Pulse Wrestling’s Top 100 Wrestlers of the Modern Era: #55 – Michael Hayes

55. MICHAEL “PS” HAYES

Real NameMichael Seitz
AliasesDok Hendrix
HometownMarietta, Georgia
Debuted1977
Retired2001
Titles HeldNWA World Tag Team (with Jimmy Garvin); WCCW Six Man Tag Team (five with Terry Gordy and Buddy Roberts, one with Kerry and Kevin Von Erich) x6; NWA Georgia Tag Team (with Terry Gordy); NWA National Tag Team (three with Terry Gordy, one with Otis Sistrunk) x4; WCWA World Tag Team (with Steve Cox) x2; Mid-South Tag Team; WCW United States Tag Team (with Jimmy Garvin) x2; WCW World Tag Team (with Jimmy Garvin); WCW World Six-Man Tag Team (with Jimmy Garvin and Badstreet); Power Pro Heavyweight
Other AccomplishmentsWrestling Observer’s Hall of Fame Class of 2005 (with Terry Gordy and Buddy Roberts as the Freebirds); TV host and color commentator for the WWF in the mid ’90s; current head writer of Smackdown; Wrote and performed the Freebirds’ entrance theme “Badstreet USA”

Michael Hayes started wrestling in Tennessee in 1977 under his real name. By 1979, he had already taken the first steps on his road to fame. He began tag teaming with Terry Gordy as the Fabulous Freebirds as they headed to Bill Watts’s Mid-South Wrestling. The Freebirds soon added a third member- Buddy Roberts. In addition, their title reigns were marked by what would come to be known as the Freebird Rule. The rule stated that the belts could be defended by any combination of the Freebirds at any time.

Hayes and Gordy would even win the Mid-South Tag Team titles later in 1979. They dropped the belts to Junkyard Dog and Buck Robley in April, and then the Freebird team of Gordy and Roberts recaptured them in June. Junkyard Dog and Terry Orndorff won the titles in October as the Freebirds prepared to depart the company.

1980 saw the Freebirds heading to Georgia, where they competed in the NWA affiliated Georgia Championship Wrestling, which was owned by Jim Barnett. In October of 1980 they competed in a three-team tournament against Mr. Wrestling I and II and the Assassins. The Freebirds won the belts and became the last NWA Georgia Tag Team champions. The belts were held up after a match against Austin Idol and Kevin Sullivan in November.

A tournament was then held to crown new champions with new National Tag Team title belts. On November 27th, the Freebirds defeated Stan Frazier and Robert Fuller to claim the new gold. They held the belts for nearly two months before Frazier and new partner Ted DiBiase defeated them.

DiBiase and Frazier only held the belts for five days before the Freebirds took them back. This time they kept them for almost six months before DiBiase and new partner Steve O defeated them.

About this time the Freebirds split and went their separate ways. The next champions were Terry Gordy and Jimmy Snuka. Hayes and Otis Sistrunk took the belts in September, only to relinquish them when Sistrunk quit the company. July of 1982 saw the reunited Freebirds defeat the Super Destroyer and John Studd to reclaim the belts. In August, Afa and Sika defeated them to end their final title reign.

The Freebirds, however, were about to explode onto the national scene. Michael Hayes headed to World Class Championship Wrestling, where he quickly established himself as a fan favorite. He soon brought in his “brothers” – Terry Gordy and Buddy Roberts, but Hayes was the obvious leader of the group.

The Freebirds soon were wearing World Class gold. On Christmas night, 1982, Hayes, Gordy, and David Von Erich (who was subbing for Buddy Roberts) defeated Iron Mike Sharpe, Ben Sharpe, and Tom Steele to become the first World Class Six Man Tag Team champions.

The Freebirds’ days as fan favorites would not last long. Immediately after their title win, Hayes was serving as the guest referee for an NWA World title cage match between Kerry Von Erich and current champion Ric Flair. Hayes also brought Terry Gordy out to guard the door of the cage to be sure that no one tried to interfere. Flair had challenged Hayes’s authority throughout the match and Hayes finally had enough. Hayes punched Flair, knocking him out. Hayes then turned to Kerry and demanded that he cover him. Kerry refused because he didn’t want to win the belt that way. Hayes was furious. Hayes shoved Kerry, and then left the cage. Kerry tried to follow Hayes to explain his decision. Gordy slammed the door shut on Kerry’s head, which allowed Flair to get the victory.

