WCCW 1st Von Erich Memorial Parade of Champions
May 6, 1984
We’re in Irving, Texas at Texas Stadium. 32,123 was the attendance. A bit of backstory here; Fritz Von Erich is the patriarch of the Von Erich family. Originally a Nazi style German heel back in the day, his sons all became popular wrestlers in Von Erich’s hotbed; Texas. David Von Erich was set to be the NWA World Champion. It was all agreed, signed and sealed. Then in February 1984, David died while on a tour of Japan. I’ve seen David wrestle and cut promos and he was the real deal. He was technically proficient but also good enough on the charisma front to square off with those dastardly Freebirds and would have been a great match for Flair. The NWA championship committee voted on their next champion in January and the match was set to go ahead in April of 1984. David died in Tokyo, Japan on February 10. The family have always stated the cause of death was enteritis, which is what is the recorded cause of death in Japanese records. Ric Flair, in his autobiography, claims that it may have been a painkiller overdose and that Bruiser Brody had removed the evidence. Another theory is a heart attack caused by bulimia. However you look at it, the death was a tragic loss of a generational talent.
Fritz chose to book a show to honour his fallen son; the Von Erich Memorial Parade of Champions*, where another of his sons, Kerry, would challenge Ric Flair for the NWA title. The NWA didn’t really approve of Kerry as a world champion but allowed the title switch, providing Kerry swiftly returned the favour to Flair.
*The Parade of Champions was a Dallas supershow dating back to the 60s. South West Sports, the forefather of WCCW, ran a show under that name at Texas Stadium back in 1961. They ran Texas Stadium again in 1972 where Fritz went 60 minutes with then NWA champion Dory Funk Jr. Again in 1976 with Fritz vs Terry Funk, again for the NWA belt. So, this concept wasn’t a one-off but it’s the first time they’ve run the gimmick since 1976.
This show is available in chunks on the network but it’s also on YouTube in one piece if that’s your bag. We skip Mantell/Kiniski (it’s not Dutch, nor Gene) to get into the meat of the show.
A glimpse at the arena before we kick things off. It’s huge and it is packed. This was a huge draw for Von Erich. They claim 50,000. It isn’t but the positioning of the cameras hide the truth. WCCW would claim the biggest attendance in wrestling history. Showdown at Shea (1980) says otherwise. WWF claimed over 36k for that show. Obviously, 50k would beat that but there aren’t 50,000 people here.
Chris Adams & Sunshine vs. Jimmy Garvin & Precious
“Gentleman” Chris Adams was a judoka from Rugby. His brother Neil Adams was a very famous Olympian in the 80s. Adams moved to LA in 1981, which is quite the contrast to rural Warwickshire. His personal life was a disaster due to alcohol problems and he was shot to death in a drunken brawl in 2001, awaiting sentencing for manslaughter at the time. Sunshine was a valet who rarely wrestled and is mainly famous for her run in WCCW. Garvin was a territory veteran, enjoying a heated run as a heel in Texas. Precious is Garvin’s wife. She gives me Linda Hamilton in the first Terminator vibes.
This is shown out of order, so comms mentions Kerry has already won the title. Good job I wasn’t going in unspoiled! Adams is famous for inventing the superkick and he flattens Garvin with it here. The women get bigger pops as Sunshine puts a beating on Precious. There’s a lot of hooting and hollering. The noise is so loud it distorts the audio. Adams wins with a sunset flip on Garvin, which the camera misses. This was tremendous fun but mainly because of how over everyone was. They brawl all the way to the back with Adams bleeding all over the place. Fantastic! This was the actual show closer.
Butch Reed vs. Chic Donovan
Chic Donovan looks like a really old surfer or a rocker who’s aged horribly. His hair is immaculate though. Given his physique, it’s a surprise that he never got over anywhere. Or that Vince never hired him. His wrestling is incredibly bland, and he was injury prone, so that was that. Donovan’s timing is an issue and the match stinks. Reed wins with a shoulderblock.
The Great Kabuki vs. Kimala
Oh no, no the Great Kabuki again. I know it’s “Kamala” but the graphic says “Kimala”.
This is a terrible match too but for different reasons. There aren’t so many botches here, but it’s just boring as shit. Kamala does a bunch of rest holds, including one where he just cups Kabuki’s boobs. Gary Hart and Skandor Akbar brawl around on the floor and it ends up spilling into the ring for a double DQ. This was fucking awful.
