wrestling / Columns

Ask 411 Wrestling: Why Does Kerry Von Erich Have a Bad Reputation?

January 18, 2018 | Posted by Jed Shaffer
Kerry Von Erich

[checks email, sees no email from Csonka politely asking not to submit a second column]
Cool. Must’ve done something right last week.
Hey, everybody. No big intro for this week. We got a loaded baked potato. Questions galore, and a lot of feedback to respond to as well, so. Email is [email protected] for questions. And this is the place where I endeavor to answer them. Which you knew. I’m rambling. Let’s get on with is, as I proudly uphold the time-honored tradition of BANNER~!

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Many thanks to all the kind words in the comments and on email about my first edition. Glad I didn’t disappoint.
On media-based gimmicks
Just a metric ton of ones I overlooked. Demolition, Low Ki, Waylon Mercy, The KISS Demon … the list goes on and on. And for the record, theburningfire, I don’t see the Jericho/Anton Chigurh comparison either, but that’s straight from Jericho’s mouth.
Austin and The Rock
The question was not if Vince would continue to use them so much as their effect on the card. I agree that, yes, Vince would milk the cow until the udders shot out puffs of dust. Vince has shown a terrible tendency to push people regardless of crowd reaction, so pushing Austin and The Rock even if their gimmicks had gotten stale would totally be realistic. But push =/= value, as we well know. See Reigns, Roman.
MITB cash-in
Since it’s all scripted, the holder could injure their immediate rival before cashing in. There’s ways around it … if creative was smart enough to do so.
Raw into Nitro
Doubters, some may be, but it was the plan. Remember, the idea was to build to a huge WWF vs. WCW PPV farther down the line than we got. If the fans had bit on Nitro, and the WCW brand could be rehabilitated, and it was led by Triple H and The Rock, why wouldn’t TNN bite? And if it sounded like I was hating on Seattle, I’m not. I’m a Pacific Northwesterner by birth.

You Q, I A

Since I wrote my first column in advance (mostly, minus the end), I didn’t have any questions of my own yet. Now I do. So my very first question sent directly to me gets to go first. Bradley Glynn has a question about the last men standing from WCW. Take it away!
Hello Jed, and good luck with the column.
Recently I’ve been thinking about how much fun it was back in college rediscovering wrestling during the Monday Night Wars, flipping between the shows, and wondering what crazy thing was going to happen next. Anyway, could you help me list any former WCW wrestlers who are performing at least on a part time basis for a decent sized company? I’ve come up with HHH, Big Show, Kane, Jericho, and Rhyno. Not sure if Rey Mysterio or Chavo Guerrero wrestle enough to even be considered part timers. Am I missing anyone? Of those people, it seems safe to say the last one standing will be HHH. Thanks. Brad
Holy cow, that’s a big lift, Brad.
To start off, I have to strike Kane and Rhyno off the record. Rhyno’s time in WCW was a whopping four matches before the Monday Night Wars, as a jobber on Saturday Night. And Kane only had one match in WCW in 1993. That doesn’t really qualify as distinguished alumni in my book.
Rey is very hit or miss in wrestling anymore, sticking mostly to smaller promotions in the States and Mexico. His most high profile gig right now is Lucha Underground, but that’s in some form of Titor-era-Chikara stasis right now. Chavo is also with LU, but as a producer, and helped train the actresses for Netflix’s GLOW. Outside of that, he seems to have Rey’s schedule; hit and miss small shows in the North American markets. And no need to go into Show or Trips, as we all know their whereabouts and frequency of wrestling.
From there, your parameters are a bit wide open, and as I’d like to see my youngest graduate college in 17 years, I’m not going through the entire history of Nitro. I’m gonna stick to big names and the latter-era of Nitro.
And man, is it slim pickings.
There’s Dustin Runnels. We know what he’s up to and where.
Kaz Hayashi still wrestles in Japan for WRESTLE-1.
The Great Muta wrestles wherever he damned well pleased in Japan. In 2017, he wrestled for WRESTLE-1, DDT, Dragon Gate, NOAH and All Japan. Cause who’s gonna tell him no and get purple-misted into the Phantom Zone?
And that’s about it. The few other remaining wrestlers with even semi-active schedules ply their trade in the kind of small-time indies that might have a Geocities site if they’re lucky, with the exception of Goldberg. And we know where he’ll come back to if he comes back. Everybody else is retired or dead. Although I’m sure it’s possible I missed someone, which will be pointed out in the comments to my embarrassment.
Well, that’s an awkward spot to transition out of. I leave it to … oh, crap, this guy didn’t leave a name. Thanks for helping me with that transition, Unknown Question Asker!
Why does it seem Kerry Von Erich gets the bad rap of the Von Erich family especially compared to David? We’ve all heard about Ric Flair allegedly wanting David to be NWA champ and that many wrestlers agreed and we’re disappointed after David’s death that Kerry got the title.
Now, I do realize that, especially later in his career, Kerry had tons of issues (as did most the family outside of Kevin it seems) but in the early mid-80’s, I think he was probably the biggest star in WCCW. Granted the Von Erichs could do no wrong but he was the most well known I’d wager nationally, was decent in the ring, incredible shape, and, like I said, super over. Why does there seem to be this negative cloud following him now? I don’t recall hearing most of this when he was living.

