Buddy Landel, a standout in the 1980s NWA that also included Ric Flair & Dusty Rhodes, passed away today, aged 52.

Born William Ansor, he started his career in Angelo Poffo’s outlaw ICW promotion in Tennessee in 1979, alongside a young Randy Savage, before joining Jim Crocket Promotions – which, by that time, was the NWA – in 1985. Paired with JJ Dillon, Landel feuded with Ric Flair, even stealing the “Nature Boy” nickname in the course of a memorable series that broke Elvis Presley’s attendance record in Raleigh, NC.

Landel was planned to have a run with the NWA World title in 1985 but his plane arrived late for the TV taping that was set to kick off the storyline, and he fell out with management and returned to the dying territorial system in the south-east.

In 1990 he came back to the NWA for a brief run, before returning once more to local independents. He enjoyed his last great run in  Jim Cornette’s Smoky Mountain Wrestling, and may have even enjoyed one last hurrah in the WWF in the mid-90s, but for a torn quad.

He finally retired in 2001, with a match against former-NWA World champion Tommy Rich in Birmingham, AL.

He invested his money well and had been living happily in retirement. The death of Landel, so soon on the heels of that of Rhodes, has taken a huge chunk out of a large piece of wrestling history.

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