“WORLD CLASS CHAMPIONSHIP WRESTLING”
Date: Thursday, October 14, 1982 (taped: 10/12/82)
Location: The Sportatorium (Dallas, TX)
So a little background on WCCW before we get things started. The promotion was known as Big Time Wrestling from its formation in 1966 up until early 1982 when they switched over to the World Class Wrestling Association to try and give it more credibility as a worldwide company. Their weekly television show was being syndicated in other markets, including overseas, and owner/promoter Jack “Fritz Von Erich” Adkisson felt the name needed to be more worldly.
World Class Championship Wrestling – October 14, 1982
If you’ve ever watched old World Class programming you’ll recall their TV intro usually started with a shot of earth taken from the Apollo 16 space mission, but this episode (#43 according to the WWE Network) is so old it pre-dates that. Instead it’s just a standard collection of in-ring clips (although still set to the epic thundering drum intro music).
Bill Mercer and Jay Saldi are our ringside hosts, and they start with a quick tease that “Freedbird” Michael Hayes will be on the show tonight. Saldi acknowledges that if one Freebird is in town, others are soon to follow. Mercer begins to pimp David Von Erich when they are interrupted by Dallas Cowboys’ defensive end Harvey Martin. Saldi was actually a tight end for the Cowboys at the time (ah, for the days when pro athletes needed side gigs to make ends meet), so this is just a quick meet-n-greet with a teammate to give the show some mainstream credibility. Nothing of note is said. After that Mercer and Saldi run down the rest of the night’s line-up.
Back from a break and Mercer interviews David Von Erich at ringside. A “bounty situation” is brought up and David confidently reveals that the Von Erich’s have proof and will reveal it at the proper time. And since this is the first episode the WWE network has deemed for us to see we shall have NO CONTEXT! Whoopee!
Marc Lowrence handles the ring introduction duties and announces that all matches are sanctioned by the National Wrestling Alliance. He also names the referees for the evening as Tom Renesto and Bronco Lubich, which prompts a clearly bitter David Manning – who is standing right behind Lowrence – to get in his face as if to say, “umm… I’m here too, ya know”. Ever the pro, Lowrence just bulls ahead with the intros, eventually tagging Manning’s name on at the end. That exchange made me chuckle for some dumb reason.
“CAPTAIN” FRANK DUSEK vs DAVID VON ERICH
(referee: David Manning)
Von Erich is the Texas Heavyweight Champion at this point, but it’s not announced as a title match. Dusek looks like a chubby version of old school Ted Dibiase or perhaps WWF jobber Charlie Fulton, except he’s got a swank robe with the Pink Panther on the back, so he’s alright in my book. Tense face-off into a sloppy collar-and-elbow tie-up leads to David granting a clean break in the corner while Mercer talks more about the bounty. Dusek then nearly hits Manning with a punch. Fireman’s carry takeover into an armbar by Dusek. They exchange a series of arm-wringers which David eventually wins and slaps on an armbar of his own. Dusek uses a trunk pull to break free but then eats a shoulderblock and winds up back in an armbar. Saldi starts talking about Dusek’s recent Japan tour where he was partnered with “Hulkamania” Hulk Hogan, which kinda blows my mind as I didn’t realize that phrase existed before Hogan went to the WWF. Jay Saldi delivering knowledge! Dusek breaks free and the two get into a slugfest before David scores with a high knee. Two count follows. They slug it out in the corner before Manning steps in to separate them. Von Erich seizes control with knee lifts and stomps while Mercer talks more about the bounty, mentioning that Gary Hart was recently in Atlanta trying to collect one on Roddy Piper as well. CROSS PROMOTION! David scores with a back body drop for two (Dusek got NO air on that one) as the announcers discuss Manning’s slow counting style. Abdominal stretch worked by Dusek. David powers out but the damage has been done and Dusek muscles him into the corner for some shoulder sleds. Manning pulls him off of Von Erich in the corner so Dusek shoves the ref, who shoves back. So Dusek swings wildly at Manning and misses and Manning POPS him! Von Erich – Texas hero – swoops in with an inside cradle for the win. Wow, was that ever a wackadoo ending.
Result: David Von Erich via pinfall (4:05).
Von Erich pats Manning on the back after the match and then taunts Dusek while Manning raises his hand. That was the most unbabyface victory I have seen in ages.
