FAQ: Other WCCW Stars

Can you tell me when some wrestlers other than the Von Erichs debuted in Dallas-Fort Worth?  

Sure.  Although the available results for Big Time/World Class Wrestling are far from complete, here are a few debut dates we've been able to nail down, or at least get very close:  

Chris Adams: 4/15/83, Dallas (beat Roberto Renesto and The Mongol in separate matches)  
Skandor Akbar: 11/15/66, Dallas (beat Darrell Cochran)  
Steve Austin:  9/30/89, Dallas (pro wrestling debut as Steve Williams; beat Frogman LeBlanc)  
Bruiser Brody: 4/29/74, Fort Worth (pro wrestling debut as Frank Goodish; lost to Bob Roop)  
Eric Embry: 3/9/87, Fort Worth (beat Skip Young)  
The Great Kabuki: 1/11/81, Dallas (beat Don Diamond)  
Gary Hart: 10/31/66, Fort Worth (beat Krusher Karlssen)  
Michael Hayes: 10/11/82, Fort Worth (beat Frank Dusek)  
Gino Hernandez: 8/18/75, Fort Worth (lost to El Gran Markus)  
Jose Lothario: 1/27/69, Fort Worth (beat Krusher Karlssen)  
Bronko Lubich:  4/4/61, Dallas (as manager of Angelo Poffo; first wrestled 5/16/61, lost to Dory Dixon via DQ)  
Ken Mantell: 4/6/70, Dallas (as Ken Lusk; lost to Juan Sebastian)  
Iceman King Parsons: 3/30/80, Fort Worth (teamed with Rick Oliver, lost to Mr. Hito & Mr. Sakurada) 
Buddy Roberts: 3/20/78, Fort Worth (as Dale Valentine; beat Pat O'Connor)  
The Spoiler (Don Jardine): 8/7/67, Fort Worth (beat Chris Hardy)



I missed out on ordering Gary Hart's autobiography when it was first published in 2009.  Where can I find a copy?


Unless you have REALLY deep pockets, your best bet at this point would be to check with your nearest public library.  As of this writing (10/20/2015), used copies of My Life in Wrestling...with a Little Help from My Friends, of which there have now been three limited-run printings, were going for anywhere from $300.00 to $2400.00 on Amazon.

There has reportedly been some recent talk of a possible Kindle version, but to date, no ebook has been officially published. (Yes, we're aware that a bootleg copy in .pdf format has been out there for a while and, no, we don't recommend it and will not provide a link--not that it's all that difficult to find. This version is not the finished book, but an early rough draft that contains errors--both typographical and factual--that were corrected before publication.)  Our advice: keep watching our
Facebook page, and we'll keep you informed.


Did the Freebirds ever wrestle the Von Erichs elsewhere prior to their feud in World Class?

 
Gordon Solie interviews Michael Hayes and Kevin Von Erich (Georgia
Championship Wrestling, 9/19/81; screen capture by Dave Miller)

Kevin did wrestle Terry Gordy in the old Georgia territory during September of 1981. This took place after the famous breakup of the Freebirds, in which Gordy and Buddy Roberts turned on Michael Hayes. Roberts soon left the area, while Gordy began teaming with Jimmy "Superfly" Snuka (the pair went on to capture the National Tag Team titles from Ted DiBiase and Steve O shortly afterward). Hayes, now a babyface, formed a short-lived partnership with Kevin, and the two teams faced each other in a match won by Gordy and Snuka at the Omni in Atlanta on September 12. Kevin left the territory to return to WCCW at the end of September, with the kayfabe explanation on Georgia TV that he had suffered an injury at the hands of Gordy and Snuka.  

Hayes and Gordy would eventually reconcile in March of 1982, not long after Gordy saved Hayes from a brutal beating at the hands of Jos LeDuc and the Sheepherders in Dothan, AL. A few weeks later, Kevin Sullivan, Hayes' scheduled partner for a televised match on WTBS against Buzz Sawyer and Super Destroyer (Scott Irwin), no-showed; when Sawyer and Irwin demanded Hayes find a substitute, Hayes thrilled the fans in the studio by bringing out Gordy, and the reunited 'Birds proceeded to clear the ring.  They would, of course, move on to World Class later that year. 

