For the next column in the 1984 Year in Review, we head back to Texas to see what was happening in WCCW as things are about to be turned upside down and inside out by news from outside of the wrestling ring.
This show would have aired the day after the death of David Von Erich, a death that occurred during a tour of Japan and has had many stories written about what might have happened on that fateful night. I’m not here to cast aspersions or to debate the validity of the stories that are out there, just to focus on the wrestling. With only a day having passed and the nature of the way wrestling shows would have been produced, moved and aired during those days, nothing is mentioned and the show carries on as normal – a focus on the 30th January show the modus operandi of this weeks’ TV. Unlike other NWA affiliates I’ve looked at, a lot of WCCW’s focus when it comes to their TV does seem to be old matches from the supershows, rather than taped-for-TV matches. Naturally, that means that the quality of match on offer is generally better, but it lacks the immediacy that you feel when watching Mid-South or Georgia.
The first match of the night unsurprisingly is a six man tag team match between The Freebirds and The Von Erichs. The Freebirds Six Man Tag Team Titles are on the line, as well as there being two stipulations. If the Freebirds win, they will be allowed to wrestle all over Texas with impunity (Roberts and Gordy had storyline bannings from certain areas, if I remember correctly). If the Von Erichs won, the Freebirds would be banned from Texas for a year. The Von Erichs were due to be David, Kevin and Kerry, but an assault backstage by the Freebirds left Kevin injured, Mike Von Erich stepping up to take his place. David Manning, the referee, has a lot of involvement at the start, three times getting on the mic to admonish The Freebirds, especially as they go to leave with their trophy, threatening to strip them of the 6-Man Tag Team Titles if they don’t return to the ring. They do, and the match is on.
As would be expected, a match between these 6-men is never going to be anything other than watchable, and that’s what it is. It lacks a little something – the big match feel is lacking, especially when you compare it to some of their bigger arena matches and stadium matches. Mike Von Erich is also a poor substitute for Kevin, even though he is given a lot of opportunities to shine. Unlike how you might expect a tag team match to go, with the heel heat and the hot tag, this match is a lot more even, with each team having their time to shine. David’s leg is worked on by the Freebirds, whilst the Von Erichs focus on Roberts’ leg when they get the chance. The crowd are hot and the match chugs along at a decent pace so as to make twenty minutes fly by.
There are two criminal offences in the match. One is the use (twice!) of a stomach claw, which is probably the worst move in wrestling. Hayes at least sells it like a champ in the first instance.
The second instance sees Roberts lifted clean off of his feet by Kerry Von Erich in at least what amounts to an impressive feat of strength.
The second criminal offense is the finish, which leads on from this second stomach claw. With his brothers in complete control, Kevin rushes the ring, bloody and bandaged up, to attack the Freebirds. Why he would do this when his brothers were arguably about to win the titles is beyond me. You do at least get to see a frustrated Kevin lay a couple of nice punches on his brothers as well before they smother him to the canvas. The winners by DQ are the Freebirds and they are allowed to wrestle anywhere in Texas going forward.
Later on in the same card, we see a second outing for Mike Von Erich as he takes on Ric Flair in a ten minute challenge match. The stipulation here is that if Mike can last ten minutes with Ric Flair, David Von Erich will be allowed to challenge for the NWA World Title in match with stipulations of his choice. If Ric Flair did win, David wouldn’t get another shot at the title.
This match is a masterclass of making someone look better then they are to serve the storyline; Flair makes Mike look like a legitimate threat, being outmuscled and outmatched several times in the fight. Mike controls more of the ten minutes than Flair does as the cockiness of the champ comes back to bite him on the ass. He even comes close to beating Flair, a roll-up getting a two count and a sleeper hold only broken by the time limit. The reaction of the crowd to what amounts to a draw is pretty impressive, and the family are quickly in to hug Mike. Sadly, David Von Erich would never get his re-match for the NWA World Title.
The final match of the night and what seemingly amounted to the main event of that evening was Chris Adams vs Jimmy Garvin for the NWA American Heavyweight Title which was held by Garvin. It was to be a cage match, but both valets were allowed in the ring; Precious for Gavin, Sunshine for Adams. This felt a little bit like it negated the need for a cage, as the cage would primarily be there to stop the interference of the women. The first seven minutes of the match also felt that they forgot it was a cage match, as there was a lot of technical work and very little heat.
Finally, Garvin rammed Adams’ head into the cage and split him open. This seemed to light a fire in Adams and the match itself, with a heated final three minutes as Adams looked to take out his frustrations on the champ. The finishing stretch saved this match from tedium, especially the closing sequence that saw Adams win the title from Garvin.
Whilst the match didn’t show him at his best, it is hard not to watch Adams and think that it was a waste of life how things developed for him going forward. A very talented wrestler who worked well as both face and heel. Jimmy Garvin from around this time has always been a surprise to me, due to my initial time seeing him as a wrestler being his fairly naff run as a WCW Freebird. At this time, he is a premier heel and is easy to hate.
A decent little show, though lacking that high-end feeling that you would get for the bigger named events WCCW ran. It will be interesting going forward to see the effect the death of David Von Erich has on programming. The immediate knock-on effect is that Bill Watts isn’t on Mid-South TV, but that’s a story for another episode. So long, take care.