RF Video Shoot Interview with Buddy Landel

This shoot was filmed in 2009.

It runs at one hour and forty-eight minutes long.

The interview is conducted by Rob Feinstein


Buddy is first asked if he was a fan growing up. He said he was and watched the regional territories on Saturday mornings in Memphis. When in high school, Buddy’s sister dated Barry O. (brother of Bob Orton and uncle of Randy, as well as a long-time WWF jobber). Buddy was introduced to him and recalls a time when Barry came over intoxicated and tried to wrestle Buddy, who got the best of him. From that, Buddy got introduced to Boris Malenko.

Now he is asked if he was influenced by “Nature Boy” Buddy Rogers. Landel said that he never even knew who he was until he broke into the business. He also said he was a fan of Ric Flair but says that he primarily saw the Knoxville territory and as a result, never saw the other stars across the country.

Landel said he trained with Malenko for six months. He also said Malenko made you run five miles and do 500 squats and pushups without stopping before he would even teach you how to lockup. He said that everyone quit the first day except for him. Landel also said that it cost him $1,500 to train, which was a lot back in 1979. Buddy was just 17 years old then too. He said that Malenko training him gave him more opportunities because back then, whoever trained you was like your calling card. He notes that his friend, the Dirty White Boy, was training at the same time with Rick Connors, who Landel calls a good worker, but did  not have the same opportunities that he had due to training with Malenko.

He talks about living with Bob Roop as he was starting out. He said it was wild as he had no idea wrestling was a work because at that time, he was with ICW, an outlaw promotion run by Angelo Poffo and the wrestlers were carrying guns and feuding with the CWA (the promotion run by Jarrett and Lawler) then said that Malenko never broke kayfabe or smartened him up to the business.  He also said that the guys all stayed in shape and how Ronnie Garvin would tie his yacht across his waist and swim in order to keep up his physique.

Landel said that the psychology is harder to learn than bumps but adds that when it comes to psychology, you either have it or you do not. He finishes by saying if you do not, you will end up an opening match guy and that all main eventers need to have a good grasp on the psychology aspect.

His first match was against Bob Orton Jr. Landel said he was nervous and that Orton basically stretched him the whole match.

He was first asked to dye his hair blond while in Memphis in 1982. Landel said at the time, he was one of several young, generic babyfaces in the locker room and someone came up to him and asked if he would dye his hair blond and go work in Puerto Rico and he agreed.

While in Puerto Rico, he wrestled El Gran Apolo, who was a big, muscular guy. He said that it was hard to work with him as he wanted to shoot on you and be the star. He also said that Flair and Piper would come out for his matches and laugh because of the situation. When he returned to Memphis, Landel said that was when Lawler saw him and gave him the “Nature Boy” gimmick.

When he first worked in Memphis, Landel said that they had the “A” and the “B” team, which was referred to as the “Buttermilk Route.” Those were the small cities. He called Lawler one of the most talented guys in wrestling and said he could create any angle or gimmick. In regards to Jerry Jarrett, Landel said he was also a creative genius but he did not come around that often.

He talks about the schedule, which was Memphis on Monday, Lousiville on Tuesday, Evansville on Wednesday then spot shows on Thursday and Friday with TV on Saturday. They were off of Sunday’s.

Buddy then tells a crazy road story that took place when he was in Memphis. He was fired by Crockett in 1986 and sent to Memphis to “dry out.” Landel said that he got hooked up with a major cocaine dealer when he got there. He loaned him a gun, because the guy said he got into some trouble, but had no idea that he was a convicted felon and one day, the U.S. Marshals came to his parents home and took him because the dealer got busted with 33 kilos of cocaine and they traced the serial number of the gun and found out that it belonged to Landel. Landel then says that he was sitting in the FBI office along with Jerry Lee Lewis and the town’s sheriff. Landel said he was trying to think of a way to lie to the FBI and he got called in to speak. They asked him how the guy ended up with his gun and Landel said he had no idea because he barely knew the guy. The FBI agent told him he will give him another chance to answer the question then showed Landel footage of him riding with the dealer in his Cadillac snorting coke. The dealer was on surveilance for a long time.

