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Grimmas

'Nature Boy' Buddy Rogers

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I watched a few of Rogers matches yesterday, four matches from the Chicago film archives, including an absolutely fantastic match with Lou Thesz, and then a 61 match with Pat O'Connor and a 63 match with Killer Kowalski.

 

I've decided from this small enough sample that he's clearly amazing and as Bill says ridiculously smooth and should be in my top 100 but it'll be difficult to figure out where he belongs without more stuff to watch

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I've only seen a couple Rogers matches and haven't really dived into the Chicago stuff as much, but he's going to garner some consideration. He really was ahead of his time in a lot of ways and I feel like he's someone that could have hung with anyone in the ring in any era up through the 80's. Just a fantastic worker.

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I can see myself voting for Rogers. I've watched everything I can find of his, and he really does seem to have been a great worker, with an act he had perfected, and that really added a lot to his matches. As Tim said, you could probably drop Buddy in any era, and his shit would still look great, and completely modern. Very quick in the ring, very nimble, bumped well, his offence looked good, good punches, good shtick, charismatic. Doesn't stand out to me as a great technician for the era, and I preferred to see him work a more aggressive style, which he did very well. Does seem very much like a bridge between the golden age, and a more modern style of wrestling.

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Figuring out what to do with the golden age workers is the last thing I'll do before finalizing my list. I think Rogers will rank for me. The Thesz matches are amazing, and showcase that he is, at minimum, a very, very, very good tehnician with excellent character work and an all time great Dropkick and Piledriver. The O'Connor match is a five star bout in my opinion. The slams into the corner sounds mundane today, but he made them look really brutal and the corners not having padding probably help there as well. One of my favourite spots from the Thesz matches was when Thesz had him in a Hammerlock and he feinted a Snapmare counter only to pull his leg underneath him and counter it that way. That king of smart usage of redirection is something that makes me feel comfortable ranking him despite the small sample of his work we have. The Haystack Calhoun match was extremely important for me as well as it showed him carrying a circus act to a borderline great match.

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Something notable about that match is Rogers's complete revamping of his wrestling style from the 40's to the 50's. He goes from being a brawler with a couple of dropkicks in his arsenal to the well rounded "Nature Boy" who can work holds on the mat with the best of them.

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It should be noted that Buddy Rogers was probably the greatest babyface of the 1940's. He didn't turn heel until 1948 in Los Angeles. He introduce a style of working that was a lot of stand up and bouncing off the ropes. He created that style of flying wrestling, with flying scissors & atomic drops. Also did bumps over the top rope to the floor. So he wasn't just the Ric Flair of the 50's....he was the Ricky Steamboat of the 40's. Up until the mid-50's his training came from swimming, but he then turn to weight lifting....which led to more injuries. Slowed him down some too. By the time he was NWA Champ in 1961, the time period most membered today, he was hurting pretty bad & on his down side. The great working Rogers, was probably in the early 50's when he incorporated flying babyface moves with all the heel stuff he created himself. The wrestle copied by everyone from that period wasn't G. George, it was Rogers. He was the most copies wrestle in the history, even by those who don't know who he was today.

 

This is my first port here & I hope I wasn't out of line.---Steve Yohe

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On 10/6/2016 at 8:08 PM, Steve Yohe said:

This is my first port here & I hope I wasn't out of line.---Steve Yohe

 

Also, that is a great line about Rogers being the Flair of the 50s but also being the Steamboat of the 40s. That's pretty amazing to think about.

 

Do we know who Rogers cited as his influences?

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@Dav'oh has said they are considering Rogers for the top spot. Is anyone else considering him for the top 10? Rogers is near the top of the list of people I want to watch a ton of over the next 5 years. Everything I've seen has been incredible. 

Put over Buddy Rogers! Best Nature Boy, right? 

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"They worked a basic Hogan match."
"He worked a 70s NWA touring champ match."
"This was a transplanted PWG match."
"I just watched a Backlund/Patterson match."
"Saw a five star banger last night."

In reality, they worked and you watched a Buddy Rogers match. Rogers' greatest contribution to pro-wrestling was pro-wrestling itself. I implore everyone to read (if you haven't already), Max Jacobs' treatise on Buddy, regardless of your opinion of him. It's not a hagiography, it's a fascinating, must-read insight into the history of this great love of ours. Please find the time, you won't regret it.
https://docplayer.net/60648133-Buddie-rogers-and-the-art-of-sequencing.html.

