Wednesday, March 29, 2017

The Last Match: The Von Erich Family

In this edition of The Last Match we take a look at the famous Von Erich wrestling family.  I've also included people who have used the Von Erich name and even if billed as family members were not actually part of the Von Erich Family.

For more information about the Von Erich family I highly recommend that you check out the "Heroes of World Class" and "The Triumph and Tragedy of World Class Championship Wrestling" documentaries.  Also the Von Erich website here:

Fritz Von Erich
November 27, 1986 WCWA Thanksgiving Star Wars, Reunion Arena, Dallas, Texas
defeated Abdullah the Butcher by disqualification

The patriarch of the family debuted in 1953 for Stu Hart's Stampede Wrestling, later he formed a tag team with his "brother" Waldo Von Erich.  July 27, 1963 he defeated Verne Gagne for the AWA World Championship holding the title for only 12 days.  He helped re-build the Japanese wrestling scene after Rikidozan's death by wrestling matches with Giant Baba & Antonio Inoki.

In 1969 Fritz took over the Dallas Territory then known as Big Time Wrestling-Dallas, from Ed McLemore.  Rebranded in 1982 as World Class Championship Wrestling the territory was very successful with the Von Erich's working on top.  Fritz left promoting by the end of 1989.  He died on September 10, 1997 at the age of 68.

Kevin Von Erich
January 21, 1995 NWA Dallas The Sportatorium, Dallas, Texas
defeated by John Hawk losing the NWA North American Heavyweight Championship

The eldest and only surviving brother, Kevin "The Golden Warrior" debuted in 1976 mostly wrestling for his family's promotion in Dallas.  However he did appear in St. Louis, Georgia Championship Wrestling, Florida, New Japan Pro Wrestling and one match in the WWF.

Since retiring Kevin has made a few appearances in the WWE including the Raw homecoming, accepting the Von Erich Family induction into the Hall of Fame and speaking during the Freebirds induction.  He has also appeared in TNA with his sons Ross & Marshall.

David Von Erich
February 3, 1984 WCCW The Sportatorium, Dallas, Texas
defeated "Bam Bam" Terry Gordy by disqualification

"The Yellow Rose of Texas" David Von Erich was born July 22, 1958 making his debut June 11, 1977 for his father's promotion in Dallas.  In 1979 he made his only WWF appearance in a match at Madison Square Garden.  In 1981 he went to Florida working as a heel under manager JJ Dillion having feuds with Barry Windham, Mr Wrestling II, and others before returning to Texas.

Back in Texas he along with his brothers engaged in a legendary feud with The Fabulous Freebirds and later "Nature Boy" Ric Flair.  Some even believe that he was slated to win the NWA World Championship from Flair when he returned from Japan.  Sadly on February 10, 1984 David dies the day he arrived in Japan for a tour with All Japan Pro Wrestling.  There has been lots of speculation as they what caused his death, he was only 25 years old.

Kerry Von Erich
February 12, 1993 GWF The Sportatorium, Dallas, Texas
with "Gentleman" Chris Adams was defeated by Black Bart & Johnny Mantell by disqualification

"The Modern Day Warrior" debuted May 7, 1979 for is father's Texas promotion.  In 1984 he defeated "Nature Boy" Ric Flair for the NWA World Championship at the David Von Erich Memorial Parade of Champions.  Some say his reign was only because of the death of his brother David.  He would lose the title 18 days later in Japan.  June 4, 1986 he was in a motorcycle accident that severely injured his right foot.  After returning to the ring too soon his foot was injured again and it was required to be amputated.  He wrestled the rest of his career with a prosthetic foot in his boot.

Kerry with his brothers would go on to feud with the Fabulous Freebirds in a legendary battle that blew up the territory.  As WCWA Heavyweight Champion he lost a unification match to AWA World Champion  Jerry "The King" Lawler at Super Clash III.  He would sign with the WWF as the Texas Tornado debuting July 28, 1990 on Saturday Night's Main Event.  His run in the WWF was just over two years and he has a 3 month reign as Intercontinental Champion.  I loved his entrance music in the Fed, it was bad ass.  His final run in wrestling was with the GWF.

On February 18, 1993 on his fathers ranch Kerry committed suicide by shooting himself in the heart, he was 33 years old.