He loves Dutch Mantel and said that he was with him the night that Bruiser Brody got killed in Puerto Rico. When asked about that day, Buddy said that he was having brunch with Brody, who reached his hand over the table and told Landel about how family mattered the most. He said looking back, it was almost like Brody knew he was going to die. He then says how the doctor originally told them that he bumped his head and was bleeding. He then came in a second time and said that a fan stabbed him and finally came in again and said that it was Jose Gonzalez who stabbed him. Landel then said the next morning, he saw Dutch in the hotel and asked how Brody was doing and that was when he found out that he died. That morning, Landel, along with Mantel, Sika, Abdullah the Butcher, and Tony Atlas, all decided to leave the island and head back home. Landel did say that he went back several times after that but it was never the same.

Landel is then asked what he believed caused the murder. He brought up how Brody always use to beat the piss out of Gonzalez in the ring and how Brody owned part of the company and then adds how Gonzalez just lost his kid before that and was probably not in the right state of mind.

Back to Memphis, he is asked about his memories of the “Bill and Buddy” show, with Bill Dundee. He said that he didnt remember it being that great but still to this day, people come up to him and want to talk about that. He calls Lance Russell a gentleman who was smart and never had a bad word to say about anybody.

He says that he had a wonderful relationship with Bill Watts. Landel said that he still talks to him regularly today. He then adds that Watts was very tough to work for and the travel was brutal because there were only a few highways. When asked if he ever got fined by Watts, Landel said that he holds the record. He wasn’t late a lot but did a lot of “stupid shit.” He said that he got fined $2,000 for rear-ending Butch Reed, totaling both of their cars and they ended up missing a show as a result. Watts said that he would then give him bonuses weeks later.

Landel said that the 1984 Mid-South roster was the greatest ever assembled in wrestling. He says it is his strictly his opinion then names all of the guys: DiBiase, Steve Williams, Duggan, JYD, Reed, Rock & Roll Express, Midnight Express.

When asked about JYD leaving in 1984 hurting Mid-South, Landel claimed that Louisiana was 70% black and that JYD was like a god down there, just as big as Hulk Hogan, and when JYD left, they didnt care about anyone else. Landel also added that it crushed Watts when he left.

He speaks about some of the guys he worked with in Mid-South. He said that DiBiase was a machine who really got the business. Landel said that he helped train Steve Williams and also wrestled him in his first match. Landel confirmed that he was really stiff in the ring. When asked about Jake Roberts, he called him one of the most talented guys around and is sad to see what happened to him. He had a lot of respect for Terry Taylor, who he said was one of the few faces that called the matches in the ring.

Landel talks about wrestling Flair in 1985, when he was just 23 years old and he was scared to death. He said that Flair squeezed his arm and he did the same to him but Flair slapped the shit out of him and the match began. He said that his matches against Flair sold-out. Landel said that he got a bit cocky after that. He said the money didn’t go to his head but the fact that he picked up wrestling so easily made him that way. He then said that it wasnt his lack of talent why he did not become more successful, which some people think.

Now, he is asked about ring rats. Landel said it was equal everywhere and there was never a shortage of girls.

When asked about his least favorite person to work with, he said it was Hector Guerrero, because they could never have a good match. He later added how he couldn’t wrestle Mexicans. He also said that Sonny King was the shits. Landel then said he could wrestle a broomstick then tells a story about how one night in Indiana, his opponent no-showed the event. Landel, who was drunk, then went out in front of the crowd and wrestled the “invisible man.” He said that he was backdropping himself and taking all sorts of bumps. His favorites to work with were Ric Flair, Shawn Michaels, and Brad Armstrong.

He is then asked about how he developed his promo skills. Landel said that in Mid-South, he would just look at the booking sheet and think about what happened the last time he was in the town. For instance, he said that he was cutting a promo for a match in a town that two weeks ago, he left bleeding from the forehead so he would put a band-aid on his head and go out and cut a promo because this was the first time they would see him on TV since that match. He said that he thought a lot and said that he thought as a fan, as to what he would like to hear and what would piss him off. When he got to the WWF, Landel said that it was all on cue cards and they were told what to say.

Landel said that JJ Dillon always tried really hard to keep him out of trouble. He then goes off on a mini-tangent about how everyone was using dope back then and he is not saying this to get anyone in trouble (he did not mention names). He then tells a story about how he met the winner of “Miss West Virginia.” Every night after the show, JJ would order a Domino’s Pizza and watched a TV preacher. As Buddy and the girl walk by the motel, JJ stood out there naked with the “do not disturb” sign around his pecker calling out for him.

