|Rest easy, Naitch|
Photo Credit: WWE.com
Buddy Landel, the third wrestler to hold the moniker "Nature Boy" and a star in the NWA territories, United States Wrestling Association, and Smoky Mountain Wrestling, has passed away. He was 53 years of age. Dave Meltzer relays that Landel was in a bad car accident over the weekend, checking out of the hospital on Sunday and then dying in his sleep on Monday.
Landel began his career in the renegade ICW promotion run by Angelo Poffo before matriculating in Jim Crockett Promotions in 1985. He was slated to enter a feud with the other active Nature Boy at the time, Ric Flair, for the NWA World Heavyweight Championship. However, Landel was, as Meltzer put it, "out of control," and got fired. He bounced around Southern territories, most famously working in a hot run for Smoky Mountain Wrestling in the mid-'90s. He would get a shot with WWE in the mid-late '90s, as many SMW stars at the time did, but he got injured right when he was about ready to be pushed.
Landel's career was marked by wasted potential, but he still left enough of a mark that people rave about him at his best. Regardless, 53 is far too young an age to die, especially in an auto wreck. May he rest in peace and all his family and friend find all the comfort they can get in these terrible times.