AL MADRIL & JOSE LOTHARIO vs THE CHECKMATE & THE MAGIC DRAGON (w/ Armand Hussein)
(referee: Bronco Lubich)
Lothario you may know as Shawn Michaels’ WWF mentor circa 1996 while Madril was a perennial WCCW mid-carder. The masked men I have no idea about. Dragon wins a lock-up with Madril and slaps him across the chest. Madril counters by fixing his hair. Madril then wins another lock-up and scores with a knuckle punch. The announcers discuss Kerry Von Erich’s knee injury, which apparently also ties in with the Gary Hart bounty (we should have a clear picture of the whole storyline by show’s end) as Madril gets a drop toehold. Some standing reversals leads to a Madril armdrag. Checkmate tags in as Saldi puts over his ability to counter almost anything, so of course he and Madril do a series of hammerlock reversals to demonstrate. Madril and Lothario tag off on a headlock as we get the prerequisite old school shot of a sweet little lady at ringside getting into the action. Gotta love it. Arm-wringers are exchanged as Checkmate eventually kicks his way free. Mercer refers to Lothario as “this young man from Mexico”. He was 48 at the time. Just saying. Lothario stretches the leg for a bit while the crowd gets excited for a ringside appearance by Bugsy McGraw, who grabs a front row seat and hugs some kids while eating popcorn. Alrighty then. Back in the ring Lothario wins a test of strength. Some mat wrestling follows before Lothario tags Madril back in to work over Checkmate’s arm. Hussein, predating Bill Alphonso by a good fifteen years, goes crazy blowing his whistle outside the ring. Dragon tags in and goes to work with generic wrestling “martial arts” before working a hammerlock. Close-up shot of Madril shows that he looks a lot like Manny Fernandez. He gets to his feet and runs the Dragon through the ropes to the outside. Back in slaps are exchanged and then both men go down on a flying shoulderblock from Madril. Dragon scores with one of his own though. He misses a chop and then both men go down again on a mid-ring collision. Bugsy is still enjoying his popcorn at ringside. Both men make hot tags and Checkmate kinda freezes upon entering, allowing Lothario to take over with some punches. Jose flips him with a back body drop but Checkmate lands on his feet and immediately turtles. We cut to the crowd and come back with Checkmate in control, so I have no idea what just happened. Mate works a sort of head vice for awhile as the crowd tries to fire up Jose. A hair pull by Checkmate stops the comeback though. Madril comes in to complain and that of course leads to heel shenanigans, including a non-tag exchange of wrestlers so now Dragon is in. But lo and behold, Bronco Lubich ain’t no rube, kids, and he disallows the tag! Man, the heels get NO breaks from the officials in WCCW. Back in, Checkmate works an armbar for awhile but Jose eventually breaks free and scores with a backbreaker for a two count, broken up by the Dragon. Madril gets the tag and goes to town with some rabbit punches right to the forehead and Checkmate drops like a corpse. Snapmare into the corner for a tag to Lothario who drops a top-rope stomp on the Mate. Two count follows, then a knee to the back and tag to Madril who immediately gets another two count. Checkmate cowers on the ropes so Madril plays to the fans and earns a headbutt to the gut to turn the tides. Serves you right, moron. Dragon back in with a headbutt and some turnbuckle damage. He backflips off the top rope into a standing backflip in the ring and then superkicks Madril in the most interesting spot of the match. He then goes for a second rope somersault senton but Madril just rolls clear. Big back body drop gets two for Madril as the crowd is getting fired up! Madril then, because he’s still a moron, goes after Checkmate for no reason and gets worked over in the corner. The Mate comes in off a tag and hits a flying headbutt to the midsection. He follows by caving in Al’s chest with some stomps then snapmares him back in the ring from the apron. Crowd gets behind Madril and he dodges a wild charge to send Checkmate soaring through the ropes and to the floor. Back inside the ring Madril suddenly decides to try and unmask his groggy opponent. Bugsy McGraw approves. Mini pier-sixer erupts but Bronco ain’t having it, sending Jose and Dragon back out. Checkmate hits a flying shoulderblock but he’s still too out of it from the spill outside and can’t capitalize. Another duel hot tag leads to some center ring sluggery from Lothario and Magic Dragon that goes on for a bit before Jose hits a Erik Watts-esque dropkick. Another backbreaker leads to a two-count for Lothario, who tags in Madril for a flying shoulder tackle of his own as the match is winding down to the final 15 seconds. Two count only. Sunset flip by Madril but the bell rings before Bronco can get into position for a count and this one is a time limit draw, folks. Bugsy McGraw tries to get the crowd to ask for more time, but that ain’t happening.
Result: Time Limit Draw (15:00).
Back from a commercial and Bill Mercer clears up the bounty story, as apparently Gary Hart and the Great Kabuki injured Kerry Von Erich in an attempt to collect the bounty that had been put out by none other than NWA World Champ, Ric Flair. He then throws it to footage of Flair guesting on an episode of Between Two Ferns.
