In the 1960s, the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA) was hitting a stride in popularity as it was the governing body for most wrestling organizations around the country. During the latter half of the decade, Ed McLemore founded World Class Championship Wrestling (WCCW) but would soon hand the promotion over to Southwest Sports, Inc. and it’s then president Jack Adkisson. Adkisson (1929-1997) was better known as professional wrestler Fritz Von Erich. Before his acquisition of World Class, Fritz was a top heel in many different promotions in the state of Texas. As a top star, he would often contend for prominent positions including a contest for the NWA World Heavyweight Championship.
As Fritz’s career came to an end, he began to usher in a new generation of performers, literally. His sons would enter the world of professional wrestling, and from there, the family’s history would forever change. As the 1970s drew to a close, WCCW began to pull further away from the NWA as the wrestling boom of the 80s was drawing closer. Fritz would begin to take the promotion through a national expansion, but only to moderate success. In an effort to compete with Vince McMahon’s World Wrestling Federation (WWF), Fritz, who by this time was semi-retired from in-ring competition, pushed his sons further to main event status.
Although the actual tragedies started with the death of the oldest child of the Von Erichs, Jack Adkisson Jr., the curse wouldn’t kick into gear until the death of David Von Erich. According to an article on thegorillaposition.com, Von Erich was set to face then NWA Champion “Nature Boy” Ric Flair for the World’s Title, but it would never happen. The announced championship match was set to take place in April of 1984, but the top contender passed away on February 10, 1984. As a result of David’s untimely passing, the head booker Gary Hart, decided to plan the David Von Erich: Parade of Champions. The outcome saw David’s younger brother Kerry Von Erich defeat Flair for the NWA Championship.
Despite Kerry’s victory over Flair, the pressure of being thrusted on television and made to wrestle in other territories had a negative effect on Fritz’s surviving children. After David’s death, his siblings were given more television time and Fritz would take an even more prominent role on screen. Though this was a good idea in theory, the constant involvement saw Fritz’s sons slip slowly into a psychosis. As the WWF and World Championship Wrestling (WCW) began their national expansion, WCCW saw their handle on the industry slowly slip away. With Kerry’s pending departure from his father’s organization, the creative process would take a nosedive and quality began to fade.
Here’s why The Von Erich Curse could be placed on World Class Championship Wrestling. After David’s premature demise in 1984, the point of interest focused more on his siblings. This went terribly wrong in terms of Fritz’s son’s mental stability. Mike Von Erich, who was the fifth son of the family, passed on April 20, 1987 after intentionally overdosing on tranquilizers as a result of depression. In 1991, Chris Von Erich, who was the least athletic of the boys, died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to his head. When WCCW folded in 1988, Kerry went to the WWF and captured the Intercontinental Championship, but was soon demoted to jobber to the stars (paid to lose). Upon his release from the company, Kerry would slip into a deeper depression and claim his own life on February 18, 1993.
In a shoot (unscripted) article with texasmonthly.com it legitimately called Kevin the sole-surviving son of the late Fritz Von Erich. World Class Championship Wrestling in its heyday was a premier league in professional wrestling. In fact, it was known to be one of the original big three promotions of that era. So how could a league with a great reputation, end in such darkness? Simple, the pressures of success and an uncertain future was to blame in the demise of not only a company, but an entire family.