Beginnings of a World Class Feud (December 25, 1982)
It may have been a festive time of year, but at WCCW’s Star Wars show at Reunion Arena on December 25, 1982, one of the greatest feuds in professional wrestling history was launched. In 1966, Jack Adkisson – better known as Fritz Von Erich – teamed up with promoter Ed McLemore (owner of the Dallas Sportatorium) to form NWA Big Time Wrestling (later renamed World Class Championship Wrestling). They broke away from the Houston booking office (run by Paul Boesch) and based themselves in Dallas/Fort Worth. McLemore died of a heart attack in 1969, and Fritz continued on alone. For years, he played the role of the Nazi monster heel, but became a fan favourite and battled many of the great villains of the day. But it was not until his sons – David, Kevin and Kerry – entered the fray that a wrestling revolution took place.
The year 1981 saw the promotion begin to catch on fire, as David, Kevin and Kerry took the territory by storm. Nepotism often plays a role in sons and other family members getting ‘the push’ when their father owns the business. However, in this case, any doubting critics were proven wrong, as they were simply ‘that good’ to get the top positions. At the Christmas “Star Wars” event in Reunion Arena, Kerry was to get a shot at NWA World Heavyweight champion, Ric Flair. After a series of bouts mired in controversy, this match would take place in a steel cage, two-out-of-three-falls. As an added stipulation, Michael Hayes would be a special guest referee – as voted for by the fans – and would keep an eye on the action along with regular official, David Manning. Terry Gordy was also standing watch at the door, and held the only key.
Hayes was one-third of The Fabulous Freebirds, along with Terry “Bam Bam” Gordy and Buddy Roberts. They were originally brought in as babyfaces and friends of the Von Erichs, but that would soon all change in a flash.
The title match came down to one fall apiece, when Flair got in Hayes’ face. Hayes responded by decking Flair, and then urged Kerry to cover him. Realising what had happened, Kerry refused to make the pin. Hayes got increasingly angry, and shoved Kerry and Manning before heading for the door to leave. Kerry tried to follow Hayes to reason with him, but was kneed in the back by Flair, sending Michael out of the cage to the floor. Perhaps thinking Kerry had attacked his partner, Gordy slammed the cage door into Kerry’s head. Moments later, Manning grudgingly awarded the final and winning fall to Flair when he realised Kerry could not continue.
The Von Erichs/Freebirds feud would rage for several years, and is still talked about today. A territory that was already hot became a raging inferno, primarily due to the fan’s interest in this rivalry. Many of World Class’ top stars, including Chris Adams, Iceman King Parsons, Bruiser Brody, Killer Khan, Jimmy Garvin and General Skandar Akbar’s men would become involved. Adding in the genius of booker Gary Hart, the feud would be at the forefront of the promotion’s boom period of 1981-1986, when World Class was on top of the, well, world.