He worked for Ole Anderson in Georgia. Landel said that he was a no-nonsense guy but also had a soft side about him too. Landel said that he was a good guy. Rob then tells Landel the quote from Ole Anderson in which he said that he could have put the belt on anyone and they could have drawn the same as Ric Flair, in an attempt to knock him. Landel said that’s bullshit because no one was a good as Flair. He adds when you saw him on TV, pull up in the car or at the airport, you knew that the champ was here and no matter how strong the television was, they couldnt compare to Flair.

Rob asks him to tell a story about the Iron Sheik. Landel said that he was sharing a room with him in Hawaii. Landel said he left the light on to the bathroom and was laying in bed. He heard the door open and thought he saw Sheik in the bathroom but then the light went out then turned back on immediately afterwards. Landel said that the Sheik brought up some 400lbs woman to the room and he could hear the mattress screaming when she sat down and he fell asleep. The next morning, she was gone and Landel tried to wake up the Sheik and pulled open the curtains and saw blood all over the place, including the ceiling. What happened was that the girl had her period that night and that morning at the airport, Sheik had blood all over his face.

When asked about rumor that he was supposed to win the NWA Title, he said that they were shooting a program in which he paired up with Baby Doll and JJ Dillon was going to be with Tully Blanchard. Landel said that he was told by Dusty Rhodes that Flair was going to take time off so he was going to get the strap. Landel said that he drew a ton of money and it was the most that the NWA had drawn (his feud with Flair) at that time. Landel said that they were scheduled to shoot the angle one morning but Landel partied all night then took a bunch of Valium to get to sleep and ended up missing the shoot. Dusty called him but Landel hung up on him. Crockett then called him up to tell him to get to the TV station but Landel told him not to fucking bother him and he hung up on him too. He finally showed up at noon and when he got to the station, Dusty took away his belt and told him that he didnt work here anymore. He was asked if he had any regrets and Landel said that he had a $100,000 in the bank at the time and Watts told him once if you have that much money, you can do whatever you feel like. He regrets it looking back but said that if it wasnt for the crazy shit that he did, this interview wouldnt be happening. When asked about Flair stating in his book that he never believed that he was getting the belt, Landel said that Flair has selective memory about that.

He is asked about several guys he worked with. He likes Arn Anderson and apologizes for how he acted at a fan convention a few years ago when he was tanked. Landel liked Harley Race and tells a story of how in 1990 while in WCW, he was sitting at the bar with Harley. At that time, everyone was “H Bombing” everyone and as a result, would walk around with their thumb in their beers so they wouldnt be a victim. When he saw Harley, who was not covering his beer at all, if he was afraid of someone doing that to him, Harley told Landel that no one had the balls to do it to him.

Landel talks about a road while working for Crockett. JJ Dillon was riding in the front and Kendo Nagasaki and Ron Bass where in the back. He had a .357 Magnum under the seat and some guys in the convertible did something to him so he threw a gatorade bottle at their car so they retaliated and hit his car. Landel then reached under the seat and pointed the gun at them and fired two shots over their heads. He said that JJ was freaking out during this and the next day, Crockett called him into his office and told Landel to give him his gun.

When asked about Jim Crockett, he compares him to Tully Blanchard in that their dad’s both had good things going but they fucked it all up. He said that Jim and David fucked it all up and bought all sorts of shit but didnt have the money coming in to pay for it all. He also said that the only cared about the top guys and would idolize and worship Flair at the expense of everyone.

He calls Tully a prick (everyone seems to think this) and said that he was the type that would snort cocaine with you all night then rat you out to the office.

He now talks about the guys who are now preachers, like Tully and Ted DiBiase. He said that he will get asked to speak to kids by different organizations and when he tells them he has to think about it, they ask him how much he needs. Landel says that the gospel is not for sale and says that some people found another outlet in life to hustle money from people. He says that he likes Ted but didnt like how he bashed Vince and the WWE then went to go back and work for him. He believes that Ted should give an honest answer in regards to that.

Rob asks him about Billy Jack Haynes and his comment about how Crockett stiffed everyone on their Starrcade ’85 pay. Landel mentions Haynes’s shoot interview and said it is sad to see what happened to him. Landel said that one day, Sid was going to jump on him but Haynes yelled at him to “sit the fuck” down. Back to the payoffs, he gave a breakdown and said that Flair was the champ and would make 10% of the house each night, while the booking committee made 3%. He said that he and Flair broke an attendance record in Raleigh, NC that was previously held by Elvis Presley. When Landel was working with Flair, he said that he was making $3,000 a week while Flair was making close to $70,000. Landel said it was fucked up and they wanted him to be the Nature Boy but he couldnt afford the high-priced clothes that Flair always had. He said that was part of why he rebelled.

