Early David Von Erich Match Coming to WWE Network

A heads-up for WCCW fans subscribing to WWE Network :the Hidden Gems collection will now include new footage every week, according to WWE Network News. Among the material to be available this Thursday, May 24th: a best-of-three-falls non-title match from August 15, 1977, pitting then-19-year-old David Von Erich (who had only been wrestling professionally for about two months at that point) against the NWA's World Heavyweight champ at the time, Harley Race!

Please note that this is NOT the famous David/Fritz vs Race gauntlet match from St. Louis TV...we checked that calendar date in the WCM Results section, and it tuirns out that the match being added is from Fort Worth, and thus would have been taped by KTVT (we don't know if the bout, or any part of it, aired on Saturday Night Wrestling). Interesting to say the least, as the master videotapes of the Channel 11 show are known to have usually been erased and reused due to their high cost!

Be sure to check WWE Network News every week for info on further North Texas wrestling classics to be uploaded to the service!

More from Rob Moore: 1990 Spot Shows

Once again WCM presents playlists of two spot shows from Rob Moore's YouTube channel! Rob served as ring announcer for both shows, which took place in 1990 at the Greenville, TX (Rob's hometown) Middle School Gym. The above playlist consists of three matches from a June 21, 1990 USWA card, and opens with Matt Borne taking on Chico Torres. When Torres demands another five minutes, Borne refuses unless Torres puts his own money on the line...which leads to Chico coming up with the cash in a most unusual and unexpected manner! In the first of two main events, Gorgeous Gary Young hits the ring next to face Kevin Von Erich -- who gets five minutes in the ring with Young's manager Skandor Akbar if he wins! The evening's second and final main event pits Gentleman Chris Adams against his former protege, the highly promising rookie Stunning Steve Austin...and as you might expect, we're off to catfight city as their respective valets, Toni Adams and Jeanie Clark, prove to be as impossible as ever to keep separated!

Playlist #2 includes a pair of matches from a November 22, 1990 card billed as Wendy's Thanksgiving Star Wars (promoted, we believe, by Chris Adams, who appears here but was no longer working for Kevin's revived WCCW by then). Percy Pringle goes up against Tugboat Taylor (who had appeared in World Class a couple of years earlier as the masked Doctor Who) in the first clip, followed by a bout between Steve Simpson and Steve Austin. (UPDATE 1/1/2018: Rob has now posted the Toni Adams-Jeanie Clark match from this card, and we have added it to the playlist.) Sadly, back at the Sportatorium, the WCCW promotion would close its doors for good just one night later.

For Your Viewing Pleasure: Two WCCW Spot Shows from 1984!

[Updated 12/26/2017] Thanks to longtime Texas wrestling commentator Rob Moore for posting these rare videos from the heyday of WCCW, which we've assembled into a pair of YouTube playlists! Both shows are from Greenville, TX; the above playlist is a complete benefit card (with matches in the correct running order) from the Greenville Intermediate School Gym on January 12, 1984. Kicking things off, after a short clip of Marc Lowrance's Championship Sports promo for the card, is a bout pitting Iceman King Parsons against Devastation Inc.'s Super D #2. [Our apologies for originally including the wrong video of this bout, which had some technical issues; we've now replaced it with a glitch-free version.] Next up is Devastation's Missing Link taking on Johnny Mantell. Kevin Von Erich hits the ring in the main event (though not the final match of the night) to wrestle Fabulous Freebird Buddy Roberts. Closing the show is yet another in the heated series of battles between Gentleman Chris Adams and Gorgeous Jimmy Garvin. (Also notable is the fact that this was ring announcer Moore's pro wrestling debut!)

The playlist below consists of three of the four (?) matches from the November 15, 1984 show at the Greenville High School Gym. Fantastic Bobby Fulton clashes with Jake "The Snake" Roberts in the opener. The second bout is of particular interest, with the newly heel-turned Chris Adams (managed, of course, by Gary Hart) going up against Mike Von Erich. The main event here is a fairly short but wild encounter between Kerry Von Erich and The Missing Link. If you remember the excitement surrounding WCCW in its 1983-85 boom period (or if you're too young to remember it, but curious), these videos will bring it all back. Hope you enjoy 'em!