Mike Von Erich
March 27, 1987 WCWA The Sportatorium, Dallas, Texas
with Kevin Von Erich defeated Al Madril & Brian Adidas

Mike never wanted to be a wrestler, he was forced into ring by his father in 1983.  After his brother David's death he took his place in the feud with the Fabulous Freebirds.  August 22, 1985 he had shoulder surgery.  After being released from the hospital he spiked a fever of 107 and suffered from Toxic Shock Syndrome resulting in brain damage.

He returned to the ring but was never the same again. On April 12, 1987 he left a suicide note for his family then went to Lake Dallas and overdosed on pills, he was found 4 days later.  He was 23 years old.

Chris Von Erich
November 02, 1990 WCWA The Sportatorium, Dallas, Texas
with Kevin Von Erich & Sweet Brown Sugar was defeated by Angel of Death, John Tatum, & Skandor Akbar by disqualification

The youngest and smallest brother, standing only 5ft 5in, Chris did many jobs behind the scenes in his father's promotion.  His in ring debut came on June 22, 1990.  However due to his poor health and asthma he simply couldn't go in the ring. On September 12, 1991 at the age of 21 Chris shot himself in the head.

Lacey Von Erich
September 7, 2010 TNA Impact Universal Studios, Orlando, Florida
with Velvet Sky as The Beautiful People was defeated by Knockout Tag Team Champions: Hamada & Taylor Wilde

The daughter of Kerry Von Erich this third generation star was signed to a WWE developmental deal in August 2007.  She made her ring debuted September 15, 2007 as a valet for Billy Kidman in Florida Championship Wrestling.  She made her in ring debut in November of that year before she was released from her deal.

Lacey toured the independents before signing a deal with TNA Wrestling where she would become a TNA Knockouts Tag Team Champion as a member of the Beautiful People.

with Lacey Von Erich at the NWA Legends Fanfest 2009, Charlotte, North Carolina

On March 16, 2009 the WWE inducted the Von Erich Family into the WWE Hall of Fame, Kevin accepted on behalf of the family after being inducted by Michael PS Hayes.  Officially Fritz, Kevin, David, Kerry, Mike, & Chris were those inducted.

Kevin accepting the families induction to the WWE Hall of Fame
The only two active Von Erich's wrestling are Kevin's sons Ross & Marshall and they only wrestle a few matches a year.  Their most recent well known bouts were in TNA, June 15, 2014 at Slammiversary XII in Arlington, Texas and then TV tapings in February 2015.  Their last match to date December 16, 2016 in Dallas, Texas defeated Big Sed & Lou Sterrett.

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Later Readers!


Non-Family Members 

Waldo Von Erich
March 4, 1979 Maple Leaf Wrestling, Maple Leaf Gardens, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
defeated Johnny Yachetti

Walter Sieber began wrestling at the age of 17 for Stu Hart and Stampede Wrestling.  In the late 1950's he began teaming with Fritz Von Erich and they would capture several tag team championships together.  They last record of them teaming I could find was May 5, 1970 in Dallas, Texas.

Waldo would go onto the WWWF challenging Bruno Sammartino for the WWWF Championship and winning the US Tag Team Titles with Gene Kiniski.  After retiring he became associated with Ontario, Canada's ICW training wrestlers including Tyson Dux.  Waldo died July 5, 2009 at the age of 75.

Lance Von Erich
March 6, 1996 NWA Kuantan, Malaysia
defeated The Vampire Warrior

William Vaughan entered World Class in October 1985 as Lance Von Erich the "son" of Waldo Von Erich.  Kevin stated he and family was against this but Fritz insisted.  Also Gary Hart stated fans told him they knew he was not a member of the family damaging their credibility in their eyes.

In 1987 Lance left WCCW for rival Wild West Wrestling causing Fritz to go on TV and disavow Lance as a member of the Von Erich family stating he never was.  He would use the name on and off until he retired in 1996.

The Von Erich Claw

1 comment:

  1. I really need to go back and watch Heroes of World Class. That truly is one of the greatest wrestling documentaries ever made.

    Outside of Kerry, I never saw any of the Von Erich’s wrestle until I seek out some matches in the 2000’s. It’s hard to find a group of guys more over than the Von Erichs. I mean, hell, those crowds were just insane. I think you had to be there though; I just never could get into their matches.

    I did like the Texas Tornado though. Like you said, he had some great theme music, a fantastic look, and he was just exciting to watch.
    One of my favorite TNA memories is from Slammiversary XII where Ross and Marshall made their debut. They obviously were green and did not put on a good show, but when Kevin came out and put on The Claw, the roof about blew off the building. It was such a touching moment to see the crowd pop for a guy who has been through so much over the years.