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In 1982, they left for World Class Championship Wrestling (WCCW), where they had one of their most famous feuds. During Christmas night in 1982, Hayes was chosen by the fans to be the special guest referee during the Ric Flair-Kerry Von Erich NWA World Heavyweight Championship match inside a steel cage. Hayes at one point knocked Flair out so Von Erich could get the pin and the title. Von Erich refused to pin him after the dirty deed which ultimately led to Gordy slamming the cage door on Von Erich's head. As this later cost him the title, it triggered the legendary feud between The Fabulous Freebirds and The Von Erichs and ended a good respectful friendship between both groups. The Freebird-Von Erich feud ended for good in 1994 during a memorial card in tribute to Kerry Von Erich.

Hayes was always the leader of the group with his exceptional mic skills and he recorded the team's new theme song, Badstreet USA, in 1983. The video to the song features all three of The Fabulous Freebirds as well as Jimmy Garvin, who was often considered the fourth Freebird. They had used the Lynyrd Skynyrd song "Free Bird" up to that point and would on occasion in the future.

In 1984, The Freebirds had a brief stint in the WWF but left when management wanted to split them up. The Freebirds then spent a few months in the AWA in 1985, feuding with The Road Warriors over the AWA World Tag Team Championship, winning the belts temporarily at the inaugural SuperClash event before the AWA overturned the decision. The Freebirds interfered in the match where the Warriors lost the belts to Jimmy Garvin and Steve Regal, and subsequently returned to Texas.

In 1986, Hayes appeared in the opening credits of Highlander alongside The Fabulous Freebirds, working his Purely Sexy gimmick on the turnbuckle while writhing free of his ring robe.

In 1991, Jim Crockett Promotions became World Championship Wrestling (WCW) and The Freebirds feuded with "The Young Pistols" (Steve Armstrong and Tracy Smothers). They soon added another Freebird, Badstreet. He helped them win the U.S. Tag Team Titles and they all won the Six-Man Titles. They also had two managers briefly, Big Daddy Dink and Diamond Dallas Page. Once Badstreet departed from the group in late 1991, The Freebirds were left with no real direction. The Freebirds turned face, and Garvin's wife Precious became their off-screen manager. Although they won the U.S. Tag Titles again, The Freebirds disbanded by late 1992.

Hayes then turned heel again and started managing Arn Anderson and Bobby Eaton, who were still members of the Dangerous Alliance. He became a member of sorts and even helped Paul E. Dangerously in his feud with Madusa. In 1993, Hayes became a fan favorite again and feuded with Paul Orndorff over the TV Title and then briefly teamed with Johnny B. Badd and also did some commentating before leaving WCW in 1994. He went to the Global Wrestling Federation and reunited with Garvin and Gordy as The Freebirds.

In 1995, Hayes retired from active competition due to an injury. He became Dok Hendrix, WWF Action Zone co-host with Todd Pettengill. A common misconception is that Hayes invented the Stone Cold Stunner for Steve Austin, who rose to stardom upon adopting the move in 1996. The Stunner (originally called the Ace Crusher) was invented by WWE road agent/Director of Talent Relations Johnny Ace. However, Hayes did teach Austin how to perform the move with someone else to demonstrate, as Austin detailed in his book, The Stone Cold Truth.

Hayes returned to active competition in 1999 for Power Pro Wrestling, where he won the promotion's title. He soon came back to WWF TV as the manager for The Hardy Boyz (Matt and Jeff Hardy). The Hardy Boyz lost the Tag Team Titles to The Acolytes at Fully Loaded when Hayes was pinned in a handicap match; he was fired by them in August. He then became a backstage road agent for the WWF. Hayes became a color commentator on Sunday Night Heat alongside Michael Cole and Kevin Kelly from 2000 to 2001, although he was mostly used on the international broadcasts of that show. At WrestleMania X-Seven on April 1, 2001, he competed in the gimmick Battle Royal.

In 2002, Hayes hit the wrestling headlines after an incident took place during a UK tour which was dubbed the "plane ride from hell". Among other things, Hayes' hair was cut by drunken wrestlers and then glued on the wall of an arena the WWF was performing at the next day. Incidents that took place on that flight also resulted in Curt Hennig being fired.

Hayes received some attention when it became known that, prior to the November 13, 2003 episode of SmackDown! he had canvassed for John Cena (then a face) to attack his tag team partner Chris Benoit (also a face) after they had won their match. Hayes believed that adding an "edge" to Cena's character could recreate the popularity of Stone Cold Steve Austin. After the live crowd reacted badly to the storyline, it was cut from the SmackDown! broadcast.

During the December 5, 2005 episode of Raw, he became involved in verbal sparring with Edge in which Hayes attacked Edge's lack of main event experience and the details of his love life (with regard to Matt Hardy and Lita). Hayes was later attacked by Edge.

In October 2006, Hayes became the head creative writer for the SmackDown! brand after Alex Greenfield's departure from the company. He can be seen on the second season of WWE Classics On Demand series Legends of Wrestling. On the December 7, 2007 episode of SmackDown!, Hayes made another one-time appearance, as a guest of MVP's VIP Lounge. Hayes' appearance was to promote the new Triumph and Tragedy of WCCW DVD and reinforce its anti-drug message. However, Hayes ended up being attacked by MVP before being saved by Rey Mysterio.

On April 23, 2008, Hayes was suspended for 60 days without pay by WWE due to "inappropriate behavior" for making "illicit remarks" in an incident with WWE wrestler, Mark Henry.

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