WWE Network Heading into Home Stretch with Syndicated WCCW Eps

Don't forget that for continued updates on WCCW upload status, you can click either here or here. At this writing, most of 1988's episodes are up, which means we've now reached the Jerry Jarrett era (that's roughly the last two years of WCCW TV, including the USWA Dallas shows).. WWE Network News has also begun including a listing of what's still missing in their posts; so far, there's been no indication of whether or not WWE Network will be posting any of those episodes at a later date.

As always, please keep in mind that from all reports, the master tapes were subjected to serious temperature and humidity extremes over the years (they were stored in a barn in north Texas, to be exact). This can result in deterioration of magnetic tape, including videotape, although an amazing number of eps have survived with relatively little or no damage.

WCM Sends Best Wishes to the Nature Boy

As many readers are probably already aware, Ric Flair is, at this writing, hospitalized in critical condition following surgery for a reported intestinal blockage. Other health issues are said to have resulted including kidney failure, for which Flair is on dialysis.

Ric's daughter, WWE superstar Charlotte Flair, has posted a message to fans on Instagram: "Hi guys, On behalf of my family and I, we want to THANK everyone for the prayers, texts, calls and support. Our Dad is a FIGHTER and your continued thoughts and prayers MEAN THE WORLD to us. We will update everyone when we have more information."

World Class Memories sends all our best to Ric for a speedy and full recovery, and to his entire family.

Wrestling "Not Fake"

By James Dunlap
From the Dallas Morning News, circa March 1975
(via J. Michael Kenyon's WAWLI Papers)

The sign in front of the vast, corrugated metal structure at Cadiz and Industrial bore the ominous inscription "TEXAS DEATH MATCH," appropriately spelled out in blood-red letters.

Inside, all eyes were riveted on a spotlighted American flag while a tinny recording of the national anthem played. As it ended, a great cheer went up, launching another Tuesday night of wrestling at the Sportatorium.

For most people, wrestling is just something that appears momentarily on the screen as they absently flip through the television channels on a slow Saturday night.

But for the folks of all ages and colors who pay $2 to $4.50 to pack the Sportatorium’s wooden bleachers each week, it’s a basic social institution that rivals going to church.

Wrestling provides its hard-core fans with fast-moving entertainment and a bizarre, colorful collection of stars. And on a different, more complex level, it achieves a violence, somewhere between fantasy and reality, that relieves pent-up anger and frustration in its viewers.

"Everybody gets their kicks somehow," explained truck driver Morris Oliver.

"It’s not fake," said his brother, Tommy. "It’s acting, just like in the movies." Tommy, who is big enough to be a wrestler himself, winked and added, "Besides, I’ve been coming since 1950, and there’s no sense stopping now."

Under the bleachers between matches, the smell of popcorn, cotton candy, tacos and French fries mingles with body odor as people jockey for position at the concession stands. Sweat pours off the besieged men behind the counter as they serve thousands of cold beers.

Like groupies hovering near a rock star, kids jam around the dressing room door to touch their favorite wrestler as he strides by.

Beside that door, 72-year-old Walter McDaniel has been shining shoes every Tuesday night since 1938. "Sometimes it’s full up and sometimes it’s not, but the crowd’s not any different," McDaniel said.

Loyally denying there is anything fake about it, McDaniel explained the Sportatorium’s attraction with "fans like the wrestling matches, and that’s all it is."

In the arena, another clutter of kids, with heads thrust under the ring’s lowest rope, vibrate with excitement as they clutch their programs and hope for their hero’s autograph.

To warm up the crowd for the main event, gladiators like Kim Duk, Big Jos LeDuc, the Great Dane, and Alberto Madril brutally embrace in short matches of concentrated combat that seemingly would leave ordinary mortals maimed for life.

Between events, 28-year-old R.C. Williams said he comes for the excitement. "I just like to sit here and drink beer and holler."

Williams, who works on a loading dock, and his friend, Richard Rogers, come every Tuesday and bet a beer on every match.

