David Von Erich Memorial Parade of Champions – Not Much Of A Memorial

David Von Erich Memorial Parade of Champions
Date: May 6, 1984
Location: Texas Stadium, Irving, Texas
Attendance: 32,123
Commentator: Marc Lawrence

So back in 1984, David Von Erich was allegedly the next in line to become NWA World Champion. Then he died. He had gone on a tour of Japan and complained of a stomach ache and he never woke up that night. According to the official results it was a heart attack but a lot of wrestlers say it was a drug overdose and Bruiser Brody allegedly flushed the drugs down a toilet. Anyway, this is a big memorial show for him and his brother Kerry has a world title shot against Flair. Gee, I wonder what’s going to happen. Let’s get to it.

I think this is a hacked up home video version, so things are going to be all over the place and probably clipped a lot.

Also I’ve gotten two different attendance totals and this is the smaller one, but the look of the show would imply it’s more correct than the one I saw that said over 50,000.

Chick Donovan vs. Butch Reed

Reed is a total monster here. Donovan is a surfer character and is built as well. They exchange shoves and Donovan takes him down. It’s so strange to think that this is almost a year before Wrestlemania as things look like they could be from the late 90s. I think we’re clipped a bit as Donovan grabs the leg but I’m not sure. They fight over a top wristlock and Reed takes over. Donovan gets thrown to the floor and the camera jumps around a lot. I think it’s more odd camera work than clipping. Donovan looks to Hulk Up on the floor and comes back in but gets his head kicked off. A gorilla press drop and a shoulder block end this.

Rating: D+. Not much here but I’m really impressed by the production values here. Maybe it’s that I’m so used to everything from the 80s being dark until the very end, but this is a really bright and good looking show. Reed would go on to the NWA and then the WWF later in the 80s and then become half of Doom. Donovan became an announcer I think.

Great Kabuki vs. Kamala

Kabuki is a guy that was far more famous in territories and Japan than in America. His biggest contribution: he introduced Asian Mist to pro wrestling. Kamala I’m sure you’re all familiar with. This is Gart Hart vs. Skandor Akbar in the managing aspect, who are both guys you should know as they’re awesome. Hart (not related to Stu) towers over Kabuki. Kabuki does a nunchuck demonstration before the match.

They stall forever before the match and Kabuki spits Mist. Now they stall even more. We’re at about a minute so far with no contact. Kamala finally gets things going by chopping away. Kabuki kicks a lot as is his custom. The fans have no idea who to cheer for it seems. A test of strength doesn’t happen as Kamala grabs a bearhug instead.

Now it’s a choke which Kamala shifts to a pectoral hold. In other words, he’s grabbing the chest. The managers are about to fight again. Kabuki fights up…and then Kamala pulls him right back down again. A superkick puts Kamala down and Kabuki chokes some too. END THIS ALREADY!!! They chop each other a lot and Kabuki kicks him down as the managers start fighting. They both come in and it’s a double DQ.

Rating: F. I need a drink after sitting through that match. This was HORRIBLE and the ending sucked really hard. Neither guy moved faster than a turtle with a broken leg’s pace and the ending made it even worse. Just a horrible match and I have no idea who thought this was going to be a good idea.

Junkyard Dog vs. Missing Link

Dog was a HUGE star at this point. Missing Link is a crazy man. Link charges straight at him so Dog punches him a lot. A chair is brought in so Dog whacks him over the head with it and that’s all well and good I guess. Akbar is Link’s manager too. Link tries ramming Dog’s head into the buckle and that just fails. Now Link rams his own head into the buckle. They both get on all fours and ram heads which goes to Dog as well. Akbar tries to cheat and it allows Link to hit a middle rope headbutt for the pin? Akbar had the foot for the pin but another referee comes out and says what happened so Dog wins by DQ.

Rating: D-. It’s only really not a failure because Link had a cool look and I liked the insane character he had. The Dog was WAY over and it worked very well to have him here. Not a good match at all though as their styles completely clashed and the ending was even worse with neither guy looking good at all. It was pretty much a squash until the end.

American Tag Titles: Super Destroyers vs. Rock N Roll Soul

The Destroyers are guys in masks and are the champions. Rock N Roll Soul are King Parsons and Buck Zumhofe. This is the top tag title in the company. Akbar manages the champions here AGAIN. The fans are way behind the champions here. Buck and we’ll say #1 start with a crisscross. Off to Parsons and #2 and Parsons works on the arm. A dropkick puts the Destroyer down and Parsons does the JYD all fours headbutt.

Off to the other Destroyer who can’t hurt Parson’s head, just like JYD. Couldn’t they at least have another match in between there so it’s not so obvious? Off to Buck who climbs the ropes with a headlock takeover. Sunset flip gets two. We hit the five minute mark as Buck still has that headlock on. The heels make a blind tag and the other comes in with a dropkick for two.

