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A Mark’s Eye View: Stay World Classy

When I was getting into wrestling, World Class Championship Wrestling was THE promotion.

‘A Mark’s Eye View’ is a weekly look at some of the things that made my a huge fan of professional wrestling until one day I realized I just did not care anymore.

The man who came to symbolize everything I hated about pro wrestling was partially responsible for why I loved it so much. Years later, I would think back on how funny it was that the wrestler and promotion I hated the most were what made me an uber wrestling fan. In 1986, this never crossed my mind. I was too busy trying to figure out exactly how everything worked.

Professional wrestling was completely different in 1986. There was just so much to choose from — there was of course the WWF, but I grew up in west Texas and World Class Championship Wrestling was THE promotion. The crowds were wild, the shows looked awesome, and the matches were always fun. Plus, they had the Von Erichs.

Everyone had a favorite Von Erich. Even people who knew nothing about professional wrestling had one. My mom did not know the difference between the WWF or World Class, but she sure knew she loved Kerry. This was the kind of stranglehold the Von Erichs had on the people of Texas.

The Von Erichs were constantly at odds with the Fabulous Freebirds. Michael “P.S” Hayes, Terry “Bam Bam” Gordy, and Buddy “Jack” Roberts were three of the most hated men in Texas. Gordy and Roberts would run roughshod over their opponents as Hayes would talk…and talk…and talk.

There was no storyline. I had no idea why they hated each other so much. It was not until years later that I would learn about how the ‘Birds had turned on Kerry on Christmas night. When I was first introduced to the feud it was straight and to the point: the Von Erichs stood for everything that was right in the world while the Freebirds were the embodiment of pure evil.

Week after week, the two sides would be at each other’s throats. Singles matches, tag-team matches, and six man matches were held. Cage matches, Badstreet matches, and elimination matches took place. Wrestlers such as Chris Adams, Iceman Parsons, and Brian Adias were all dragged in to the ongoing war. Though there were other matches and feuds, the entire promotion centered around the legendary battles. Unlike the nWo years later, however, this feud never got stale.

When the bad boys from Georgia left to the newly formed UWF, it left a void in the promotion. But thanks to the strong roster, World Class did just fine. Along with old favorites like Adams and Parsons, new names like Rick Rude and Dingo Warrior appeared on television weekly. And as long as the promotion had the Von Erichs, things would be just fine.

One thing was played up on WCCW television week after week. One day in 1984, Kerry Von Erich had cleanly pinned “Nature Boy” Ric Flair for the NWA World Heavyweight Title. There was footage of it in the memorable opening credits and announcer Bill Mercer would talk about it every chance he could.

I just could not understand how Kerry from WCCW had ever gotten a shot at the NWA World Title. Did some promotions work together? And if so, which ones? I eventually learned what happened and it also helped clear some confusion I had over title changes. Up until I heard why World Class had left the NWA, I thought titles could change hands no matter how the champion lost. (In my defense, one of the first title changes I remember seeing was an AWA Tag Title switch that happened due to countout. This ruling was never explained.)

I never quite knew what Fritz Von Erich’s role was in World Class was, but he seemed to play an important one. He was always there to make the major announcements. Fritz would often say that WCCW had seceded (he always used that term) from the NWA because the champions would hide behind DQs and countouts to keep their belts. This would not happen in World Class since the title could change hands under both circumstances.

There was so much more to World Class that made it one of my favorite wrestling promotions to watch. Stables like Devastation Incorporated, the fact that bad guys would wrestle each other, and how you never knew what was going to happen made each show an exciting one. I would constantly hear about WCCW my first few years as a wrestling fan. Unfortunately, it was never for good reasons.

Next week: Setting up the greatest double turn ever.

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