Kerry Von Erich vs. Jerry Lawler:
When Worlds Collide... Nobody Wins!
World Class champion Kerry Von Erich and AWA World champion Jerry Lawler have wrestled each other recently in a series of title vs. title matches.
Curt Hennig, Greg Gagne, Phil Hickerson, Manny Hernandez, Iceman King Parsons, Kamala, and Buddy Rogers all lost.
“The way I feel about it,” said Hennig, a former AWA World champion, “Lawler’s going all around the country wrestling guys from other federations and saying that he’s doing it to increase the value of the World title. But let me tell you something, that belt was worth something when I had it, and now it’s worth squat. If you wanna hear the truth, he’s going around wrestling guys like Von Erich because he’s scared of me .”
“I wanna know what Von Erich is doing wrestling other champions when there are plenty of contenders right here in Texas,” said Buddy Roberts. “What he’s doing is using the World Class title to get at another title, but that ain’t the way it’s done. He should be down here wrestling me .”
When Lawler won the AWA World title from Hennig in May and announced that he would defend the belt outside the AWA, the news was greeted with great anticipation by fans and wrestling journalists. Years ago, the WWF, NWA and the AWA World champs often wrestling champions from rival federations, as well as Japan and Puerto Rico. That ended with the promotional wars of recent years. The idea of a world champion – in the literal sense of the word, at least – died.
Lawler apparently neglected to realize that, by resuming the practice of a traveling champion, he ran the risk of ignoring and insulting the AWA’s top contenders, men who worked their way up the title ladder much as Lawler did.
Already, Lawler has put his belt on the line against Kerry, former WCCW Texas heavy weight champion Iceman Parsons, and Austin Idol. All of these men have no affiliation with the AWA. Hennig is the only top AWA contender who has received regular shots at Lawler, but those, too, have dropped off. CWA grapplers Bill Dundee and Dutch Mantell have also wrestled Lawler a few times, but such AWA stars as Greg Gagne, Wahoo McDaniel, and Manny Fernandez are being ignored.
Similarly, Von Erich’s matches against Lawler have left wrestlers like Buddy Roberts, Iceman Parsons, and Kamala waiting for an opportunity they feel they have earned and the AWA champion has not. As of press time, Kerry had already wrestler Lawler twice, but several more matches are planned between the two. As Kerry spends more time in Memphis challenging Lawler, he spends less time in Texas defending his own title. In other words, the World-Class belt is in danger of becoming off limits to anyone wrestling in the World-Class area! It’s a dangerous situation.
As the Von Erich – Lawler battles gain intensity, the probability grows that the WCCW and the AWA contenders will have to wait even longer for title shots. On June 27 in Memphis, Lawler and Kerry engaged in a surprisingly vicious, bloody battle that ended with both men being counted out of the ring.
Another match three weeks later started off as a scientific masterpiece but quickly degenerated into an all out brawl. Lawler tossed Von Erich out of the ring, then bashed his head into the ring post. Kerry suffered a deep gash on his forehead, but managed to climb back into the ring. When Lawler tried to pile drive Kerry, referee Jerry Calhoun pushed Jerry to the mat (CWA rules forbid the pile driver).
Von Erich then kicked “The King” in the gut and executed a thunderous pile driver. Kerry, however, was unaware that the pile driver is illegal in the CWA, and when Calhoun called for the bell, Kerry was immediately disqualified. Kerry, who usually wrestles under the WCCW rule that a title can change hands on a disqualification, then prepared to give up his belt. But officials reminded Kerry that titles do not change hands on disqualifications in the CWA and Von Erich was allowed to keep the belt.
So nobody won. And moments later, when Lawler and Von Erich signed contracts for a no – disqualification match the following week, it became apparent the the AWA and WCCW’s top contenders had lost again. Nonetheless, Von Erich and Lawler seemed unconcerned.
“My plan is to put my belt on the line against the best wrestlers in the world, whether they’re in the AWA or on Mars,” Lawler said. “I’d wrestler [NWA World champion Ric] Flair if he’d put his name on a contract. All of these other guys that are complaining are just gonna have to prove themselves worthy. Hennig? Man, he had his chance, plenty of times.”
“I have the belt and I’m gonna do what’s in the best interests of World Class Championship Wrestling and my own career,” said Kerry. “Everybody has gotten plenty of shots at my title, and that’s not gonna stop. If you ask me, these guys, these guys have no right to complain. Besides, they’ve all do the same thing I’m doing if they had the chance. They’re just jealous and they’re going to have to wait on line.”
But what will happen if there is a clear winner in one of these title vs. title matches? Would the World-Class belt, in Lawler’s hands, be forgotten? Would Von Erich defend the AWA World title anywhere but Texas?
There are important questions for the future of wrestling… and for those AWA and WCCW contenders who are tired of waiting.