World Class Championship Wrestling - March 4, 1984
by Erick Von Erich
We've finally arrived at the episode we've been expecting since, well, WWE Classics began airing "The History of World Class". It's the David Von Erich tribute episode. Supposedly, this episode was not shown on ESPN's "Legends of World Class" package in 1988, although a few clips were shown in other episodes. Nevertheless, this is a very somber episode as the entire promotion (and pro wrestling as a whole) is mourning the death of a young star. Thus, there are no full matches for this show, so I'll be taking a somewhat different approach.
-Bill Mercer is in a darkened Dallas studio to introduce the show and address the passing of David. Shortly, this leads into some personal home video footage of DVE as a kid, playing high school basketball and football. Along with some shots of David at home and with his family; from roughly age 6 to 25.
David Von Erich vs. Harley Race (NWA World Champion)
A re-broadcast from St. Louis. I'm guessing it's probably in 1981 or 1982, as DVE is a bit more chiseled and is wearing blue trunks with stars on them. Kevin and Fritz are at ringside, cheering DVE on as we're joined-in-progress. DVE has the upper hand, but Race comes back with a headbutt off the ropes and takes over. Big suplex from Race, followed by a diving headbutt. Race goes top for another diving headbutt, but DVE unleashes the CLAW for the first-time-ever and grabs Race in it. Race soons blades, as you can even see him hide the object in his fist. DVE soon takes im to the canvas and scores the submission. Very hot crowd, but I'm curious if this was the original commentary. Whoever called the match said "David Von Erich" over 50 times and worked in things like "the diving headbutt, the famous finishing manuever of Harley Race". I'm curious if it was the original commentary, or if it was a WWE dubbed-over job with someone like Jack Corpella.
Race then cuts an interview about DVE's passing. He mentions that, had he lived, DVE would've certainly won the NWA title.
David Von Erich vs. "Gorgeous" Jimmy Garvin (w/Sunshine)
JIP'd clip of one of their "Holiday Rasslin' Star Wars" bouts from Reunion Arena. I think it was the summer edition. Anyways, the ending isn't shown, as we get...
-"Gorgeous" Jimmy Garvin and Precious with their own words about DVE. Garvin says it's a tragedy that "God took David Von Erich from us", as he respected him greatly...and even knew what he liked to eat in the morning. Classy way to give a tribute to DVE without breaking kayfabe.
Next up, we have some quick clips of DVE's battles against the Fabulous Freebirds. First is a match with David and "Iceman" King Parsons against Michael Hayes and Buddy Roberts. Then, the big 6-man title bout against the 'Birds, where all 3 Von Erich brothers do that famous triple-drop-kick.
-Michael Hayes is in the Dallas studio to give the "only public statement" from the Freebirds about DVE. He says it's a terrible loss and puts over David as a wrestler and person. Despite this, the feud with the Von Erichs will go on as "there's only room for one of us". You can tell that Hayes was shaken by the death, but he still had to keep kayfabe.
-David Manning is next, as he says that DVE lived life to its fullest.
David Von Erich vs. Ric Flair
The missing match from the (Christmas) Holiday Wrestling Star Wars at Reunion Arena. Flair is working an armbar, until DVE switches out and hooks a sleeper. Flair counters with a belly-to-back suplex, then sets up for a piledriver. DVE reverses it into a backdrop and tries to apply the CLAW. Flair tries to come off the top rope but, SUPRISINGLY, gets tossed by DVE. DVE with a charging high-knee and a flying nodypress, but only gets 2. Backslide pin combo scores anotehr 2 for DVE. Flair takes over and intentionally tries to get disqualified by tossing DVE over the top rope, right in front of referee David Manning. Manning won't buy it, so the match continues. Flair pulls him in for a suplex, which is countered into a small package for 2. DVE with his own suplex, then tosses Flair hard into the corner for the obligatory FLIP. DVE then lands the CLAW, cranks away and Flair blades! The clip ends at this point, but I think DVE won by DQ, as part of the build for his planned NWA title run. Y'know, I think Flair's constant DQ's in Texas over the years (and other territories) were the first signs of "Asshole Flair", the guy who held the belt in JCP from 1985 to 1991.
