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Anatomy of an Angle: The Freebirds flat out frame Austin Idol on Georgia Championship Wrestling

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By John Keating, KFR guest columnist 

Don't trust this man

If you say the words “Fabulous Freebirds” to any fan of pro wrestling, most will immediately recall memories of wild brawls with the Von Erichs and a war that set Texas on fire and captured the imagination of the wrestling world. A lot of fans will point to World Class Championship Wrestling as the team’s greatest run. While there is no doubt that the Freebirds had their most famous and lucrative run in World Class, I feel that, creatively, their best was in Georgia Championship Wrestling.

The ‘Birds, fresh off a red-hot stint in Mid South, in which they blinded Junkyard Dog with the infamous Freebird Hair Removal Cream, made a surprise appearance at the Omni on October 10, 1980. During a Georgia Tag Team Title match between The Assassins and Wrestling 1 & 2, the familiar strains of Lynard Skynard’s anthem played and out came Terry, Buddy and Michael. Buddy Roberts and Terry Gordy won the titles in an early incarnation of the Three Way Dance.

One of their earliest challenges came from the newly formed team of Austin Idol and Kevin Sullivan. I always found Sullivan to be an odd babyface in Georgia, what with his strong Boston accent. Idol and Sullivan had been feuding for awhile, with the peak of the storyline occurring when Idol broke the leg of Kevin’s brother (no, not Evad). As we know, in pro wrestling, hatred soon breeds respect and Idol was making the save for Sullivan in a beatdown from The Assassins in an effort to score some karmic payback for breaking the younger Sullivan’s leg. Sullivan repays the favor later on as Idol is getting the boots put to him by Abdullah the Butcher and Mark Lewin. On an unrelated note, I love that Abby owns a restaurant. In my head, I imagine you walk in and he’s sitting in the back with a white suit and little fez atop his scarred head, looking a lot like Sydney Greenstreet in Casablanca. Of course, he’d probably have a poker chip sticking out of one of the scars, but I digress….

The teaming of Sullivan and Idol leads to one of my favorite angles ever…Four Flat Tires. The babyfaces claim the ‘Birds are ducking them, and Idol goes as far as to call them the “Jailbirds.” Not since The Universal Heartthrob dubbed Baron Von Raschke, “Baron Von Onionhead” has such a vicious insult crossed the ears of Georgia Championship Wrestling and its fans. Sullivan just calls them the “Dolly Sisters.” Finally, Kevin has an idea, producing a contract that says he and a partner of The Freebirds’ choosing will face them in a tag title match. Hayes (he was pretty much acting as a manager for Buddy and Terry as he recovered from a neck injury) likes this idea and after “dwelling it over” picks Georgia jobber Mike Davis and makes the match for the following week. Sullivan watches Hayes sign the contract and then laughs as he reveals the fine print. Yes, he will have to have Mike Davis as his partner…but the special referee will be of his choosing. Cue Austin Idol in a striped referee’s shirt and whistle as the show goes off the air.

The following week, a concerned Kevin Sullivan lets Gordon Solie know that Idol hasn’t shown. He asks for some time because “the man gave me his word that he’d be here.” You know that the man gave him his word because Sullivan says that same exact sentence about 27 times over the course of the show. No scriptwriting in those days. I recommend using this footage for a drinking game. Every time Sullivan says “the man gave his word,” take a drink. Once you wake up and get over the hangover the next day, you can go back and watch the entire thing again.

Hayes comes out to the podium and mocks Sullivan, saying that Idol had always wanted to be a Freebird but was denied. He produces a telegram that he claims is from the Heartthrob, in which Idol apologizes for going against them and states that he won’t interfere in their affairs any longer. Even Solie, calling back to Sullivan and Idol’s past, thinks that Kevin may have been the victim of a double-cross. Sullivan is undeterred, though. After all, the man gave him his word (drink).

The show progresses until finally Solie can’t buy Kevin any more time. Sullivan acquiesces and goes to the ring with Davis. In a short yet solid match, Gordy and Roberts retain the titles after Gordy hits Davis with his finisher, which is a combination of a piledriver and power bomb. It looks vicious. Davis is out and Hayes goes on a rant, blaming Sullivan for getting the kid hurt (“Sullivan, that kid is hurt because of you! He came out here and tried his hardest and because you didn’t have the guts to get in there and take the whoopin’, that’s why he’s hurt!”). Sullivan comes back out and starts a pull-apart brawl with Hayes. Solie plays his part perfectly here, trying to console Sullivan and looking like a father who has to let his son learn a hard life lesson about trusting the wrong people.

Freddie Miller runs in to inform Gordon that, finally, Austin Idol is in the building! Idol comes in with ref shirt in hand and demands that they get the tag title match underway. Solie scolds him and says the match already took place and demands to know how he can show his face here. Confused, Idol replies: “Sure, I’m showing my face. All the pretty women want to see this beautiful, gorgeous, sexy face.” Idol then goes on to explain to Gordon that he was late because he had to fix a flat tire. Michael Hayes tries to cool the situation down and tells Idol that he told everyone about his telegram. Idol scoffs at the notion of him wanting to be a Freebird (“That’s like Ronald Regan saying he wants to be John Anderson”).

This irks Hayes some and it’s here that he makes his fatal mistake. He tries to tell Idol that the match is already over and done with and blurts out “I guess it would take some time to fix four flat tires…” Idol interrupts: “Wait a minute, what did you just say? I said I had *a* flat tire; I didn’t say nothing about four flat tires!” The jig is up and Hayes discovered as the tire-flattening culprit. Idol throws some bombs at Hayes and here come Terry, Buddy and Sullivan for a Pier 6 brawl.

The reason I love this angle so much is because it shows pro wrestling at its best. WWE and TNA often state how their shows are about the characters and stories but they rarely accomplish what they set out to do. Here you have two weeks of TV shows (and really, ¾ of the angle takes place on one week’s show) that are completely about the characters of the wrestlers involved. The Freebirds playing chicken heels, Sullivan standing up for a man who he believes is going to live up to his word, Idol as the cavalry without ever losing his clueless, self-absorbed persona and finally Solie, as the patriarch of the whole situation. He comments on past dealings with the men and makes logical comments that really forward the story. It’s true characterization.The angle ends with a bloodied Idol and Sullivan flanking Solie. Gordon apologizes to Idol and says that, at this point in time, Sullivan’s faith in Idol has been vindicated. After all, the man gave him his word.

John Keating is a professional stand-up comic/actor/cartoonist and all-around snappy dresser. You can learn more about him and check out his comic strip, “Breaking the Ice,” at www.johnkeating.biz

  1. Michael Dyer
    April 1st, 2010 at 12:10 | #1

    Awesome article! I remember this whole angle, and was thrilled to get to re-live it through someone else’s eyes. I always liked Idol, and who didn’t like the Freebirds? Put them together, and you’ve got some Grade-A entertainment!

    Tremendous work, John!

  2. Jeremy Courtney
    April 2nd, 2010 at 04:08 | #2

    I love this angle to it was great. I was and still am a huge mark for Idol. I would say WWE and TNA needs to watch this old tapes to get a clue. But it’s obvious the only person involved in the creative side of either company studying the old school ways is HHH.. I know not a popular guy on the internet but really is one of the few people who reminds me of the wrestling I grew up lovign and watching.

  1. June 23rd, 2010 at 16:06 | #1
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