Chris Aiken talks Buddy Roberts and Freebirds vs. Von Erichs

The passing of "Freebird" Buddy Roberts saddened me and it caused a flood of memories from the North Texas wrestling scene. While I was quite young during the heyday of the Von Erichs-Freebirds feud, the legend of those involved lived on long after and many people (myself included) still fondly remember those times despite the tragic ending surrounding many of the top stars. To fans of today's product, there is almost no way to relate to how over wrestling was in the area. The wrestling product most modern fans know is so much different in both positive and negative ways compared to the wrestling scene at that time.
Buddy Roberts was part of a trend that will probably never be duplicated in North Texas. It is hard to understand the level of popularity and impact on the area unless you were there. You can watch either documentary on the subject ("Heroes of World Class" or the WWE DVD) and get an idea but the feud between the Von Erichs and the Freebirds was so huge and so over that it is hard to describe. No other feud or wrestling promotion has ever had the same level of regional impact in the DFW Metroplex. WWE comes to the Dallas area and draws a crowd but the fans are not nearly as passionate about the stars or the product. It was a unique time in the area for wrestling.
No matter how over John Cena is in the area with fans, he will never be as over as the Von Erichs were at the time nor will any heels duplicate the Freebirds. Even during the last boom period where Steve Austin was a native Texan who was a huge star, he still was not at the level of a star locally as the stars of World Class were in the area. People still too young to remember know about the legend of the Von Erichs and all great heroes need great villians. The Freebirds and Buddy Roberts were the greatest heels that ever wrestled in the area.
Unlike other heels in other areas, the fans only hated the Freebirds because they were pitted against the Von Erichs. Had the territory been able to sustain the level of popularity, the Freebirds might have become huge babyface stars eventually but we will never know if they could have been. One thing we do know is nothing in wrestling has ever captured the hearts and minds of fans like World Class did in those years. Most people in the Dallas-Fort Worth area might not even know or remember Buddy Roberts but I will always remember the man that was a member of the greatest heel team to ever wrestle in the area.
Chris Aiken
Nacogdoches, Texas

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