-Ric Flair has some words about David's death. He says he was a fine competitor and will always be a champion.
-Another video of home movie footage. Mercer introduces it as saying David wanted to be a cowboy, so plenty of footage of David riding on his ranch. I think the original music played here was Tanya Tucker's "Texas When I Die", but it's dubbed over with some awful WWE music. If you're a purist, just "MUTE" this section and play Tucker's track. I give them (original WCCW and Mickey Grant) credit for using a somewhat upbeat tune and not some sappy piano music. Nice to think that, yup, David Von Erich has died and gone to Texas.
-At this point, the episode cuts to commerical, but breaks to the WWE Classics studio. There, Michael Hayes gives his non-kayfabe feelings about David. He says he loved the guy and had some great memories and adventures with him, citing a time when he, Terry Gordy and DVE passed out on a Corpus Christi beach with a bottle of tequila. Nice of Hayes to step in at this point, so I'm guessing he was slightly disturbed by his kayfabe comments and wanted to present his real feelings.
Bill Mercer then interviews the Von Erich Family at their ranch. Fritz, Doris, Kevin, Kerry, Mike and even Chris are sitting next to a pond, discussing their good memories of David. Then it gets a little weird, as Fritz basically says they'll plug in Mike as David's replacement. Kevin wholeheartedly agrees. Yeah, no pressure there, kid. Fritz then promises that either Kerry or Kevin will be the next World Heavyweight Champion.
Back from a break, as now Mercer is sitting alone with Fritz. Fritz cites the fact that David was "Born Again" and how being Christian has helped the whole family though this tragedy. Such religious sentiments from Fritz, here, but keep in mind that WCCW would often air on Christian TV channels, back then. The family was apparently good friends with the minister who, at David's funeral, mentioned that David "lived 75 years worth of life in his 25". They considered keeping the funeral private, but opened it up to the public since the fans were a big part of David's life. Fritz concludes the interview on a positive and upbeat note, even ribbing Mercer about their old duck hunting trip.
Why'd You Watch This?:
As kid watching this stuff on ESPN in 1988, I used to think that Kerry Von Erich only won the NWA title in 1984 because of David's death. Yet, after watching World Class these past few years, I've now done an about-face and believe that, yes, David was slated for the title. It becomes a rallying point for the entire promotion and makes 1984 their second straight marquee year.
From Hayes' modern comments and what I've read about World Class, they really were a "family" back then. Not just the Von Erichs, but the entire cast. The Freebirds, Iceman and Garvin all seem to have great memories of their time in Texas. They were all about the same age and running wild. As an old fart, I now look back on this stuff and think: "damn, they were just kids". Very sad, no matter what year it is.
I know I always joke about "Very Special Interviews" and stuff, but this episode was special. It succeedded at its purpose purpose: paying tribute to David Von Erich. The words of remorse and respect from his some of his stingiest opponents were a great touch, too. No specifics of David's death are mentioned, but as I've said before it really didn't matter how it happened. It just mattered that he was gone.
Finally, this is purely coincidental, but this is the LAST episode of World Class I'll be recapping. Through WWE Classics at least, as I'm discontinuing my service. My reasoning has nothing to do with the WWE content or presentation, just that I've become a little burned out and have other stuff to watch and do. I mean, it's our FIVE YEAR SUPLEX-IVERSARY here at Da' Wrestling Site and in that time I've gone through approximately 1.5 years of World Class? That's a helluva' long time to be strung along; for both me and whoever reads my crap. When I started recapping these, I thought for sure that within 5 years we'd already be through the Freebirds as good guys, the Dynamic Duo, Rick Rude, Lance Von Erich and even the Dingo Warrior. I'll still do recaps; just random stuff through YouTube, my old discs, or whatever avenues I find. I'd like to keep World Class as my focus or preference in doing so, as it's still my favorite promotion of the 80's.
By the way, if you know of a solid online resource for World Class stuff, please contact me. I'm not talking about paying some ding-dong for bootleg discs or the evil torrent stuff... just a place where I can watch full streaming episodes.
So let's cue up the DRUMS one last time!
Boom-da-da-da-boom, da-da-da-boom, da-da-da-boom
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