Von Erichs! Freebirds! 11 year old me is PUMPED right now!
“WORLD CLASS CHAMPIONSHIP WRESTLING”
Date: Thursday, June 9, 1983
Location: The Sportatorium (Dallas, TX)
Bill Mercer provides solo commentary. Marc Lowrence is your ring announcer.
“Gentleman” CHRIS ADAMS vs TORA YATSU (w/ Armand Hussein)
(Referee: John Renesto)
Hussein gets into it with Renesto before things get started and man, Renesto is quite the redneck hippy. Yatsu is all smiles to start. He bows to Adams and does some stretching before whiffing on a couple of thrust kicks. He swats at Adams and eats an open-handed slap for his troubles, so he rolls outside for a confab with Hussein. Back in they stall for a bit before Yatsu hits a side headlock takeover and then does nothing to follow up. Another lock-up leads to an Adams monkeyflip. Adams bows at Yatsu, pissing him off, but his blind rage only leads to him diving to the outside. Yatsu comes back in and they trade some amateur stuff on the mat. Mercer waxes philosophic on the ability to kip up. Snapmare by Yatsu who then chops the mat as Adams rolls clear. Adams, who is wrestling really cautious, gets caught in a quick headlock and taken over, but he counters to a headscissors. Mercer puts over Adams’ soccer and rugby background. Yatsu bridges out of the hold and turns it into a toehold then into a surfboard. Open chop to the chest by Yatsu. Irish whip leads to a scoop and he drops Adams throat-first across the ropes. Double “Judo chop” to the throat follows. Elbow drop misses, and Adams fights back with punches. Yatsu backs into the corner and gives Adams a double boot to the chest when he tries to come in. Judo chops follow for a one-count. Yatsu follows with some choking on the top ropes as things get testy. Corner stomps and now it’s an open-hand choke. Big biel out of the corner, but again Adams fights back with a punch. He then catapults Yatsu right into the turnbuckle. This ref is ridiculously skinny. Just thought I’d mention it. Adams drives Yatsu’s head into the mat and gets a two-count. Eye-rake breaks it for Yatsu and a chop follows. He props up onto the top rope and then just grabs Adams’ head and drives back to the mat. Two-count is kicked out of. Thrust kick by Yatsu sends Adams into the corner and another one keeps him there. He motions for Adams to come out and fight, but when Adams does he dodges a third Yatsu kick and hits one of his own, showing Yatsu how it’s really done. Another one gets Yatsu in the mush. Irish whip by Adams and he just kicks Yatsu’s legs out from under him as he passes. Corner whip is reversed by Yatsu, but Adams leaps to the corner and comes off with a twisting cross-body block for a nearfall. Another superkick for Yatsu, followed by one for Hussein who was dumb enough to climb up on the apron. Adams goes up top and comes off with a sort of one-legged missile dropkick. Pinfall is academic at this point. Hussein comes in to complain about a trunk pull, but where that would have occurred I have no idea.
Result: Chris Adams via pinfall.
On location with the Fabulous Freebirds, hanging out at their private pool. Michael Hayes gives Mercer some crap about the location of their last interview (a drive-in restaurant) although Mercer claims the Birds chose the location. Hayes blows him off to talk about titles and money. Buddy Roberts, ballcap on sideways and looking like a complete goof, makes to dive into the pool but Mercer stops him to talk about Iceman King Parsons. Roberts has a lock of Iceman’s hair (I can only assume he carries it around in his swimming trunks because he’s a freak) and mentions that they now have Freebird Cream which he plans to use on the Iceman after he beats him at an upcoming Reunion Arena show. Hayes warns Roberts not to feel guilty about it. Terry Gordy interrupts the interview to say hello to his mom. Talk then turns to some mystery man who will be facing the Freebirds soon as well. Buddy swan dives into the pool so Bam Bam excuses himself to “go wartch Buddy” (his word, not mine). Apparently Buddy’s not much of a swimmer. Hayes starts ripping on all the people the Von Erich’s could get as their partner, meanwhile Gordy is doing backflips off the diving board in the background. Hayes storms off after a shout out to Fritz Von Erich and Mercer is left to admire the landscape. That whole thing was genius.
