BIO: David Von Erich
Hometown: Denton, Texas
Signature Moves: Iron Claw
WCCW Titles Held: WCCW 6-Man Tag-Team Champion (twice with Kevin Von Erich & Kerry Von Erich), WCCW Texas Heavyweight Champion (eight times), NWA American Tag-Team Champion (with Kevin Von Erich) and NWA Texas Tag-Team Champion (twice with Kevin Von Erich). Also held two titles which were, at the time, considered “stepping stones” to the NWA World title: the NWA Missouri Heavyweight Championship and the NWA Florida Southern Heavyweight Championship.
Notable WCCW Feuds: Gary Hart, Killer Tim Brooks, The Fabulous Freebirds, Jimmy Garvin and Kamala.
Need to Know Facts: Born David Allen Adkisson on July 22, 1958, and affectionately known to his fans as “The Yellow Rose of Texas”, David will eternally be known as a fire that was extinguished much too early.
However, it would be in the spring of 1979 in St. Louis that David Von Erich would kick down the door of superstardom when he took the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA) World Champion Harley Race to the limit, during a televised handicap match in which Race took on both David and his father Fritz.
At the start of the match, David pleaded with his father to let him wrestle Race, to which Fritz agreed. At the end of the hard-fought non-title bout, David left the champion lying in a pool of his own blood after clamping the family’s dreaded Iron Claw on Race’s head.
Sensing that he might have a future world champion on his hands, David’s father and WCCW owner Fritz Von Erich suggested that David journey into Eddie Graham’s Florida territory to hone a craft unfamiliar to Fritz's sons, and one that a Texas hero like David Von Erich could never pull off in the Dallas/Fort Worth based World Class Championship Wrestling promotion...the role of a heel.
Upon David’s arrival into Florida in late 1981, he was introduced as the protégé of the hated former NWA World Champion, Dory Funk, Jr. It was under Funk’s tutelage that David convincingly pulled off the role of the rulebreaking apprentice, involving himself in Funk’s previous feuds, cheating to gain victory. David would soon put any skeptics left on the NWA Board of Directors on notice that he could pull off being a tweener (i.e. capable of working as a face or heel) as convincingly as anyone as he set his sights on the "ten pounds of gold”.
Much like the Beatles' triumphant return to England in 1962 after honing their craft in Hamburg, Germany, David Von Erich returned to Dallas a vastly improved performer both inside the ring and on the microphone, displaying an intensity that caused fans and wrestling insiders alike to take notice.
It has been claimed that David was “promised” an NWA World title reign sometime in 1984, an assertion that has yet to be proven. There is no doubt, though, that David was being groomed for wrestling superstardom, probably surpassing any in-ring success any of his family could have imagined.
After his February 6, 1984 match against the Missing Link, David was to leave the U.S. for an important three-week tour of Japan, in order to showcase his talents to the influential Japanese members of the National Wrestling Alliance. However, before David had wrestled a single match in Japan, he died suddenly and unexpectedly on February 10. David's body was found in his hotel room by All-Japan referee Joe Higuchi. The cause of death was officially listed as acute enteritis, an inflammation of the intestines.
A memorial card was held for David on May 6, 1984 at Texas Stadium in Irving, Texas. The card was attended by over 32,000 emotional fans who witnessed David’s younger brother Kerry Von Erich fulfill the Adkissons' professional aspirations and defeat NWA World Champion Ric Flair for the championship.
Kerry proudly came to the ring on that hot day in May to the familiar “Texas (When I Die)” which was closely associated with David at the time of his death, adorned in a royal blue velvet robe made by Adkisson matriarch Doris, which read on the back, In Memory of David.
Respected wrestling veteran Dusty Wolfe has gone on record as stating that David’s death is the one event in recent memory that drastically changed the course of professional wrestling. Noted as having an astute mind for things behind the scenes, David, in the early 80’s, was already envisioning wrestling figures, T-shirts, posters and other merchandise that companies like the WWF and others adopted and marketed shortly thereafter. David also lured top talent to the Dallas area, and after his death, that talent diminished considerably.
One thing is certain: after February 10, 1984, professional wrestling in Dallas would never be the same.