"I remember when we used to be kids sitting up in general admission sneaking beers," he recalled. Pointing to a vendor walking up the aisle, Williams said, "See that old buzzard there, he used to sell it to us."

Although Williams and Rogers kept their hollering on a relatively calm level, some of the other people got caught up in the drama from time to time and yelled themselves hoarse. Occasionally, beer-fueled fights break out among the more emotional members of the audience.

"Don’t get no blood until the main event," Williams said, "and then everybody is so drunk they don’t know what it is."

Considering the level of violence in the ring, blood is relatively scarce. But sometimes, a swung fist or chair draws a red liquid of questionable origin. The fans don’t seem to care whether it flows from veins or gelatin capsules.

"Everybody is waiting for blood in this one," confided a young man with long blond hair as Fritz Von Erich and Black Jack Lanza, the opponents in the "TEXAS DEATH MATCH," made their appearance.

In a death match, the program explained, "No falls count, there are no disqualifications, no time limit, almost anything is legal and it continues until one man can’t defend himself."

Judging from the cheers and applause, Fritz, a hulking form in red briefs, was clearly favored by the crowd.

Looking like the evil gunslinger in a thousand "B" westerns, Black Jack, dressed in black hat, vest, boots, briefs and a leather guard on his right hand, was greeted by almost universal booing and hissing.

As if to justify the people’s choice, he grabbed Fritz from behind as he politely scrawled autographs for his admiring, young fans. Nobody asked Black Jack for his autograph.

From the first bell, everybody knew it was going to be a deadly duel with the infamous "claw" hold as the chosen weapon.

Besides the claw, they kicked, punched, gouged, strangled, pulled hair and bounced off the ropes onto each other, and the folks in the bleachers went wild.

Jumping to their feet, with screams that reached a deafening pitch, the audience completely disregarded the mundane issue of whether what they were watching was real or not.

"Go, Fritz, go!" they chanted as Fritz won the first fall and laid Black Jack out on the mat like a dead fish.

Apparently, the trainer who massaged Black Jack’s ravaged brow during the rest period did some good, because Fritz took some heavy punishment and lost the second fall.

The battle between the almost larger than life grapplers went back and forth for a while, and then Gran Marcus, a masked wrestler, came down and talked to Black Jack.

From the shouts, it was evident that the crowd was convinced that Gran Marcus had slipped Black Jack something that he put in his claw hand.

"It’s in his glove," they pleaded. "Check his glove!" But their cry failed to impress the referee, and Fritz went down for the count.

Gloom hung heavy in the air. The hero was on the mat, defeated. The villain, with his sinister, leather-covered fist held aloft, strutted around the ring.

Black Jack withdrew and disappeared into the bowels of the Sportatorium, and Fritz was still down.

Slowly, he rose and limped up the aisle. A cheer echoed in the arena, and the hands of the faithful stretched out and gave him a sympathetic pat on the shoulder as he passed.

They knew he’d be back. And next Tuesday night, so would they.

No Holds Barred

By Mike Shropshire
From D Magazine, March 1981

You wake up a couple of hours before dawn, feeling drained and strung out from the savage dream which seemed as if it wouldn't end.

The melancholy old building, eerie and half-lit like an abandoned subway station . . . the deformed multitudes, shouting and gesturing in some kind of grotesque agony . . . the bell clanging . . . the disturbing sensation of not being able to find your way out of there . . . that screaming Jap . . .

Right away, you decide not to retell this one to Dr. Weinglass, your shrink. The Freudian implications are simply too rich. Next time, lay off the guacamole.

The disturbing aspect of your latest subconscious docu-drama is that it's simply too lifelike. That dictatorial voice droning on about, "One fall, 60-minute time limit for the Heavyweight Brass Knuckles Championship of Texas."

Maybe it had something to do with the tiff you and the little woman had in the kitchen the other night over the so-called lipstick she thought she found on the paper napkin on the floorboard.

You grope around the shelves in the medicine chest for something which might coax your stomach out of the fast lane when you're blind-sided by a divine revelation. A faraway voice, the same one that warns you not to answer the phone because it might be the MasterCard guy, suddenly whispers, "That was no dream, you damn fool. It really happened."

