Fritz Von Erich

The biggest wrestling star in Texas from the '60s to the '80s was Fritz Von Erich. He was being established when I first started watching wrestling in 1964 and was a heel who rarely lost a match. Fritz would defend the Texas Heavyweight Title against the top babyfaces and heels at the time. In my opinion, he had the best heel interview of any one I had ever seen because it was so convincing. I was still convinced even thought the superintendent at my school knew Fritz as a baby and told me his real name.

The Iron Claw was a unique hold. He applied it to the head and his victim would start bleeding and submit. Later on, Fritz would shove the person down and pin him. The claw was outlawed on the Dallas studio show but was present on the arena show. The claw did not get much exposure on KTVT until around 1966 when parts of the main events were put on TV.

One night on Fort Worth TV, Fritz had a special match with Danny McShain to give a good illustration of the claw. In an interview with Paul Boesch, Fritz described how the claw was going to be used when McShain bounced off the ropes. It was applied and McShain bled and submitted. I read in Lou Thesz's book that McShain made using the blade popular. I guess that is why he was chosen to show the effects of the claw.

There is a match on one of the old Von Erich documentaries between Fritz and Joe Blanchard [11/21/66, with Blanchard winning the Texas belt]. Joe bounces off the ropes and Fritz applies the claw. Referee Marvin Jones then reaches over and blades Blanchard and blood starts gushing out of his head. This same match is on YouTube but the sequence of Joe being bladed is cut out.

After Gary Hart turned Fritz babyface, many heels were brought in over the next several years to face him. Also, the American Title was invented and the Texas Title became secondary. Fritz dropped the American Title many times over the next few years and won it back. The last time he won it back was during his retirement match with King Kong Bundy.

I wish there was still film of Fritz's matches from the '60s and '70s.

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