August 24, 2023

WCCW 3rd Cotton Bowl Extravaganza (10.12.86) 

WCCW 3rd Cotton Bowl Extravaganza (10.12.86) 


October 12, 1986 


We’re in Dallas, Texas at the Cotton Bowl. Host is Bill Mercer. The attendance here is a measly 5,835, an enormous drop off from the killer crowds they were doing in 1985. 1986 was a bad year for World Class. In February Gino Hernandez, one of the territories top heels, was found dead. Rumours began to swirl about the circumstances. Was it drug related? Was Gino dealing coke on the side? Was it a mob hit? Whatever the truth, it wasn’t good for the territory. Also, Jim Crockett Jr had decided to cut ties with Dallas in 1986, which led to the territory debuting its own world title. The head booker, Ken Mantell, quit and joined Bill Watts’ UWF.  


Speaking of the UWF, they’ve also poached Missy Hyatt, John Tatum, Iceman Parsons, the Freebirds (!) and Chris Adams. If that sounds like most of the talent that were over, it’s because it is. What’s left is the Von Erich family and a bunch of scrubs. Adams himself left under a cloud, jailed for headbutting an airline pilot, and refusing to job to Black Bart. This is the same year where Kerry von Erich had his motorbike crash where he lost his foot.  


The good thing about a desperate promotion is the chances they’ll give to new talent. There are a few familiar faces on this show, working under less familiar names.  


I’m going to miss these little trips to Texas. It’s been a great ride. I love the music, the production and the show in general.  

Oh, man, that crowd is sad. The bleachers are the other side but they’ve not even sold out the floor.  


Grappler vs. Scott Casey 

Grappler is Len/Lyn Denton. Casey would finish up in WCCW and become a WWF jobber. Denton would be heading to Portland, where he’d keep going until 1992 as the Grappler. Comms mention they had a “Blue Northerner” today, which in weather terms, for those not from Texas, means it’s colder than usual but still warmer than anywhere else. That probably hasn’t helped ticket sales. The match is predictably mediocre. Neither guy is particularly good. The timing is off on the strikes. The grappling feels too cooperative. As they’re in a chinlock it suddenly starts raining like MAD.  

Mercer’s lost his TV screens and is now sat under a tarp. Casey finishes with a bulldog as they rapidly abandon whatever they were doing. If you’re a religious person, this is God telling WCCW to stop running shows. 


Oh hey, look who it is? Not Steve Simpson but rather the facepaint and tassel lovin’ son of a gun on the right. With normal hair, it’s hard to recognise him but the elements are coming together on this Ultimate Warrior. The weirdest part of this is him just talking normally. He doesn’t have that X factor that he would later in his life.  


World Class World Tag Team Championship 

Matt Borne & Buzz Sawyer (c) vs. Dingo Warrior & Steve Simpson  

Borne is the future Doink. He’s already washed out of WWF once, having been treated like a jobber. The champs are managed by Percy Pringle. The challengers by the lovely Sunshine. They waited for it to stop raining before this match was scheduled. Doppler radar and all that. Warrior is his usual self in the ring. I can hear him talking and he gets confused over spots. He and Sawyer are not on the same page at all. He’s not even been wrestling for a year at this point and he’s not good. Dingo Warrior is his third stab at a gimmick after being Freedom Fighter Justice and Blade Runner Rock already. A mere 8 months later, he’d already be in the WWF.  


Simpson is very limited too, so they work heat on him. It helps that Borne and Sawyer are good enough to control the match. Simpson takes heat and Warrior gets the hot tag. His idea of offence is mostly badly timed clotheslines. It’s embarrassing. Warrior, idiot, dipshit, throws Sawyer over the top and gets disqualified. Literally pressed him over the top, so there’s no accident. Good lord, Warrior sucked something fierce here. He couldn’t do anything.  


Brian Adias vs. Crusher Yurkov  

You may recognise Crusher, a faux Soviet, with a bald head. Are those flames he has tattooed on his head? His t-shirt reads “I Am Monster”. Yeah, it’s Bam Bam Bigelow. He’s 25 years old and only had his first match in June. Again, it’s WCCW being forced into using someone they wouldn’t normally use. Adias is still babyface here but the crowd care less about him than they did Chris Adams. He’s popular by association with the Von Erich’s but that’s about it. Bigelow is very green but uses his size well. The WWF would be in for him in May 1987.  


Bigelow is managed by Larry Sharpe, his trainer. Sharpe is one of the legendary trainers who seems to have had a hand in a bunch of famous careers. Among those he helped train; Steve Maclin, Sheamus, Sonjay Dutt, Reckless Youth, Headbangers, Big Show, Tatanka, Chris Candido, Godfather, Pitbulls, Raven, Balls Mahoney, Virgil, King Kong Bundy and 911.  