Yeah, yeah. It all comes back now. The wrestling matches. You actually went. God, what an experience.

The phenomenon of professional wrestling, like American politics, maintains a genealogy which eventually traces its way to the circus.

It goes back at least a century, when the key attraction of a one-night-stand tent show touring the sticks was an act where the muscle-bound bad boy would issue a challenge to the rubes.

A "plant" in the audience would materialize and the combat which followed provided tantalizing entertainment for the hillbillies. The entire show was based on P.T. Barnum's hypothesis that the yokels of the world will believe anything if it's packaged just right, a premise which Lyndon B. Johnson exploited to optimum benefit.

The carnival routine, thanks to the miracle of television, has been refined into the spectacle currently available to viewers in the Dallas/Fort Worth market every Saturday night at 10 p.m. on Channel 11.

Is it fixed?

The people who print the big-time metropolitan dailies apparently think so, since their commentary on the wrestling matches is compressed into a one-paragraph agate type summary which appears once a week.

Professional wrestler Fritz Von Erich considers that situation and says, "They call it fake. I've never known of a sportswriter yet who put on a pair of tights and climbed into a ring to find out. I've been in this business a lot of years and I know of no instance where the winner of the match wasn't the best man in the ring."

Von Erich, who is perhaps the finest athlete produced in Dallas - although it's unlikely he'll ever be inducted into the Texas Sports Hall of Fame - has every right to make such a statement.

There is no substantive evidence to indicate the outcome of professional wrestling matches is predetermined. If you believe that the wrestling matches are a scam then you must also consider the notion that the Dallas Cowboys' "miracle" comeback against Atlanta was planned in one of the executive suites of the National Football League and intricately rehearsed on a secret practice field.

"The sports pages don't pay any attention to us all, since there are so many other topics to tear down these days," Von Erich said. "I'm just as glad."

Whatever the media may have to say about his profession should be of little consequence to Von Erich, who has become a millionaire through wrestling and owns an impressive estate on Lake Dallas which is not unlike Southfork.

Von Erich bears a startling resemblance to an athlete named Jack Adkisson who played football at SMU and set the discus record there in 1950. They are, in fact, the same person.

"My mother's maiden name is Von Erich and my grandfather's name was Fritz," he explains. "When I got into wrestling, it occurred to me that Fritz Von Erich beat the heck out of Jack Adkisson when you put it on a marquee.

"Back in those days, I couldn't do a damn thing without getting hurt. People think of Fritz Von Erich, the great wrestler. They'd be amazed to find out I lost my first 12 professional matches.

"I finally won against an Australian guy named Jack Pinchoff. He was an old guy, over the hill, but really knew the business. I beat him in Austin. I wrestled him again the next night in Corpus Christi and he broke my shoulder."

Von Erich now pretty much presides over the pro wrestling scene in Dallas, and three of his sons, David, Kevin, and Kerry, are the leading attractions in the incredible productions which happen ever Sunday night at the Sportatorium.

For the uninitiated, an evening at Sportatorium wrestling will prove spectacularly entertaining and, at times, viscerally disconcerting.

"I?ve been coming here about once a week for 26 years," a man at the Sportatorium beer stand explained. "At first, I came to watch the wrestlers. Now I come to watch the fans."

The Sportatorium, situated down on picturesque South Industrial Boulevard, is the result of the genius of the late Ed McLemore. The building, which consists mostly of corregated metal, was custom-designed for wrestling productions and country/western music shows. Total capacity is probably less than 5,000.

When McLemore broke away from the Houston-controlled wrestling circuit in the early Fifties and began importing his own talent (such as 400-pound Farmer Brown), someone torched the Sportatorium. A truce was accomplished and the arena was rebuilt.

The fans arrived early on wrestling night at the Sportatorium and cluster around the parking lot, taking snapshots of their favorites and getting autographs.

Most of the wrestling fans are apparently not from the higher echelons of the social ladder in Big D. In fact, many of them display the Thorazine eyes which can typically be found in the day room at the Rusk State Hospital.