A kneedrop gets two for I think #1. Those are their names: Super Destroyer #1 and Super Destroyer #2. They would eventually be revealed to be Bill and Scott Irwin. Parsons gets the tag and everything breaks down. Soul gets stereo sunset flips for two. Parsons gets double teamed but he hits his flying hip attack (Goldust used to use it) for the pin and the titles.

Rating: D+. This is before 1986 so the tag team formula wasn’t established yet at all. This was pretty much just so they could say something major happened here…which is pretty pointless given the main event but whatever. This was more of a regional thing than a match for the masses if that makes sense.

Six Man Tag Titles: Freebirds vs. Von Erichs

Kevin, Mike and Fritz here. The Birds are the champions and the titles are represented by a big trophy instead of belts. Mike is one of the saddest stories you’ll ever hear: He wasn’t a good wrestler in the first place and then he was injured. The injury resulted in toxic shock syndrome, which resulted in brain damage. His dad, Fritz, made him get back in the ring anyway. He committed suicide later in the 80s.

This is anything goes. Fritz is in a dress shirt and jeans. Everything breaks down quickly and chairs are thrown in. The referee says anything goes but you have to tag. Ok then. Kevin is bleeding from the big brawl. Ok so it’s officially Buddy Roberts vs. Kevin to start. Kevin beats him down and it’s a brawl in less than 10 seconds with everyone coming in. Off to Mike who goes straight for the leg.

Mike is a very small man. Hayes comes in and stomps away as the fans HATE him. A middle rope splash misses and here’s old man Fritz. Everything breaks down again and Fritz whips Hayes’ back with a belt. Kevin vs. the monster known as Terry Gordy. Gordy starts his boxing and the fans are erupting more and more every second now. If the Von Erichs win, Kerry gets Fritz’s title since Fritz is retired. I’m glad they cleared that up.

Kevin tries the Iron Claw but Gordy fights it off at the five minute mark. Hayes comes in and the fans are louder in this match than they’ve been in the whole show so far. Hayes takes off his boot to get in some shots and it’s off to Roberts. In one of the oddest moves you’ll ever seen, Roberts thrusts his hips forward so his belt buckle hits Kevin in the head. Fritz comes in and everything breaks down. Claw to Hayes and to Roberts at the same time. Hayes is busted bad. Various people are rammed into each other until Kevin comes off the top with a cross body to pin Roberts for the title.

Rating: C. This was the first decent match of the entire show. Granted a lot of that was probably due to the crowd finally being interested. This was without a doubt the feud that defines the promotion so you knew they were going to have something going on here. Not a bad match, but the rematch in July won Match of the Year from Meltzer, so check that out instead since it had Kerry so Fritz didn’t look so out of place.

Killer Khan comes in post match for the big beatdown. Kerry runs out for the save.

NWA World Title: Ric Flair vs. Kerry Von Erich

You can tell this is a long time ago as Flair is from Minneapolis still. Kerry comes out to some country song that started after the beginning of Tom Sawyer played. His robe says In Memory of David and has a yellow rose, which was David’s nickname. If Flair gets disqualified, Kerry is champion. Kerry overpowers him to start and they hit the mat at a standoff.

They go back to the mat and no one can get control again. Kerry takes over and hits a dropkick to put Flair into the corner. They fight over a top wristlock and Kerry takes over again. This is a long feeling out process to start. Kerry gets a press slam and Flair begs off, heading to the floor. Flair gets in some shots but Kerry is like not in Texas dude. Sunset flip gets two.

Kerry hooks a sleeper but Flair suplexes out of it to take over. The champ uses his regular stuff to control, including the knee drop. Kerry snaps off a dropkick which Flair doesn’t even go down from. Flair gets caught in an abdominal stretch but escapes quickly. Shoulder puts Kerry down but he grabs the Iron Claw. After escaping, Flair goes up top but is slammed down. Kerry escapes a pair of Figure Fours and grabs a backslide for the pin and the title.

Rating: D+. That’s it? I mean really, that’s it? This wasn’t even 12 minutes long. It came off more like a modern TV main event than anything else. Flair never had Kerry in anything resembling trouble, although Kerry never dominated either. To be fair though, you couldn’t have made this more obvious if you had painted a big sign saying “come see Kerry win the title”. His match with David had been built up already so this was thrown together at the last minute. The lack of hatred hurt it, but there’s only so much they could do here.

The locker room empties for the celebration. Flair says he’ll be back and Kerry says bring it. He would lose the title back to Flair in less than three weeks in Japan, and that’s ok I think as Kerry was never meant to be champion in the first place. Flair would hold it over two years after that.

Oddly enough, that’s not the last match.

Precious/Jimmy Garvin vs. Sunshine/Chris Adams

Basic feud here with Precious having Sunshine as an assistant until she treated her horribly once too often Sunshine snapped. This is the payoff for it. The guys start us off and Adams slams him down. Garvin can’t do much with him due to a lack of talent. After a brief chinlock we get a double clothesline to put both guys down. Superkick puts Garvin down and the girls come in.

