Terry Gordy

Terry Gordy

By Mike Mooneyham

July 22, 2001

“Bad Street” will never be quite the same.

Terry “Bam Bam” Gordy, who along with Michael “P.S.” Hayes and Buddy Jack Roberts formed one of the hottest teams in the wrestling business during the ’80s, died Monday at the age of 40 at his home in Rossville, Ga. Gordy, who worked occasional independent cards over the past several years, had returned from a show in Indiana last weekend when his girlfriend found him dead inside his home. Gordy, who reportedly had been complaining of chest pains, died from a blood clot in his heart.

Gordy was a major star in the U.S. as well as in Canada and Japan, but achieved his greatest success as part of The Fabulous Freebirds, a wild-eyed, long-haired, Confederate flag-waving trio whose feud with the Von Erich family in the Dallas-based World Class Wrestling promotion during the early ’80s set the territory on fire.

[ad#MikeMooneyham-336×280]Gordy, who had been one of Cowboy Bill Watts’ top stars in his Mid South Wrestling and Universal Wrestling Federation promotions during the mid-’80s, held the NWA and WCW tag-team titles with “Dr. Death” Steve Williams during the Watts era in Atlanta during the early ’90s. Gordy had held the heavyweight title for Watts’ UWF, engaging in classic feuds with Williams, Ted DiBiase and Hacksaw Jim Duggan, programs that benefited even more from the impassioned announcing of a young Jim Ross.

Gordy, who was born on April 23, 1961, began his career as a teen-ager. He was a Chattanooga area high school baseball standout when he joined the pro wrestling ranks at the age of 15. Initially the strapping youngster wore a mask, billing himself as “Mr. Wrestling,” to conceal his identity since he was still attending high school. Using the names Terry Mecca and Terry Meeker, he also worked for The Sheik’s Detroit-based promotion. Gordy was still a teen-ager when he first teamed with “Lord” Michael Hayes in Mississippi and their first stint as The Freebirds in Memphis in the summer of 1979. In 1980 the two burst upon the Georgia Championship Wrestling scene to the strains of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Freebird” and their own Bad Street Band’s “Bad Street, USA” blaring over the PA system, quickly rising to national prominence due to their exposure on the SuperStation.

One of Gordy’s most memorable angles occurred on Dec. 25, 1982, at Reunion Arena in Dallas, when Ric Flair defended his NWA belt against Kerry Von Erich in a cage match with Hayes serving as special ref. Von Erich rebuffed Hayes’ attempts to help him win the title, resulting in Gordy slamming the cage door on Von Erich’s head, igniting one of the hottest feuds ever staged in that area.

Gordy held a slew of titles during his illustrious career that included the NWA American heavyweight title (beat Kevin Von Erich), the UWF heavyweight title (beat Hacksaw Jim Duggan), the Louisiana heavyweight title (beat Junkyard Dog), two-time All Japan Triple Crown (beat Jumbo Tsuruta and Steve Williams), the Smoky Mountain heavyweight title (beat Brad Armstrong), WCW world tag-team title (with Williams), the NWA world tag- team title (with Williams), the Georgia tag-team title (with Hayes), six-time NWA world six-man tag-team title (five times with Hayes and Roberts, once with Roberts and Iceman King Parsons), four-time NWA National tag-team title (three times with Hayes and once with Jimmy Snuka), two- time Mid South tag-team title (once with Hayes and once with Roberts), two-time Mid America tag-team title (twice with Hayes), Southeastern heavyweight title (beat Jos LeDuc), the Global Wrestling Federation tag-team title (with Jimmy Garvin), seven-time All Japan International tag-team title (five times with Williams and twice with Stan Hansen), and the Texas Brass Knucks title (beat Great Kabuki).

The 6-4, 280-pound Gordy was noted for his tremendous in-ring skills and was one of the most talented big men in the business, providing a perfect match for the flashy, bleached blond Hayes, whose initials “P.S.” stood for “Purely Sexy” and who was one of the top talkers of his day. Gordy was revered in Japan where his bruising, stiff style of wrestling was tailor- made for Giant Baba’s hard-hitting All Japan promotion.

Gordy’s career came to a virtual standstill in 1993 when, at the age of 32 and already a 16-year veteran in the business, he suffered a drug-induced stroke during a flight to Japan that left him in a coma. Gordy was never the same wrestler again, a series of strokes having rendered him a shell of the dynamic performer he had once been, and his last few years in the business were marked by occasional independent matches and special appearances in Smoky Mountain Wrestling, ECW and the WWF. Gordy’s last pay-per-view appearance was at a WWF show Dec. 15, 1996, in West Palm Beach, Fla., where, as The Masked Executioner, he lost to The Undertaker in an Armageddon match.[ad#MikeMooneyham-468×15]

Gordy’s longtime partner, Hayes, currently works as WWF announcer and road agent Dok Hendrix. Gordy had visited Hayes and the WWF crew during their recent stop in Birmingham and was said to have been in good spirits. Jim Ross, who talked to Gordy at the show, said Thursday that Gordy was a prodigy who he felt was talented enough in his prime to have main- evented a Wrestlemania-caliber show.

Gordy, whose son Ray is training to be a wrestler in Japan, was laid to rest Thursday at the Tennessee-Georgia Memorial Park in Rossville, Ga., near Chattanooga. Among the more than 300 mourners were Hayes, Tommy Rich, Terry Taylor, Robert Gibson and Doug Gilbert. A large arrangement of roses and carnations, with the word “Freebird” and two Rebel flags on top, adorned the chapel. The song “Freebird” played over the PA system as the attendees left the service.

– More than 800 fans turned out Tuesday night in Columbus, Ga., as the legendary Mr. Wrestling No. 2 (Johnny “Rubberman” Walker) made what was billed as his final appearance in that town. The show, promoted by Jerry Oates, began with a 10-bell salute to Terry Gordy. Wrestling 2, who was presented with a plaque and spoke to the crowd later on the show, helped Road Dogg (Brian James) defeat Chris Stevens in the Canadian Lumberjack main event after delivering his famous knee lift to Stevens to set up the pin.