The Fabulous Freebirds: The Greatest Tag Team In Pro Wrestling History

'Rowdy' Ross RutherfordSenior Analyst IAugust 19, 2010

This article is part of a Creature vs. Creature were the writing community here on the Bleacher Report picks a topic to debate on. This time we have decided to discuss which tag team is the greatest tag team of all time.  I have chosen to write about the Fabulous Freebirds.  Be sure to keep your eye out for other writer’s articles.

My decision to pick the Fabulous Freebirds was an easy one. I am from Texas and a huge fan of Texas wrestling history and the Freebirds are a huge part of Texas wrestling history without a doubt.

 I think Texas has the richest wrestling history in the entire world, with the exception of the country of Canada which takes it’s wrestling almost as seriously as hockey.

Texas has been home to legends like the infamous Von Erich family, Dusty Rhodes, Steve Austin, Eddie Guerrero, The Undertaker, Shawn Michaels, JBL, Terry Funk, and it has also served as the birthplace of one of the most infamous and revolutionary teams in the history of pro wrestling known as the Fabulous Freebirds.

The original three members in 1979 were Michael “P.S.” Hayes, Terry Gordy, and Buddy Roberts. These were the only members of the group for about ten years. Jimmy Garvin would later join the team permanently after Buddy Roberts retired when the group left Oklahoma’s UFW when WCW purchased it. A tag team with more than two members was a rare occurrence in professional wrestling at the time, so the mere formation of a three piece team in 1979 was an innovation in of itself.

While Ric Flair and his group, the Four Horseman, often get credit for creating the first successful stable in professional wrestling; I believe Hayes, Gordy, and Roberts beat him to the punch by nearly 7 years. However, the Freebrids have always been considered a tag team even though they always had more than two members.

The Fabulous Freebirds' single most famous feud came fairly earlier in the team’s existence and lasted off and on for a majority of the group’s existence and was during their time in the Dallas based World Class Championship Wrestling ran by the infamous Fritz Von Erich. The feud started when Kerry Von Erich was having a World Championship match in a steel cage with Ric Flair.  Hayes was the official and ended up trying to help Kerry win the title, but the proud Von Erich did not want to win like that. This ended with the Freebirds costing Kerry the victory and beginning one of the most legendary tag team feuds in wrestling history.

This feud is also well known for being one of the most violent feuds in pro wrestling history. 

Watch: The Fabulous Freebirds vs. The Von Erichs in a Street Fight (June 5, 1984)

Not long after this match the Freebirds had a stint in the WWF. However, there stint was cut short due to creative differences.

How is this for loyalty? When the Fabulous Freebirds were in the WWF in 1984 the officials wanted to split them apart. Instead of sticking around and wrestling as singles performers the group left the WWF over the incident and continued wrestling as a tag team elsewhere. I really admire the guys for deciding to keep the group together instead of doing what creative officials wanted of them. That is when a tag team is more than just a group of guys, they’re a family.

Making the decision to leave the WWF so they could all remain together proved to be a wise decision as the group traveled to the legendary AWA promotion. While there they had a notable rivalry with the Road Warriors even costing them the AWA Tag Team Championships to future Freebird member Jimmy Garvin and Steve Regal. The two groups had several tag team matches while in the AWA. It is really amazing to see these two teams ability to work the crowd.

Watch: The Fabulous Freebirds vs. The Road Warriors (Superclash 1985)

The Freebirds later spent some more time with the UFW until it was purchased by WCW in 1987. This is when Buddy Roberts decided to end his wrestling career and Hayes and Gordy restarted the Freebirds with Jimmy Garvin during their time in WCW in the late 1980s.

After experiencing a great bit of success in WCW the team ended for what seemed like the last time.

However, the Fabulous Freebirds' last official match was at the Kerry Von Erich’s tribute show under the banner of the Global Wrestling Federation based out of Dallas, the same place the Von Erich’s WCCW was founded, in 1993 and the faced Kerry’s young brother Kevin and his tag team partner Chris Adams.

It is sad that the legendary Von Erich/Freebirds feud ended with only one Von Erich living to tell the story of this amazing rivalry that is still talked about by my very own grandfather who got to witness live WCCW events that the Freebirds and Von Erichs performed at.

