BIO: Mike Von Erich
Hometown: Denton, TX
Signature Moves: Iron Claw
WCCW Titles Held: WCCW World Six-Man Tag titles (three times with Kevin and Kerry Von Erich, once with Kevin and Lance Von Erich); NWA American Heavyweight title
Notable WCCW Feuds: The Fabulous Freebirds, Gino Hernandez, Jake "The Snake" Roberts
Need to Know Facts: Of all the tragedies that befell World Class Championship Wrestling's performers over the years, one of the saddest stories was that of Michael Brent Adkisson -- the sensitive younger brother of Kevin, David and Kerry Von Erich.
Mike was involved in some track and field competition during his high school years, but suffered a shoulder injury at a young age and consequently was not able to perform at the same level that his brothers had (despite publicity claims to the contrary). Although many who worked with him, including Kevin, have stated that Mike had no real interest in becoming a wrestler, he nonetheless began training for a career in the ring shortly after graduation. His November 1983 debut took place at the height of pro wrestling's equivalent of Beatlemania, when WCCW's popularity was exploding from coast to coast as a result of nationwide television syndication and a predominantly youthful, fast and good-looking roster of stars led by Mike's older brothers -- who were, by then, full-fledged teen idols.
Mike was matched at first with veterans like Skandor Akbar and Buddy Roberts, who knew how to make an unseasoned performer look good in the ring. He was clearly lacking in both bulk and experience but stepped up to the plate admirably, giving better performances than anyone had a right to expect from someone who was just getting started in pro wrestling.
Quickly joining his siblings in their white-hot war against the Fabulous Freebirds, Mike teamed with Kevin against Roberts and Terry Gordy at the Christmas Star Wars show a month after his debut. A near-riot ensued when Mike was attacked at ringside by a man dressed in a Santa Claus suit who had been handing out candy to children in the crowd that evening. "Santa" turned out to be Michael Hayes, who had lost a loser-leaves-Texas match to Kerry at the Thanksgiving show. In late January, Mike pulled double duty at a Fort Worth Star Wars event, not only teaming with David and Kerry against the Freebirds, but also -- in a match which served to confirm that Mike, still green as grass, was receiving much too strong a push -- going to a now-infamous ten minute draw with none other than NWA World Champion "Nature Boy" Ric Flair.
On February 10, 1984, David Von Erich, who had been at ringside to cheer Mike on during the Flair match less than two weeks earlier, suddenly passed away in his hotel room in Tokyo. For Mike, the loss was not only devastating, but undoubtedly added to the pressure he must have already felt, appearing in high-profile main events so early in his career; when David died, Mike had been wrestling professionally for a grand total of eleven weeks.
He went on to capture the American Heavyweight title from Gino Hernandez in an upset at the Sportatorium, feuded with the likes of Jake "The Snake" Roberts and Rip Oliver over the next year, and joined his brothers and a number of other World Class stars on a wrestling tour of Israel in August 1985. But in Tel Aviv on August 7, in the semifinal round of a tournament for the WCCW Middle Eastern title (which Kevin won but never defended), Mike's bad shoulder was reinjured during a match against Gino Hernandez. He flew back to Dallas for surgery, during which he contracted toxic shock syndrome, a form of blood poisoning usually associated with tampon use by women. Mike's temperature soared to 107° -- a level often resulting in death or, at the very least, brain damage -- and his weight plummeted to 145 pounds. Though he would miraculously recover enough to leave the hospital after a few weeks, and was able to make a brief appearance at the October Cotton Bowl show, Mike was never the same again.
When Mike returned to the ring in the summer of 1986, the toll his illness had taken on him became apparent: he seemed to have lost coordination in the ring, and had difficulty remembering spots and finishes planned for his matches. His in-ring time seemed to be cut back as much as possible in an attempt to conceal the problem. In one televised match from the Sportatorium in early 1987, Mike pinned Brian Adias in a matter of seconds; when Adias demanded five more minutes, Mike scored a second pinfall even more quickly.
Haunted throughout his career by feelings of inadequacy, and now convinced that he would never be able to live up to the family's image, Mike tried to drown those feelings in drink and drugs. He began to have run-ins with the law, some of which were reported by the local news media; he was jailed for drunk and disorderly behavior in one incident, and kicked in the door of a man's car in another (the latter charge was dismissed when Mike agreed to pay for repairs). Finally, on Saturday, April 11, 1987, he was arrested for drunk driving and possession of controlled substances after being pulled over by a police officer, who found marijuana and a variety of pills in Mike's car.
Concern for Mike began to mount when he failed to show for a scheduled match the following Monday in Fort Worth. Inside his apartment, a note was found, in which he expressed his love for his brothers and their families but called himself "a f---up". Shortly thereafter, local newscasts and newspapers were reporting that the youngest member of the Von Erich wrestling dynasty was missing, and that a search was underway.
On Wednesday evening, Mike's car was located near the entrance of a park south of Lake Lewisville. Police, after an extensive search of the area, finally found his body inside a sleeping bag. He had taken a fatal dose of Placidyl, crawled into the bag, and waited for death to take him.
Inside the car, officers found a final, brief note Mike had written to his mother Doris: "Mom, you have always been wonderful. I am in a better place...I'll be watching."