not see the information. Or better yet, tell your friends about this page! (Or tell a wrestler to really help my numbers!!)

 

A special thanks to Greg Oliver for helping contribute to this page.

You can find Greg Oliver, and the rest of the great Slam Sports Wrestling writers, at http://slam.canoe.com/Slam/Wrestling/home.html

Jim Ross at http://www.jrsbarbq.com , and Jim Cornette’s Podcasts at http://www.mlwradio.com .

 

Here is another one of Landel’s best promos.

 

 

 

 

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Review: Nelson’s Stranglehold on the Book World

 

 

StrangleholdEvery day when I was in junior high and high school, , I would run home and turn on ESPN to watch the daily wrestling shows that they aired, either World Class Championship Wrestling (WCCW) from Texas or one of my favorites, the American Wrestling Association (AWA) out of Minneapolis area.  Every day the AWA was on, I’d see announcer Larry Nelson welcome me to an hour of wrestling that was different from Vince McMahon’s WWF at time. The AWA focused more on wrestling and less on comedic characters, which was exciting for me (I loved all wrestling, but I still love watching the AWA).

This is the second time I have read Larry Nelson’s book, titled “Stranglehold: An Intriguing Behind The Scenes Glimpse Into The Private World of Professional Wrestling.” The book’s copyright is from 1999 by Chump Change Publishing. I decided to re-read the book after several mentions of Nelson have appeared on one of my favorite wrestling podcasts. The book has some good and bad in it, which I am going to review.

Nelson  (real name Larry Shipley) got his start in the radio business where he started interviewing wrestlers from the AWA as a way to boost ratings.  His first interview was Bobby Heenan who came into the studio thinking that Nelson wanted to fight Heenan. After the shows started to get popular, the station got pressured by the WWF to start having their talent on the air, not just the AWA Stars, which Nelson was not a major fan of because it was the AWA that helped them get started.  Through his work with the wrestlers on the show, he was hired to do some voice work for the AWA and some interviews, which led to his hiring full time with the AWA after the radio station dropped the wrestling show, which was on AM Radio, due to the popularity of FM Radio.

Nelson writes throughout the book about his partying habits (scotch and cocaine), which escalated by hanging out with professional wrestlers. When he was working on the interviews, which took place in Winnipeg Canada, the wrestlers would try to keep themselves occupied when on the road as well. Nelson writes about Rick Martel and Curt Hennig amateur wrestling each other in the hotel rooms, Larry Zbyszko would hide in his room and play the game Battleship, Nick Bockwinkel stayed in his room, and the wild activities of Wally Karbo, Stan Lane, and Road Warrior Hawk.

Nelson talks about his relationship with another AWA Announcer Ken Resnick, who was not liked by the other AWA Wrestlers or staff , and how Resnick walked out of the company the day of their big event WrestleRock,  after finding out that he was going to share the announcing duties with Nelson. Since the card was to have a concert to help promote the event, Nelson was asked to help suggest some acts due to his radio background. He suggested the rock band The Fabulous Thunderbirds, who were starting to break after the song “Tuff Enuff” hit radio. Owner Verne Gagne decided on Waylon Jennings due to his affordable salary and the music executives at the meeting also thought that Jennings could bring several fans of different genres to come to the event.

A few other great stories in the book talks about how wrestler John Nord and Greg Gagne (Verne’s Son) almost got into a fight at a interview taping over payment, Curt Hennig and Playboy Buddy Rose’s luck at the casinos when the AWA moved the tapings to Vegas, and how Bruiser Brody threw a mop bucket filled with vomit onto the owner of The Showboat Casino, where the tapings were held. He also describes the time The Midnight Rockers (Shawn Michaels and Marty Jannetty)  danced by themselves at a club, when NWA Champion Ric Flair tried to pick up and out drink Kathy Gagne (Verne’s son), and when Stan Hansen and Brody decided to go overhead bowling.