THE MONGOL (w/ Skandar Akbar) vs KEN JOHNSON
(Referee: Bronco Lubich)
The Mongol looks like they grafted Big Show’s head onto King Kong Bundy’s body and gave him the Missing Link’s haircut. He apparently went on to play Cousin Luke in mid-80’s WWF although it’s next to impossible to see it here. Ken Johnson looks like a jobber. The Mongol uses clubbing to start. Mercer claims the Mongol is oriental. He’s a big fat liar. Dude looks like he’s from Milwaukee. Snapmare takeover into a rear chinlock by the Mongol who just kind of has his way with Johnson while Mercer reveals that Kerry Von Erich’s mystery partner against the Freebirds will in fact be Bruiser Brody. Johnson fights back with some jobber offense but he loses a battle of shoulderblocks. Back to a rear chinlock as the Mongol proves to be an apparent influence to Chris Jericho by constantly bellowing “ask him!” to the ref. Throat across the second rope breaks up the monotony of the chinlock for awhile. More clubbing and then Mongol grounds things again, this time with a front facelock. Johnson reverses a corner whip but eats a big elbow when he charges in. Two-count follows, but the Mongol decides it’s too soon so he pulls him up. Swinging neckbreaker gets two, but again Mongol isn’t ready. Running powerslam finally gets the three. Yeah, good thing you didn’t pin him the first time. That neckbreaker and powerslam really sent a message. This was, as they say, a squash.
Result: The Mongol via pinfall.
Mercer trundles over to Akbar for some ringside comments about Kimala. Apparently he’ll be taking on three jobbers wrestlers at Star Wars. An agitated Michael Hayes struts into the picture and paces back and forth in front of the interview. Akbar seems not to mind. Akbar departs and now Hayes claims that Mercer is lying about Bruiser Brody. He’s clearly not happy about things. “It’s a fabrication, just like the whole state of Texas”. There you have it, folks. Texas doesn’t exist. Michael Hayes said so.
In the “studio”, Kevin Von Erich has joined Bill Mercer to discuss his upcoming World Title shot at NWA Champ Ric Flair. Apparently last time they faced, Kevin pinned him, but the decision was not valid because Kevin had thrown Flair over the top rope. As a result, the rematch has the over-the-top rule waived and Flair also loses the title on a DQ. Kevin vows to win the title in his soft-spoken way. Mercer throws it to interview footage of Flair watching the pin in question. Flair is PISSED watching it. He’s also a bloody mess, so it was apparently filmed right after the original match. Back in the studio, Kevin continues to guarantee he’ll be the next World Champ. I love Kevin Von Erich, I really do, but at no point in time during any of this did he project a world champ vibe. He came across like some geeky high school kid who was hyped up about an Oak Ridge Boys concert or something.
[[ EIGHT-MAN ELIMINATION MATCH ]]
BUDDY ROBERTS, JIMMY GARVIN, MICHAEL HAYES & TERRY GORDY vs “Iceman” KING PARSONS, DAVID VON ERICH, KERRY VON ERICH & KEVIN VON ERICH
(Referees: David Manning & John Renesto)
Bronco Lubich and Manning are announced as refs, but it’s Manning and Renesto who remain in the ring. Big brawl to start, as you’d expect, and the heels wind up getting whipped into each other at center ring. Gordy manages to come out of it though with a piledriver attempt on Parsons, but instead he gets knocked over and pinned by the entire babyface team in a massive dogpile. I’d say the rules in this one are “relaxed”. Garvin works over David in the corner, so the brothers tripleteam him as Gordy tries to figure out just what the hell happened. Hayes flies in with an elbow but ends up hitting Garvin instead, although I’m not sure he noticed. Things kind of slow down as everybody is still in the ring but nobody is all that active. Iceman chokes out Roberts. Lots of punching, not much wrestling going on. This must be Tornado rules because they’re making no attempt to get guys out. It’s like a battle royal. Iceman gets a butt-butt on Roberts to a big pop (although to be fair, the crowd has been pretty apoplectic for everything). They try another dogpile but Hayes breaks it up. Somehow Parsons winds up on the bottom and even though the pile is half-heel, half-babyface, Renesto figures it’s okay to count and Parsons is eliminated. Dear God, what an absolute mess of a match this is. David and Kevin pound on Garvin. Hayes drags Kevin away so David resorts to biting Gorgeous Jimmy. Hayes scurries