Going Old School: WCCW - Parade of Champions
Posted by Matt Adamson on 01.08.2008
The biggest show in the history of World Class Championship Wrestling.
May 6th 1984 may be the most important day in the history of World Class Championship Wrestling, but it’s also the beginning of the end. Many wrestling historians might disagree with me, but a show titled the David Von Erich Memorial Parade of Champions has enough weight behind it to sink even the mightiest ship. Typically a Memorial show would be beginning of a new era, which is something that World Class tried to usher in with this show. There was only one problem, David Von Erich, the most important part of the company had just died. The circumstances of the death were unknown, or as many have claimed, a drug overdose that was covered up to protect the integrity of David and the Von Erich family. The official cuase of death was that David Von Erich died of a heart attack. He was their biggest star and had, without question, the most promising future of the Von Erich family and the entire roster of World Class. This was the show dedicated to his memory and it drew a record crowd to Texas Stadium. It was the biggest show in the history of the company and they would never hit these heights ever again. I would imagine that despite their best efforts, neither Kerry, Kevin nor Mike were able to fill the shoes that David left when he died, which is why this, the first major show to take place after David’s death was the beginning of the end of World Class Championship Wrestling.
May 6th 1984 from Texas Stadium in Dallas, Texas in front of a crowd of 32,123 fans.
WCCW - Parade of Champions
The show starts off in typical World Class fashion, with the most sincere amount of sappiness one could ever witness. First they have some guy who looks like a total chump come out and sing “God Bless America”. If that weren’t enough sap, they would top all sappiness in professional wrestling previously and that would yet come (yes, even sappier than the return of Miss Elizabeth at WrestleMania VII) when this young girl comes out, braces and all and sings “Heaven Needed A Champion.” This girl with a true southern Baptist church singing voice belts out this song written about David Von Erich which came packaged with an extremely sappy video. If there is any curiosity in you about what this song sounded like, imagine Lee Greenwood as a young girl with braces in a yellow dress. So, as you can imagine, this wasn’t good. The video is one of the most hilarious things I’ve ever seen. I know the guy had just died and all, and that it was very sad, and still is today, but an ENTIRE MINUTE OF DAVID RIDING A HORSE is a little overkill. Awesome!
Chic Donovan vs. “Hacksaw” Butch Reed
As an opener, this match is pretty standard fare for World Class, even from the Sportatorium. Chic Donovan was a wrestler during the late 70’s and throughout most of the 80’s. He was fairly popular during his stints in AWA, Georgia and Memphis, but he never really did anything that would stand the test of time. The most important part of Donovan’s career had already passed at this point. He had spent some time in Jimmy Hart’s “First Family” stable in the early 80’s in Memphis (around the time of the Kaufman vs. Lawler feud), and that would be the peak of his career. Butch Reed on the other hand is a very recognized wrestler from the WWF, WCW and several NWA territories in the 80’s. Reed wasn’t actually in World Class at this point as he was on loan from Mid-South wrestling for this show. This match took place shortly after the Reed vs. Junkyard Dog feud in Mid-South which was a very important feud for that territory at the time, so he is essentially a big name to show up at this show and the heat he received was evidence of that. Most wrestling fans will remember him from his time from 1989-1991 teaming with Ron Simmons in Doom.
When Reed is introduced, much like his classic Mid-South promos he declares himself to be a “real man”. Just hilarious Butch Reed shenanigans. I always felt that he was terribly underrated. I think most of that stems from his ability to blend into the scene when he wasn’t wrestling in Mid-South or in Doom. The match starts out quick with Donovan getting a surprise attack on Reed into a… rest hold. Ugh! It felt kind of like those spots on ROH shows that Special K used to do where they would run the ropes just to put a guy in a rest hold. The only difference is that Donovan wasn’t making a joke out of it. In fact, the Special K joke is actually a parody of garbage like this. When Reed controls the match he seems to want to avoid actually working a match. Just lots of badmouthing and trash talking. The match doesn’t last long and ends when Reed hits a poorly executed Shoulder Splash on Donovan for the pin. This was basically just a squash. I was slightly entertained by Reed, which is refreshing to see despite the match actually being total crap. Not a good way to start the show.
Winner: Butch Reed
Match Rating: ½*
The Great Kabuki vs. Kamala
In the world of WCCW, The Great Kabuki and Kamala were huge. Kabuki was managed by Gary Hart, and Kamala by Skandar Akbar. Kabuki was a Japanese wrestler who had success in All Japan and in various NWA territories. He was important enough in Jim Crockett promotions to have them bill The Great Muta as The Great Kabuki’s son, because Kabuki was the original wrestler to blow mist. Kabuki’s popularity in the states was at it’s peak here, and may have been matched during his time in Jim Crocket Promotions. Kamala of course is “The Ugandan Giant” or the bodyguard of Idi Amin. Kamala was well known by this point in his career, but hadn’t achieved his biggest success. That would come very soon after this match when he jumped to the WWF and had feuds with Hulk Hogan and Andre The Giant. Kamala had just jumped ship from Mid-South to World Class and it was a big step up and this exposure may have been what allowed him to get to the next level.