By 7:30, when the first of the preliminary matches begin, the Sportatorium is packed. The early matches consist of candidates for the big money who haven't established their reputations. "A guy starting out in the business can look forward to making maybe 25 grand a year for the first couple of years," Von Erich says.

"But since you have to pay your expenses on the road, you only break even at that level - if that. But if a guy has the determination to stick it out and has fan appeal, he ought to start getting some semifinal matches by his third year and then he might be on his way.

"Harley Race, the world champion, grosses a half-million easily and probably doesn't work but 30 or 35 matches a year."

"To get into the top money in wrestling," said an "insider" in the business, "is kind of like getting into the Mafia. Once you're in, you're in. But it's hell getting in."

A wrestler called The Monk appeared in one of the earlier matches at the Sportatorium. He is clearly not yet "in."

The Monk is actually Steve Miller, who was a heavyweight Golden Gloves champion in the early Seventies in Fort Worth.

His career is remembered there because Miller would often burst into tears while knocking his boxing opponent into New Jerusalem.

Now he enters the wrestling ring with a shaven head, full beard, and clerical robe that appears to have come from the closet of Ming the Merciless. Apparently, The Monk still maintains his affectation of crying in the ring.

"Hey, Grapehead!" shouted one of the ringside fans. "You gonna cry for us tonight?"

"You shut the hell up," The Monk responded.

"Frankly, I wasn't so good as a boxer, but I was notoriously odd," said Miller.

"I was a little weird, very emotional. I'd get everybody excited and got 'em laughing for a long time. I have clippings in my scrapbook with headlines like 'Crybaby Miller Wins Again.' There was this story in the sports pages after I beat Larry Montgomery for the championship where his coach said, 'I saw those tears and knew we were in trouble.'

"After I'd won an important bout in the state tournament, I was shopping in Arlington and a kid came up and asked me for my autograph. That had never happened to me before and I'd never felt so proud. I signed the piece of paper and the kid said, 'Aren't you Red Bastien, the wrestler?' And I said, 'No, I'm Steve Miller, the heavyweight boxing champion of Fort Worth.'

"The kid just walked off, and I saw him wad up the paper with my autograph on it and throw it away. That's when I started thinking about a wrestling career."

Miller decided to shave his head after one of his first appearances in pro wrestling. His opponent jerked out a fistful of Miller's already thinning hair. It didn't grow back.

"I don't win many matches because I'm not that experienced. But I have something about me which will help, and that's my big old ugly face. I have a face that would scare off a mongrel dog. That amounts to charisma and if you have it, you're gonna make a lot of money in this business.

"I hope to be there in a couple of years. I've got a lot to learn, but I'm mean enough. I worked as a bouncer in the toughest bar in Alaska."

Miller lives in a mobile home in West Dallas. "I live in a scuzzy part of town, but I'm into it," Miller says. "Most of the wrestlers' favorite joint is Cafe Dallas. But I never felt at ease around people who think they're sophisticated and put on airs. I just like to go to low-rent dives and pat the Mexicans on the back."

The Monk lost his match to the "Baby Face," which is wrestling parlance for the good guy. The baby face in this case was some old cat of about 50.

The bad guys are known as "Heels," and all the talk is that you've got to be a Heel to make it in Dallas because the Baby Face market is currently monopolized by the three Von Erich boys.

Most of the leading Heels are managed by wrestler Gary Hart, who appears at matches wearing a business suit and fashionable hood, the kind popularly sported by medieval head choppers.

That costume probably generates dirty looks when Hart visits a 7-Eleven store or the bank. Wrestling fans like to bash out the headlights of his car and scratch the paint.

Hart gives the impression of being a Heel's Heel. "Most of the people who dislike Gary really don't know him," said a wrestling insider. "You have to get to know him before you can really dislike him."

The second match featured a performance by a miniature muscle god with the happy stage name, "Chief Billy White Cloud," a promising Baby Face. White Cloud actually comes from Monterrey, but the American Indian traditionally maintains a high appreciation index at the wrestling matches.

In fact, the most popular wrestler ever, perhaps, was Wahoo McDaniel, who, in real life, reputedly once won a substantial wager by chugalugging a quart of motor oil and running 40 miles without stopping.

