Going into the long, long ago with this one. It’s the 11th December 1982 (filmed on the 7th) and we’re in the Sportatorium of Dallas, Texas for an episode of World Class Championship Wrestling! Your main event tonight: King King Bundy vs Kevin von Erich in a non-title match.
WCCW was the Von Erich promotion, owned, booked and starring them. Based around Dallas, it featured a number of people who could be considered stars of that era, and revolved around a succession of devious heel champions that the faces – typically the Von Erich’s themselves – would be endlessly chasing. The early 80’s, before Vince McMahon brought it all to an end, was the boom period for WCCW, with them routinely selling out large arenas and getting in big viewership through this nationally syndicated TV show. A big part of the NWA at the time, the promotion would go through booms, falls and numerous controversies before its final form was wound up in 1990, with these shows bought up by WWE to be part of their library: much like others, they often featured guys who would go onto be huge in the Fed, hence the attraction.
It’s old school graphics and booming horns in the brief opening titles. Bill Mercer on commentary. We’ve got a six-man tag coming up, but we’ll have to wait to see the participants. Fritz Von Erich and Ric Flair will also have a “video confrontation” later. But first, King Kong Bundy, looking a bit odd in a polo shirt. He calls out American Champion Kevin Von Erich, and says that when he wins tonight he wants a shot at that title. We actually get an on-screen run-down of the card after, and we have three matches coming up. And first…
Jose Lothario vs Spoiler Singles
The announcer makes sure to let us know that this match is officially sanctioned. Good, I was worried there for a sec. Lothario is a little-remembered guy who had a brief WWF run in 1996. Spoiler not much different, a luchador who had a run with the Fed a couple of years after this.
Lock-ups, wrist-locks, head-locks in a slow start. Exchanging shots in the corner, Singles takes over for some basic offence, until Lothario gives him a big right. A side-mare from Singles is followed by a head-kick from Lothario for the move of the match so far. More lock-ups and this is dull even for the era. Singles knocking Lothario down with a shoulder charge, eats another big right in response, but it’s just brief moments of light in-between head-locks and ambling around the ring. Spoiler trying to drag Lothario out of the ring, but stopped by the ref. Awkward moment where Singles goes to the top but then hops down because Lothario is too far away. Dueling shots and I’m not sure Spoiler has ever been taught how to sell. Lothario floors Spoiler with a sweep kick. Messing around on the apron for a few spots, exchanging kicks and out of nowhere the bell rings for a double count-out in around six-and-a-half. I didn’t even hear the ref count.
Winner: No one, and that’s as it should be with this bore.
Freeze frame as the two guys look set to go at it again, but then to commercial. When we’re back Mercer talks about an upcoming title bout between Ric Flair and Kelly Von Erich. It’ll be a cage match, and for some reason they’re doing a public vote on who gets to ref the match, because of some recent shenanigans. This is all run-up to “Star Wars” at the end of the year, which would feature one of the era’s most famous heel turns on the part of Michael “Freebird” Hayes, who has won the vote to be the special referee for that match. Bit weird to see refs, in casual dress, being interviewed like this.
Moving on to the next match. Gary Hart, I think the booker at the time, is with his chosen three men for what is apparently a six-man tag team tournament. He gets interrupted by King Kong Bundy who has his own team, and Hart apparently has a dog in both camps and can’t lose. Or something. Al Madril is with his team, and compares six-man tags to battle royals, and that’s just wrong. “Bugsy McGraw” gives a Savage-esque promo trying to hype up this match, but not sure he’s really getting it across.
Magic Dragon, the Checkmate and the Great Kabuki vs Al Madril, Bugsy McGraw and Brian Adias
Man, this looks like it could get messy quick. Magic Dragon was a AJPW guy, Checkmate was a Welsh wrestler nearing the end of his career at this point, Kabuki would be around for a good long while yet. As for the faces I could barely tell you anything, other than that McGraw was a WWWF guy in the 70’s.
Adias and Kabuki to start, and Adias is super-over with this crowd. Starts with an arm drag, then gets stuck in a wrist-lock. Out of it with a drop-kick, then his own wrist-lock, but Kabuki flips him out of it. Head-lock takedown from Kabuki, and Magic Dragon in. Strikes, and Madril in to hit a bunch of rapid shots to the head. McGraw floors Dragon, then the heel takes a back body-drop for two from Madril. In comes McGraw with a snapmare and some hulking up before there was hulking up. Crowd rabid for this face offence. Adias back in, and floors Dragon with a drop-kick when his tries to get something going.
Adias floors Dragon with a shoulder charge, but Checkmate still able to get the tag. Adias now getting worked over, with submission spots practically under the ropes. Someone in the crowd has a whistle, which is distracting. Kabuki in for more beatdowning, and suddenly everyone is in the ring with the ref basically just shrugging. After a brawl it’s back to Kabuki and Adias, and Kabuki floors Adias with a big boot, looked sweet. Checkmate in for a leg-lock, and Adias can’t get the tag just yet. Adias rallying back with strikes, but momentum stopped dead with a snapmare.