The match was very typical of the style that these guys both wrestled over the course of their entire careers. Lots of big strikes and rest holds made up nearly 100% of the match. Half of the match was Kamala giving Kabuki a bear hug. Not exactly a mat classic, or even entertaining until Akbar and Hart jump in the ring and interfere in the match. Both of them are DQ’d because of their managers and everything was played up as being par for the course, which was actually quite true. This type of manager involvement was the kind of stuff that made the Sportatorium shows that World Class ran so great.
Winner: Double DQ
Match Rating: ½*
Junkyard Dog vs. The Missing Link
I actually remember this match clearly from my childhood. The Missing Link scared the literal piss out of me during this time. It must have been the green face paint. JYD was another one of the loaners from Mid-South that were used to fill out this card. JYD was just on the brink of superstardom when he would leave Mid-South a year later. The Missing Link is a different story. Clearly he left an impression on me as a youngster, and I’ve always thought he could have amounted to more than he did. Sadly the man behind the paint of the Missing Link died in August of this year after a long battle of cancer. His career wasn’t especially long, especially as The Missing Link. He had only wrestled as the Missing Link for one year prior to this match. He was wrestling for Mid-South at this time, much like his opponent and would make the occasional trip to World Class. Funny that I recollect seeing a lot of the Missing Link as a child.
The Missing Link of course is with Skandar Akbar. Link goes absolutely crazy to start as he always did. The matches started with lots of punchy kicky stuff, again, typical of Link. Classic stuff from these two as Link tries a head butt on JYD, but Dog no sells it. This was always brilliant, especially considering the level of intelligence displayed by JYD throughout his career. JYD of course reverses into a head butt of his own and it looks HORRIBLE! Probably one of the worst executed head butts I’ve ever seen. It practically exposes the business to even the most daft of fan. They go for some more punch kick stuff until Akbar interferes causing JYD to turn his back on Link, which allows Link to hit a “Diving Head Splash” for the win. After the match is over the two fight some more and the ref comes in and reverses the decision, awarding the match to JYD by DQ. And people call it a Dusty Finish… Maybe it could have been called the “Fritz Finish”. Absolutely terrible match. It was neither as entertaining nor as terrifying as I remember it. Of course, it has been around 23 years.
The American Tag Team Championship was the top tag title for World Class. It had been around since 1967 and the champions going into this match, The Super Destroyers were in their second of three total reigns under the name Super Destroyers, and four total reigns. The Super Destroyers Scott and Bill Irwin dressed up as identical mask wearing members of Devastation Inc. The two brothers, who had spent the early part of their career in Central States and World Class would go on soon after this to the AWA to seek their greatest fame as a tag team called the “Long Riders.” After Scott died in 1987, Bill would go on to WCW as Wild Bill Irwin and later the WWF as The Goon.
Buck Zumhofe was a light heavyweight who was quite early in his career at this point. He had started out in the AWA early on, but moved over the World Class shortly before this show. He got his greatest exposure as a jobber for the WWF during the late 80’s and early 90’s though he did have a period as a substantial star in the AWA in the dying days of the promotion. Zumhofe’s real claims to fame are the he was the first wrestler to be put into a body bag by The Undertaker and the first wrestler to wrestle Triple H in the WWF. In my opinion, having seen a great deal of his AWA career and a good amount of his time in World Class, that he is one of the most underrated wrestlers ever, both by fans and by the business. Thank goodness Verne Gagne saw something in him and gave him a shot, or he would have been just a jobber. Iceman King Parsons was about 5 years into his wrestling career at this point, but this was early in his time spent as a baby face. He had spent the previous couple years feuding on and off with different members of the Von Erich family. Zumhofe and Parsons called themselves “Rock and Soul”.
Iceman and Zumhofe come out to “We are Family” by Sister Sledge. That might possibly be the worst choice for entrance music of all time. Just awful considering who’s involved. Zumhofe started the match out and showed me immediately that my assertions about him were correct. He is very fluid in the ring, like a Ricky Steamboat arm drag. It’s very pleasant to watch. Once Parson gets in, the match turns into one extremely long Collar and Elbow, about 2 minutes worth, just ridiculous. After only two moves in 2-3 minutes the pace returns when Zumhofe is tagged in. He takes a solid beating from one of the Destroyers, who are quite responsible for much of what is entertaining in this match. I should mention that both Irwin’s are quite capable in the ring. Imagine when Brad Armstrong wrestled as Fantastia or Arachnaman. Once Zumhoff got the hot tag to Iceman, the match quickly turned into a brouhaha. Destroyers Isolated Iceman, but to no avail. Iceman gets the better of them and snags the American Tag Titles for Rock and Soul following what looked to be a flying forearm. The match itself had its highs and lows. Particularly any negative comments I’d have toward the match would be directed at Parsons who looked unmotivated. How does somebody look that unmotivated when there are 32 thousand fans screaming for you to win. It’s a mystery to me.