Interestingly enough, there were also a few Texas matches pitting the Von Erich brothers against a future Freebird in the summer of 1978, during Buddy Roberts' stint as Dale Valentine, faux brother of the legendary Johnny Valentine: 

8/2/78 San Antonio 
Kevin & David Von Erich beat Dale Valentine & Coloso Colosetti 

8/16/78 San Antonio 
Tully Blanchard & Dale Valentine beat Ivan Putski & David Von Erich DQ  

8/25/78 Houston 
Dale Valentine drew David Von Erich    


Why did the Freebirds leave WWE so quickly after their departure from WCCW? 

There are several versions of this story, a couple of which can be found in the same thread at Wrestling Classics.  The 'Birds actually began working TV squash matches for WWE in early August of 1984, about a month before leaving WCCW, with Cyndi Lauper's boyfriend/manager Dave Wolff (and on one occasion, Lauper herself) in their corner.  However, as Graham Cawthon's History of WWE site shows, they were gone from the fed by the end of September.   The story that has been widely reported is that Vince McMahon was mainly interested in signing Michael Hayes:
Michael Hayes actually had a $250,000 deal with Elektra Records, but walked away from it when he left the WWF, something he has since admitted to regretting. Really the WWF wanted Michael Hayes out of the trio due to his look, charisma, speaking ability, and its desire to cash in on the Rock n Wrestling Connection by making a wrestler into a rock star. The record deal was arranged by Cyndi Lauper's manager Dave Wolff. Gordy and Roberts were afterthoughts, knew it, and weren't happy about it. They actually left the promotion ahead of Hayes who stayed on a bit longer.
...but then there is also this variation:
...Buddy was so drunk during a 6 man he fell asleep in the corner standing up on the ring apron. Vinnie called the boys into the office to yell at them, and after about ten minutes of yelling, he noticed that not only was Buddy was asleep, Terry was too.
Hayes himself, however, provided somewhat different details when interviewed by John "Bradshaw" Layfield on WWE Network's Legends with JBL: he says the $250K recording contract was with Epic Records, not Elektra (which makes sense, as Cyndi Lauper was then under contract to Epic), and that legendary record producer Bob Ezrin (famed for his work with KISS, Alice Cooper, Lou Reed and many others) would have been in charge of the recording sessions.  Hayes also revealed that HE -- not Gordy or Roberts -- was the one who showed up for a WWE card too wasted to work, incurring the wrath of Andre the Giant, who was working as a road agent and had been partially responsible for getting the Freebirds into the organization. Hayes says he found out from Dave Wolff shortly afterward that McMahon, as a result of this, no longer trusted Michael and decided to sever the relationship.

 
What was the story behind the murder of Bruiser Brody? 

Thanks to Emerson Murray's excellent biography of Brody, we now know that World Wrestling Council co-owner/booker Jose Gonzales' horrific act was, from all appearances, the result of a twelve-year grudge that, for unknown reasons, ultimately came to a head in a Bayamon, Puerto Rico locker room.  

Gonzales' anger toward Brody, according to Tony Atlas, stemmed from a match that took place when both men worked for the World Wide Wrestling Federation (now WWE).  In this bout at Long Island's Nassau Coliseum (Graham Cawthon's History of WWE site lists the date as July 24, 1976), Atlas says Brody gave then-midcard worker Gonzales a furious and relentless beating, allowing him no offense whatsoever, and "almost tore his lip off."  Atlas and S.D. "Special Delivery" Jones, upon finding a battered, bloody and enraged Gonzales yelling out his open car window and driving in circles around the Coliseum parking lot later that night, urged him to get medical attention. 

In the book, Atlas chillingly recalls Gonzales' words as he was being driven to the hospital:  "One day, I'm going to kill that son of a bitch." 

Exactly what led Gonzales to finally carry out that vow in Bayamon remains a mystery; although there had been some disputes between the two regarding finishes, Brody had worked with him in Puerto Rico on numerous occasions in the 1980s without any serious incident.  But, although the killing was in no way justified by what took place a dozen years before, or by any disagreement he may have had with Brody in later years, Atlas' recollection does go a long way toward explaining Jose Gonzales' frame of mind on the tragic evening of July 16, 1988.  


Is it true that the Angel of Death was the last opponent, or last scheduled opponent, for Kevin and Kerry Von Erich and Bruiser Brody? 

Kerry:  yes.  Kevin and Bruiser:  definitely not.  The eerily ironic fact that Kerry was scheduled to take on Dave "Angel of Death" Sheldon the night after he ended his own life has become the basis for another of those WCCW urban legends that seem to grow and mutate as they're retold over the years.  

