I am saddened to have to announce the passing of Dale Hey who was better known to wrestling fans as Buddy Roberts. According to the announcement of his death on wwe.com, they noted that he was 65 years old. While they did not provide a cause of death, Buddy had battled throat cancer after retiring from the ring.
Buddy Roberts will best be remembered as one of the greatest tag team wrestlers in pro wrestling history. In the '70s, he was a part of the Hollywood Blondes with Jerry Brown. The team won many regional tag team belts and their name was reused in the '90s when Brian Pillman and Steve Austin teamed together.
However, he is best known as being one-third of the Fabulous Freebirds along with Michael Hayes and the late Terry Gordy. Their legendary battles with the Von Erich family in the '80s are still talked about to this day. In addition to wrestling for WCCW, the team also had notable runs in the UWF, AWA, and Georgia. They also had a very brief stint in the WWE where they were managed by David Wolff during the Rock-n-Wrestling Era.
One of their legendary tactics, the Freebird Rule, has become a part of wrestling vernacular. Whenever the team won a title, they would change up which members of the team would defend it on any given night to give them an advantage so their opponents didn't know who to prepare for.
While best remembered for his success as a tag team wrestler, he also had some success as a singles wrestler. During the height of the Freebirds feud with the Von Erich family, Buddy also found himself embroiled in a feud with Iceman Parson that resulted in Buddy losing his hair. In 1986, he won the WCCW Television Champion from Mark Youngblood and a few months later won the UWF Television Championship from Terry Taylor. He also won several regional titles while wrestling under the name of Dale Valentine, the "brother" of Johnny Valentine, during the '70s.
After retiring from the ring in the late-80's, he became the manager of Samoan Swat Team and they feuded against his old tag team partner, Michael Hayes. Buddy left the business shortly after WCCW went out of business and was not a part of the Freebird group that competed in WCW beginning in 1989.
I would like to take this opportunity to send out my condolences to his family, friends, and fans. On a personal note, as long-time readers know, the Freebirds are my favorite tag team of all-time. When I met Buddy during a convention in 2008, I was debating whether or not to tell him that fact because I take pride in the fact that I maintain a certain level of professionalism at all times. Right now, I'm very glad that I broke my rule and decided to tell him he was a part of my favorite tag team in the only mark-out moment I've had since working on this site for the past seven years.
Photo of Buddy Roberts at the 2008 Fan Slam Convention: © 2008 Eric Cohen