Wednesday, April 29, 2009

"Playboy" Buddy Rose: Rest in Peace

When people list the best heat magnets from the days of the territories, Buddy Rose's name instantly comes to mind. Rose epitomized the wrestler who could turn the dial up or down, controlling the crowd in the palm of his hand. Mr. Rose had a legendary run in the Pacific Northwest Territory, playing a heel for many years before a startling face turn. He also enjoyed memorable runs in the World Wrestling Federation (WWF) and stood out as one of the few highlights in the dying days of the American Wrestling Association (AWA).

Born Paul Perschmann, the man who would become "Playboy" Buddy Rose trained under the legendary Gene Anderson (one half of the original Minnesota Wrecking Crew, the forerunners to the Four Horsemen), honing his skills for a year and a half before training under Verne Gagne. Mr. Rose later debuted in Verne Gagne's American Wrestling Association, wrestling against Bob Remus, the man who would become better known as Sgt. Slaughter.

Like most of his peers, Rose traveled from territory to territory. Mr. Rose would find his greatest success working on the West Coast. Mr. Rose had successful runs in Vancouver's All-Star Wrestling, Roy Shire's San Francisco promotion, Hawaii, and Don Owen's Pacific Northwest Wrestling. Rose captured singles and tag gold in these promotions, showcasing his versatility as both a singles and tag team competitor. He would also work as Kevin Von Erich's opponent in Von Erich's debut match, performing as Paul Pershmann.

After several years trying to make his mark in the business, Mr. Rose adopted the "Playboy" Buddy Rose character in the Pacific Northwest and never looked back. He had a legendary run in the Pacific Northwest, teaming with longtime partner Ed Wiskowski to make life miserable for the area's babyfaces. Mr. Rose feuded with the area's biggest babyfaces including Jimmy "Superfly" Snuka, Roddy Piper, Billy Jack, and Curt Hennig. When wrestlers were ready to move out of his territory (it was common for wrestlers to move in and out of territories to keep their acts fresh), promoter Don Owen would put them in Loser Leaves Town matches against Rose, keeping heat on Mr. Rose by having him be the man to send their heroes packing.

"Playboy" Buddy Rose was the heel in the Pacific Northwest, helping up and coming stars such as Roddy Piper, Curt Hennig, and Billy Jack establish themselves. Roddy Piper credits his program with "The Playboy" as the one that got him over while Curt Hennig praised the mentoring Mr. Rose bestowed on him during his run in the Pacific Northwest. "Playboy" Buddy Rose continued to be the man that the fans loved to hate, irritating them with his inflammatory interviews and entertaining them in the ring with his considerable bumping abilities and ring psychology. In 1983 he shocked the fans by turning babyface, one of the greatest turns in the history of the industry. Mr. Rose would eventually turn heel, returning to the Pacific Northwest in 1984 to lay out Matt Bourne and announce that he was back to take over the territory.

During the early 1980's Mr. Rose's talent earned him a run in the World Wrestling Federation. He challenged Bob Backlund for the WWF championship, giving the champ a run for his money but always coming short of a championship victory. The "Playboy" would later return to the WWF, working under a mask as the Executioner at the inaugural Wrestlemania against Tito Santana and performing in one of the best-remembered vignettes from the Rock and Wrestling Era, the Buddy Rose Blowaway Diet.

As the 1980's winded down, the "Playboy" had one last championship run, this time in the American Wrestling Association with "Pretty Boy" Doug Sommers. Although the AWA was on its last leg, Mr. Rose gave the dying promotion one last flash of glory thanks to his work against the young team of the Midnight Rockers (Shawn Michaels and Marty Jannetty). Managed by Sherri Martel, Buddy Rose and Doug Sommers feuded with the Midnight Rockers over the AWA World Tag Team Championship, engaging in several memorable matches including the bloodbath that would (appropriately) become known as "The Bloodbath Match". Mr. Rose would also host a talk segment known as "The Rose Garden".

As the 1990's dawned, Mr. Rose returned to the WWF for one more stint before going into semi-retirement. He would form a wrestling school with his longtime tag partner Ed Wiskowski and reunited with his fans at various wrestling conventions throughout the U.S.

Looking back at Mr. Rose's career, one cannot help but be impressed. Like "The American Dream" Dusty Rhodes, Mr. Rose did not have an Adonis-like physique (unless you're talking about Adrian Adonis) but he had impressive skills as a worker, on the microphone, and as a ring psychologist. The "Playboy" used his girth to his advantage, cutting promos wherein he asked that he be listed as weighing 217 pounds, asking the camera man to zoom in on his physique, and of course, to demonstrate his one-armed push-ups. The "Playboy" was a true old school legend, demonstrating that wrestling is about more than having a chiseled physique; it's about putting asses in the seats with good promos and good matches.

World Wrestling Insanity wishes to send its condolences to the friends and family of "Playboy" Buddy Rose. Mr. Rose was 56 years old.

1 comment:

Tony F said...

Wow no comments for the sinfully underrated Playboy Buddy Rose. I lived in Vancouver WA as a teen and watched his work.Just fantastic! His work and psychology were so believable that as a kid I was convinced pro wrestling was a legitimately contested sport. Workers like Rose are truly missed in today's era of high spot wrestling. In my opinion Rose was the penultimate performer of the Pacific Northwest wrestling scene.

RIP Playboy