365 matches in 365 days, each from that specific date on the calendar? Challenge accepted. Welcome to 365 Wrestling.
Like any creative art, certain performers or practitioners don’t get the credit they deserve while still active. For me, “Playboy” Buddy Rose is perhaps one of the most underrated wrestlers of all time. While Rose was a mainstay at the top of the card for Pacific Northwest Wrestling (the home promotion for today’s match), he didn’t reach the heights of fame and fortune that many of his counterparts did in the 1980s.
Had Rose come along 10 or 15 years later, I wager his legacy would be quite different. While each territory and promotion had its own hallmarks stylistically during this era, Rose shines brightly in Portland through his combination of tremendous interview skills, meticulous mannerisms in the ring, and bumping heedlessly to make his opponents look like a million bucks. I assure you, this won’t be the only time you see Rose on this list.
Today, we’re taking a look at a two out of three falls tag match from 1980 featuring Rose — PNW’s top heel at the time — teaming with the Kiwi Sheepherders, Butch Miller and Luke Williams (you may know them better as the Bushwhackers), and Sam Oliver Bass (better known as Outlaw Ron Bass). Their opponents are the quartet of Roddy Piper, Rick Martel, Dutch Savage, and Stan Stasiak. You can find this match on YouTube.
This is the latest chapter in a feud between Rose and Piper that began the prior spring. Rose has surrounded himself with a collection of henchmen known as Buddy Rose’s Army, currently consisting of the Sheepherders and Bass.
Martel is new on the scene in Portland and being billed as the exciting, young fan favorite. The rest of Piper’s team consists of Savage, a mainstay in PNW and one of the promoters of the territory; and Stasiak, who perhaps is best known for his “heart punch” and being the man who dropped the WWF Title to Bruno Sammartino to begin Bruno’s second reign as champion. By this point, Stasiak is in the twilight of his career.
This match follows the format of most featured bouts on Pacific Northwest Wrestling TV at the time: two out of three falls, with an ad break, interview, or a segment with the show host Frank Bonnenma between falls. Often times, wrestlers go to the locker room between falls, something I’ve not seen anywhere else.
The video picks up about two minutes into the match and the crowd is red-hot for everything happening. This match looks to achieve a few goals, in no particular order. First, to build up Martel for an imminent shot at Harley Race and the NWA Worlds Heavyweight Title. Second, to continue the feud between Piper and Rose. Third, to establish Rose’s Army as a force. I feel the match accomplishes all three objectives.
Most of the action is fairly basic pro wrestling, but it’s all well-done and keeps the crowd engaged, especially in the first fall, which lasts more than 20 minutes. Rose is involved on the three big highlights of the match: a rapidly-paced exchange with Piper in the opening minutes, begging off from Martel into the corner before getting Irish whipped into the opposite turnbuckles and throwing himself headlong above the turnbuckles to smash into a long pole extending from the ringpost, and then, in the second fall, feeding into a late hot tag by Martel, who busts out a huracanrana (in 1980!!!) as part of his comeback.
Rose’s selling makes all four of his opponents look strong at various points, whether it be taking an exaggerated bump on the apron after taking a punch from Savage, or selling Stasiak’s “reverse pumphandle armbar”, as Bonnenma calls it, like he’s being interrogated in a medieval torture device. After he gets his left arm punished for several minutes by the quartet of fan favorites, Rose actually goes all the way to the back, returning with an elbow pad that I thought was the harbinger of a loaded-weapon trick. Once the first fall finally ends, with Bass getting a submission on Stasiak after zeroing in on a previous leg injury, this match loses quite a bit of steam heading into the second fall. The intensity continues to diminish with the minute-by-minute calls of ring announcer Don Owen (the promoter of the territory), making a time-limit draw finish as obvious as a flashing neon sign. Things dial back up for the final minutes, with Martel making the aforementioned hot tag and all eight men hitting the ring for a brawl at the one-minute remaining call.
— The shenanigans between Rose and Piper in 1979 included Rose, in an act of sublime dastardly heeldom, setting fire to Piper’s kilt from the Crow’s Nest broadcasters’ position while the Rowdy Scot was taking part in a tag match. Fun fact, PNW pre-taped its TV show at the time, but fans watching thought it was happening live and called the fire department.
— The heels sell every attempt at Stasiak’s heart punch like they’re avoiding death itself. Great to see.
— The Sheepherders have a completely different look than you probably are used to, with their long shaggy hair, and matching red, white, and blue singlets.
Final Rating: 6.0
This one is definitely worth seeking out to watch. The second fall is skippable until the late tag by Martel and the final flurry of hostilities involving all eight men. You get a good look at Rose, in his prime and before his later weight gain, although he still remained a quality performer even with the extra pounds, in my opinion. It’s also a great look at a young, highly-energized Piper, who definitely has his working shoes on, especially for the exchanges with Rose. Piper is incredibly over with the Portland fans, who live and die with each attempted comeback whenever Piper finds himself being beaten down by Buddy Rose’s Army.
It’s the ladies’ turn, as two of the top female wrestlers from the 2000s battle for a title in a No DQ brouhaha.
Got a match you’d like me to watch as part of this 365 Wrestling project? Agree or disagree with my take on this match? Let me know by using the contact form on this site, or reach me on Twitter.