It's easy to see how the story about Kevin got started:  he was Sheldon's opponent at the very last World Class card at the Sportatorium on November 23, 1990.  But this wasn't Kevin's last-ever match; he continued to wrestle sporadically for several more years, finally calling it a career after working a few matches for Jim Crockett's ill-fated NWA Dallas group in 1994-95. 

We have no earthly idea how Brody got included in this story, but in fact, Sheldon had already left World Class for the NWA before Bruiser was slain in Puerto Rico.  Had Brody lived to return to Dallas, as this YouTube clip proves, his first scheduled opponent would have been Kamala.  


Why do you guys insist on spelling Bronco Lubich's name with a "k"? 

Because we like to get these things right.  :)  The Bronko/Bronco confusion persisted throughout the beloved WCCW referee's career, with the "alternate" spelling being used so frequently that Lubich is said to have simply shrugged his shoulders and decided to live with it; to this day, some of his fellow wrestlers believe the "c" spelling to be correct.  (Incidentally, when he first appeared in Texas as a manager/wrestler in the early '60s, promoters spelled his last name "Lubitsch", like the legendary film director Ernst Lubitsch of Ninotchka fame.)  

But his birth name, as noted in his Dallas Morning News obituary, was Bronko (yes, with a "k") Sandor Lupsity, so that is the spelling we use.  As Wrestling Classics board moderator Crimson Mask I has stated more than once, Bronko was a Yugoslavian -- not a horse!  


Did Gino Hernandez really date Farrah Fawcett? 

We don't know for sure.  While some wrestlers who worked with Gino have stated that he simply enjoyed having his picture taken with non-wrestling celebrities, former NWA World Champion Jack Brisco and WWE commentator Jim Ross have been quoted as saying that Gino and Farrah were indeed an item at one point.  (The late star of Charlie's Angels and the made-for-TV movie The Burning Bed was reportedly a wrestling fan, and was said to have purchased a couple of Brisco Brothers Body Shop T-shirts in her later years.)  Ms. Fawcett herself, though, never confirmed or denied this story; if there was a relationship between the two, our best guess is that it would have taken place around 1979-80, after Farrah and husband Lee Majors separated.  (Incidentally, Mr. Majors also has a pro wrestling connection, and it has nothing to do with having played a character named Steve Austin: he is known to have been a chauffeur for NWA promoter Jim Barnett in the 1950s.) 

At least two photographs are known to have been taken of the pair together, however; they appear to show either Gino or Farrah holding a bouquet of roses.  The pics were used in a memorial video that was shown on Houston Wrestling shortly after Gino's passing, and aired again in 1989 in a segment of The Life and Times of Paul Boesch, a posthumous tribute special produced by Channel 39 in Houston.  Here they are, reproduced from the YouTube video:



 

Why did Sunshine disappear from WCCW for several months in 1984? 

As with many other rumors regarding former WCCW stars, there are multiple stories from individuals who purport to have the inside scoop on Valerie "Sunshine" French's absence from May to October of that year.  One of them, published by Wrestling Observer editor Dave Meltzer, is that she suffered a nervous breakdown.  Another story, posted by several people on various message boards (including at least one who claims to have heard it directly from Jimmy Garvin), is that she entered drug and/or alcohol rehab. 

Frankly, we don't know if either of these stories is true, and will not engage in speculation.  We will only say that if Ms. French did go through a personal ordeal of any kind during that period, then she clearly came out of it none the worse for wear and is living quite happily today with her husband and daughter (and that word does come directly from Jimmy Garvin)...and that's all that really matters, isn't it?


Bill Mercer's bio on WCM mentions his reporting on President John F. Kennedy's assassination for KRLD-TV and CBS. Is any of this footage available for viewing today?

Yes. Brief clips of it can be seen in the History Channel's 2009 documentary JFK: 3 Shots That Changed America, which is available on DVD.

Mercer's voice can be heard throughout Part 1, Chapter 8 ("The Suspect"), describing the scene at Dallas Police headquarters as accused assassin Lee Harvey Oswald is escorted in and out of the interrogation room by officers. Mercer is present as a police detective carries Oswald's rifle into the building, holding it high in the air; at one point he is heard to say, "I'm being pummeled here...being pummeled heavily..." while caught in the mad crush of reporters, photographers and TV cameramen in the hallway.