Flair is very mellow in issuing sarcastic sympathy for Kerry’s injury and nonchalantly denies the rumor that he put a $10,000 bounty on the entire Von Erich family. He’s rich enough that if he wanted such a thing done it’d be done tomorrow. He says Fritz is just mad because he wants one of his sons as World Champ, but that ain’t happening, because Kerry, good as he is, isn’t in Flair’s league, because he’s the greatest professional wrestler ever.
GRAN MARKUS II (w/ Armand Hussein) vs THE SAMOAN
(referee: Bronco Lubbich)
Gran Markus II is another masked guy who I have no clue on while the Samoan is a very young Sam Fatu (he’s 19 here), son of Afa, who will wind up the in the WWF pretty soon as Samula, the third Wild Samoan. Sturdy lock-up leads to, as you’d expect, a Samoan headbutt. Markus works a wristlock for a lengthy bit. He pounds the shoulder as well while Mercer and Saldi reveal that Terry Gordy will be debuting soon to join Michael Hayes and that if Buddy Roberts shows up all three Freebirds will be reunited. Interesting to note that the Freebirds are being brought in as babyfaces, as the great Von Erich-Freebird feud won’t kick off until December. Markus segues into a headlock which also goes on for some time before the Samoan eventually breaks it with a head scissor. Markus gains control again with some generic grappling and slugging before going to ANOTHER resthold with a loose rear chinlock. Lots of shots of the crowd now as this match is dying on the vine. The hold is eventually broken when Markus uses the ropes and now the Samoan takes over with headbutts. Shoulderblock, leapfrog, cartwheel, dropkick! Samoan with an armdrag into an armbar because 10 seconds of fast action was enough apparently. Markus works his way up and nails a nice clothesline followed by a scoop slam and then a running senton for the lethargic three count.
Result: Gran Markus II via pinfall (5:04).
That match was a generic masked heel versus a rookie and it showed.
ROBERTO RENESTO vs “THE FABULOUS FREEBIRD” MICHAEL HAYES
(referee: David Manning)
Renesto, no lie, looks like he could be Ron Jeremy’s twin. Hayes is how you remember him. Hayes intimidates Renesto right out onto the floor using what is probably Hayes’ best offensive move – his mouth. Mercer puts over that Hayes and David Von Erich became good friends working in Florida and Georgia. Times, they will change. Hayes powers out of a pair of lock-ups leading to Renesto trying a hair pull on the third and fourth tries before cowering and complaining of closed fists from Hayes. Fifth lock-up and this time the Freebird just powers Renesto through the ropes to the floor. He slingshots him back in off the apron then drops a fist from the second rope and a boogie woogie elbow, causing Renesto to beg off some more. Gut punch and eye rake turns the tides, but an attempt to slam Hayes’ head into the corner buckle goes nowhere as he likes it, Mikey really, really like it! A fired up Hayes slugs Renesto right over the top and out and it’s time for a Freebird strut! Renesto fights off a headlock but eats a knee in the corner, leading to a running bulldog out of the corner by Hayes. He calls for the piledriver and gets it and the three count is academic at this point. Saldi references Jerry Lawler piledriving Andy Kaufman to put the move over.
Result: Michael Hayes via pinfall ().
Renesto tries a Pearl Harbor attack post-match, but Hayes no sells his punches, lands some of his own, and then back body drops the jobber who scurries to the safety of ringside. Hayes gets on the mic and fires the crowd up by announcing that his “brother” Terry is on his way and declares himself “two hundred forty pounds of twisted steel and sex o’ppeal” while declaring Gordy “walking, talking, romping, stomping, graveyard destruction”. He has this southern preacher style delivery and it’s just fantastic. The man sure could talk it, that’s for sure.
Mercer and Saldi talk a little Freebird action and then bring in Wild Bill Irwin, who will face Hayes next week. Irwin talks some smack and promises to cage the Freebird en route to victory. Al Madril vs Great Kabuki is also on tap for next week, along with an interview with the injured Kerry Von Erich.
Overview: This is the beginnings of the WCCW that I grew up on. The wrestling is generally energetic if not particularly crisp. The personalities are big and bold and the show moves along at a nice brisk pace. Once the Freebird-Von Erich feud kicks in things will get a little wilder, but in the meantime is good old fashioned Texas rasslin’ at its finest. None of the matches tonight were particularly compelling and the only real storylines touched on were the Flair-Von Erich bounty situation and the debut of the Freebirds, but that was kind of what WCCW was. The lower card stuff didn’t get much in the way of shine and it’d be another six months or so before they really padded the roster with the likes of Jimmy Garvin, Chris Adams and Iceman Parsons (among others). A perfectly fine night of wrestling though and a definite change of pace up in the northeast where we were generally living off of the slower WWF style. Fond memories for 10 year-old me to be sure.