Old School Spotlight: “Playboy” Buddy Rose

Buddy Rose

In the long storied history of professional wrestling, many spandex clad gladiators have grabbed our attention and captured our imaginations. These colorful characters remain in the deepest recesses of our minds years after their glory days in the ring have passed. The most memorable grapplers from our years of wrestling fandom are often those that we encounter early on in our initial discovery of the mat game. This column will take a look at some of the most bizarre, flamboyant, charismatic, and downright terrifying pro wrestlers of all time.

Paul Perschmann was born November 27, 1952 in Las Vegas, Nevada. He began his journey into the world of professional wrestling in the early 1970s, being trained by well renowned mat technicians, Verne Gagne and Billy Robinson. Under his own name, he made his debut on December 3, 1973 in Rice Lake, Wisconsin in a 10-minute draw with fellow training camp mate Bob Remus, the future Sergeant Slaughter. He wrestled primarily for the AWA, WWF, and for promoter Don Owen in Pacific Northwest Wrestling during an almost 30 year career. After using his given name for a short time, he adopted the moniker that would make him famous as one of the most hated heels in pro wrestling, “Playboy” Buddy Rose.

One of the most legendary feuds in the Pacific Northwest pitted Rose against “Rowdy” Roddy Piper. According to Piper in his autobiography, this was the feud that really made him a household name in the business, and it cemented Rose’s status as an icon in the region. Rose also had a long feud with “Superfly” Jimmy Snuka. His long-time tag team partner in Portland, Edward Wiskoski, who went on to fame in the 1980s in the AWA as Colonel DeBeers, stood by his side for three decades.

Wrestling for the WWF during 1982-83, he would often work 90 days in a row. When he had a rare day off, he would fly back to the West Coast and headline cards there. At the peak of his WWF run, he was main eventing at Madison Square Garden against Bob Backlund for the WWF World Heavyweight title. Rose, also had some memorable bouts with fan favorite, Pedro Morales, during this period. The “Playboy” was managed by “The Grand Wizard” Ernie Roth during this era.

The consummate heel, Rose was well respected for both his great ability to work the microphone and as a ring general. Later in his career, when he gained a large amount of weight, he turned that into a comical gimmick. When the ring announcer introduced him and listed his weight at 271 pounds, Rose would angrily take the microphone away from him, and would flip the seven and one around and claim to weigh “a slim, trim, 217 pounds”. This would bait the crowd into a booing frenzy. On occasion, he would also do one-handed push-ups and kip ups in the ring, and challenge other more muscular opponents to a “pose-down.” Rose was very agile for his size and was known as one of the best workers of that era. Rose claims that Vince McMahon used to say, “I want everybody to work out…except for Buddy,” knowing that Rose’s weight was his gimmick. The vignettes for Rose’s “Blow Away Diet” are still some of the most remembered promos of the 1980s. McMahon thought so highly of Rose that he gave him the opportunity, wrestling as the masked Executioner, to compete in the opening match of the inaugural WrestleMania at Madison Square Garden on March 31, 1985 against Tito Santana.

Rose surfaced in the AWA in 1986 working for one of the men that trained him, Verne Gagne. He formed a tag team with fellow ring veteran, “Pretty Boy” Doug Somers. The duo was managed by “Sensational” Sherri Martel. They engaged in a bloody feud with the Midnight Rockers, Shawn Michaels and Marty Jannetty, over the AWA World Tag Team Titles throughout 1986 and 1987. During this run, Rose was never pinned. It is often said that Gagne put Rose and Somers in a program with the young Rockers to help them learn how to work. Rose was regarded as the workhorse of his team.

Rose had another run in the national spotlight with the WWF from 1990 to early 1991, being used primarily as a comical enhancement talent. After that stint in the WWF, Rose would work sporadically in the ring and in the mid-to-late 1990s, he hosted a call-in talk show on a Portland radio station.

His last match took place at Wrestle Reunion 2005 in Tampa, Florida. He competed in a six-man tag team bout pitting himself, Col. DeBeers (Edward Wiskoski) and “Cowboy” Bob Orton against “Handsome” Jimmy Valiant, “Rowdy” Roddy Piper and “Superfly” Jimmy Snuka. This was billed as Jimmy Valiant’s retirement match, but Rose (who took the biggest bump of the night) retired after this as an active wrestler, and only made personal appearances going forward. He opened a wrestling training school with longtime friend Ed Wiskoski in Portland after his retirement.

On April 28, 2009, Rose was found dead in his home in Vancouver, Washington by his wife. The medical examiner attributed his death to natural causes. Rose, who had struggled with his weight since the late 1980s, was morbidly obese, leading to problems with his blood sugar and diabetes. “Playboy” Buddy Rose is fondly remembered by his peers as a top notch talent inside the ring and one of the most colorful characters outside the ring for his quirky personality and infamous pranks. Whether you are a fan of his ability to draw heat from a crowd, his technical skills inside the squared circle, or his unique personality, one thing is for sure, there will never be another “Playboy” Buddy Rose.



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