Kabuki takes a kick to the face, and hot tag to Madril, who goes toe-to-toe with Kabuki. Floors him with a flying shoulder charge, then McGraw in against Dragon. Exchanging shots, McGraw bottled up in the heel corner, and now everyone is in again for brawling. Actually a decent rhythm to this now. Dragon floors McGraw with an awkward kick that barely makes contact. McGraw taking some shots, but rallying back a few years before Hogan would make it famous. McGraw too powerful for the heels, who beg off, while we continue to take awkward cuts to look directly at the people in the front row.
Checkmate working over McGraw, but Bugsy just won’t go down. One punch sends McGraw going on a big spin, and then Adias just comes in without a tag but it’s apparently OK? Kabuki working over Adias again, and the faces just can’t seem to figure out which of them should be in the one in-peril. Adias gets in a sunset flip for two. Dragon trying to give Adias elevated corner punches, but just falls off awkwardly. Adias whipped towards the heel corner, Kabuki off the top with a knee strike OUTTANOWHERE, and that’s suddenly enough for the 1, 2, 3 in just over 11 minutes.
Winners: The super heels
Verdict: Was pretty decent for the time and place. Clearly there was a lot still to be worked out regards the proper tag formula, and the heels winning clean was odd, but this was enjoyable.
Fritz Von Erich and Ric Flair’s confrontation is up. Flair, NWA Champion, apparently had a bounty out on Kerry Von Erich, but the Nature Boy denies it. Fritz has little time for Flair’s denials. Flair is annoyed that Kerry was called “the uncrowned champion” and starts ranting at Fritz. Von Erich, putting on his Batman voice, says if he and Flair were in the same room Flair would no longer be a contender. Flair goes mental about having to defend his title in a cage. All very over the top, and feels a bit weird with them not being in the same room, but it works. Flair gives us a woo, and things break-up. The main event is up next, with Kevin Von Erich saying that Bundy has a big mouth to go with his big belly. Burn!
Kevin Von Erich vs King Kong Bundy (non-title)
This crowd hates Bundy, that’s for sure. Circling and lock-ups, lengthy lock-ups, never-ending lock-ups. Kevin trying to lay in the strikes in the corner, but Bundy powering out, and lands a big corner charge. Von Erich rallies back quick enough for some whips to the corners and more strikes, and the crowd gets absolutely rabid when Kevin goes for some elevated corner strikes. A rake to the eyes puts Bundy back in charge. After waiting for a resthold spot to come to an end Kevin gets some licks in and Bundy flees to the outside, and the crowd is ready to lynch Kong.
Bundy back to pushing Von Erich into the corner, then locks in a bear hug. Von Erich eventually fighting out of it but Bundy retains the advantage with chokes, strikes and a Scoop Slam for two. Back to the rest-holds. After another lengthy wait Von Erich gets out of it, he and Bundy exchang whips and somewhere in that Von Erich hits the ref who goes flying over the top rope like Shawn Michaels against Hulk Hogan. Von Erich dumped out too, and gets hit with a big suplex from the apron when he tries to get back in. The ref isn’t so bothered that he can’t count a fall off of that, in just around ten minutes.
Winner: King Kong Rest-Hold
Verdict: As boring as it really was, the crowd’s reaction sort of made it better than it deserved to be viewed as.
We get a replay of the ref bump as Bundy walks off, and this crowd is pissed. After a break Bill Mercer sums up the show and that’s it after the credits.
Best Match: I suppose the six-man tag was entertaining enough.
Best Wrestler: Hard to say, but Kabuki had the best move of the night with that top rope knee, so I’ll give it to him.
Worst Match: The opener was painfully dull.
Worst Wrestler: Bundy isn’t in the worst shape, but his move set is so very obviously limited.
Overall Verdict: I can see why WCCW was so popular: big personalities, no squashes on TV, very excited crowds. The wrestling could be a bit dull though, even by the standards of the day. Still, I bet these Von Erich’s have a future!
Quick Thoughts On NXT Takeover 31
Priest/Gargano: Really liked this one, these two brought out the best in each other. Priest gets better every week. Must watch.
KUSHIDA/Dream: Liked the story for this one, and followed through with a powerful performance from KUSHIDA. Him as a sort of ruthless arm-snapping face would be interesting. Dream I can take or leave at this point. Watchable.
Escobar/Swerve: Great to see cruiserweights featured prominently on a PPV card, and this was good, despite some kick-out spam. You do wonder how much legs Escobar’s faction has without him as champ. Swerve might be on his way up soon. Really good.
Shirai/LeRae: Not as good as when they tore the house down on Takeover before, but decent. LeRae has proven herself really good as a heel, but one wonders if they will ever be willing to put the belt on her. Not while Shirai is around anyway, or Storm, or Moon. Engaging.
Balor/O’Reilly: The stilted ending took away from this one, but up to that point it was a stiff-as-hell technical fest, though it perhaps went a bit overboard with the holds.
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