Needless to say, the Von Erichs declared war. One of World Class’s signature feuds had begun.

The centerpiece of the war soon became the six-man titles. It took until the following July for Kevin, David, and Kerry Von Erich to capture the gold. In August, the Freebirds won the belts back.

And then problems started to occur. Michael Hayes lost a loser-leaves-town match to Kerry in November, but the remaining Freebirds still had control of the belts. On December second Kevin, David, and Kerry challenged for the belts again. The Freebirds brought in Ric Flair as their partner, but not even he was enough to keep the titles with the Freebirds.

Hayes was back in the company by January, and the Freebirds regained the titles yet again.

In February, Hayes was part of an unprecedented tribute. After David Von Erich’s passing, other wrestlers from the World Class roster were interviewed to share their memories of David. Rather than assaulting his longtime foe, Hayes gave a classy speech (which was echoed by Ric Flair later in the program) where he said that while he didn’t like David, he did respect him.

At May’s Parade of Champions, the Von Erichs thought they had recaptured the belts. With Fritz substituting for Kerry (who would win the NWA World championship from Flair at that same show), Kevin and Mike won the match. However, the belts were immediately held up because the legal Von Erich did not make the pinfall.

A rematch was held at the July 4th Star Wars show. This time, the bad luck was on the Freebirds’ side. They defeated the Von Erichs, but the belts were again held up because Killer Khan had attacked the Von Erichs during the match.

In August, the feud appeared to be at an end as the Freebirds left the company. Their next stop was the WWF, where they were managed by Dave Wolfe. They made several appearances at Madison Square Garden shows. However, WWF management decided that the group needed to be split up and all three needed to compete as singles wrestlers. The Freebirds refused, left the company, and returned to WCCW.

On the third of September, the battle over the six man tag belts ended as Kevin, Kerry, and Mike Von Erich won the gold.

A year later, the Freebirds departed again and headed to the AWA. While there, they feuded with the Road Warriors over the AWA Tag Team titles. However, they were unable to overcome Hawk and Animal to capture the gold. Finally, on September 29, 1985, the Freebirds assisted their allies Steve Regal and Jimmy Garvin (now being referred to a fourth Freebird) to end the thirteen month title reign of the Road Warriors.

That feud ran into early 1986. Following the end of it, the Freebirds returned to World Class for a brief stay.

Later that year, the Freebirds headed to Bill Watts’s Universal Wrestling Federation. With Sunshine as their new manager, the Freebirds feuded with the Fantastics, Ted DiBiase and Dr. Death Steve Williams (the angle included the Freebirds breaking Williams’s arm), and even Watts himself.

After the UWF was bought out by Jim Crockett at the end of 1987, the Freebirds headed to Frank Dusek’s Wild West Wrestling. After differences were resolved between Dusek and Fritz Von Erich, Wild West closed and the roster (with the exception of the Fabulous Lance – AKA Lance Von Erich) returned to WCCW.

This time, however, the Freebirds-Von Erich feud took a definite twist. Hayes was out of the Freebirds and replaced by the self-proclaimed “Blackbird” – Iceman King Parsons. Hayes wound up teaming with his former foes to battle the Freebirds.

As might be expected, the new Freebirds didn’t take long to take the six man belts away from the current champions – Chris Adams, Kevin Von Erich, and Steve Simpson. And just like years earlier, the Von Erichs (now with Michael Hayes) stood in their way. On July 8, 1988 Kevin, Kerry, and Hayes took the belts back. The title was abandoned soon thereafter. The feud was also ended as Gordy left the company to focus on competing in All Japan.

Hayes then began teaming with Steve Cox. They quickly began feuding with the Samoan Swat Team of Samu and Fatu, who were now being managed by Buddy Roberts. Hayes and Cox took the WCWA tag titles away on September 16, 1988 and lost them back to the Samoans three days later. Hayes and Cox recaptured the belts on October 15th and only held them two days.

Hayes soon headed to the NWA, again as a babyface. Again, this would be short-lived as he would turn on Luger during a match against Hiro Matsuda’s Yamasaki Corporation, which Hayes then joined. He went on to win his first singles gold by defeating Lex Luger at the 1989 Wrestlewar to become the new NWA United States champion (with a little help from Terry Gordy). Hayes held the title for about three weeks, which is when Luger took the belt back.