Winners and NEW Champs: Buck Zumhofe and Iceman King Parsons
Match Rating: *¾
The next thing on this show is one of those legendary moments that would lead to something that would stick around in pro wrestling for many years after. This would be the debut of the music video for Badstreet USA! HELLS YES!! If you haven’t seen this video, do whatever you can do hunt it down. It might very well be the greatest music video ever made. The best part is Gordy and Roberts doing backing vocals late in the song. Of course neither of them actually appeared on the recording of the song itself, but apparently, since they are “part of the band” then they’d have to do something right? Hilarity! Interestingly enough, Jimmy Garvin makes a cameo in video, one that is actually believable. This is worth checking out for the reasons you can imagine.
If any of these guys need an introduction, you need to watch a lot more old school wrestling. This match would actually be the culmination of a feud started on Christmas Night of 1982 when Hayes was the (fan voted) special referee for a World Title match in a cage between Kerry Von Erich and Ric Flair. At this point The Freebirds were baby faces, but that wouldn’t last through the match as The Freebirds true colors shone through as Gordy attacked Von Erich. It was one of wrestlings most legendary moments and led to one of the greatest feuds in the history of wrestling. This would be the culmination of a year and a half of feuding (can you imagine that in today’s climate). This would also be one of the final appearances by the Freebirds in World Class as they would be AWA bound shortly afterward.
Terry Gordy in a half shirt is never a good thing. I mean it’s bad enough when a small guy like Roberts does it, but GORDY? Dammit dude, suck that shit in! The pop for the Von Erich’s is epic. Crowd is huge and every woman in that stadium (of which there are probably like 20,000) want the Von Erich’s to touch them in dirty ways. Match started with total pandemonium. Gordy is throwing chairs in the ring and the fans are just about to riot when referee David Manning steps in to stop the bullshit. He gets on the mic and explains that the match will be “Anything Goes” but traditional tag rules will apply, meaning one on one in the ring. Ok, so anything DOESN’T go. Considering the importance of this match, It’s really disappointing that they didn’t just let it go full bore. Kevin and Roberts started the match. Crowd is just insane, I can’t say that enough. The passion from the fans and the participants is just about as good as it gets in wrestling. There’s a great moment where Fritz whips Hayes’ ass with his belt. That’ll learn him Fritz, chap that hide! The best part comes after the whipping when Fritz actually bothers to put the belt back on.
The match really has no flow at all, no matter who is in the ring. It doesn’t matter, the passion is there and it is very entertaining. Hayes ends up beating Kevin with his boot. That’s what Kevin gets for not wearing his own boots in the ring. Roberts plays a great character throughout this match, just all over the place, it’s one of those things that is just too tough to describe with words. Fritz and Hayes are in the ring later in the match and Fritz puts the Iron Claw on Hayes. Roberts comes on and Fritz catches him with his other hand. This moment where Hayes and Roberts are in a double Iron Claw of sorts has been etched in my memory since I watched it on ESPN in 1984. More pandemonium and Kevin hits Robers with a Flying Cross body and picks up the win, the titles and the ultimate bragging rights in World Class at the time. After the match, a guy comes in and attacks the Von Erich’s. The commentatory calls him a “huge mean oriental”. I shit you not. Imagine that being said today. Kerry comes in and saves his family from this Asian beat down. This match was just an amazing brawl and reminds me that wrestling today is critically lacking in passion. If somebody could only have bottled the passion in the stadium during this match and spread it out over the next 20 years of wrestling, things would be awesome.
Winners and NEW champs: Fritz, Kevin and Mike Von Erich
Match Rating: ***
Some old guy that gets virtually no reaction and Miss Texas 1984 are announced as being in attendance. I adore how nobody cared.
If you don’t already know about this match then you haven’t been paying attention. This match is without a doubt the most important match in the history of World Class Championship Wrestling and in the history of the Von Erich family. With the death of David Von Erich, the NWA agreed to allow his brother Kerry a shot at Ric Flair’s World Title. Kerry was the best Von Erich for the job as he had the look. There was no questioning this. Ric Flair was in his third official title reign having defeated Harley Race in Singapore. This match is taking place only 6 months after Starrcade ‘83 where Flair beat Race in that legendary cage match for his second title. Kerry was relatively young still at the age of 24, but had a lot of experience at the top of the card thanks to being a Von Erich. I never felt that Kerry’s push was justified as he appeared quite green even at this point, which is about 2 years after he started working the top of the card. I recall this match perfectly beginning to end. I loved this match when it happened, and I was jumping up and down screaming when it was over. It just didn’t get any better than this.
