Thursday, February 10, 2022

Tim Woods takes credit for costing Buddy Rogers the WWWF Championship

by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

"I'm proud to say that I was the man who caused you to get beat
in less than a minute."  - Tim Woods

In the fall of 1979, Tim Woods and Buddy Rogers were involved in a torrid feud. Rogers and his number one charge, U.S. Champion Jimmy Snuka, had badly injured Woods (in storyline) in one of the most dramatic and violent angles ever seen on Mid-Atlantic TV, and throughout the fall, Woods was intent on revenge. He even printed up his own wanted posters to hand out to fans at arenas to generate support in his quest to get even with Snuka and Rogers.

Rogers was now a manager, and occasionally still wrestled, but was most famous for his legacy in wrestling. His world title wins aside, it was his iconic nickname "Nature Boy" from the 1950s that had been bequeathed to Ric Flair back in 1975 by JCP booker George Scott that modern fans may have been more familiar with. Scott was a longtime friend and admirer of Rogers, and the rookie Flair reminded him of the original Nature Boy. It wound up being a wonderful gift that helped shape Flair's career for decades. 

But more significantly, Rogers was at that time the only man to have ever held both the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA) and World Wide Wrestling Federation (WWWF) world championships. He was also famous for the way he lost that WWWF title to Bruno Sammartino in 1963, submitting to Bruno's over-the-shoulder bearhug in just 43 seconds in Madison Square Garden. As it happens, a young Tim Woods was working the under-card of that very same show.

Behind the scenes, Woods and Rogers developed a lasting friendship during Woods' nine-month stint in the WWF in 1963. During their feud in the Mid-Atlantic area sixteen years later in 1979, the two men occasionally played off the fact that Woods was there when Rogers lost the title to Sammartino.

In an interview with Bob Caudle on Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling in late October 1979, Rogers would accuse Woods of betraying a secret that would dearly cost him. Rogers called Woods a "rat" for "squealing" his secret. The result, he claimed, cost him over two million dollars in purses that he would have won otherwise.

Rogers didn't go into more specifics at that time, but the details could be pieced together in various local promos that Rogers and Woods made in advance of their matches against each other in local areans throughout the territory. The best example might be in promos for their battle in Raleigh's Dorton Arena on November 20, 1979. Woods actually told Rogers how proud he was that he was the reason Rogers lost the WWWF title. "I'm proud to say that I was the man who caused you to get beat in less than a minute," Woods declared. While Bruno Sammartino's name was not specifically mentioned, the implication was clear. And by the sound of it, one could surmise that Woods must have told Sammartino that Rogers was coming into the Madison Square Garden match with a badly injured back, something Bruno would quickly exploit only seconds into their famous bout.

Buddy Rogers and Tim Woods Promos - 11/20/79 Raleigh NC

There of course was no such storyline in 1963, at least not involving Woods, who was working low on the WWWF cards at that time very early in his career. But how cool is it that Woods and Rogers would play off that historic match 16 years later, in a totally different territory, knowing they were both in the same building the night it took place? I'm guessing all of that was lost on most of the people who heard these promos in 1979, but it's a small little detail - - a sub-plot if you will - - that makes the memory of the famous Woods/Rogers feud something a little more special to reflect on now more than 40 years later.

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Special thanks to David Chappell and his 12-part Gateway series on the Woods-Rogers feud, to Mark Eastridge for the newspaper clipping, and to Gary Wray for the audio recording of the Woods-Rogers promos for Raleigh.