When he went back to Memphis, he knew the business was getting bad when they started to push Jeff Jarrett. He said that he helped train Jeff and loves him but the territory was repeating themselves a lot. He also said that Lawler going up to the WWF and doing his goofy shit on TV then trying to be tough in Memphis later that week also hurt the territory a lot.

He went to WCW in 1990 after calling up Ole Anderson and asking for a job. He said that Jim Herd was in control at the time and the guys were telling him that the business was changing completely and they were looking for young, muscular guys. He originally thought that he was going to work with Flair but got there and just did what he was told, nothing more. He also traveled with Tommy Rich and Ricky Morton at the time, which was a wild time.

Landel is asked about Sting. He says that he met him in 1986 while Sting was with the Ultimate Warrior as the Blade Runners and remembers telling someone that the business has changed so much that he wouldnt be surprised if they both became champions in two years.

He is asked why he left WCW. Apparently he had received a few warnings from the company but tells a story about a night in Detroit. He had to get carried out of a bar by Brian Pillman and Butch Reed because he was so shitfaced. They took him back to the hotel and Landel said he remembers Reed pissed him off so he called him a “nigger” and as a result, Reed hit him in the jaw. Landel said that he got hit so hard that he flew out of his shoes and went up in the air and landed in a flower bed. When Landel got up, he told Reed that he was going to call the police. He then proceeded to go into the lobby of the Radisson and took the flowers out of the pot and took a piss. He saw two girls at the desk and said goodnight before putting the flowers back into the pot so they called the police and they all got booted from the hotel.  Landel said that he and Reed were always tight and close. This was his final warning.

Landel that is final straw with the company was at the Safari Club in Baltimore. Some guy asked him to dance with his girl and politely declined. Outside of the club, the girl flipped out on him and swung at him with her shoe and missed. Landel said that he told the manager if she did it again, he was going to drop her and when she did, he blew snot at her but it went all over the manager and a few days later, he got a Fed Ex package that said he was suspended until further notice without any compensation. Rob said that he was actually there that night .

He liked working for Joel Goodheart in TWA. He said that he liked working up North, as the people treated him good and appreciated hard work. He is asked why he thinks he got over in the Northeast and Buddy said that he thinks they appreciate his smart-mouth comments.

When working for Smoky Mountain, he said it was great as he was home and around his family a lot. He was asked about Eddie Gilbert and he said that they were born on the same exact day and is still close to his family.

Buddy said that JYD’s death hit him the hardest then said that he was the only wrestler who went to his funeral, which still bothers him today. Landel said that in wrestling, you have acquaintances and very few friends. Landel said that is friends are Scott Putski, Doug Gilbert, Ricky Morton, and Bill Dundee.

He talks about how he got to wrestle Shawn Michaels in Smoky Mountain. Landel said that Cornette told him one day that he was shutting down the territory and going to bring him to the WWF but not to tell anyone. Shawn agreed to come down to the show, which Landel is forever grateful for, and they wrestled at the “SuperBowl of Wrestling” show.

In the WWF, Landel said that it was a first-class company and liked Vince. He was never told of any plans they had for him. He brings up the fact that he and Steve Austin started with the company on the same day.

Landel said that arrived to the WWF a day early and that was when he arrived to the locker room and overheard Shane Douglas argue with Vince about putting over Ahmed Johnson. He then saw Bruce Prichard walk out and Landel told him that if they needed someone to put over Ahmed that he would do it so Vince came up to him to confirm and after he put over Ahmed, Vince told Landel that he was going to put him over Bob Holly on RAW. Landel said that Bob Holly was pissed about that. The next match he had was against Matt Hardy and he hurt his back. Gerry Brisco went up to him and said that since Bob Backlund refused to put over Bret Hart, would he mind doing that. Landel said he jokingly told Brisco that he would only do it under one condition, that he got pinned in the middle of the ring. After the match, he went back to the hotel with the Bodydonna’s and Sunny then slipped on ice and wrecked his knee. The doctor told him that his career was probably over. Landel said that he only worked a total of two nights in the WWF.