Meanwhile, the Yamasaki Corporation had completely collapsed. Barry Windham was out with an injury, Kendall Windham was not being used, and group leader Hiro Matsuda soon departed from the company. With the Corporation history, Hayes rejoined old ally Jimmy Garvin and reformed the Freebirds, with Diamond Dallas Page and Big Daddy Dink (Sir Oliver Humperdink) managing.

A tag team tournament was set for the seventh Clash of the Champions. Former champions Mike Rotunda and Steve Williams had been stripped of the belts after attacking special referee Nikita Koloff. Hayes and Garvin wound up defeating the Midnight Express to win the NWA World Tag Team titles. They held the titles until November, when they lost the belts to the Steiner Brothers.

The Freebirds would not be long without gold, however. On February 24th they won the belts back from new champions Doom, only to lose them (once again) to the Steiners in March. This reign is notable for one reason – the show where the Freebirds lost the titles was taped six days before they actually won them.

By this point, the Freebirds had added a member (the masked Badstreet – really Brad Armstrong) and found themselves in a feud with the Young Pistols – a team composed of Steve Armstrong and Tracy Smothers. That May, they defeated the Pistols to win the WCW United States Tag Team titles, which had been vacated when the Steiners had won the world tag belts. They would lose the belts in August to the Patriots (Todd Champion and Firebreaker Chip).

June also saw the Freebirds becoming double champions, as they also defeated Tommy Rich, Ricky Morton, and the Junkyard Dog to win the WCW World Six Man Tag Team titles. They would lose these belts in August as well, to Dustin Rhodes, the Z-Man Tom Zenk, and Big Josh.

As 1991 wound down, the Freebirds found themselves in a state of flux. Badstreet was gone, as Brad Armstrong had been repackaged as the infamous Arachnaman. Page and Dink were gone as well. The decision was made to turn the Freebirds face with Garvin’s wife Precious serving as their manager.

On May 17th, the Freebirds won the United States Tag Team titles back and held them for a month before losing them to Dick Slater and the Barbarian (who would soon see the belts abandoned). Soon thereafter, the Freebirds disbanded.

Hayes stepped back from the ring and began managing Dangerous Alliance members Arn Anderson and Bobby Eaton. Hayes proved himself to be a worth Alliance associate as he also assisted Paul E. Dangerously during his feud with Madusa.

Hayes returned to in-ring competition in early 1993 and began feuding with World Television champion Paul Orndorff. Despite his best efforts, Hayes was never able to capture the belt. Hayes had a short-lived tag team with Johnny B Badd as well, then turned to the commentary table for the rest of his WCW stay.

In 1994, Hayes and Garvin left WCW and headed to the Global Wrestling Federation, where they reformed the Freebirds along with Terry Gordy. Gordy and Garvin were able to capture the Global Tag Team titles, but the company had closed by the end of the year.

As 1995 began, Hayes retired from the ring and found a job with the WWF. Here he was “Handsome” Dok Hendrix, where he hosted multiple Coliseum Video releases and also co-hosted WWF Action Zone with Todd Pettingill.

Hayes returned to action in 1999 for Power Pro Wrestling, a Memphis-based development territory run much like the USWA had been before it. Hayes defeated Baldo (better known as Albert or A-Train) to win their heavyweight title. He held the belt for two months, until he was defeated by J.R. Smooth (Rikishi).

On April 29th, Dok Hendrix was called to the ring by the Brood, who used his Michael Hayes name. Once there, he was hit by a blood bath. Shortly thereafter, he became the Hardy Boyz’s manager in their feud against the Brood. In August, the Hardys fired Hayes and he returned backstage, where he worked as an agent.

Hayes would remain backstage, first as an agent and then as a writer. He would also make occasional returns to the ring, such as at Wrestlemania XVII’s Gimmick Battle Royal. Hayes’s last major on-screen appearance was in 2005, when he confronted Edge, who was mocking Ric Flair’s recent legal problems.

Today, Hayes works as the head writer for Smackdown.

Michael Hayes is remarkable not only for his lengthy tenure with the legendary Freebirds, but also for his style. Hayes was like a prototype for Shawn Michaels. Hayes was the perfect cocky heel, gold on the microphone, and strutting around in sequined robes in the ring. In addition to that, Hayes has gone on to become the head writer for one of the top-rated wrestling programs in the country.

Not bad for a guy from Marietta, Georgia. But when you live in the last house on the right on Badstreet, USA, you’ve got to expect great things.

The entire Top 100 Wrestlers feature can be found here.

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