WCCW 2nd Memorial Parade of Champions (5.5.85) review
May 5, 1985
We’re in Irving, Texas at Texas Stadium. Last year this show drew huge, but it was headlined by Kerry Von Erich going after the NWA title. This year it’s Kevin Von Erich who gets an NWA title shot at Flair. It’s still a big crowd as 26,000 people packed in for this, compared to 32,000 a year earlier. Host is Marc Lowrance. Why is Bill Mercer always busy on big show days?
The Von Erich Family hasn’t entirely collapsed at this point, but they are still in mourning for David Von Erich, who passed away in 1984.
They bring out Doris Von Erich, the mother of the deceased, so the Von Erich boys can give her a bouquet of, what else, yellow roses. It seems they’re claiming 40,000 people (about twice the seating capacity of Madison Square Garden) for this. It really isn’t.
Rip Oliver vs. Mike Von Erich
This is the first sighting of Jim Cornette. No glasses on Corny. Mike has a cast on his hand, causing Cornette to call him a “cheat and a coward” for wearing it. WWF fans might know Oliver as “Super Ninja”; a late 80s jobber. Mike never wanted to be a wrestler and he’s clearly not on his game here either. They make a mess of something, an armdrag maybe, and just collapse in the middle of the ring. Cornette spends the whole match yapping, which eventually draws Mike into chasing him into an obvious trap. Rip dominates most of the match but Mike punches him with the cast and that finishes. Hey, Cornette was right! He did cheat! Mike looked poor here. His heart is not in the business.
AWA Tag Team Championship
The Midnight Express vs. The Fantastics
This is a weird two ring gimmick and the belts have been held up so there’s no champions coming in. This version of the MXP is Bobby Eaton and Dennis Condrey. The two-ring gimmick sees both guys be legal. There’s two rings, side by side, and they pair off and wrestle in each one. Eaton takes bumps that no one in the business was at the time. Including a slingshot to the floor and a backdrop outside. The offence is good too. Rogers with a picture-perfect missile dropkick at one point.
They have this giant called Little John at ringside to prevent Jim Cornette from interfering and you can hear them talking during the match. I think it’s a guy by the name of John Harris who worked for the NWA around this time. He’s legitimately enormous, around 7’5” (so, eight feet tall by wrestling numbers), and used to play basketball. He has trouble forming sentences and keeps mumbling about “bunch of pansies”.
The double ring gimmick allows both teams to take some interesting bumps. They do an interesting finish, where David Manning, one of the two referees, gets bumped. Eaton takes advantage by choking out Fulton. This draws in Little John to stop him. This, in turn, gives Cornette time to sneak over to the other ring and hit Rogers with his tennis racket. Condrey gets the pin. Fulton then rolls up Eaton to get a visual pin in the other ring, but the match is already over. Somehow the referee’s conference results in them awarding the match to the Fantastics, even though they lost. Huh. Forget that I praised that finish. Anyway, this is a really fun match concept, and they worked a nice match around it. It was too short, and it appears that they botched the finish. Otherwise, an entertaining match and concept. ***¼
Post Match: Cornette tries to waffle Little John with his tennis racket, and it breaks. That’s a good bit.
One Man Gang, Chris Adams, Gino Hernandez, Steve Williams, Kamala & Rip Oliver vs. The Von Erichs (Kerry, Kevin & Mike) & The Fabulous Freebirds (Michael PS Hayes, Terry Gordy & Buddy Roberts)
The double ring, while coming into play during that tag contest, is really here to contain this mass of humanity. The Freebirds are babyface now and pals with the Von Erichs.
The guy who gets the winning pinfall in this wins a car. This is three out of five falls! There’s also action in both rings. It is chaos. Some guys are observing tag rules, some are not. There are people everywhere. Kerry has fall one won with a roll up but Chris Adams jumps in there and superkicks him, which comms think is illegal. I don’t think it is? Anyway, 1-0 heels.
Only the Von Erich’s seem to be tagging in and out. Everyone else is just piling in there whenever they feel like it. Hayes gets picked off and Gino Hernandez pins him. 2-0 heels. One more fall for them and the match is over. Or could the faces come battling back from 2-0 down? Only time will tell.
The third fall is really quick with Kerry getting a crossbody on Oliver. 2-1 heels. One Man Gang ‘injures’ Kerry and he’s beaten up by the entire heel team. This is helping to set up tonight’s main event of Gang vs. Kerry with Kerry Von Erich’s hair on the line*! The match is a pleaser for the crowd because they can switch focus depending on what’s happening, and the action seems constant in one of the two rings. The Freebirds triple team Gino and Buddy gets the pin. 2-2. We’re going to the final fall. Who would have thunk it?
*Again, the matches are out of order on tape. This was the actual main event. Flair-Kevin and the hair match have already happened before this. You can tell because Gary Hart, at ringside for this, is already bald. Commentary also points out Flair is too injured to take part in this match. Not sure who subbed in for him, but I assume Rip Oliver.
This is the first fall where the wrestlers seem to go from one ring to the other more freely. This helps play into the finish when Kevin dives from one ring to the other to beat Steve Williams. 3-2 babyfaces and Kevin wins a shiny new Lincoln. This was a fun concept, but it was hard to follow and there were too many moving parts.
