“Nature Boy” Buddy Landel (real name, William Ansor) died Monday at the age of 53.
Landel, who had the opportunity to be one of the biggest stars in pro wrestling in the mid-1980s, was involved in a serious auto accident over the weekend, according to the Wrestling Observer. (The Observer has breaking news audio; subscription required and recommended.)
Details are still sketchy, but the reports are that Landel was in a bad auto accident over the weekend, and checked himself out of the hospital on Sunday. He said he was feeling bad when he went to sleep, and when his wife went to check on him today, he had died.
In the mid-1980s, Landel appeared to be on the verge of a NWA Championship reign in a feud with “Nature Boy” Ric Flair. The interviews and vignettes setting this up were gold.
However, Landel, who was then the NWA National Champion, blew off a set of TBS television tapings (see the video below in which he admits his drug and alcohol abuse cost him that opportunity), and the promotion fired him and stripped him of the belt, claiming Landel had dropped it to Dusty Rhodes.
Landel would finally end up feuding with Flair in 1990 in the “Battle of the Nature Boys,” but Landel’s trajectory was trending in the wrong direction.
WWE issued its condolences to Landel’s friends and family on WWE.com, noting that Landel wrestled there in 1995 and 1996. He also appeared in several southern promotions, including the USWA and Smokey Mountain Wrestling. In the following interview, Landel admits that he was his own worst enemy while hyping a feud with Shawn Michaels.
Here’s Landel’s match with Michaels, who was Intercontinental Champion at the time.
This past February, Landel appeared on Colt Cabana’s podcast in a candid interview (NSFW for language). Here’s the hour-long interview.
Our condolences to Landel’s friends and family.