"Well, I can believe the part about the motor oil," said one of Wahoo's contemporaries. The University of Oklahoma kept this man on its classroom rolls for four years in return for his exploits on the field of honor.

Militants for the American Indian cause might be a little put off by Billy White Cloud's spectacular feathered costume and his tendency to do rain dances and whoop "wa-wa-wa-wa-wa" just before he kicks his opponent in the neck.

White Cloud might counter that wrestling matches aren't supposed to serve as a forum for politico-ethnic reform and point out that he can earn more money in a week with his Chief White Cloud parody than he could make in a lifetime sitting around Arizona roadsides selling Kachina dolls.

Jose Lothario, who's been around forever, came into the ring next and made short work of Raul Castro, a masked wrestler.

Certain wrestlers are encouraged to wear masks simply because they have ordinary facial characteristics. Wrestlers find that they're more professionally marketable if they look like movie stars or, preferably, are incredibly ugly.

Lothario has a sagging midsection, but moved around the ring like the Russian dancer Baryshnikov while working over Castro. At the conclusion of the match, Lothario attempted to rip off Castro's mask, but the vanquished performer escaped and slinked back to the dressing room while the fans, many of whom could qualify for the World Museum of Chromosomal Disorders, hooted and jeered.

The referee, who bears a striking resemblance to Grandpa on The Munsters, raised Lothario's arm in victory.

"Lothario's gotta be in his mid-40s, probably," says Fritz Von Erich. "He's typical of a lot of guys. He's so skillful at what he does, he might be around another 10 years. That's what I like about wrestling. Get to be this age in most other sports and, man, it's over with."

Next came the main event, a three-person tag-team match. Two of the Von Erich boys, David and Kerry, along with Bruiser Brody, marched down the aisles of the Sportatorium with an air of patrician elan. Now the audience was wailing.

The Von Erich boys, in their mid- and early 20s, have the physical structure of Grecian deities.

"They're gifted athletes," Fritz says, oozing with pride. "They all made all-state in football at Lake Dallas High, and Kerry, the youngest one, set an age group world record at the University of Houston in the discus."

The adoring crowd pressed around the ringside to have the photographs of the Von Erichs, available in the lobby for $2.25, personally autographed.

David, the oldest, has experienced his share of adversity. He lost his child in a crib-death tragedy and is now divorced.

"David's got a pretty good head on his shoulders. The other two, well, they have some growing up to do still and sort of enjoy a good party, if you know what I mean," said the wrestling "insider."

But they're all cashing in, and there are two more, supposedly, about to enter the profession.

After several minutes, the villains materialized behind a police escort which would have done credit to the late Shah.

The cops come in handy. Gino Hernandez, formerly "under the care of Gary Hart" and therefore, a Heel, infuriated the Sportatorium crowd recently by ripping up some Von Erich photos belonging to kids seeking autographs. The ability to spur the crowd into a frenzy of hate is known in the trade as "giving heat," and Gino is good at it.

So good that, when he was later pitched over the top rope and into the crowd, someone approached him with a five-inch knife. (Fans who get out of hand in this fashion find they'll be dealt with harshly.)

The villains on this occasion were Tim Brooks, who's been known to work on his opponents with a dog chain; Gary Hart, wearing what looked like a Spiderman costume with "CHICAGO" stitched on the side of his tights; and a sensational Oriental import named Kabuki.

Kabuki's face was painted white and he carried a sword.

This trio would clearly be out of place at the Mother's Day buffet at Brook Hollow.

Brooks, who appears to have lived much of his life in a foxhole, although he's actually from Waxahachie, spit at the crowd and cast an occasional French salute.

Kabuki, the assassin, approached David Von Erich and waved the sword underneath his chin. Von Erich looked like he didn't know quite what to think. A week earlier, Kabuki had strangled an opponent with a coat hanger in Fort Worth.

Hart coaxed the sword away from Kabuki.

"Get that SOB out of there!" shrieked a middle-aged black woman seated at ringside. "He's crazy!"