Post Match: Gary Hart orders One Man Gang to go and destroy Kevin’s car. “Mercifully the car has been saved” says comms. They sure love their automobiles in Texas. Gino mercifully goes and smashes the windscreen himself and Chris Adams kicks it in to make sure.
Beautiful work boys. Kevin is all “MAH CAR”. This is a blood feud now. Sure, Chris Adams smashed his head in and put him in hospital, but you don’t touch a man’s automobile!
I’m absolutely howling at this. They do a better job of mourning Kevin’s windscreen than they did with David Von Erich.
NWA World Heavyweight Championship
Ric Flair (c) vs. Kevin Von Erich
Comms gets on WWF’s case by saying Flair is the REAL World Champion who defends the belt all over the planet.
They do a good job here of showing Kevin’s strengths. He’s a little more muscular and overpowers Flair in 50-50 contests. He’s also fleet of foot and pulls out a few sneaky roll ups. Flair is shown as inferior in both strength and speed. Kevin is the better athlete. Flair can’t even get intentionally disqualified as a DQ = title change here. Flair has to use his brain and his cunning. One of my favourite bits of Flair being sneaky is when he takes advantage of the referee being knocked over to throw Kevin over the top, but Kevin hangs on and comes back in with a high crossbody. It’s a spot that showcases Flair’s desperation but also Kevin’s range of abilities and his heart.
They have a great spot where Flair takes his corner bump and falls into the other ring, allowing Kevin to replicate the finish from the 12-man, diving off the top buckle this time. While Flair had to contain Kerry last year, he lets Kevin work a faster pace. He seems to trust him more. The ultra-sensitive microphones they have here pick up Flair talking in a chinlock. They figure it out quickly and turn it down, but they should know wrestlers talk to each other. In defence of both guys, there are hardly any rest holds. It doesn’t have the pacing of Flair-Race in that Pro Wrestling USA match, but they stay busy.
Kevin’s lack of ruthlessness is usually an issue with his matches. He feels cold compared to Kerry last year. It’s because he’s so cold and calculating that he uses the backslide, when he gets a chance, the move that pinned Flair last year.
He does it too near the ropes though and Flair, pinned clean, can use the rope to escape. Kevin gets the Iron Claw but Flair bails into the ropes and they both fall out. Kevin wants to go back in, but Flair holds him down outside and we go to a double count out. This was a well paced title match, which had the misfortune of having to follow the drama of Flair-Kerry last year. This was the better match though and maybe they should have put the belt on Kevin instead. ****
Post Match: Flair attacks again, comms assuming he thinks the match is still going, and Kevin gets the Iron Claw again. Kevin, normally cold and calculating, is full of rage here and won’t break the hold. The other brothers come out here and Kevin almost belts Kerry. Flair is going grey, and Fritz has to come out here and tell Kevin to stop. “Son, you’re going to kill him”.
It’s a sign of the decline of WCCW that Flair would only come back here one more time, wrestling Lance Von Erich in October. Lance was a young wrestler named Ricky Vaughan who got brought in as a cousin, son of Fritz’s brother Waldo. He wasn’t related to them at all. The idea being that they needed more babyfaces because of the Von Erich kids having to wrestle multiple matches on every show.
Hair vs. Hair
One Man Gang vs. Kerry Von Erich
Gang has a mohawk and it’s not his hair on the line but rather his manager Gary Hart. His hair looks terrible, they did him a favour here.
This feels like a WWF match with a big hulking heel clubbering away at the face. Kerry is all excitable though, so it’s not paced like a WWF match. OMG does a lot of rest holds to allow everything Kerry does to look super-animated by comparison. When stuff gets dull, we cut out to Fritz, handcuffed to Gary Hart at ringside, as they scuffle around. They do a weird spot where Hart is supposed to trip Kerry on a slam, but he doesn’t. Fritz doesn’t miss his marker and trips Gang up allowing Kerry to get the pin. Comms lies to us about the botch but it’s right there on screen. The match was ok, finish aside, and Kerry looked like an energetic main event stud. Although, he is a Von Erich in Dallas.
Post Match: They bring out the babyfaces to subdue One Man Gang, who doesn’t want Gary to get his hair shaved off. Of course, it’s the Von Erich kids who finally manage it by handcuffing Gang to the buckles.
Fritz does the honours and Gary Hart gets shaved bald. Gang pulls the turnbuckle off to protect his newly bald manager. The crowd chant “baldie”. Baldie, baldie, over there, what’s it like to have no hair? Is it hot? Is it cold? I don’t know coz I’m not bald!
Lots of ideas here. WCCW getting creative with the two rings, various wacky stipulations and booking that inspired some Jim Crockett stuff down the line. There’s still a massive issue and that’s the lack of top tier babyfaces. So much so that all the Von Erich kids work twice, even Mike. Apart from the tag titles match everything has a Von Erich attached. There is an excellent NWA title match on this card, but it does feel like the beginning of the end when Kevin doesn’t win here. At this point WCCW is still a good watch. I’ve been enjoying their shows, even with the reliance on the Von Erich brothers.