Kerry came down to the ring to one of the loudest pops ever. There are maybe 20 wrestlers that ever managed this kind of pop from a crowd, 3 of those 20 are Von Erich’s. While he makes his way to the ring, he gets no less than 3 aggressive kisses from women attacking him with their lust. It’s a sight to behold. The match is announced with the stipulation that if Flair gets DQ’d he loses the title. Flair is just so suave in the ring. I’ve seen so many Flair matches in my life, but watching Flair matches on the cards they were originally on, surrounded by matches that aren’t always considered classics, really reveals why Flair is considered by many to be the greatest in-ring performer ever. There is a great exchange of reversals that starts the match. Flair looks to be slowing down the pace and stalling in order to avoid exposing Kerry’s lack of skill in the ring. Still, it’s amazing the pace of the match compared with the rest of the card (with the exception of the 6 man tag). Eventually the two pick up the pace whenever Flair is controlling, which is a fair majority of the match. Kerry just loves those rest holds, but Flair works really hard to sell them well. It is so clear that Flair is a step above everybody else on this card. Kerry finally gets the win and the title with a reverse rollup. Von Erich would only hold the title for a few days, making his reign the 3rd shortest in the history of the title up to that time. While it’s not an amazing match, I still find it to be incredibly entertaining. When I watch wrestling and judge it here in my reviews, the most important thing to me is not “workrate” though that is here. It is not “psychology” either, though that is here as well. The most important thing in a wrestling match in my opinion is entertainment. I was entertained.
Winner and NEW Champ: Kerry Von Erich
Match Rating ***¼
They go to the back for an interview with Kerry Von Erich. He talks a bit about his brother David and about Texas. Fritz eventually joins him and talks some about David. The rest of the Von Erich’s eventually make it in and Kevin calls Kerry “the greatest wrestler in the world.” Kayfabe of course.
Mixed Tag Team Match: Chris Adams and Sunshine vs. Jimmy Garvin and Precious
I’ve got a confession to make. As a young child, I was HOT for Precious. From about 1984 to 1989, I wanted her. Hell, I still find her to be extremely attractive. I always hated Garvin for being her real-life husband. Garvin of course is best known as part of the Freebird in their later incarnation in WCW, but also as a formidable singles wrestler in World Class, AWA and Jim Crocket Promotions. I always felt Garvin’s career was always downplayed, and I still cannot understand why. Adams was at the peak of his career while in World Class. His feud with the Von Erich’s was one of the most important in the latter days of the promotion. This feud was also quite an important one, both for him and for Garvin. Precious and Garvin had recently joined World Class, but Garvin originally came with Sunshine as his valet. Sunshine is actually Garvin’s real life cousin. Well, the story is that when Precious came, she was to replace Sunshine, but that didn’t go over well. Adams got involved feeling for Sunshine’s situation. Adams and Sunshine are the faces in the match, but I was cheering for Precious.
Gino Hernandez is out to cut a promo about why he wasn’t put on the card. My guess is that he was, but he was too high to make it on time. Too bad about his life choices. He was really something to watch. He takes a verbal shot at the women (hilarious stuff) and challenges the winning man of the match. Adams and Sunshine desecrate Garvin’s ring jacket before the match. I was hoping Precious would leave him at this point. I could buy a damn fine looking ring jacket. Standard man vs. man and woman vs. woman rules for the match. Garvin does a great job of cutting the ring in half early on, but it doesn’t last long. When the women are in, the match is a lot of slapping and clawing. When the men are in, it’s pretty decent catch-as-catch-can wrestling. If any woman but Precious were in this match, I’d say the presence of the women in this match is a waste, but it’s my PRECIOUS! Damn, I sound like that Smeagol from Lord of the Rings. Garvin holds Sunshine down for Precious to get a few good shots in. YES! Adams (the bastard) comes in and lets Sunshine take over with more slapping and clawing. The pinfall actually happened off camera. While the camera was following Precious and Sunshine, Adams pinned Garvin. Sunshine attacks as Garvin and Precious leave Texas Stadium.
Winners: Chris Adams and Sunshine
Match Rating: *¾
The 411: While this show was incredibly important at the time and in the history of World Class, it doesn’t really hold up well today. It’s worth tracking down the Six Man Tag, World Title match, and Badstreet USA video if you can find them elsewhere, but the rest of the tape is actually pretty tough to sit through.