They aren’t wrestlers so this is horrendous. Back to the guys and Adams takes over on a tired Garvin. Garvin hits what we would call Snake Eyes to take over. Adams is busted open but he manages to reverse a piledriver. The girls come in again and everything breaks down. Adams comes back in with a sunset flip for the pin as the girls fight to the floor.

Rating: F. Terrible all around, but to be fair the girls weren’t wrestlers. That being said, Garvin is but he couldn’t do anything of note. Adams wasn’t very famous as a wrestler but he brought the superkick into modern wrestling and trained Steve Austin, so he had to be worth something right?

Garvin and Precious run away to end the show.

Overall Rating: D. This was one of the worst shows I can remember in a long time. You had terrible matches other than about two and the rest was just missing. I get that it’s a different era, but would a clean fall have killed you in the first 30 minutes? Also the time is weird as only one match out of seven broke 10 minutes. The whole show is only a little over 70 minutes (granted that’s not counting entrances) so it came off as totally rushed. Not worth seeing, not even for the title change.


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  1. Derek Hamel says:

    Ok. I’ll admit, I had to put aside my complete and admitted preference for wrestling’s territory days before presenting a rebuttal. I don’t necessarily think your opinions of the matches are particularly off, although I felt like you may have been a bit harsh with the Flair-Von Erich bout. I’m sure that if I were your age, I’d also watch this show in bored silence while wondering why 40,000 fans would not only pay to watch in person, but appear to have the time of their lives as well.
    So it’s partially a generational thing. I lived in Bill Watts territory, but World Class was right next door and never missed a week’s episode. It’s hard to describe how brutally David Von Erich’s death hit the company, the industry, and fans worldwide. Now, this is back when the only way you could find any details on ANY true life goings-on behind the scenes was if you were one of the 200 or so fans who subscribed to Meltzer’s newsletter. Of course, I did not, and had never heard of Meltzer. The closest thing most of us had to wrestling journalism was Pro Wrestling Illustrated, which was as kayfabe as everybody else in the industry. So nobody knew that the Von Erich’s were party maniacal drug fiends. Heck, they were church going Texas Christians who were annointed by the good lord himself to keep Texas from being taken over by hippie rebel rousers like the Freebirds or surly A-rabs like Skandor Akbar. World Class fans were already champing at the bit to see David take the NWA strap from the hated Ric Flair, who had been feuding with the family for over two years, when the news arrived that the 25 year old had passed…which was a hugely rare occurance in wrestling then. When it was announced brother Kerry, already probably the most popular wrestler in the country besides Hulk Hogan and possibly Dusty Rhodes, this card was given that rare quality that turns a simple wrestling card into an actual event-raw emotion. No way in hell was Flair getting out of there with that belt; had Fritz attempted a Dusty finish of some kind fans would have revolted, and nothing’s more revolting than unhappy, Skoal-laden hillbilly rasslin’ fans.
    Thus, the quality of the actual matches became secondary to the results. For two years the Von Erich-Freebird war was the best in the country, and their tag match was somewhat of a blowoff to the now legendary feud. The undercard had loads of big name talent (Butch Reed and JYD on loan from Mid-South, Kamala, Jimmy Garvin et al) so fans could tell their friends they saw them, which was all that mattered given that everybody there had their minds on the hometown boys and the champ from up north.
    It’s been great watching the switch in technique from a handful of moves to get fans to the finish, to an actual artform, discussed and critiqued by fans and experts worldwide. But these days were more pure fun, before anybody but Meltzer ever thought of rating matches or worrying about workrate and booking decisions. World Class, in particular, was not made for today’s fans. Even squashes lasted at least ten minutes, and it was simply business as usual to find yourself watching a 25 minute chinlock exhibition between haircuts like Buddy Landell and Chick Donovan. We may have realized we weren’t thrilled at the moment, but we didn’t know enough to get upset over match quality. Which really proved beneficial when an actual great match occured.
    So, in summary finally, what all my wistful typing amounts to is a meager defense of a show that looks for the world like a D caliber event today. That card, and especially the main event, were enormous occurances that touched every fan around the world in some way or other. So the JYD vs Missing Link match sucked? Well, yeah…have you ever seen a Junkyard Dog or Missing Link match? They always sucked! Being a fan of the Sport of Kings was much simpler then, because it was the result that counted, not the ring performances. Of course, that also explains why titles were held in such high regards back then compared to now.

    klunderbunker Reply:

    Everything you said makes perfect sense and had I been a fan of WCCW back then (and I’ve liked most of what I’ve seen), I probably would have been a lot nicer to this show. It’s also clear that this was a two match show and anyone could have told you how those matches were going to go.

    However, there’s almost no way to factor in all of the emotions that were built up around that time. At the end of the day, most fans today weren’t watching back then, especially since as you said, it’s still the territory days. Looking back at these shows is a difficult thing to do and it’s never going to be an exact science. I try to factor in the surrounding events, but for the most part, all I can go on is the event itself.