And it's not just the sequencing that Buddy originated; he's credited with inventing the heel routine, too. Who has shaped this caper, this con, more than Herman Gustav Rhode Jr?  And one of my main criteria for "GREATEST" is where did your in-ring take the industry? Did you impact, change or influence the business for the better? Did you leave this sport a different place than when you entered it? Or would wrasslin be wrasslin, with or without you? We have Buddy Rogers above everyone else to thank for this magnificent, bizarre love we share.

And no, there's not a lot of footage of Rogers, but we've only got 1'14" of the Wright Brothers and 0'33" of Dick Fosbury....

Them's the bones of my contention for Buddy. My notes are strewn all over the shop and I hope to flesh this out sooner rather than later, but basically: Buddy Rogers didn't just give us the figure-four, the strut and Ric Flair - he gave us pro-wrestling itself. I don't think anyone can top that.

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2 hours ago, Dav'oh said:

"They worked a basic Hogan match."
"He worked a 70s NWA touring champ match."
"This was a transplanted PWG match."
"I just watched a Backlund/Patterson match."
"Saw a five star banger last night."

In reality, they worked and you watched a Buddy Rogers match. Rogers' greatest contribution to pro-wrestling was pro-wrestling itself. I implore everyone to read (if you haven't already), Max Jacobs' treatise on Buddy, regardless of your opinion of him. It's not a hagiography, it's a fascinating, must-read insight into the history of this great love of ours. Please find the time, you won't regret it.
https://docplayer.net/60648133-Buddie-rogers-and-the-art-of-sequencing.html.

And it's not just the sequencing that Buddy originated; he's credited with inventing the heel routine, too. Who has shaped this caper, this con, more than Herman Gustav Rhode Jr?  And one of my main criteria for "GREATEST" is where did your in-ring take the industry? Did you impact, change or influence the business for the better? Did you leave this sport a different place than when you entered it? Or would wrasslin be wrasslin, with or without you? We have Buddy Rogers above everyone else to thank for this magnificent, bizarre love we share.

And no, there's not a lot of footage of Rogers, but we've only got 1'14" of the Wright Brothers and 0'33" of Dick Fosbury....

Them's the bones of my contention for Buddy. My notes are strewn all over the shop and I hope to flesh this out sooner rather than later, but basically: Buddy Rogers didn't just give us the figure-four, the strut and Ric Flair - he gave us pro-wrestling itself. I don't think anyone can top that.

Isn't Gorgeous George the guy that basically invented heel gimmicks and wrestling?

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Jim Cornette was my source for the "heel routine" part, though he may have been referring to the specifics of Rogers' heel act. My understanding is there's always been heroes and villains, since nearly day dot; it's just that they didn't have "routines", they had ethnicities or ugliness. George's routine seems to be pre-bell, according to the essay I linked to above, and that essay also leads me to believe that Buddy is the not-so Missing Link between Frank Gotch and Roman Reigns. He gave us what we know and love as pro-wrestling between the ropes, whereas I see George's contribution as being to gimmickry alone. But I'm far, far, far, from the best man for the job.

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It is the 60 year anniversary of one of the all time great matches. Where do our old school experts stand on Buddy Rogers?

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On 5/27/2021 at 4:15 AM, ohtani's jacket said:

Gorgeous George was essentially a comedy worker. Buddy Rogers was the template for your Ray Stevens/Pat Paterson/Buddy Rose/Ric Flair style worker. 

But he worked some 60-minute matches. I don't understand.

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It's been a long time since I've watched that one hour Gorgeous George match. I would have to watch it again to see if I am under-selling him or if he incorporated both comedy and the Buddy Rogers style into his matches. 

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George Wagner was a great worker. Gorgeous George was an entertainer. The latter made a lot more money, hence the transition. Putting him in the same category as Rogers, Thesz, Gagne, etc, in terms of in-ring work, is a big mistake. 

As a passing observation, I'll note that Verne Gagne is the guy people sleep on from the 50s. Can get a good match out of anyone (better than Thesz at this, not quite Rogers level) and has, in my view, the best match from the Chicago archive vs Thesz on 1/25/52. Don't let old Verne from the later years fool you, there's a reason why he's considered the uncrowned NWA champion. 

 

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