In re-reading the book, I was curious to see what Nelson’s take on the decline of the AWA.  He blames the major sign that the league was falling apart in competing with the WWF was the loss of the ESPN TV deal. He also states that when a toy company made the AWA action figures, the fans didn’t buy them and were a flop. He claims that he was never paid when the AWA made home videos trying to keep up with the NWA and WWF. Not being paid for his services, turning all his work into one day instead of three and four days, and bad business deals with Verne Gagne and other businesses all played a role in the league failing. Because of some of these events, Nelson decided to move to Florida with no notice to the AWA, and was then replaced by Eric Bischoff.

Larry-Nelson
Larry Nelson

The bad parts of this book deals with its editing. I know Nelson’s book is printed by a minor company or even self published company; however the editing could have been better. Most of the photographs “unless noted” are from Nelson’s personal collection, including the cover. The photographs, though, look like they were copied on a Zerox machine. Many of them are blurry, including the cover which features Nelson and Brody.

Another problem I have with the book is some of the inaccuracies in the book and typos. Nelson talks about wrestlers John Nord as “John Ord” and Michael Hayes as “Hays.”  He also says that Nick Bockwinkel vs Stan Hansen at WrestleRock was to be the rematch between the two, that Hansen “won the title from Bockwinkel in Chicago before a huge crowd”  (Hansen beat Rick Martel in 1985 in East Rutherford, New Jersey and WrestleRock wasn’t until 1986).  Another error stated in the book is Nelson telling the reader that the famous Bockwinkel vs Curt Hennig match that went an 1 hour draw on ESPN was “live from The Cow Palace in San Francisco” (It was at The Showboat Casino in Vegas in 1986, which is now found on the Curt Hennig WWE DVD).

Another match error in the book is when Nelson states that during the AWA merger with the USWA and World Class Wrestling, AWA Champion Jerry Lawler and Kerry Von Erich each won a match and wrestled two times.  “Lawler won the championship in his home territory of Tennessee, then wrestled Von Erich later in Texas, where Von Erich won.”

Just my research alone, Jerry Lawler beat Hennig for the title. He then fought Von Erich in a series of unification matches before the bloody SuperClash match. Lawler fought him in 1988 in Tennessee (which I assume this is the match he’s talking about) in 1988. Kerry and Jerry both punched the first referee for a DQ finish. The match was restarted by a second referee and Kerry pinned Lawler with a piledriver, which was banned in Tennessee. So Lawler was declared the winner by DQ, which in World Class Wrestling, the champion could lose the belt during a DQ. Both wrestlers left with their respected belts regardless.  Then there was a “Texas Death Match” at the Cotton Bowl in Texas, which the AWA refused to recognize Kerry as the winner due to a bias referee. Kerry then fought Lawler in Texas again for a TV Taping, where announcer Terry Garvin got involved when he threw a chair into the ring. The big match was at SuperClash, which Lawler won due to the referee stopping the bout due to Kerry’s bleeding. The way the writer writes Nelson’s take, Von Erich won the AWA Title, which he did not. And this was more than wrestling only two times.

Yet another error in the book details the ending of the AWA. Nelson says:

“A few key people stayed until the bitter end. Greg Gagne remained because he and his father, Verne, were the owners. Larry Zbyszko, who had married Kathy Gagne, hung on out of family loyalty. Nick Bockwinkel, with twenty years invested in the AWA, was also loyal to the end.”

Yes, Gagne and Zbyszko stayed (Zbyszko was the last AWA Champion), but Nick Bockwinkel was working as a road agent for the WWF in the last years he was in the business- the AWA folded in 1991, and Bockwinkel was in the WWF from 1987-1989. He was out of wrestling in 1991 from my research.  Bockwinkel even wrestled in 1987 at a WWF Show-a legends battle royal in the Meadowlands in New Jersey. This may sound like a small detail, but it shows that even Bockwinkel was gone from the AWA before it closed.

 

One interesting quote in the book is when Nelson talks about WCW, where Eric Bischoff was running the league at the time of the writing. Nelson writes, “If Bischoff’s ego trip continues, it is likely Vince McMahon’s WWF will win the current wrestling war.”  WCW ended up being sold to McMahon in 2001.