to the corner to make a tag, but of course there’s nobody there because everybody’s already in the ring. Garvin tosses David over the top and apparently that’s an elimination. Kevin dropkicks Garvin over so he’s gone too. Back inside Buddy chokes Kerry on the ropes while Kevin works a chinlock on Hayes. Kerry slaps a sleeper on Buddy as Hayes looking to be giving Kevin mouth-to-mouth. They brawl some with Hayes breaking up the sleeper with an elbow. Kevin gets a running splash on Buddy for two, but Buddy kicks out. Kevin then goes for a claw, but Hayes saves again. The Freebirds toss Kevin and start doubleteaming Kerry. Double clothesline leads to a Hayes pin (with both refs counting), but Kevin jumps back in to break it up. Dual front facelocks by the Birds slow things down a bit. Kerry fights back with kicking and punching. Buddy accidentally pops Hayes when Kevin dodges his punch, but Hayes kicks out of a Kerry pinfall at two. More battle royal style brawling follows. Hayes gets a sleeper on Kerry and Buddy tosses Kevin, but Kevin skins the cat back in, so he’s not eliminated. The crowd chants Kerry back to life and he finally breaks out of the sleeper, only to slap one of his own on Hayes. Meanwhile Kevin slaps a claw on Roberts. Hayes snapmares out of the sleeper and we eventually get dual claws by the Von Erichs. Hayes and Roberts get whipped into each other at center ring. Stereo dropkicks by the promoter’s kids. Kerry gets two on Hayes, but a foot on the ropes stops it. Kevin goes for the running splash on Roberts, but misses, as now the Freebirds are in control. Running bulldog by Hayes. Swinging neckbreaker by Roberts. Some two-counts, but nothing doing. Now Hayes gets a swinging neckbreaker on Kerry. Backbreaker for two by Buddy on Kevin. It’s weird, everybody is selling exhaustion but nobody is selling the actual moves. More sloppy brawling and a double Von Erich dropkick sends Hayes out through the ropes. They try one on Roberts but Hayes yanks Buddy’s feet out from under him from the floor and the Von Erich’s whiff on the kicks. Hayes up top for an elbow to Kerry. That’s enough for a three-count and now we’re down to 2-on-1. The Freebirds take turns beating up Kevin, but he kicks out of a two-man pin. They throw him over the top, but again he skins the cat. They try to double clothesline him over but instead all three go over, only Kevin does an inverted skin the cat (which is impressive) to stay in and win the match.
Survivor: Kevin Von Erich (14:16).
Not a technical masterpiece, but about as wild a fourteen minutes as you’re likely to see. Mercer interviews the boys in the ring and David promises to win the American Heavyweight Championship from Garvin, Kerry promises to take the tag titles from the Freebirds, and Kevin vows to take the World title from Flair. Three brothers, all with title shots? Ahh, nepotism.
Next week’s main event: Kerry Von Erich vs Terry Gordy for the Brass Knuckles Championship.
Overview: Well if you’ve never seen an episode of World Class from 1983, this is about as close to a template as you’re likely to find. Every show featured at least one match that was a variation of the Von Erich/Freebird fued, at least one on location vignette, and at least one match featuring Skandar Akbar or Arman Hussein’s hired gun of the week. The style is naturally very southern, meaning high energy with lots of brawling. The wrestling is loose and sloppy, which is both a blessing and a curse. On the one hand it looks like a legit fight in that there isn’t all that choreographed cooperation you get in some places, but on the other hand nothing looks like it hurts all that much because everybody’s just kind of flailing around. The vibe is surprisingly ECW minus all the weapons. It’s controlled chaos with a rabid crowd in a small, sweaty building. Personally, I grew up on this stuff as it was syndicated in my hometown, so I got an hour of crazy WCCW followed by an hour of WWF Superstars. The contrast was pretty jarring, but it made watching World Class a novelty. Strangely enough, I find that even though I remember watching the shows and I remember all the characters, I don’t remember too many specific “moments” from WCCW. It all just kind of runs together, in large part because it was all just Von Erichs, Freebirds, Von Erichs, Freebirds. They weren’t heavy on major storyline points. So a good show, but not the not the kind of episodic storytelling that made tuning in the next week an absolute necessity.