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World Class Championship Wrestling - Wrestling Star Wars, 1981

by Erick Von Erich

In a nice switch-up, WWE Classics On Demand has jumped into the World Class vaults and dug up "Wrestling Star Wars 1981". With "Classics On Demand" coming to an end soon, this is a nice capper. It's a special episode from Reunion Arena on Christmas Night, 1981... with no graphics, music or special production values. Just one camera to show us all the action. We also have TWO rings, placed side-by-side. Bill Mercer is our play-by-play man and Marc Lowrance is the ring announcer. Obviously, this is about a year before any WCCW episodes I've recapped and, as you'll see, it's vastly different. But with so much going on in World Class Championship Wrestling, let's get down to ringside for...

Match 1: World Class Brass Knuckles Championship: Ernie Ladd (c) vs. Jose Lothario

Consider this a lump of coal for Christmas. Yes, Ladd has the actual belt, but we can't see if it has that nifty set of brass knux on it. For those arriving late, the "Brass Knux" championship is defended in what are basically "anything goes" matches. Another reason why some fans compare WCCW to ECW of the 90's. As for the match itself? Well, it's nothing but too lumbering oldsters punching. Ladd tries to choke, cuz' he's the heel, but he soon gets a shot from Lothario and spends a good portion of the match slumping in the ring ropes. Lothario goes up to the second turnbuckle and hops down with a fist. That's enough to pin Ladd as Lothario is the NEW Brass Knux champ. As bad as you'd think.

Match 2: "World Lightweight Championship"
El Solitario (c) vs. "Killer" Tim Brooks

Mercer continually mentions that this is for the "World Lightweight Championship" and El Solitario has a belt, but I'm having trouble verifying which exact title it is. And yup, Solitario is the famous Lucha Libre legend, up from Mexico. Brooks gets in a few shots, but El Solitario soon takes over with his high-spedd offense. He bounces off the ropes with a seated drok-kick, then does a reverse spin-kick to knock Brooks into the second ring. Brooks stumbles back in and Solitario sends him out the other side. Solitario leaps over the top and to floor with a plancha. He rolls Brooks back in, then comes off the top rope with a splash to get the pin. Solitario's moves were as crisp as any lucha moves you've seen, but this was a real clash in styles as Brooks; usually a brawler; did practically nothing.

Match 3: Texas Death Match:
Fritz Von Erich vs. The Great Kabuki (w/Gary Hart)

Set-up when Kabuki blinded Fritz with his green mist. Which caused Fritz to "lose 25% vision" in one eye and put him on the sidelines for awhile. Since it's a Texas Death stipulation, both rings are in play for this match. Kabuki comes to the ring wearing a "300 year old samurai warrior's uniform". Fritz attacks instantly, pounds Kabuki into the corner and tries to slap on the CLAW. Kabuki fights it off as they tumble on the mat, so Fritz clamps on the abdominal claw which sends Kabuki rolling out to the floor. Kabuki returns and gets the upper hand with some chops and a reverse spin-kick. Basically a whole lotta' punching, kicking and choking as they spill into the second ring. Back to the first ring, where Fritz blocks a kick then grabs Kabuki in the Iron CLAW ("official" forehead version). Fritz cinches it in for a good three or four mintes, as Kabuki blades. Kabuki is flat on the mat, as referee Bronko Lubich counts three. The pinfall's not the official decision, as now Kabuki has a 10 count to get to his feet and continue. In the meantime, Fritz decides to go after Gary Hart. Kabuki gets back up and walks right into some forehead shots from Fritz. More Iorn CLAW; which works for this match because Fritz doesn't have to break it at 10 count.

In the other corner, Gary Hart messes with second ref, David Manning, and succeeds in removing the top turnbuckle pad. Fritz blasts Hart, and Manning scolds him for doing so. Fritz then flings Manning into the second ring, which allows Kabuki time to recover and ram Fritz into th exposed turnbuckle. Both guys try choking and up flat on the apron. With both down, the 10 count begins. Bronko counts to 10, but Bronko and Manning confirm that there MUST be a winner. Thus, the first man to make it back to his feet and in the ring will be the winner. Gary Hart gets involved and pulls Fritz off the apron and to the floor. He dumps a drink into Kabuki's face to revive him. Kabuki slowly staggers into the ring and barely makes it to his feet. Kabuki WINS! He drops to the mat as soon as Bronko raises his hand. It's the "first Texas Death Match Fritz has lost"! Kevin Von Erich runs in to dropkick Hart and chases off the bad guys. Yeah, it was kinda' slow, but the Texas Death stip worked well, considering it let Fritz show how pissed off he was. Having to constantly break the Claw at 10 would've ruined any drama in the match. Decent booking, too, as Kabuki and Hart basically cheated in a match that was supposed to give a clear-cut winner. Kabuki would go on to bigger things in World Class and elsewhere, so going over the "Texas Hero" really helped him on that path. Not to mention that it IS kinda' neat to see a "Texas Death Match" actually take place in TEXAS.

David Von Erich, Kevin Von Erich & Kerry Von Erich vs. "Captain" Frank Dusek, "Wild" Bill Irwin & Ten Gu

Mike Von Erich is with big brothers before the match and gets an introduction from Marc Lowrance. Also of note is that Kevin is still wearing boots. Ten Gu looks like a little like Johnny Valiant, but is supposedly the future "Kendo Nagasaki", Kazuo Sakurada. Both rings are in play for this match, as it starts with Kerry vs. Irwin and David vs. Dusek.

