WCCW #5 Page #2

The first tragedy to hit was Davidís death. On February 10,1984 in Japan, David died of what was announced as acute enteritis, a severe inflammation of the intestines, but what has been speculated as drug related and also rumors of not wanting to wrestle but to be a rodeo star. David was perhaps the biggest star of the Von Erichs before his death. He was rumored to be in line for a reign as NWA World Heavyweight Champion. His feud with "Gorgeous" Jimmy Garvin in 1983 was a classic where he even won the services of Garvin and his valet "Sunshine" as his maids for a day. What classic footage of them it was, as Sunshine was at his house doing dishes and washing his dog, while Garvin was cleaning his cattle stalls. It all came to a bitter end though that night in 1984.

We were all shocked and saddened by his death, but it would not be the last time the Von Erichs and their fans would suffer tragedy. When Mike Von Erich made his wrestling debut on Thanksgiving night 1983 no one including Mike was expecting what was going to be thrown his way in a matter of months. When David died, everyone looked at Mike to take his place. Mike looked a lot like David in the face but was not as tall as the 6'7" David was and was a skinny kid at the time. Mike also did not have the skills David had nor the charisma, and was not ready for the pressure put on him by the fans and by his father Fritz. In 1985, Mike went into the hospital for shoulder surgery and then was released and went home. Once there, Mike's temperature rose to 105 degrees and was he was rushed to the hospital and treated for toxic shock syndrome, a condition usually only contracted by women. Mike made it through it, but was never the same afterwards. He returned to the ring about a year later and was only a shell of his former shelf and you must remember he was not the best wrestler at the time of his injury. The pain of not being able to perform at the level of his brothers and being in Davidís shadow was too much for him to handle and on April 12,1987, he took an overdose of the tranquilizer, Placidyl, left a suicide note and wrapped himself in a sleeping bag and died. Sadly though, the Von Erich tragedies were far from over.

In the summer of 1986, Kerry Von Erich was driving his motorcycle on a very busy Texas road and went to pass a car. As he did, he didnít see the police car stopped to make a turn. Kerry went flying over the top of the car and tore up his right foot and ankle and contrary to the rumors was not riding barefoot. There are two conflicting reports as to what happened next. One says the operation went well and Kerry in a still drugged state after the surgery got up and walked on it and totally destroyed the foot. The other report is Kerry's father Fritz who had seen attendance go down since Kerry had been gone rushed him back too soon. Kerry re-injured the foot and ankle again in his first match back and that caused him to lose his foot. Needless to say, whichever story is true, this is what eventually caused Kerry's addiction to pain killers. Still yet, the tragedy was far from over.

Chris Von Erich was sometimes seen around his brothers at shows either during interviews or even involved in a few angles now and again and Chris wanted to follow in his brotherís foot steps into the world of pro wrestling. Chris, however, did not have the ability or the size at just over 5 feet tall and only around 150lbs. Chris was born with asthma and it stunted his growth. Chris also had very brittle bones due to the medication, and in one tag team match with his brother Kevin, teaming against Michael Hayes and Buddy Roberts, his arm was broken due to this. Chris also had big shoes to try to fill as he was not only living in the shadows of his brothers but was also featured in wrestling magazines as a early teenager being billed as a future World Champion and as the kid who would lead the Von Erichs into the 21st century. Sadly, this would never come true and on September 12,1991 after feeling like he had let his father down and all the fans down, Chris took his own life with a gun. If this werenít enough, more was yet to come.

When Kerry Von Erich was pulled over and arrested for possession of cocaine, he was being stopped after a warrant had already been issued for his arrest for forging prescriptions for the pain killers he needed after his motorcycle wreck. He had also recently been divorced from his wife of nearly ten years, was in trouble with the IRS for tax purposes and had been fired from the World Wrestling Federation for failing a drug test. Realizing it was possible that his best days as a wrestler were over and also facing jail time, Kerry made the decision to also take his own life.

While Kerry, Mike or Chris did not know what their future might have held, it is apparent they didnít understand that there is life after wrestling. A perfect example of that is the oldest and only remaining son Kevin, who has a very successful cattle business and has been quoted as saying he does not keep up with wrestling nowadays and had lost his desire to compete after Davidís death in 1984. Kevin officially retired in 1995 but really had quit years earlier. Kevin now leads a somewhat quite life with his wife and kids. Fritz died in 1997 from cancer. Itís always sad when a parent outlives their kids much less 5 of them, including Jackie, a son who died as a infant in 1958, like Fritz and his ex-wife Doris did but they will always have the memories as will all of the Von Erich fans around the world. I would just like to take this time to say thank you to the Von Erichs for the memories and there will always be a place for you in wrestling history as well as the hearts and minds of all your fans around Texas and the world.

NEXT MONTH:

WCCW beginnings and Fritz Von Erich.

Back to WCCW Main