The most famous moment of the coverage involving Mercer was Oswald's brief press conference shortly after midnight on November 23rd, excerpts of which begin exactly one hour into the DVD. The exchange between the two is perhaps one of the most frequently seen clips from the fateful weekend:

UNKNOWN REPORTER:  Did you kill the President?

OSWALD:  No, I've not been charged with that; in fact, no one has said that to me yet.  The first thing I knew about it was when one of the newspaper reporters in the hall, uh, axed [sic] me that question.

MERCER:  You have been charged.

OSWALD:  Sir?

MERCER:  You have been charged.

OSWALD:  (shrugs as officers begin to escort him out)

MERCER:  Mr. Oswald, how did you hurt your eye?

OSWALD:  A policeman hit me.

Lengthy excerpts from the CBS coverage of the assassination, including virtually every minute of coverage from November 22nd and 23rd, have also been posted to YouTube; Mercer's reporting from the Dallas Police Department can be seen on occasion in these videos as well. (Some of the same footage also appears in episode 4 of CNN's documentary miniseries The Sixties.)

Mercer's YouTube channel includes video of a 2014 talk at Western Arkansas University, in which he shares his memories of covering the assassination.


I know about many of the WCCW stars who are no longer with us, but can you fill me in on [insert name of deceased worker here]?
●  Mike Awesome:  Was wrestling mainly in Memphis in 1990, but according to available results, did work one match at the Sportatorium against Jerry Lawler on April 6 of that year.  Went on to become a star in Japan and the original ECW.
●  Giant Baba and Jumbo Tsuruta:  These two All Japan Pro Wrestling legends appeared at WCCW's big Reunion Arena card on June 17, 1983.
●  Nancy Benoit:  Made one appearance in World Class at the September 1, 1986 Labor Day Spectacular in Fort Worth as "Angel", valet for Mark Lewin and her then-husband Kevin Sullivan in a World Tag Team title tournament.  (Fallen Angel, the name she used in Florida during the same period as a member of Sullivan's "Satanic" Army of Darkness stable, was apparently too direct a reference to Old Scratch for WCCW, whose TV was still syndicated to Christian Broadcasting Network affiliates at the time.)
●  Gene Goodson:  Commentator for the late-1981 WCCW pilot and for a few more pre-Continental Productions episodes until early '82.  Died in September 1989.
●  Jon Harris:  Billed as 7'7" tall (an exaggeration, but not by much), Harris appeared in WCCW as "Little John" in the corner of the Fantastics for their 1985 Texas Stadium bout with the Midnight Express (included as a bonus match on WWE's Triumph and Tragedy of WCCW).  Harris had a bit part in the film Pee-Wee's Big Adventure (which also included an appearance by Big Time Wrestling veteran Professor Toru Tanaka) the same year, and in the lost wrestling/sci-fi turkey Blood Circus (produced and financed by the notorious Santo Rigatuso of "Santo Gold" infomercial infamy).  As for his other pro wrestling appearances, Harris played Silo Sam in the AWA and Trapper John in WWE (no, he did not have a partner named Hawkeye Pierce).  Died April 19, 2005..
●  Lord Alfred Hayes:  Worked one match at the Sportatorium against Chris Adams on June 3, 1983.  The bout, a judo match, was fought in rounds with gloves, never aired on TV, and had no real buildup other than Adams referring to Hayes as a "very nasty and dirty man" in a KTVT interview.  Previously worked in the D/FW area in 1976-77 as a member of Gary Hart's stable, feuding with Fritz Von Erich, Moondog Mayne and others.  Became an interviewer/commentator for WWF in the mid '80s.
●  Harvey Martin:  The former Dallas Cowboys defensive end appeared numerous times as a guest color commentator alongside Marc Lowrance, and took part in an angle or two as well.  He also worked as a wrestler in the battle royal at WWE's WrestleMania 2, which also featured NFL greats Bill Fralic, Russ Francis, Jimbo Covert, Ernie Holmes, William "Refrigerator" Perry and, as a guest referee, Martin's former teammate Ed "Too Tall" Jones.  Martin died of pancreatic cancer on December 24, 2001.
●  Wahoo McDaniel:  Best remembered in Dallas-Fort Worth for his late '60s-early '70s stint, Wahoo appeared at SuperClash III in Chicago, and also at a Sportatorium card on December 9, 1988, where he and Freebird Michael Hayes lost a WCCW Tag Team title match via disqualification to champs The Samoan Swat Team.