When the match began, Kabuki became a malevolent bundle of homicidal fury, seemingly jacked up on that same drug they used to feed Kamikaze pilots that transformed them into live-for-today no-accounts.

The Von Erich boys and the Bruiser put up a fierce effort and at one point, Tim Brooks staggered back into the corner with his face coated in blood.

"Make no mistake," said our wrestling informant. "The blood is real. Sometime during the match, while Kabuki was in the ring, Hart slipped Brooks a razor blade and then he just knicked his forehead and started bleeding like hell."

This procedure is known as "juicing" or a "blade job."

Harley Race, the current world champion, is renowned as the best "juicer" in the business, reputedly able to spread a few tiny drops over his face and arms so that it appears he just stumbled out of a train wreck.

On this occasion, the night belonged to Kabuki, who raised his right hand in clawlike fashion, then made the howling sound of a dive bomber heading into Pearl Harbor as he clutched one of the Von Erich boys around the abdominal region.

The audience was horrified. It was not a pleasant exhibition for Von Erich fans, along with anyone else who cherished truth, justice and the American Way.

"I don't know how Hart got that guy into the United States," says Fritz Von Erich. "The SOB is dangerous.

"He's a legend back in the Far East. I've had guys tell me they remembered him from when they served in Vietnam.

"I'd never seen a picture of him when he didn't have that horrible face painted white. He must have some scars he's trying to hide. But Kabuki's really in demand now and he'll draw a lot of money. It doesn't make a damn about his reputation, though. Somebody's going to beat him, and soon. I'd still like to know how Hart slipped him past the immigration authorities."

Some say it was not that difficult. They say, in fact, that Hart imported Kabuki from Kansas City, where he happened to be known as Takachika and was working the prelims, without benefit of the painted face.

The mystery of Kabuki's origin simply enhances his value and he clearly has the potential to become one of the arch-villains in the lengthy process of fiends who've performed in the Sportatorium..

He may even join company with the likes of Duke Keomuka, Bull Curry and The Spoiler.

"I remember Bull, all right," says TV announcer Bill Mercer, who's been doing wrestling in Dallas off and on since 1953.

"He kicked me in the face one time. That's the only time I ever really had any bad trouble with a wrestler. It didn't hurt much and left a little scrape over my eye.

"But he was a real Neanderthal."

The Spoiler, who was occasionally mistaken for the personification of Satan and was acrobatic enough to be able to tightrope walk his way around the ring on the top rope, once got on TV and explained how much he "hated the Sportatorium fans' guts."

When asked how he felt about the fans who watched on TV, he said, "I hate them even worse because I don't get any of their money."

Another classic was the late Moon Dog Mayne, who delighted in disgusting wrestling crowds everywhere by entering the ring and eating raw eggs, dog food, and, on one occasion, a dead fish.

"Gene Kiniski is a tough guy who really stands out in my mind," says Von Erich.

"Lou Thesz was probably the most skillful I ever wrestled, but Kiniski probably had to be the toughest. He'd knock your damn head off.

"He never did that to me, but he's capable of it."

The Von Erich boys put up a brave effort to beat Kabuki and his two low-rent companions, Hart and Brooks.

David Von Erich delivered tough forearm chops to Kabuki's thoraxial region with a massive "splat" and the audience roared.

A couple seated on the third row was hard to figure. The woman, kind of twentyish, seemed moderately hip. Her male companion, about 40, appeared to have gone around the bend intellectually some years earlier. He watched the matches intently through expressionless eyes glazed over from some long-ago trauma.

Finally, he was overcome by the sheer spectacle of it all and jumped from the chair to scream, "Tear his eyes out!"

"Oh, Sonny," gasped the fellow's lady friend, who grabbed his sleeve and yanked him back down in his chair. Sonny wasn't heard from for the rest of the evening.

Eventually, Kabuki dragged one of the Von Erichs into a corner and, along with his partners, triple-teamed their victim until the match ended.

The crowd, stunned, filed out. But the big majority obviously intended to return the following week to see justice, in some form, take its course.

The wrestlers, who are professionals after all, had done their job. There was nothing fake about the entertainment values at Sportatorium, and another evening of family fun had, all too soon, come to an end.