|The Fabulous Freebirds|
|Members||Michael Hayes (leader)|
Badstreet (WCW Only)
The Fabulous Freebirds
|Years active||1979-1994, 2017 (reunions)|
The Fabulous Freebirds were a professional wrestling tag team that attained fame in the 1980s, performing into the 1990s. The team usually consisted of three wrestlers, although in different situations and points in its history, just two performed under the Freebirds name.
The Fabulous Freebirds started performing together in 1979 when Mid South Wrestling promoter Bill Watts put together the duo of Michael "P.S." Hayes and Terry "Bam Bam" Gordy. Though originally meant to be a tag team, he soon added Buddy "Jack" Roberts into the mix, and they became a "three man gang" type of tag-team--an unusual concept at the time. They invented a concept that is now called The Freebird Rule in their honor, in which any two of three members can defend the team's championships. They usually worked as heels but also had several face runs as well. After wrestling for Watts in Mid South, they worked for Memphis based Continental Wrestling Association (CWA) where they feuded with Jerry Lawler and Bill Dundee.
The group next wrestled in the Dallas-based World Class Championship Wrestling (WCCW) territory, where they had a legendary feud with the Von Erichs (David, Kevin, Kerry, Chris and Mike). This feud was ignited by an infamous incident in which Terry Gordy slammed Kerry Von Erich's head in a steel cage door inciting a riot and igniting the legendary wrestling feud. During this feud, they started using the Confederate battle flag as a group symbol as the Von Erichs would wave the flag of Texas so they chose to use the flag of Georgia, which at the time contained the Confederate battle flag, to counter it.
They also performed in the NWA-affiliated Georgia Championship Wrestling (GCW) and World Championship Wrestling (WCW), the American Wrestling Association (AWA), and the Oklahoma-based Universal Wrestling Federation (UWF). While in the AWA they feuded primarily with The Road Warriors, costing them the World Tag Team Titles in a match against long time Freebird ally Jimmy Garvin and his partner Steve Regal.
They had a very brief run in the World Wrestling Federation (WWF) in 1984, where they were a part of the Rock 'n' Wrestling Connection period. In the WWF, they wrestled under the guidance of Cyndi Lauper's manager David Wolff, but soon left the promotion after an altercation with André the Giant, who was upset when the Freebirds arrived late to a show.
The group then moved on to their AWA run, returned to World Class, and then started a stint in the UWF where Gordy became the promotion's champion, Roberts held its TV title, and Hayes usually acted as their manager or served as a heel commentator on television broadcasts. After JCP purchased UWF in 1987, Hayes wrestled in World Class and several independent promotions, sometimes with Gordy, who began spending most of his time in Japan, and Roberts began to wind down his career.
Hayes and Garvin were paired as the Freebirds in WCW in 1989, enjoying several reigns as World and United States tag-team champions, and were joined by Gordy for a while as well. They later employed the services of masked third partner Brad Armstrong (under the name Badstreet) and managers Diamond Dallas Page, Big Daddy Dink, Little Richard Marley and Precious (Garvin's real-life wife and longtime valet). The Freebirds were last together when Hayes, Gordy, and Garvin worked for the Global Wrestling Federation (GWF) in 1994, ending the group after 15 years.
Gordy died of a heart attack, caused by a blood clot on July 16, 2001, at age 40 while Roberts died on November 29, 2012, at the age of 67, of pneumonia and on November 1, 2012, Armstrong died of a suspected heart attack making Hayes and Garvin the only living members of the Freebirds. Hayes (who retired from in-ring competition shortly after the Freebirds disbanded) is currently the head of the road agents/producers within WWE, while Garvin retired from wrestling shortly after disbanding and has become an Airline Transport Pilot.
The Freebirds concept was heavily derived from the Lynyrd Skynyrd song "Free Bird" and the image of "Southern pride" evoked by the band. For most of the team's early existence, the song was used as their entrance music, in both television and live appearances. On occasion, they would also enter the ring to Willie Nelson's rendition of "Georgia on My Mind". The Freebirds are sometimes credited as the first wrestlers to use entrance music for their ring introductions, although others including Gorgeous George's use of "Pomp and Circumstance," Big Daddy's use of "We Shall Not Be Moved" and Kendo Nagasaki's use of "Kendo's Theme" all predate the Freebirds.
During the mid 1980s, a number of North American wrestling promotions who licensed copyrighted music faced difficulties in continuing those licenses. Other promotions which did not license music were under scrutiny for the practice. Promotions began looking for solutions. The WWF, which hired Jimmy Hart and Jim Johnston in 1985, used their talents to write and produce music under which the copyrights could be controlled by the company. Around this same time, Hayes recorded the song "Badstreet USA" and released a music video, which included the other Freebird members. This song would largely be used as the entrance music for the Freebirds from that point forward, though they would use the other songs on occasion.
During the Freebirds' career in the NWA, they won several of its regional tag team championships. While holding the title, promoters added a sub-gimmick to the team - "The Freebird Rule" - which allowed any two of the three members of the team to defend the title on any given night.
This rule has been re-used by a number of other companies when a three (or more) man team captures a tag team championship. Examples include:
In some cases, the Freebird rule has been applied to singles titles, most notably when Chyna and Chris Jericho co-held the WWF Intercontinental Championship in 2000. Other such cases included when 3 Count won the WCW Hardcore Championship in 2000, and when Matt Bentley and Frankie Kazarian co-held the TNA X Division Championship in 2004. In 2010, after Layla won the WWE Women's Championship, Team LayCool (Layla and Michelle McCool) co-held the title. This was a slight variation to the Freebird rule, as while both women defended the title, only Layla was recognized as the official champion. Later that year, the same rule was instituted when Michelle McCool won the WWE Divas Championship; both members of Team LayCool defended the title, but only McCool was recognized as official champion. A similar situation happened in Ring of Honor (ROH) in 2017, where Bullet Club invoked "Bullet Club Rules", which allowed Cody, Kenny Omega and Marty Scurll to defend the ROH World Six-Man Tag Team Championship. However, only the title's original winners, Adam Page, Matt Jackson and Nick Jackson, were recognized as official champions.
The Blackbirds were formed in 1988 in World Class Championship Wrestling by Iceman Parsons. He had just teamed with Terry Gordy and Buddy Roberts as the "Blackbirds" in their feud with Michael Hayes. He teamed up with Perry "Action" Jackson and Harold T. Harris to form the Blackbirds. They also wrestled as the Blackbirds in the Global Wrestling Federation in 1992.
The original three Freebirds briefly appear in a match against Greg Gagne, The Tonga Kid, and Jim Brunzell during the opening sequence of the 1986 fantasy film Highlander, which occurs at a show in Madison Square Garden (although the scene was actually filmed at the Brendan Byrne Arena across the river).
The trio defended the ROH World Six-Man Tag Team Titles, officially held by Adam Page and the Young Bucks, under "Bullet Club Rules", allowing any three members to defend the titles.