By: Len Matthews
In Texas Every Day is V-E Day. In World War II, V-E Day arrived when the enemy surrendered. In Texas, V-E Day arrives every time a Von Erich hits the ring- and the enemy might as well surrender. Fritz, Mike, Kerry, Kevin, Waldo, and now, Lance.... these are the components of wrestling's only true dynasty: the Von Erich empire. The Dynasty, as rare as it has become, is a popular items in sports. Whether it is the Boston Celtics in basketball, the New York Yankees in baseball, or the Edmonton Oilers in hockey, everybody likes to speculate about how to build a dynasty. Creating a dynasty in an individual sport like wrestling is much more difficult. A great career involves one man, one talent, one set of accomplishments. More and more, though, the sons of past great stars have made their marks in wrestling. Perhaps most notable would be the Funks, although their father, the late Dory, Sr., was mainly a regional headliner. Sons Dory Jr and Terry both captured the National Wrestling Alliance Heavyweight crown when that honor was the championship in the mat world. Now, through a complex promotional conflict, what might be wrestling's most true and complete dynasty is starting to emerge. With the full force of an effective promotional machine behind the unlimited skills presented, this emerging dynasty could give modern pro wrestling an even bigger jolt. The Von Erichs are on the way. Fritz was indeed a national star. The inventor and master of the Iron Claw, Fritz topped lineups from Canada throughout the United States and into Japan. As his ring career slowed, Fritz became a force in promotion and even served a term as N.W.A president after legendary promoter Sam Muchnick stepped. At about that time, the sons of Fritz Von Erich were stepping into the spotlight. Brothers Kevin(the eldest) and David burst into stardom. Barely out of their teens, and with stacks of high school and college credentials in football and basketbal, Kevin and David immediately captured the imagination of fans whereever they went. Soon, another boy, Kerry, started to gain his share of acclaim. All agreed that in terms of raw ability Kerry would surpass whatever Kevin and David did- and they were doing plenty! Yet tragedy became part and parcel of their potential dynasty as well. Kevin was plagued with knee injuries, which once put his entire career in jeopardy. Jealousy within wrestling circles kept Kevin and David from getting opportunities which they had earned with their blood, sweat, and tears inside the squared circle. Then the ultimate horror hit: the sudden death of David during a tour of Japan. In typical Von Erich style, David had refused to take even a day off while suffering a severe attack of stomach flu. He made a grueling trip to the Orient, where the cause of his stunning death was determined to be enteritis. If ever a family could have crumbled, this was the moment. David had clearly been on the verge of his biggest victories, perhaps even winning the N.W.A title. Never before had he put the pieces of his talent together as well as he had before that fateful trip to Japan. But this family hung tough. They mourned, as did the wrestling world. But they never broke. Kevin,Kerry and young Mike- just making his entry into the pro ranks- dedicated their careers to the memory of their fallen brother. Kerry was able to hit the climax when he lifted the N.W.A prize from Ric Flair before a crowd of some 40,000 roaring fans in Dallas' Texas Stadium This came after several controversial bouts in which both Kevin and Kerry had beaten Flair onlyto have the title withheld by some political technicality. Japan was again unkind to the Von Erichs, because it was there Kerry lost the crown back to Flair. Perhaps emotions finally caught up with this high-strung young athlete, as this is one of only two clean pins Flair has ever been able to score on Kerry. The records show Kerry has either defeated or put the shoulders of Flair down at least seven times. Nonetheless, Flair had regained the N.W.A laurels and here is where the treacherous politics of wrestling conspired against the Von Erichs. By now, the World wrestling Federation(W.W.F) expansion was in full swing. The N.W.A had become not an alliance, but a public-relations arm Of Jim Crockett Promotions from North Carolina. The American Wrestling Association(A.W.A) was trying to grow in order to compete with Vince McMahon's W.W.F. And nobody was interested in having one of the Von Erichs shatter their own private dreams. The Von Erichs could not get a crack at Flair, Hulk Hogan,, ruler of the WWF throne, was unavailable. The A.W.A would not allow then-champion Rick Martel to risk the title against any of the Von Erichs. On the other hand, the World Class Wrestling television show was a slick, exciting package with a huge and growing audience all over the country. "World Class had top talent coming in, but none could stop the Von Erichs from reigning supreme. Once more, though, it appeared that tragedy would strike down the dynasty. Mike Von Erich contracted "shock syndrome" after having a serious shoulder operation. At one point, doctors gave Mike only a few hours to live. The family gathered, prayed, and found strength. Some-how, Mike pulled through and is now contemplating his comeback in wrestling. Through