Overall the book is a good read besides some of the errors in it. Nelson very briefly states a sentence or two throughout the book about his partying, but it does not distract from the book, say like Sunny’s book did, which I reviewed for Slam Sports Wrestling (you can find that link in the March 2016 Archives at the side of this site). At 152 pages, one could read it in one sitting if one wanted. I do wish there were more stories about Bockwinkel, Zbyszko, Sgt. Slaughter, and others, but it is still filled with good tales. I think the AWA gets a bad rap in the wrestling world and whatever few books I can get on it, I’m going to enjoy it, and I enjoyed most of Nelson’s book.

 

A Special Thanks to The Great Brian Last for providing me with some last second information.

(Larry Nelson’s book is available at Amazon.com)

 

(Nelson, Larry and Jones, James. Stranglehold: An Intriguing Behind The Scenes Glimpse Into The Private World Of Professional Wrestling. Denver: Chump Change Publishing, 1999. )

 

 

The Hall of Fame Icon: My Salute to Steve “Sting” Borden

crow sting
The Crow Sting look.

 

It was 1986 when I first heard of the wrestler named Sting. I was in junior high school talking to one friend who was a wrestling fan (who I frequently traded old comics books for his wrestling magazines), and he told me of a guy in the UWF that had his face painted and was managed by “Hot Stuff” Eddie Gilbert. Since I was only familiar with leagues such as NWA, WWF, AWA, World Class Wrestling, and occasionally Mid South Memphis area, I did not get UWF on television, so I didn’t think much of it until 1987 when Sting appeared in Jim Crockett’s NWA after the UWF merged with the NWA.  From that day on, Sting became my favorite wrestler, especially after buying 1987’s Starrcade home video on VHS, where the UWF was featured merging with the NWA.

I remember cheering for him at the first ever Clash of the Champions on TV as he battled Ric Flair to a draw.  I loved his tag team with Lex Luger, and then when he and Lex fought against each other when Luger made many heel turns, even though I was a fan of Luger’s, I still had to side with Sting. Since I was mainly a WWF fan at that time, the very first Non WWF Merchandise I ever purchased was Sting’s “Fatal Encounter” T Shirt, which I wore proudly.

 

wcw merch 1
I still have my WCW Merchandise Catalog, where I got my first Sting shirt-the one that he is wearing here when I was in junior high.

There were many memorable matches Sting had in the early NWA days, from his TV Title run against The Great Muta, to him becoming a member of The Four Horsemen, and his U.S. Title and his World Title runs. He had great matches against Rick Rude, Cactus Jack (Mick Foley), The Dungeon of Doom, The Dangerous Alliance, and Vader (I never like Vader from the days I saw him in the AWA as “The Baby Bull” but when he went against Sting, I disliked him even more).

Most fans remember the Crow Sting, which was created once Hulk Hogan turned heel and started The New World Order.  Sting hid in the rafters of the arena, did not speak, not wrestling for almost a full year. This was my favorite incarnation of Sting. I purchased several black scorpion T Shirts that WCW (which was renamed after the NWA was sold to Ted Turner).  I taped WCW’s Monday Nitro and Thursday Night Thunder television programs every week while I was at college, while I had my parents tape WWF’s Monday Night Raw at their house. Normal wrestling fans started tuning into the Monday Night Wars between the WWF and WCW, each having their own favorite alliance. I also collected as many of the wrestling magazines that had Sting on the front cover or an article on him at this time.

Sting Mag Covers
A few magazines that I collected with Sting on the cover.

Even though Sting was the top guy in the WCW, never leaving to go to the WWE, when others WCW Stars like Flair, Luger, The Steiner Brothers all headed to McMahon land, he was stuck in several bad booking angles at the time, but still managed to work with what he had been given. Several bad booking ideas he was a part in was the Robocop association (which Sting made a great joke about it at his recent WWE Hall of Fame speech), The White Castle of Fear, the Barry Windham fake Sting (which was recycled years later during the NWO angles),  the infamous Shockmaster , his rotten program with Vampiro in WCW’s New Blood story, TNA’s Aces and Eights angles, and losing the TNA Tag Titles to NFL Football player Pac Man Jones, without Jones being allowed to have any physical contact in the ring.  Even though some liked the version of the Sting character, I never approved of the red faced Wolf Pac Sting. I thought I would see some great matches in 1998 when Bret Hart came to WCW and had a small program with Sting, but the booking somehow dropped the ball on this idea between my two favorite wrestlers.

wcw and christian mag covers
Some more magazines that I collected, including a Christian Magazine.