He said that Chris Candido was a great kid and invited him over for dinner with his family. He also said that Sunny would never drink or use drugs while in Smoky Mountain and acted like a prude.

They go back to some other names. Landel said that Robert Gibson should have given half of his paycheck to Ricky Morton and joked that he did a great job holding up a ringpost. He said that Magnum TA was hard to work with. He said that he did 30 days of hour-long broadways with Ronnie Garvin, which he said was hell because he was so stiff.

When asked why other wrestlers have said he was cocky when he was younger, Landel said that he had an overabudance of confidence and perceived himself as being a good wrestler.

He is not surprised that Ric has unretired, because of all the alimony payments he has to receive, saying that he heard that he pays about $22,000 a month.

Landel said that he had a lot of health issues as a child. He also has spina bifida and asthma. He said that he always kept quiet about that.

Now, he is asked about working with Bill Goldberg in his first ever wrestling match. Landel said that he put over a lot of guys and said that he always built up the confidence of his opponent and convinced them that he was here to help him out and if they trusted him, the match will go over well. He came into WCW for that one match to get over. Terry Taylor called him up to come back but that was the day JYD died and Landel said he was a mess and told Terry he would call him back but nothing ever happened.

He said that TNA has never contacted him but he does not have any delusions of grandeur about becoming a full-time wrestler today.

When asked how he wants to be remembered, Landel said that he wants it to be someone who made a lot of bad decisions but was able to pull it together.

Landel said that he was not a ribber and more of a loner so does not have any that sticks out in his mind.

He talks about how he loves Facebook and uses it to talk with guys like the Undertaker and Cody Rhodes.

He does not want to write a book, as he doesnt want to say anything that could jeopardize anyone’s marriage.   

Final Thoughts: I thought Buddy was great in this interview. He did not hold back at all. At times though, he seemed to be making excuses for his behaviors in the past by stating that he was young and had no one to guide him but he has made peace where he is today in life. This was a guy who was washed up by the time he was 25 years old on the National scene and his feud with Flair was something that he was obviously not mature enough to handle.

I know I sound like a broken record but Feinstein did a bad job with the interview. For instance, after Landel told him how Flair was the greatest wrestler even in his opinion, Feinstein asks Landel if he thought Flair was overrated. Even Landel looked at him like he was a fucking idiot for that one. Someone better could have pried a lot more info out of him than Robby F. Even still, Landel was good enough to make this entertaining throughout.

I do recommend this video as it was a tale of a guy who fizzled out at a young age due to immaturity and never got a chance to realize his full potential because of his chronic stupidity.

Buddy Landell?

Scott,
I grew up a WWF kid, so watching old NWA/WCW is brand new to me and I'm curious what the deal was with "Nature Boy" Buddy Landell?  He dresses exactly like Flair, even had the hair but is essentially a curtain jerking jobber.  Was he a territory guy with the same gimmick brought in to feud with flair?   Why are there two guys with the same gimmick not feuding?

Here's another funny facet to the Budro story:  There is some shaky evidence that he might have been the guy in 1987 to get Ron Garvin's World title run, but he apparently got dinged with a drug test failure and thus lost his promised run.  The story differs depending on who's telling it.
Anyway, yes, Buddy was similar to Flair, but they were both kind of doing their version of Buddy Rogers rather than Flair originating and Landell copying the deal.  Plus they didn't tend to overlap and Landell usually had more of a comedy twist to his act.  I'd recommend seeking out The Bill And Budro Show on YouTube for some good examples.  
I always liked Buddy, but he was just such a colossal fuckup outside of the ring that he was never going to be anything past what he was.  

Historic Match of the Day: Buddy Rogers v. Pat O’Connor

I think this is an awesome historical curiosity. A bit dry at points (not unlike that **1/2 submission borefest between Punk and DB), but some good action that still holds up and it’s amazing to see Rogers basically invent the main event heel role that still exists today.

I’m pretty sure I said Punk-Bryan was ***, not **1/2.  And the submission stuff was pretty OK.  Let’s not misquote me here. Anyway, Buddy Rogers is probably the most massively influential guy in wrestling history as far as the modern style of worker goes (ie, Ric Flair and everyone else who copies him in turn, as well as Vince himself being a huge fan and stealing giant chunks of his act), and it’s too bad his career was derailed when it was, because he still could have hung around on top for a long time.