all of this turmoil, both sad and happy, the clamor has gotten much louder for "World Class Wresling" to expand on a national basis and carry it's thrilling product from New York to California. Reports are that "World Class" has already culminated a deal that sends many of its wrestlers to Japan and that the Von Erichs themselves were the key to putting that contract together. Local promotions have withered on the vine and most have died. Those that survive are pitifully weak and on the critical list. Now there is the W.W.F, the N.W.A(in fact Jim Crockett), the A.W.A, "World Class Wrestling", and Mid-South Wrestling under the directorship of Bill Watts. Talk to the fans, though, and the people who pay the freigh want to see "World Class" and the Von Erichs. Of course, in some areas this is part of being new and novel. The true test, should " World Class" decide to enlarge its operations, is how well it would do over a period of time. Yet the jury is out on that very same question for the W.W.F and the N.W.A. If- and it might be a big if the"World Class" program moves into new localities, the Von Erichs will be the key to success or failure. They could indeed become a true wrestling dynasty. Seeing one of the Von Erichs declared the World champion would be no surprise. Look at wrestling history. The first W.W.F Champion was Buddy Rogers and he became champion because Eastern promoters said he was.The first A.W.A champion was Verne Gagne and he becamechampion because some disgruntled Midwest promoters said he was. Only the N.W.A can trace its roots into the 1920's., but in recent years many controversial and disputed decisions have eroded support for this being the "true" title. So why not declare one of the Von Erichs is the world champion? It would have as much validity as that of any current organization. Futhermore, nobody could question the skills of the man picked to be that champion. After all, aren't the Von Erich's wrestling's dynasty? Other reasons abound why this type of move would make sense. One insider pointed out: The Von Erichs are never going to get a title shot at Hogan. First of all, Hogan is protected by the W.W.F and never even meets scientific challengers in his own alliance. Tito Santana, the Junkyard Dog, Ricky Steamboat, and Paul Orndorff are among those who have never gotten a crack at Hogan because they are too scientific and popular. The N.W.A and "World Class" are far, far apart, and its most unlikely Flair would ever get in the ring with any of the Von Erichs right now," this knowledgeable source, added "Anyhow, how often have the Von Erichs defeated Flair, only to be deprived of the crown by some ridulous technicality? Kevin and Kerry have both proven they are at least the equal of Flair. "Finally, the A.W.A is in a good deal of confusion about its future. Stan Hansen according to the grapevine would love to meet the Von Erichs but the politics involved will keep that from ever happening." concluded this mat expert. Should World Class make a move and should a Von Erich be declared its champion, another chapter of intrigue would be added to this "dynasty story". Mix it all together and the Von Erichs are quite possible the hottest item going today. Now add a mighty cousin to the mix and the Von Erich family becomes even stronger. Lance Von Erich, son of Waldo and cousin to Kevin and Kerry, is rapidly establishing himself as a true force in the mat world. One glance at Lance tells a huge part of the story. As handsome as a movie star, the guy is put together like a concrete wall. Muscles bulge and sheer athletic ability is evident in the cat-like way he moves about the ring. Originally, Lance cut his teeth in pro wrestling in the Pacific Northwest, where he made his mark under the name of Ricky Vaughn. It was a smart move, noted Fritz, patriarch of the clan. This allows him to mature as a wrestler with out all of the pressures of being a Von Erich. Now he's ready and he's going to get even better. One thing Lance has already done is make some prominent enemies. Another Von Erich griped Gino Hernandez. These guys are like rats, crawling out of holes! That outburst, by the way, came just after Lance had scored an upset victory on the arrogant Hernandez. I'm going to do my part vowed, Lance.I don't want to hurt the reputation of this family, so whenever I see an opportunity I will go full bore to take advantage. Kevin Von Erich smiled with delight at the thought of Lance. What an addition! I think Lance can go all the way to the top on his own, and it's nice to know there is another Von Erich standout when the situation demands. How could the public not be enthralled by what happens to the Von Erichs? This family lives, loves, bleeds grieves, cries, fights, grows, and succeeds in the harsh glare of the public spotlight. They are just like everyone, except that their struggles take on epic proportions. Whether the opponents are the Fabulous Freebirds or Chris Adams and Gino Hernandez, or a tragic death, or wrestling politics the Von Erichs have managed to conquer whatever the future holds for world Class wrestling the Von Erichs themselves can only thrive and become an even stronger force in today's convoluted mat scene. A dynasty? By any description, the Von Erichs are becoming wrestling's true dynasty.