I enjoyed Sting’s TNA run with his matches against Kurt Angle, AJ Styles, Abyss, and Jeff Jarrett. I liked the idea of the original Main Event Mafia angle starting in 2008, but did not think bringing back the group in 2013 and including an MMA fighter in the group was a great idea.

 

 

sting dvd covers
My TNA DVD’s with Sting on the cover, and the WWE Blu Ray.

On a vacation trip to Florida in 2006, I got to see a TNA Impact TV Taping at the Impact Zone (where I met Jimmy Hart), hoping that I would finally get to see Sting wrestle in person, since the NWA/WCW did not come around to my area of Ohio that often. When WCW and TNA came to the Youngstown, Ohio area, Sting was not there at the WCW House Shows in 1998 and 2000 when I attended, along with the 2008 TNA show in Niles, Ohio.  Sting was at the tapings in Florida, but was up in the rafters doing promos, so I never did get to see him in action live.

sting t shirts
I kept one WCW T Shirt, and the recent WWE Shirt with Sting. I got rid of the WCW Scorpion shirts that I owned back in the day.

 

I was one of the few people that did not want Sting to go to the WWE after his TNA run was over. It was nothing against me not seeing my favorite wrestler again, but I did not think that the WWE would give Sting the character justice, must like Steve Borden (Sting’s real name) mentioned in a TNA Video, stating that the WWE buried former WCW wrestlers when they came to the league. Many people were critical of Sting’s Wrestlemania loss, which I admit I did not think the WWE made him look good and only wanted to promote their WCW footage on the WWE Network, Sting got his Wrestlemania moment that he claimed he wanted.  Even though some critics wrongly report this, Sting’s WWE Record ended up being 2-2, which was not that bad considering how little he was used.

Steve Borden ‘s appeal was apparent outside the wrestling ring as well with his acting. He appeared in his own movie about his life called “Moment of Truth “ in 2004,  2000’s “Ready To Rumble” and “Shutterspeed,” 1994’s “Thunder in Paradise” and 2001 “Walker Texas Ranger” TV Shows, and in Christian Films like 2011 “The Encounter,”  and 2013’s “Revelation Road” movies. He also hosted Christian Shows on TBN, and was in another movie called “The Real Reason Men Commit Crimes” in 1998, which is the only movie I never seen of his. I enjoyed the movie “Shutterspeed,” where he plays a cop , along with actress Daisy Fuentes. Not many former wrestlers or current wrestlers have had the skills or the exposure to be able to do that many movies at that time. I also enjoy the fact that Borden discusses his Christian faith in interviews and takes the time to do some of these movies, where several wrestlers would not. Not to judge them, but Borden is a great role model for people that look up to the wrestlers.

sting odd merch
A few odd books and DVDs . A signed photo that came with the Sting book/DVD “Moment of Truth,” WCW trading card, and his Christian film “The Encounter.”

There are many that wonder why Sting was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame, and some so called “experts” question whether or not Sting was a successful wrestler that brought in successful runs. I will only say that in my biased opinion, some of the people that are in the WWE Hall of Fame had less success that Sting did, and had a less time span that Borden did. Many wrestling fans dressed like Sting during Halloween and bought plenty of his merchandise. Sting was the face of WCW for years.  Some of his titles won were NWA Champ (1), TV Champ (1), International Champion (2), U.S. Champ (2), WCW World Champion (6), WCW Tag Champ (3), TNA NWA Champ (1), TNA World Champ (4), TNA Tag Champ (1), UWF Tag Champ (1) and WWA World Champ (1).  That’s a pretty impressive resume to me. Sting also was a select few wrestlers that have changes their images and still was successful with the times, no matter if it was blonde flat top surfer, The Crow, Wolfpac, Mafia, or Joker Sting.

