SLAM! Wrestling Canadian Hall of Fame: Buddy Lane
Barnabus David Kochen Lane
January 7, 1956 in White Rock, British Columbia
5'10", 226-230 pounds
Buddy Lane in his role as commissioner for Real Action Wrestling.
In basketball, they talk about blue chip prospects, in hockey, the top
juniors get the scouts all excited. Imagine taking the same premise to
pro wrestling, and you're looking in at the class of 1972, training with
. There are Olympians Kosrow Vasiri (The Iron Sheik
Patera and Chris Taylor
, a couple of promising youngsters in Ric Flair
Buddy Rose, Rick Steamboat, and Buddy Wolfe.
But this story isn't about them, it's about the unheralded, late-round
draft pick, Barnabus David Kochen Lane, who despite following his
father's footsteps into the mat game, got next to no publicity early in
his career. Yet almost 30 years later, it's 'Buddy' Lane who is one of
the key people behind the scenes in the Maritime promotion Real Action
Wrestling, grooming some of the potential stars of tomorrow.
Lane is a traditionalist through and through, teaching his new charges
to stay grounded, learn the ropes properly before trying anything fancy.
Sounds a lot like wisdom he picked up from AWA veterans like Gagne, Nick
and Ray Stevens.
Lane's father was The Big K, 'Wild' Bill Kochen, who originally hailed
from Sioux City, Iowa and settled into the AWA way of life, retiring
from in-ring action in 1971, and refereeing after that.
Like his dad, Lane was athletically gifted, but was only 5'10".
"Wrestling was just something that I always wanted to do," Lane
explained to SLAM! Wrestling.
His dad got him into the training with Gagne. The camp was the easy part
compared to his first few years in the business, setting up rings, being
a referee and getting used as a punching bag. "I went to the camp and
they kept telling me I wasn't ready. You go to the camp again and they
say you're not ready yet. Then when I was finally ready, apparently,
when you run into guys like Blackjack Lanza, the Super Destroyer, Angelo Mosca
, Blackjack Mulligan
, and you get pounded night in, night out by
these big monsters ... you kind of ask yourself, 'Is this what it's all
about?' Because when you get to work with a Stevens, a [Pat] Patterson
Bockwinkel, who were like wrestling technicians, it's a whole different
thing. You get to wrestle with those guys, in and out of holds. When you
get into a match with a Stan Hansen
, it's just a slugfest. That's sort
of how you earn your way. You just get pounded and pounded and pounded.
If you cry wolf or complain, they just tell you to go on home, kid,
you're not tough enough."
His hard work paid off, and he eventually carved himself out a spot. "I
just kept coming. I remember Angelo Mosca blackened both of my eyes and
I broke my nose when I starting out. I never said a word, I kept on
going," he explained. "The thing is, if you want to be a wrestler,
whether you're smaller or not, if you know your craft inside out, you
work out, you show the fellows that you're there to stay, eventually
you're going to pound out a spot for yourself."
Size was certainly an issue to some people, but Lane downplays it. "I
was always under the assumption that if you can take them all down on
the mat, they're all the same size."
His name Buddy Lane comes from a childhood nickname, and his mother's
Lane's first territory outside of Minnesota was Gene Kiniski
promotion, where he was sent for seasoning in 1974. He quickly realized
that he had actually had it great, starting out in one of the biggest,
most important promotions. "All these guys would give their eye teeth to
work in Minneapolis," Lane said.
"There was no free ride there. You had to live it, eat it and breathe
Besides Vancouver, which he figures he returned to at least 10 times,
Lane hit Kansas City, Portland, Calgary, Winnipeg, Montreal, California,
Florida, and did stints in Europe, Japan (with Harley Race
), Korea and
His favourite stint was the AWA in the mid-'80s. Some of the top talent
was there, and he was regularly taking on greats like Nick Bockwinkel
and Billy Robinson.
And there was the title chase. "I used to chase Steve Regal around, Mike
Graham, Rock'n' Roller Buck Zumhoff for the lightheavyweight crown," Lane
Every time he came close, the belt was kept from his permanent grasp,
especially against Steve Regal (not to be confused with William Regal of
today's WWF). "It's all a work anyways, but you beat him for the
light-heavyweight crown and then they weigh him, he's overweight, so the
title can't change hands," sighed Lane. "I'd chase him all over
Minneapolis and around the United States again."
On one occasion, Lane beat Regal in a non-title match, then Mike Graham
beat Regal for the title. Lane's chase of Graham then began.
Throughout his career, Lane was pretty well always a babyface. "It was
better suited for me because I had the wrestling background, but I
always sort of wanted to be the heel. Guys like Verne, Gene Kiniski
and that said 'No, no, you've got blond hair. You're too good looking to
be a heel.'"
A late '80s card featuring Paul Peller against Buddy Lane.