I think saying he has a “bad rap” is a bit harsh. Admittedly, his two most notable title reigns – the NWA World and WWE Intercontinental – don’t live up to the Flairs and Savages and Hennigs of the world, but they also aren’t seen as abject failures like The Mountie or Ron Garvin. They’re just one of many. I would more say that his legacy is precariously balanced against the black clouds in his life, and the black clouds are, sadly, more interesting to discuss.
I think the biggest problem facing Kerry is the expectations that were thrust on him when David passed. David was supposed to be the Von Erich golden child, a paragon for both WCCW and the NWA as a whole. Except he got cut down before he could assume the mantle. Once David was gone, all those expectations got (probably unfairly) dumped in Kerry’s lap, and he just wasn’t prepared for it. Two years after winning the NWA World Championship, he would lose a foot to a motorcycle accident and become addicted to painkillers. A year after that, Mike Von Erich – who had no interest in wrestling and was forced into it followed David’s death – killed himself. Four years hence, brother Chris would kill himself as well. Kerry’s world was falling down around him, and as the most prominent member of the family, his shoulders had to take on that weight and still be what David was going to be.
By this time, he was in the Fed, and his name value was not buying him the cachet one expected. Though he got the honor of stopping Mr. Perfect’s undefeated streak, he just wasn’t catching on. And his marriage was imploding. And, due to a probation violation with firearms, he was facing a serious legal situation with significant jail time. And his addiction was spiraling out of control. We know how it ended.
With all of that swirling around him, I think one can see how Kerry’s viewed as damaged goods. But, in my opinion, I think the bar was set too high to begin with for him, and he crumbled under the various pressures. When you put all that weight on a table, then start knocking out legs, you can’t blame the table for falling over.
Jeez, that’s two bummers in a row. Chris Geddis, pull us out of this tailspin!
Just wanted to inquire about wrestlers who actually hated each other in real life. What have been legitimate off screen feuds and did said performers ever have to wrestle each other while this was going on? If so, did they keep it professional in the ring? Also, any instances of one wrestler trying to legitimately hurt another during a match and were there any repercussions?
Well, there’s this one that’s kinda notable:

Granted, we now know that they’d managed to arrive at a peace accord by the time the angle began, but it was born of very, very real animosity.
There’s also the infamous Arn Anderson/Sid brawl that nearly turned fatal, when Sid decided to end a fistfight with a pair of scissors. Sid would take four stab wounds, while Arn would take twenty. They would never have to work with one another, as many members of WCW’s locker room threatened to walk if Sid wasn’t fired, forcing management’s hand.
On the Edge/Matt Hardy wavelength, but with a far more depressing outcome, Chris Benoit and Kevin Sullivan had to work together even after Sullivan’s wife left him for Benoit. We’ll not follow the path on that one, though, for obvious reasons. Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage had a very notorious on again-off again relationship, and no doubt worked matches against one another during their many, many off periods. And there was legit heat between Trish Stratus and John Morrison due to Morrison’s belief that his then-girlfriend Melina should’ve worked with him and an Oompa-Loompa at Wrestlemania 27. I mean, this is a business filled with muscle-bound, testosterone-pumping he-men, who are employed for the purpose of pretending to hate each other and further pretending to beat each other up in cities across the globe. There’s gonna be personality conflicts. Hell, there’s fistfights between shift workers at Wal Mart, so an industry like this is just begging for them.
But I would be torn apart in the comments if I didn’t mention the most notorious one. The shoot feud of shoot feuds. Maybe you’ve heard of it. Ended in somewhat infamously in Montreal, in some kind of screwjob? Yeah, kind of a big deal.
As for your last question, yes, there have been numerous instances of intentional stiffing. Too numerous to mention, in fact, so I’ll just mention a few, and let readers catalog more in the comments if they wish. Perry Saturn once lost his temper on a jobber after a missed cue and beat the living daylights out of him. The consequences of his actions led to the “Moppy” gimmick. New Jack is infamous for being a liberty-taking madman, starting with the Mass Transit Incident and going through his feud with Vic Grimes and his infamous match with Gypsy Joe. Beyond not getting booked again in certain places, New Jack never suffered punishment, due to being New Jack, a man that could scare Andrew Jackson. And most recently, there was the Sexy Star/Rosemary incident. While we’ll never be able to definitively say what happened in that ring, I’m inclined to take the word of the woman whose arm was damn near torn off her body like a turkey leg on Thanksgiving. Sexy Star is still feeling the repercussions, as she was stripped of her Reina de Reinas Championship, and everybody from Joey Ryan to Cody Rhodes to Road Dogg have vowed to blackball her in any promotion they work for.
APinOz has our next question, and he wants to get international in a WCW kind of way.
How and when did sneaky “foreign” objects become a thing in wrestling? I’m talking about fireballs, Abdullah-style forks, brass knux, whatever George Steele used to use… where did they become part of the story of pro wrestling heels?
Sadly, I couldn’t find a specific occurrence for the first foreign object, nor a solid history on early use of them. You’d think this would be one of those things that would have more documentation, like the first ladder match. It’s the kind of goofy, idiosyncratic fact the internet lives for!
I would reckon, though, you could probably safely assume it started sometime after Gorgeous George broke big. He introduced theatricality and showmanship and character to wrestling in a way that had never been done before. He made presentation just as integral to the performance as skill. And come on, he had a catchphrase of “win if you can, lose if you must, but always cheat”. That’s just begging for some skullduggery with foreign objects.
Still, I went the extra mile and tried to find some early examples. The best I could find were mentions of “Dr. X” Dick Beyer in the late 60’s (wasn’t he the villain from Operation: Mindcrime?), who hid something in his trunks he’d use to wallop the face whenever possible. Part of the schtick was that it the object was so shiny, it was visible in the seats, and yet somehow escaped the eye of the official who was mere feet away. Similarly, Baron Mikel Scicluna was infamous for giving his foes a roll of quarters to the face when the ref was otherwise occupied. And for heel tag teams, the tag rope was an always-handy garrote.
acefreak328 wants to know if the LOD meant RIP for WWE’s T-A-G … sorry, got on a run there.
When Legion of Doom showed up in the WWF in 1990, it seemed like the tag division fell apart shortly after that. Did the Road Warriors have any part of this or was it circumstances beyond their control?
I wouldn’t say it fell apart. Definitely a transition period, but falling apart is pretty harsh. The Hart Foundation picked up the tag titles for their second reign at Summerslam that year. You had The Rockers, The Orient Express, Demolition, LOD, and below them on the card, Rhythm & Blues, The Bushwhackers, Power & Glory, and by the time 1991 rolled around, The Nasty Boyz. Not quite the athletic marvels of just a few years before.
People tend to forget that during the 80’s heyday, while there were amazing tag teams in WWE, there were also some tag teams that just floated along, fodder for the cannon. The Rougeaus, The Killer Bees, The Can-Am Connection, The Young Stallions, The Powers Of Pain … capable, all of them. But you tend to forget the middle of the pack teams when you have The Hart Foundation, the Bulldogs, Strike Force, and classic Demolition all at the same time. It’s not like the Smokin’ Gunns era, where there was the Gunns and … umm … I don’t know, the hot dog vendor and the beer guy? Now that was a time of falling apart.
Now we get into some familiar territory for yours truly: speculative alternate history. This comes courtesy of nightwolfofthewise.
Say the 4 Horsemen all went to the WWE and used as a group instead of all being single wrestlers. How would that have changed the future of the Horsemen? Would there still be several incarnations of the Horsemen? Would there be just the classic lineup of the Horsemen ( Flair, Anderson, Windham, Blanchard, and Dillon) or would they have tried to add other members once Windham and Blanchard had left?
