An introductory guide to the early WWE Champions

Page 2 of 9
April 24, 2013

Buddy Rogers

Arrogant, cocky and extremely self-confident, “Nature Boy” Buddy Rogers always came to the ring more than ready for battle. The Camden, N.J., native worked his way through the ranks in the 1940s and ’50s, always looking in great shape while garnering victory after victory with his trademark Figure-Four Leglock. Rogers’ success eventually brought him into the Northeast area of the U.S. just as WWE was taking shape. In April 1963, a tournament was held to determine its first champion, which Rogers won after defeating the high-flying Antonino Rocca.

Managed by the equally cocky Bobby Davis, the “Nature Boy” reigned briefly until he was matched against the immensely popular Bruno Sammartino in New York City’s Madison Square Garden. On May 17, 1963, in a record-setting 48 seconds, Rogers’ world came tumbling down, as a fired up Sammartino dethroned the “Nature Boy and became the new WWE Champion. A major influence on future icon Ric Flair, Rogers was posthumously inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 1994.

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