In 1984, he got a chance to head to Eastern Canada. "I was talking to
and the Stomper and they were going to the Maritimes. I didn't
really know the Maritimes. They said, 'You know
where Leo Burke
is from, right?' I said, 'Yeah, New Brunswick'. 'Well,
they call that the Maritimes.' Well, I'd heard about it. I got to
wrestle in the best place there was. So Brown says 'Gimme some pictures
and I'll take them down there.' So he took my pictures and took them to
[promoter Emile] Dupre
. He saw me on television and he called me and
asked if I wanted to come in. In the summers in Minneapolis, it does get
slow. It was known as a winter territory. So Wally Karbo says 'Go ahead,
go.' I came down here the summer of '84 and worked against Archie
Gouldie, The Stomper, Bob Brown, Mr. Pogo."
He was an instant hit because the AWA TV show was seen in the Maritimes.
The style of wrestling was different than many of the other territories
he worked. To Lane, the fans out East want "rock'em'sock'em wrestling"
"When the Cuban Assassin
told me to get a chair, I got the chair and I
broke it over his head because if I didn't break it over his head, it
was coming over mine," Lane said with a laugh.
The East Coast was home before he knew it. "I met my wife and I ended up
staying here. Otherwise, I would probably be in Florida or if this place
hadn't have panned out, I would have been living in Portland, Oregon
with [Roddy] Piper
and Buddy Rose." With the Maritimes being primarily a
summer promotion, Lane has had to find some other jobs to keep him busy.
He has run a wrestling school, promoted a bit with Stephen Petitpas
worked as an inventory control manager for a furniture store and is even
certified to work on the oil rigs offshore.
In the Maritimes, Lane worked with Emile Dupre for 10 years, helping to
book and promote the territory. The promotional aspects had come pretty
easy for him, having been around so many territories and promoters.
"Hanging around with Wally Karbo and Verne Gagne, watching those guys do
it, it's just common sense. You're booking towns, you're booking this,
you're booking that," Lane said. "I learned from Gene Kiniski, I learned
from Wally Karbo, I learned from the Grahams in Florida. You pick up all
He admires the job Dupre did. "He did a great job. He ran for 30 years,
worked seven days a week,
twice on Sundays. You've got to give him credit, whether he's running
today or not."
Being a student of wrestling over the years has paid off for Lane in his
latest capacity as booker and teacher for the fledgling Real Action
Wrestling promotion in the Maritimes.
"Buddy is an important part of Real Action Wrestling. You can't replace
that kind of experience. Technically, and especially on the mat itself,
he is awesome. He has helped some of the younger guys to learn holds
and counter holds," explained Warren Olson, one of the primary investors
in Real Action Wrestling. "The other thing about Buddy, he is extremely
passionate about this business. He holds it very dear to his heart.
When he speaks about it, you know it's coming from his heart. He
doesn't pull any punches for sure. He has been very helpful in helping
us get established from both a worker and advisor's point of view. He
has adapted well to the evolution of this sport becoming more about
entertainment, while managing to keep and integrate the things he has
picked up in his 20+ years in the ring."
Lane finds that he is trying to instill different skills in the
youngsters wrestling in the promotion. "What we're trying to do is bring
them back the way the wrestling was, learn how to wrestle on the mat,
learn how to wrestle to your feet, do your spot, catch the guy with
something, take him down to the mat,
wrestle your way out of a spot rather than punch and kick your way out
of a spot. Then it shows that there is a bit of a competition going on
"The ideal is, the reason a heel heels is the babyface outwrestles the
heel and then the heel gets so pissed off and frustrated that then he
pops the babyface. Then the babyface gets pissed off, and he's got the
fans behind him, and the babyface kicks the sh** out of the heel. Then
you all go home, the babyface gets his hand raised and the people are
He is also trying to teach the psychology that goes behind the
wrestling. "Years ago, when a fellow got poked in the eye, the heel
conceals it from the referee, then he pokes him in the eye. So then you
mileage out of why the guy did it. If you do it flagrantly in front of
the referee, why's the referee there? He may as well sit in the front
row, just watching the two of you beat the daylights of our each other."
To Lane, the current WWF scene is suffering because of the lack of
wrestling. In the early days of the WWF's rise to prominence, the stars
were wrestlers first. "They put these gimmicks onto these fellows, all
these images ... it was very easy for those fellows to adapt to a
gimmick because they had the wrestling background, they had the style.
The fellows that are coming up today, they give them a gimmick first and
they don't how to wrestle. Then they learn the wrestling second and
that's why the product is unbelievable."
He tries to be as good of a teacher as the ones he had. "I made mistakes
along the way, but I had great teachers to correct my mistakes. Ray
Stevens became a good friend of mine, Pat Patterson, Nick
Bockwinkel, guys like that, they just tell you, 'Look, this is the way
you've got to do it.'"
The advice extends beyond the ring as well. Life on the road can be a
challenge for a young wrestler. "When I was coming out of high school,
that was the greatest thing, to be partying, being on the road in the
hotel rooms and all this other stuff. After a while, the years go by,
and you've spent all this money.
You made a hundred grand or more, and you're sitting there wondering,
'Where'd all that money go?' You partied it all away."
So Lane finds himself showing the youngsters how to save their money as
well as how to do a headlock.
-- By GREG OLIVER, SLAM! Wrestling
, November 2001
Oct. 17, 2001: Legends to come out in Halifax