David tags into the second ring and works an arm wringer on Ten Gu. Kevin gets a standing side headlock on Dusek, then kicks and backdrops Irwin when he tries to interfere. Still holding the headlock on Dusek, he grabs Irwin in a flying leg scissors and takes both to the mat. Kerry drop-kicks Ten Gu and hooks a sleeper, broken by the ropes. Dusek hops over to the second ring to save Ten Gu and work on Kerry a bit. Kevin drops a knee on Irwin and gets 2. David gets Dusek in a sleeper, then tags Kerry, who bounces off the first ring and leaps over into the second with a bodypress, scoring 2 on Dusek. High-knee and a flying head scissors from DVE on Ten Gu. More basic brawling as the heels get in very little offense. Since the flying head-scissors seems to the move du jour, Kerry performs one on Irwin. DVE suplexes Dusek for another 2, the hooks the CLAW. Kerry snapmares Irwin, then comes off the middle of the second rope with a kneedrop for 2. Dusek suplexes Kerry, then tries to come off the top rope, but Kevin shakes the ropes. Irwin slams Kevin, but misses his big charging knee-drop finisher. Ten Gu tags in and right into a CLAW from Kevin. Iwrin tries to break it with double axe-handle off the top rope, but accidentally nails Ten Gu. Kevin quickly bounces off the ropes with an elbowdrop and pins Ten Gu for 3. Maybe one or two notches above a Von Erich squash, but it showed how they needed a good 3-man team to compete against. Dusek, Irwin and whoever they recruited as the third man to their "army" simply were not on the level of the Freebirds.

Main Event: $10,000 16 Man, 2-Ring Battle Royal

Participants: Kerry Von Erich, Kevin Von Erich, David Von Erich, Richard Blood, Blue Demon, Jose Lothario, Al Madril, Big Daddy Bundy, "Captain" Frank Dusek, "Wild" Bill Irwin, El Negro Assassain, Ten Gu, Arman Hussein, Carlos Zapata, "Killer" Tim Brooks
Richard Blood is neither Ricky Steamboat, nor Tito Santana. It's Mid-South mid-carder Tommy Wright; supposedly World Class booker Gary hart just loved the name "Richard Blood". DVE and Irwin brawl as Marc Lowrance explains the rules. Lowrance holds up the $10,000 check, so Arman Hussein and Carlos Zapata try going after it! This is one of those old-school quirks, where everybody has to be dumped into the second ring before officially being eliminated. Which always makes is incredibly strange that, coincidentally, nobody ever flips out of the other 3 sides of the first ring.

Like 95% of all battle royals, it's a buncha' punching and hugging. Tim Brooks flings DVE into the second ring, then gets himself dumped in by Dusek and Hussein. Madril and Blue Demon enter, as well. DVE hooks a sleeper on Brooks and both go over the top. Almost on cue, everybody else suddenly ends up in the second ring. Big Daddy Bundy flips Irwin into the second ring, so Bundy is the winner of Ring #1.

Hussein and Blue Demon tumble out in a loving embrace. Both the cameras and Bill Mercer miss the elimination of Kevin Von Erich. Dusek gets tossed, courtesy of Kerry. Al Madril does the skin-the-cat to eliminate El Negro Assassain ..and himself. Kerry and Ten Gu tumble out as well. Blood ducks and eliminates Zapata. Irwin runs over to elimiate Blood, then quickly disposes of Jose Lothario. Irwin is now the winner of Ring #2 and gets to face Bundy.

Irwin stalls by going into the first ring, attacking Bundy as he goes between the ropes. Bundy fights back, pulls Irwin into the second ring and whips him for a reverse-elbowsmash. Bundy misses a big elbwo off the ropes, allwoing Irwin to take over. Running bicycle-kick from Irwin as he tries to power Bundy over. Bundy clubs away, but can't get Irwin out. Irwin actually gets Bundy over the ropes and to the apron. Irwin charges off the opposite side for a knee-smash, but Bundy ducks and pulls the down the top rope to eliminate him. Big Daddy Bundy is YOUR $10,000 winner!

Why'd You Tape This?:
VERY different from the World Class 1983-1984 stuff we've been following. It's a fun novelty, but not a show worth re-visting. The only match that seemed to have any drama was Fritz/Kabuki. Other than that, it's just "interesting" to see guys like El Solitario or the future King Kong Bundy.

Looking over at "World Class Memories", I see that there were a few other matches for this version of "Holiday Rasslin' Star Wars":

The booking is significant, though. Nothing is really blown off, as Kabuki gets a huge win, the Von Erich Brothers pinned the "weak link" of Dusek's Army and the rest is just...there. Bundy's win was probably the biggest of his career, to that point. It worked in getting him over and made his eventual heel turn on the Von Erichs all the more impactful.

Like I said, it's just "interesting" to see Bundy when he wasn't that far removed from his "Chris Canyon" days, still had hair, and was a fan favorite. One weird thing I always wondered about his heel cueball look: while it was a great look for him, his hair did not seem to be thinning, here. That's always a sign that someone might walk into an eventual "Hair Match" or shave their head, but Bundy might've missed out on some years of a healthy hairline by turning heel. Hey, as a guy in his late 30's, these things concern me! But I'm sure Bundy didn't care, as he made much more money bald than with hair.

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