Thursday, April 3, 2014

The WCCW Report: Episode 54: Kerry vs. Flair-y

The WWE Network is amazing. One of the hidden bonuses of the service is that they’re uploading a few classic episodes of World Class Championship Wrestling each week. This is stuff that really can’t be found anywhere other than in the musty tape libraries of Vince McMahon’s basement, but each episode brings back memories of when the show was syndicated every day at 3:00 CST on ESPN and I used to watch it from a tiny director’s chair with a bag of Fun Fruits after a long, tough day of first grade.

Not to be confused with WCW, this regional promotion was one of the most exciting of the early-to-mid 1980s. Based out of the Sportatorium in “downtown” Dallas, World Class Championship Wrestling was the brainchild of the Von Erich family. Most of the time it served simply to make the Von Erichs––at this point, father Fritz (by all accounts a terrible person/crazy madman) and his sons David (boring), Kevin (pretty much the only non-Samoan wrestler to eschew boots), and especially Kerry (“The Modern-Day Warrior,” whatever that means)––look like the best and most talented people in the world. But, this being the territory days of pro wrestling, a rotating cast of weirdos and scary Asians surrounds the Von Erichs, leading to some both some shockingly amazing and hilariously amateurish moments. I’m going to relive all of them and I hope you’ll come along for the ride.

I know, I know, we’re starting with episode 54! But we had to start somewhere, and where better than the episode that kicked off the rivalry that defined the promotion?

This show, from December 1982, features the biggest WCCW event to date. When’s the last time an episode of a wrestling show featured only a single match? But this one’s a doozy, pitting local favorite Kerry Von Erich against traveling world champ Ric Flair, who’s returned to town to reluctantly defend his title against Kerry after hiring The Great Kabuki to make an ultimately failed attempt to permanently injure Kerry’s leg. He should’ve just hired a motorcycle instead, as it turns out (oh snap).

The match takes place in a steel cage to prevent further shenanigans, and the local fans were allowed to vote for a special referee to keep the peace. They chose Michael Hayes, the loudmouthed leader of the Fabulous Freebirds, who have been sucking up to the fans for the month they’ve been in town. The crowd really should have known better––they Freebirds grew up in a place called Badstreet USA, for god’s sake!

Sure enough, after Kerry refuses to accept Hayes’s illicit help to defeat Flair, Hayes has a hissy fit and leaves the cage. As Kerry’s leaning out, yelling after him, the other Freebird, Terry Gordy, slams the cage door on his head. In a modern match, Flair would get the pin right there, but this one goes on another 10 minutes before Kerry finally collapses and the other ref anticlimactically awards the match to the champ.

The remaining 15 minutes of the episode are spent on listening to the despondent screams of the teenage girls in the crowd (seriously, Kerry must have been the biggest heartthrob of ‘80s Texas) and replays of the cage door slam heard round the world. David grabs the mic and I’m expecting a legendary speech, but he just garbles something about seeing what the Freebirds got him for Christmas. Classic David.

Things are only going to heat up from this point forward. I smell a blood feud coming on!

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