The Junkyard Dog vs. Missing Link
JYD is on the verge of jumping to WWF. Link had a gimmick where he was supposed to be some guy between cavemen and modern man. He’s all wild and out of control. This match fucking sucks. JYD does his stupid headbutts and Link can’t get on the same page at all. He tries to duck under a punch and ducks right into it. They do a spot where JYD is supposed to be miss in the corner and he doesn’t. Link wins by cheating but Bronco Lubic comes out to DQ Link. Ok, who cares, let’s move on.
NWA American Tag Team Championship
The Super Destroyers (c) vs. King Parsons & Buck Zumhofe
The Destroyers are Bill and Steve Irwin. You might know Bill for his WWF run as hockey player “The Goon”. His brother Scott died of a brain tumour in 1987. He had a WWWF run as one half of the Yukon Lumberjacks prior to this. This is the tail end of the Super Destroyers run and the other team here would unmask them shortly after this. The Irwin’s would rebrand as the Long Riders. This is a better match but unfortunately has Buck Zumhofe, paedophile, in it. Destroyers do a lot of clubbering. Parsons gets the pin and the crowd goes nuts, even though this is the third time they’ve done the same title switch in WCCW this year.
World TV Premier of Badstreet, USA
Yes! This is a music video for the Freebirds entrance song. Michael PS Hayes overacting to his hearts content. Badstreet, USA is the best entrance music of all time, surely? It has to be in the conversation.
WE LIVE IN THE LAST HOUSE ON THE RIGHT.
World Class Six-Man Tag Team Championship
The Fabulous Freebirds (Michael PS Hayes, Terry Gordy & Buddy Roberts) (c) vs. Fritz, Kevin & Mike Von Erich
The champs get the whole music video treatment, then come out here and lose to the Von Erichs. The ‘belts’ are a giant trophy. The Von Erichs, not to be outdone musically, come out to “Stranglehold” by Ted Nugent. Fritz is 55 years old, going on 80. Kevin Von Erich was a really good wrestler too. Mike is a different story. He never wanted to be a wrestler and only debuted last year. He lacks the physical prowess of his brothers, but he looks like David and Fritz smelled money. The pressure was too much for young Mike, who committed suicide in 1987. He was only 23. At the start the ref tells the wrestlers he’ll only allow one v one action but he can’t control it. It turns into a donnybrook with multiple bladejobs, Gordy hitting people with his boot and Kevin beats Roberts with a crossbody in under ten minutes. This was a wild brawl. If it had been allowed to get properly out of control it was an easy recommendation. As it stands, they rushed it too much and it needed more time. There were too many moving components to do 7+ minutes and fuck off. It was a HOT seven minutes though. ***
NWA World Heavyweight Championship
Ric Flair (c) vs. Kerry Von Erich
Due to the NWA’s global presence, Flair has actually lost the belt to Harley Race and won it back again (in New Zealand and Singapore respectively) since Starrcade ‘83.
There’s a big difference in the reception for these two. Flair gets treated with indifference. Kerry is mobbed by fans. The high pitched pop when Kerry takes his robe off speaks volumes.
Kerry, a Texas ten. A California 3. Kerry is excited and Flair must slow him down. There’s a lot of sequences where Flair takes a few spots and then begs off to stop Kerry from going too crazy.
Flair’s performance is measured and without his guiding hand, Kerry might have made a mess of this. As it stands, it is a good match though. Flair’s guidance combining well with Kerry’s fire. Flair will lose the belt if he’s disqualified and he comes close a few times. Particularly kneeing Kerry in the jewels to escape the Von Erich’s deadly Iron Claw. The ending is less dramatic, Kerry simply catching Flair in a backslide for the win and the NWA belt. ***½
Post Match: Flair tells Kerry; “you tell you brothers and you tell your old man. I’ll be back”. “You got it, baby” says Kerry, perhaps unaware his voice can be picked up by the microphone. The reaction for Kerry here is insane. A whole stadium full of people losing their minds.
There are some obvious bad matches on this card but I really enjoyed it. It helps that it ended strong with two good bouts but it’s also a combination of the huge crowd, the hot promotion and a different setting to what I’m used to. The title match is marginally better than history remembers it and I loved the whole presentation of the show. It wasn’t WWF, basically.