The Von Erich Blitzkrieg:
Target - Harley Race
by: Roger Deem
The only sound is the whir of the projector. Then, there’s the click as the movie frame is frozen.
“There,” says David Von Erich, “do you see it?”
On the screen is Harley Race, crumpled on the canvas, Dusty Rhodes is about to pounce on the fallen grappler.
“It the leg,” Kerry Von Erich points out. “I see what you mean. When he’s on the canvas, Race’s right leg crosses in front of his chest. That way, he smashes it into the opponent’s mid-section. Then the opponent naturally rolls Race on his side. That makes it impossible for Race to be pinned. Yeah, we have to watch for that.”
Kevin Von Erich scribbled something in a notebook. After the film, all three brothers would examine Kevin’s notes.
David flicked the projector back on. Sure enough, Rhodes inadvertently rolled Race on his side. There was no pin. Race once again regained his title. David turned off the projector and Kerry turned on the lights.
“Okay,” Kevin said, “let’s see what we’ve learned. Race is a defensive wrestler; we knew that. He doesn’t go for the victory, he wants to survive; we knew that too. What we didn’t know is that Race has five basic defensive moves. Of course, each move has about 10 different variations. The man is a snake. It isn’t luck that keeps him champion.”
“So where do we go from here?” Kerry asked.
Kevin smiled, “That’s the big question.”
David looked over the notes. “What we have to do is look at our own strengths. There’s no way any one of us can overcome all of Race’s maneuvers. What we have to do is concentrate on a few of his moves, maybe two basic ones and wait our chance. Sooner or later, one of us will wrestle Race when he plays to our strength. That’s when a Von Erich becomes a champion!”
When a Von Erich becomes champion. That is the only thing these brothers think about. Almost every waking hour is devoted to studying Harley Race, examining the man’s weaknesses and strengths. It’s all for one and one for all. Though each brother would like to be champion, they’ve left behind personal ambition to work together. One Von Erich must become champion.
“We’re going to take the NWA title,” David tells reporters, then laughs. “I said ‘we’ didn’t I. One of us will take the title. But in a way, you can say we’re taking the title. We’re working together for it. There’s a long and honorable history of brothers taking the NWA title. Dory and Terry Funk have both been champion and always said his brother, Jerry helped him. We’re doing the same thing. It’s natural for brothers to help each other. We’ve always been close.”
Yet, why is it important for a Von Erich to be a champion?
Kevin is the one who answers that question.
“Though he won’t admit it,” Kevin reveals, “our father was never a world champion because of us. When other wrestlers were working out in the gym, he’d be playing with us. At times, he didn’t take important matches because they fell on our birthdays; he always wanted to be home on our birthdays. Fritz Von Erich made many sacrifices for his family. He gave up a great deal to give us happy childhoods. We followed in his footsteps because we admire him so much.”
“This is our way of thanking him,” Kerry continues. “We want the name ‘Von Erich’ in the history books under ‘champion.’ And no matter what the first name will be, the man who earned the title will be Fritz Von Erich. I want to make sure everyone knows that. our father made it possible for one of us to be champion.”
So the brothers go back to their flims and notebooks. An observer looks for some hint that the brother are holding back from each other, actually saving some information for themselves. Yet, watching them plot strategies. you realize each is doing his best to make the other champion. Rarely has anyone seen a more selfless group of athletes at work.
Naturally, Harley Race knows about the brothers’ intentions. He pretends it doesn’t worry him. “I don’t care what they’re doing,” he says, “as long as I remain champion.
Harley Race wants to keep the title. But three - to - one are difficult odds to overcome.