Wrestling and Texas Stadium
All the hoopla surrounding the Dallas Cowboysâ€™ final game at Texas Stadium Saturday night got me to thinking about pro wrestlingâ€™s significant place in the stadiumâ€™s storied history.
Most people will think of Emmitt Smith, Roger Staubach, Tony Dorsett, Troy Aikman and other former Cowboys greats when reflecting on the stadium â€“ and rightfully so. But on the afternoon of May 6, 1984, Texas Stadium was at the center of the wrestling universe.
One of the biggest events of the wrestling territories era â€“ World Class Championship Wrestlingâ€™s David Von Erich Memorial Parade of Champions â€“ was held there that day. In the main event, Kerry Von Erich defeated Ric Flair to win the NWA world heavyweight title before a crowd of more than 30,000 (some sources list the attendance as more than 40,000).
WCCW made the Parade of Champions an annual event at Texas Stadium through 1988, although none of the shows were as memorable or well-attended as the first one.
In 1984, WCCW was among a number of wrestling territories that were thriving, and one of the few that had a national presence, thanks to its syndicated television show. WCCW owner and former wrestler Fritz Von Erich built the promotion around three of his sons (Kevin, David and Kerry), who were treated like rock stars in Dallas, especially Kerry.
David Von Erich, considered the best wrestler of the three, reportedly was being groomed to win the NWA world championship, which at that time was regarded as the most prestigious title in the business. The wrestling word was stunned, however, when Von Erich, 25, died while on a tour of Japan in February 1984. The official cause of death was a heart attack that stemmed from ruptured intestines.
Three months later, the big tribute show was held at Texas Stadium.
There really couldnâ€™t have been any other finish than Kerry Von Erich winning the title in honor of his older brother, thus providing a happy ending to an emotional day that had many in the crowd in tears.
As has been well-documented, there wouldnâ€™t be any more happy endings for the Von Erich family.
(All of the Von Erich brothers, with the exception of Kevin, are dead; David, Kerry, Mike, Chris, and most died from suicide. Again, Kevin is the only remaining Von Erich family member.)
*****from the Baltimore Sun*****
+++++An interesting footnote to this story from The Punisher+++++:
I remember the official cause of David’s death as being “gastro-enteritis”. Several of the boys, however, told me that this was a swerve and it really was a coke overdose. Ted DiBiase told Casey and me that the worst match he ever had was with Kerry. He said Kerry was so high that he could barely stand up and Ted practically had to hold him up all through the match. Merry Christmas to you all! Tom a.k.a. The Punisher a.k.a. Buggles