Even though I never got to see the man in person, Steve “Sting” Borden will always be my favorite wrestler of all time (for those wondering Bret Hart is my number 2). I am glad he decided to retire at the Hall of Fame Ceremony. I did not want to see any further injury to him, and even though he did not get his WWE Match with The Undertaker (who he wrestled in WCW), Steve Borden still had a great career and hopefully I will see more of him in movies. Thanks for the great years Stinger!!

 

 

Nick Bockwinkel: A Tribute

When people find out I am a professional wrestling fan, they always ask me who my favorites are. I tell them Sting, Bret Hart, Curt Hennig, Nick Bockwinkel, and Bobby Heenan would be my top 5 growing up. We lost Hennig a while ago, and this weekend the news came that Nick Bockwinkel died at age 80.
For people who did not grow up watching wrestling in the 1970s-1990s, before the WWE became pretty much the only major league in the world, they were in the top 3, along with the NWA, and the AWA. There were other territories, but those were the big three. The champion of those three would travel to certain territories that were in partners with the leagues and trade talent every several months (for instance a wrestler who was in Minnesota would be sent to Oklahoma for 6 months if they promoters were under the AWA banner).

bockwinkel
Nick Bockwinkel AWA World Champion

Bockwinkel was one of the major staples of the AWA based out of Minnesota and under the promoter Verne Gagne. Before Vince McMahon Jr. started buying up the talent and going national with the WWF in the 1980s, the AWA had stars like Hulk Hogan, Jesse Ventura, Bobby Heenan, among others.
Just some of the talent Nick Bockwinkel wrestled in his day were: Bruiser Brody, Verne Gagne, Rick Martel, Ric Flair, Andre the Giant, Hulk Hogan, Terry Funk, Randy Savage, Jerry Lawler, Dusty Rhodes, Stan Hansen, and Magnum T.A. among others. Managed by Bobby Heenan in the AWA days, they were the perfect heel couple. They looked like they hung out together; both hailing from Beverly Hills, California, blond hair and wearing fancy suits.
Bockwinkel held the AWA World Title 4 times, along with the AWA Tag Team Titles 3 times with Ray Stevens, fought then WWWF Champion Bob Backlund , was WCW Commissioner and WWF road agent. He was also on the TV Shows Hawaii 5-O, The Monkees and was a winning contestant on The Hollywood Squares.
The thing I liked most about Bockwinkel was no matter if he was a heel or a face he kept a monotone voice when he talked during his interviews, using big words to convey his message, as opposed to some of the other wrestlers of the day who would yell and scream at their opponents. He was a classy heel, wearing suits during some of his interviews.

bockwinkel with whip
In the mid 1980s, I remember being able to watch wrestling every day of the week, with help from ESPN, which would air either the AWA or World Class Wrestling from Texas weekday afternoons. I remember Bockwinkel’s legendary feud with a Pre-Mr. Perfect Curt Hennig on those TV Shows, where one match in particular went a 1 hour time limit draw. Hennig beat Bockwinkel, with help from Nick’s rival/tag partner at times Larry Zbyszko handing him a roll of coins, for the AWA World Title. Hennig was a edgy babyface character until that match where he turned heel, which he carried the momentum with his Mr. Perfect character in the WWF. The matches with Hennig were not only entertaining matches, but great storytelling.
Bockwinkel was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2007, and also became the President of the Cauliflower Alley Club, which is a club for boxing and wrestling people.

heenan and bockwinkle
Bockwinkel and Bobby “The Brain” Heenan in the AWA

Bobby Heenan wrote in his first book in 2002 with Steve Anderson that Nick was “the only guy I know that if you ask him what time it is he tells you how to build a watch.” And that “Baron Von Raschke always told Nick ‘You’re living proof that a man can be educated beyond his means.’”
For the wrestling fans my age, they know what a talent Bockwinkel was. I always felt he was underrated when it came to best in ring technicians and interviewers. For those that missed out of that era, go to youtube and watch some of his matches (especially his ones with Hennig) and his interviews. It’s too bad I never got to see him wrestle live (the AWA never came around my area), but going back today and watching some of his matches brought back childhood memories of a true legend. I know that word gets passed around lightly, but it definitely fit Mr. Bockwinkel.