While the Freebirds are most notable for innovating tag team wrestling and being some of the most charismatic guys in wrestling at the time, they did not have any trouble winning championships either.

Hayes, Gordy, and Roberts held tag team championships everywhere. They won titles in Bill Watt’s UFW based in Oklahoma (Before WCW bought them), Fritz Von Erich’s Dallas based WCCW, the NWA, WCW, and even held titles in several NWA owned Georgia based territories. However, the legacy of the team is mostly measured in their innovation of the sport and not their numerous accolades as with most other tag teams in the Creature vs. Creature, but that doesn’t mean the guys never held any titles, because as you can see they did.

While newer teams like the Hardys, Edge & Christian, and the Dudley Boys were all great teams and deserve a lot of credit for their contributions to the ladder match, tag team wrestling in the WWE, and holding tons of tag team championships, they cannot match the sheer innovation or the legacy that the Fabulous Freebirds have left.

The accomplishments they have achieved will always be there, but their forward thinking and ability to do new and creative things have truly shaped what wrestling has become today.

Hayes, Gordy, and Roberts also happened to be some of the most charismatic guys I have ever seen wrestling in the early 80s. They oozed charisma and they lived to get a reaction out of the crowd.

They paved the way for the newer teams in this competition and without the Fabulous Freebirds there would be no Team Extreme, or any of those other teams that people so often associate as being the best of this generation.

The problem is everyone seems to think that this generation is the best and that is not always the case. It certainly isn’t in this case in terms of tag team wrestling.

The Freebirds' innovation on tag team wrestling and pro wrestling in general will be felt forever.

The Fabulous Freebrids were one of the earliest groups to use music during their entrance. They used Lynyrd Skynyrd’s famous song “Free Bird” (which inspired the Freebirds' name) and Hayes’s own “Bad Street USA” to play them out to the ring. This trend would continue and evolve and now every wrestler in a major wrestling organization has their own video package and music to play them out to the ring.

 While Gorgeous George might have done it first the Freebirds brought it back and did it better by using the popularity of famous rock music to get the crowd exited for what they were about to see.

This was only the tip of the iceberg of what the Fabulous Freebirds have done to forever change the sport of pro wrestling.

Another innovative thing that the Fabulous Freebirds can take credit for is inviting the “Freebird Rule” in which a group or a stable can defend their tag team titles using any 2 members of their group on any given night. This practice has been repeated dozens of times by teams like The Midnight Express, the NWO, Spirit Squad, and countless other teams. The Freebirds were truly innovators and trendsetters.

While I do feel, without a doubt, that the Fabulous Freebirds are the greatest tag team in professional wrestling history and I do feel the other teams that are being represented in this Creature vs. Creature contest are great tag teams, I feel that several legendary teams have been overlooked so I want to take moment to spotlight other teams that have made an impact on the industry:

  • The Midnight Express: One of the greatest tag teams in NWA history and their accolades speak for themselves. Even this legendary tag team was influenced by the Fabulous Freebirds making use of their infamous “Freebird Rule”.
  • The Rock N’ Roll Express: Ricky Morton and Robert Gibson are just as successful and legendary as their fellow NWA tag team alumni team, The Midnight Express, if not more so. They have wrestled everywhere.
  • The British Bulldogs: Davey Boy Smith and the Dynamite Kid may not have been as successful as their Canadian cousin’s The Hart Foundation, but that doesn’t mean they weren’t just as talented.
  • The Steiner Brothers: During the early days of WCW they were the team to beat.

Those teams are great and all of them made a name for themselves in different ways and they are a very important part of wrestling history, but the Fabulous Freebirds are still much more influential and overall left a legacy that few, if any, other team has ever matched.

They have made their mark on pro wrestling and their legacy and impact will be felt forever...

"To me, there's nothing freer than a bird, you know, just flying wherever he wants to go. And, I don't know, that's what this country is all about, being free. I think everyone wants to be a free bird."

—Ronnie Van Zant (Original lead singer of Lynyrd Skynyrd)


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