Well, we would’ve avoided a few of the Horsemen’s more unfortunate periods: the Yamazaki Corporation “takeover”, the awkward, obviously-killing-time Sting-as-a-Horsemen line-up, the … sigh … the Paul Roma year, the whole convoluted Flair/Arn storyline in 1995, and … sigh again … Mongo.
But then we have to realistically look at the Fed at the time. They didn’t do heel stables in the same fashion as the Horsemen. Their most successful heel stable in the 80’s would be The Heenan Family, and they weren’t so much a cohesive stable as a loose collection of clients unified mostly by their common manager. The Horsemen would’ve represented something different from anything WWE had at the time. Then there was the difference in booking style between the NWA and WWE at the time. The NWA built around heel champions and faces chasing them. WWE worked the other way around; a strong face champ, fending off all comers.
So, now we drop a faction of heels that have been booked in the past as running roughshod over the competition into the well-oiled Hulk Hogan machine.
You see where this is going?
I don’t think Vince would be so stupid as to not run Hogan/Flair for a while … maybe Savage/Flair too. Depending on the year, Piper/Tully would’ve been magical. And, yes, I could potentially see some membership rollover (Ted DiBiase, perhaps, or Mr. Perfect). But I can’t see anybody but Flair in the spotlight, and I can’t see him staying on top for long. Sooner or later, his time would run out, and he’d be shuffled down the card, while Arn, Tully and the fourth member got shunted into the tag ranks and/or feuds with the likes of Jim Duggan and Brutus Beefcake. It’s just how WWE worked then. If you need any further proof of how difficult it would’ve been for the Horsemen to make hay at the top of the card, consider this: between 1978 (when Superstar Graham’s nearly year-long reign ended) and 1993 (when Yokozuna’s second reign of nine months or so began), the longest run with the belt by a heel (Flair) was a whopping 77 days in 1992. And after Yoko dropped the strap, it wouldn’t be until Shawn Michaels in 1997, courtesy of the Montreal Screwjob, when there’d be another heel to top a 100 day reign. Heel dominance just wasn’t WWE’s style, and I’m not convinced Vince would’ve changed course to it just for the Horsemen.
Katamari Damacy (laaaaaaaaa, la, la-la, la-la, la-la) does not want me to roll violins and automobiles into a ball, but he would like to know about the aborted Stampede takeover.
I’ve read that Vince struck a deal to buy Stampede from Stu Hart as Vince wanted, what would end up being, “The Hart Foundation” and “British Bulldogs” from Stu. I then read the deal never happened as McMahon never gave Stu any money. Is any of this true? I know the Harts and Dogs wound up in WWE but, if Vince never paid Stu for the deal, how did Vince legally retain them?
Much in the way of information about this usually traces back to sources within the Hart family, so, there’s a certain level of bias involved. That being said, there is also much known about the business practices of V. McMahon in the 80’s, so … if the glove fits, you know? So, take everything that’s about to be said as on the truth scale as falling somewhere between “maybe” and “likely”, but certainly not “absolute”. With that …
Vince was playing a long game to kill the Stampede territory so he could run shows in Canada unopposed. It was a natural extension from the northeast, and would put him, geographically speaking, in Verne Gagne’s backyard. The problem was, the audience in the Stampede territory was fiercely loyal to Stu Hart. But Stu had pressures of his own; he was having health issues, and Helen wanted to get out of the business, after years of it dominating their lives. Vince made them a reasonable offer, paying the amount over a ten year period, which would give Stu retirement money for a decade. And to sweeten the pot, he’d put some of Stu’s family to work; Bruce Hart, who was floundering as the Stampede booker, would get a front office job, and the British Bulldogs would come on the roster.
(Note: these jobs for family members weren’t legally part of the buyout. More like favors offered to convince Stu to sell, so some performers and family members wouldn’t go without bookings once the buyout happened. This is why when it all fell apart, their employment was not affected; they were separate transactions, legally speaking. They were only dependent on the transaction being agreed to, not completing.)
But, as I said, Vince was playing the long game, and he was cunning, whereas Stu was seeing a decade-wide dollar sign. Vince ran his shows, and they bombed hard. Stampede fans, who’d grown accustomed to a promotion focused on strong in-ring athleticism, did not ken to Vince’s one-ring circus of muscle men who moved, comparatively speaking, like tectonic plates. They blamed Stu and called him a sellout. And they stopped buying tickets. Vince still made his first year’s payment.
Come the second year, Vince runs more shows with his rock-and-wrestling superstars, and hey, guess what? Big surprise, the Canadians still thought it sucked. Fish tanks at pet stores drew more of an audience. So Vince goes to Stu and tells him that he’s losing money *cough* and the territory isn’t worth a damn, so he isn’t paying anymore … so Stu can have it back. Watching nine more years of retirement go up in flames, Stu has to re-open Stampede. Bruce goes back home, but his booking was already driving the territory into the dirt before Vince’s “buyout”. Bringing him back was like putting a tumor back in the body to stop internal bleeding. Stu tries bringing in some former draws, but they were years older by this point, so they can’t recapture the glory. This included Dynamite Kid, who was a broken shell to go along with being a miserable bastard. Without a star to build around or a roster to draw, and the stink of selling out still permeating, more and more fans turn away. All of this finally forced Stu to close Stampede. Vince is then able to move in and, with an audience starved for wrestling and lacking other options, be the only game in town … all for one tenth of the asking price of Stampede, and a few years patience.
It’s almost admirable in its cleverness, if it wasn’t so morally repugnant and manipulative.
And finally, Jorge from Puerto Rico rounds out the questions with a totally radical question.
Is the only reason why Saturn and Malenko were brought to WWE was because they all left together, and to sick it to WCW? Was there ever any real plans for all the Radicalz other than Benoit and Guerrero?
Yes, yes, and no, respectively.

