October 20, 2023

WCWA 4th Cotton Bowl Extravaganza (10.17.87) review 

WCWA 4th Cotton Bowl Extravaganza (10.17.87) review 


We’re in Dallas, Texas at the Cotton Bowl. Attendance is a paltry 3,700 and this is probably my final WCCW/WCWA show. To watch Dallas, as a territory, slowly die while the von Erich family systematically fall apart and literally die, has been surprisingly painful. The first Cotton Bowl show in 1984 drew 12,000 people. 26,000 attended when the Von Erich’s shaved the heads of Gino Hernandez and Chris Adams in 1985. That was the peak of the Von Erich power. Just two years later, it’s a sad, sad scene. WCWA has changed their music and entrance and everything and it just sucks. They can’t even get highlights for their videos that don’t have empty stands in the background.  


Al Madril, Manuel Villalobos & Mil Mascaras vs. Cowboy Tony, Frankie Lancaster & Vince Apollo

Cowboy Tony Falk is a terrible Texas mainstay. Apollo is a future WWF jobber. You may know him better as Phil Apollo. Most of the talent in this era of WCCW dropped into the territory for a year and then left.  

The crowd is tragic. Why are they even in this arena? It’s a big empty bowl. There are empty seats in row five.  


The match is essentially a showcase for Mil Mascaras. He is head and shoulders above the star power of everyone else. Mil gets the pin with a high crossbody. The crack production crew cut away from the pinfall after the one count. Nice work fellas! Enjoy being out of business.  


Matt Borne vs. Iron Sheik 

Sheik was still with WWF in 1987 but they were renting him out to anyone that was interested. Fritz was one of the main takers. Borne worked for WWF as well, around Mania I time, but left to make a name for himself before he got turned into a career jobber.  

Borne comes out with Old Glory to endear himself to the Americans in the audience. I respect how Borne went to rebuild his career and reputation only to get saddled with the Big Josh gimmick in WCW and then Doink. Wrestling isn’t fair, man. Borne’s camo here is a bit confusing. He just looks dirty. Camo tends to be something you use to hide. He looks like a dumbass. The match has some decent technical skill in it, although Sheik is half-assing it. They end up brawling around ringside and Sheik feeds Borne the back like three times. We’re before the era of unprotected chair shots, thankfully. Both guys get counted out. I’m guessing Sheik had a ‘no jobs’ clause in his WWF deal, bubba.  


WCWA Light Heavyweight Championship  

Eric Embry (c) vs. Shaun Simpson  

Eric Embry was all over Texas and deep south wrestling for the second half of the 80s. You can’t watch a show from the area without seeing him. Embry retired in 1993 after his car got hit by a truck. This match is a whole lot of nothing. Just brawling around to a non-finish where Simpson bumps the ref. A complete waste of time. 


Video Control gives us footage of Kerry Von Erich having a public workout before the show. He’s been out since summer 1986, when he had a motorcycle crash that cost him his foot. He came back too soon and wrestled a couple of times back in February but that just pushed his rehab back.  

Kerry was never the same after his injury, which is a huge shame because if you watch him in 1985-86, he’s SO good. He has just got that IT factor but on top of that he’s confident, he’s slick in the ring, and he looks like world title material. That motorcycle crash couldn’t have come at a worse time for him and he was a husk of his former self afterwards. It is amazing that he could wrestle to a good standard with one foot. The balance required shows what a talent he was. He actually looks pretty good here. The ‘workout’ is three-minute rounds wrestling a variety of guys. If I was Fritz, I’d be happy to see Kerry up and about. Kerry still has that power and presence. There’s only one miscommunication where he doesn’t read Killer Brooks coming in and they just collide. Otherwise, he looks hot.  

Brian Adias tries to attack Kerry afterwards as he’s leaving, and Kerry hits him with a Discus Punch.  


WCWA World Championship 

Al Perez (c) vs. Kevin von Erich 

Kevin lost the belt to Al Perez earlier in the year, with the intent of selling tickets to this show for Kevin to win the belt back. It didn’t exactly work, based on the crowd size.  

If you don’t know Al Perez; he’s an absolute stud. 6’1”, 240lbs, good look. Perez and Adias are supposed to be the replacement for Gino & Chris Adams. It would be fair to say, they’re nowhere near as popular. Perez is like a smaller Scott Hall. He has that style and presence.  

Seeing Kerry back gives me hope that WCCW isn’t completely dead but in my heart I know different.  

Kevin does the flying bodyscissors in this match and if you’ve never seen it, it was an astonishing thing to witness. The power in the legs to do that and the core strength required. It’s pretty sick. If Vince had acquired Kerry and Kevin, I reckon they’d have gone on to become household names. Sadly, Kerry’s injury fucked that up and by the time Vince signed Kerry, Kevin had lost interest in the business. Fritz gets into a fight with Gary Hart while Kerry stalks Brian Adias. The evils on the outside eliminated to allow Kevin a fair shot. They play it close to the wire with potential DQs including Perez accidentally thumping Bronco Lubich! Kevin has it won with the Iron Claw but Gary Hart breaks it up, and a pier sixer breaks out. Kevin gets the high crossbody on Perez in the midst of it all and wins the belt. This was a passable match, which got huge reactions when the other Von Erich’s got involved at the finish. Al Perez was a good looking talent but his in-ring was just ok. Nothing more.  


Sidenote: there’s a note on screen that says the WCCW board of governors restored the belt to Perez anyway due to Von Erich related shenanigans near the finish. Basically, the footage showed Kerry punching Perez and that’s not kosher, brother. Perez would continue to be champion well into 1988 before Kerry eventually won the belt. Kerry would go on to hold the title four times before the eventual unification match with Jerry Lawler at Superclash III, but we’ll get to that in due course.  


The 411: 

WCCW was struggling here. They’d failed to replace the previous stars of the territory and the likes of Al Perez and Brian Adias were not cutting it as enemies of the Von Erich’s. Fritz was losing income and increasingly couldn’t afford to draft in good enough talent to compete. The events outside the ring hadn’t helped and the death of Mike von Erich in 1987 felt like the final nail in the WCCW coffin. They continued to produce TV for another two years and kept going as an entity until 1991 but any relevance they once had as a top territory was gone at this point. I’m pretty sure this is my final WCCW review. I have enjoyed my time with the Von Erich’s and hopefully the Iron Claw does them justice when it comes out. 

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