The wrestling world experienced a tragic death on Monday as “Nature Boy” Buddy Landel (William Ansor) passed away at the young age of 53.
According to reports circulating the news media and internet, the exact details of Landel’s death still are not known. Landel reportedly was involved in a significant automobile accident this past weekend, resulting in his hospitalization.
According to Dave Meltzer at the Wrestling Observer, Landel checked himself out of the hospital on Sunday. When he went to bed Sunday evening, Landel reportedly told his wife that he wasn’t feeling well. When she checked on him Monday morning, Buddy had passed away.
Buddy Landel rose to prominence in professional wrestling during the 1980s during a stint with Jim Crockett Promotions. Landel seemed set for super-stardom, as he was being groomed for a feud with NWA World Heavyweight Champion Ric Flair. According to Meltzer, the program with Flair very well could have resulted in Landel winning the NWA Title.
Flair and Landel wrestled each other on house shows throughout the summer of 1985, but the planned television program between the two was eventually dropped. Landel had issues with management in Jim Crockett Promotions, resulting in Landel being firing while he still held the NWA National Heavyweight Title.
Following Landel’s firing from Crockett’s company, it was announced at television tapings that he had lost his National Heavyweight Title when he was defeated in a match by Dusty Rhodes in Albuquerque, New Mexico. However, that match never actually occurred.
Landel went on to wrestle for several more years, including a memorable stint in the USWA in Memphis. The USWA’s long-time home arena, the Mid-South Coliseum in Memphis, was last sold-out by the USWA when Landel headlined a show tag teaming with Bill Dundee to take on Jerry Lawler and Dutch Mantel.
Landel returned to the NWA in 1990 and wrestled Ric Flair on television as had been planned five years prior. That match was billed as the “Battle of the Nature Boys” and aired November 24, 1990. However, Landel never became the superstar that it looked like he would one day be back in 1985.
Following his time in the USWA and NWA, Landel had stints in the mid-1990s with Jim Cornette’s Smokey Mountain Wrestling (which included a memorable match with Shawn Michaels) and the World Wrestling Federation (WWE today) in late 1995 and early 1996. The highlight of his time with the WWF was a televised championship match with Bret Hart that aired in January 1996 on WWF Superstars. However, Landel’s time with Vince McMahon’s company was cut short due to suffering a torn right quad.
Landel’s death comes just 11 days after another wrestling icon from the south passed away, WWE Hall of Famer “The American Dream” Dusty Rhodes.
[Image via WWE.fr]