Adias works from underneath and just bounces off on collisions. Yurkov comes off the top and crushes Adias for the pin. Wow, they just massacred poor Brian here.  


Mike Von Erich vs. Spike Johnson 

Mike basically missed an entire year of action thanks to a bad shoulder injury, followed by toxic shock. While Mike was a decent, albeit small, prospect the toxic shock left him with mental issues.  

Fritz is undoubtedly putting pressure on him to measure up. Losing Kerry to a bad injury in 1986 was bad enough but having to carry a subpar Mike von Erich was just unacceptable. Mike stumbles and fumbles all over his promo. It’s so sad to watch.  

This is Spike Johnson, for anyone interested. They’ve basically brought in a big dude in S&M gear so Mike has someone to beat. He was in WCCW for a couple of months, just doing big man jobs for anyone and everyone. Mike claims to be 225lbs but he’s not. He’s probably around 190lbs. A year ago, after defying death, he was down to 140lbs and very sick. In addition to toxic shock, he had a car crash earlier in the year and sustained head injuries. The sheer number of vehicle crashes the Von Erich’s had were staggering. How can Kerry and Mike have serious ones the same year?  


To this point, they’ve done a good job of hiding Mike in tags where he doesn’t get exposed and either Kerry or Kevin control everything. Out here on his own, the pressure on him is intense. He’s not a good worker. The time off has made him even worse. He finishes Spike off with a sunset flip. This was ok at times but Mike looked out of his depth. Just really sad to watch. By the time the next Parade of Champions rolled around Mike was dead. Committed suicide at the age of 23.  


It starts raining again. A metaphor for how depressing this all is.  


Brad & Bart Batten vs. Mark & Chris Youngblood  

The Battens are trying to work under the name “US Express”. Pretty sure that’s going to result in a cease and desist letter from Jerry McDevitt. Mark & Chris, the Youngbloods, are working a native American gimmick, as they did throughout their careers. They’re the sons of Ricky Romero and are just Texans. Both them and the Battens would work various territories during their careers. The Battens are ok but bland. The Youngbloods are a reasonable babyface team. The match is hampered by the weather, as they can’t do anything too complicated. Chris’ attempts at dropkicks is a demonstration of how awkward it is to work in this. Chris gets a roll up for the pin.  


Next up is Ricky Steamboat, on loan from the WWF, against Mighty Zulu but that, predictably, doesn’t make tape.  


World Class World Championship 

Black Bart (c) vs. Kevin Von Erich  

With the NWA pulling out of Texas, World Class turned their top belt into a “world” title. Rick Rude was the initial champion but lost to Chris Adams. Who in turn dropped (ahem) the belt to Black Bart to allow this big babyface win at the Cotton Bowl. If they could have kept it on Adams, and kept Adams in the territory and out of jail, they could have had a gangbusters Adams-Kevin match here. A shame.  

Kerry, now with one foot, is at ringside. Bart won this “in California”, which is World Class’ version of Rio. Bart is a puppet champion and has no heat on him whatsoever. It doesn’t help that he’s such a middling talent. Kevin doesn’t have much to work with. They don’t build him up during the match either. He lands one move at a time and Kevin immediately cuts him off. Kevin hits a missile dropkick and finishes with a crossbody. Wow. The crowd pops the change but the match was a bunch of nothing. Kevin beating Black Bart doesn’t really compare to Kerry beating Ric Flair for the NWA title.  


Backstage, Kevin talks about how this belt belongs to David von Erich. The whole family comes in to celebrate. Fritz, miserable old fucker, wants Mike to win a title because “he’s behind”. The look on Mike’s face is horrendous. The poor fucker.  


Cage Match 

Abdullah the Butcher vs. Bruiser Brody 

If you’re thinking it’s a bit bizarre to have a main event with no von Erich’s in it, Fritz is the referee. Abby vs Brody was a tour match. They’d do it all over the place, just moving from one territory to another.  

Abby isn’t one of my favourite wrestlers, if I’m being polite. His tactic in matches is to bleed and brawl and stab away with a fork. Fritz, the fucking egomaniac, ends up fighting with Abby because of the fork but he was already pulling him off Brody after allowing Brody to kick his ass in all the same spots. Fritz decks Abby and he pulls Brody on top for the pin. Jesus fucking Christ. Negative stars. 


The 411: 

If you ever want a prime example of “killing the territory” it’s WCCW. They killed wrestling in Dallas. Fritz’s increasing desperation is truly sad to see. The treatment of his own children, especially poor Mike, is shocking. The worrying part is it’s only downhill from here and it was shit at this point.  

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