Not trying to be glib. It really is that simple. WCW had four, high-profile walkouts from young, hot talent, including someone who had just won the WCW World Heavyweight Championship as a please-stay offering. And all four were very, very tight with one another. There was no way they weren’t coming in as a package. Besides, bringing them in as a package was, as you said, a way to stick it to WCW at a time when they were desperate for life.
Just the same, there was no way WWE had anything on the table for Deano Machino and Saturn. While Malenko was an undisputed god in the ring, he lacked the charisma and size WWE looked for, and possessed a history of bad neck injuries. Any plans they may have had for Malenko would’ve gone by the wayside a year later when those injuries pushed him into retirement.
And Saturn was the Ringo Starr of the group, so, that’s that.
Alright, time to close this thing out. Somebody, drop a beat for me, eh?

A Question I Want Answered!

Why do people wish death upon promotions they don’t like?
I get that you may not like [promotion initials go here]. Their style isn’t your thing; their roster is weak; they have awful booking; they’re TNA. But it’s also a place of work for a great number of people. Whether its the wrestlers, the camera operators, the lighting crew, the webpage crew, or whoever, those are people with jobs. People with families. And every one of these promotions is a place for men and women to work on their craft outside of the WWE bubble. We shouldn’t want doors to close for these men and women. I remember what the first year or two after WCW and ECW shut down were like. I don’t want that again. Those were dark days, full of big mouths with big promises (anybody remember MECW?), or start-ups that sputtered and died under their own ambitions (MLW, WWA). A promotion may not be your cup of tea, but it’s somebody’s workplace. That can’t be bad for the industry as a whole.
Okay, that’s it for issue #2. Come back in 7 for another go-around.