Long story short...the economy is making things just as rough for us as we suspect it is for many of you. Luckily, not only is Blogger absolutely free, but they've added quite a few features in recent years that make maintaining a huge site like this much less of a pain in the butt than before. So...thanks, it's great to be back!
So what's your background and how did you guys become WCCW fans, anyway?
John Dananay happened to discover World Class at a most fortuitous time:
My first memory of watching professional wrestling had to be in 1983...I think, as World Class just started in syndication in the Chicagoland area.
What I do remember vividly was the first match I saw,the historic Ric Flair vs. Kerry Von Erich steel cage match, with Freebird Michael Hayes refereeing...the very same match that started the legendary Von Erich-Freebird war.
After watching that first match, I was instantly hooked. Professional wrestling, as I would soon realize, had a vast amount of interesting personas, and nowhere was that more true than World Class Championship Wrestling. You had the noble Von Erichs, who were tough as nails and had women fawning all over them, and at the end of the day, usually defeated the villains and rode off into the sunset as heroes. While I was a huge fan of all the Von Erichs, as Willie Nelson once sang, "My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys". David Von Erich was my favorite -- not only Von Erich, but wrestler in ANY promotion. I shudder to think how professional wrestling would be today, if David was not taken so soon in his prime on that February day in 1984. He was hot on the heels of becoming the NWA World Champion; he also had a tremendous mind for the professional wrestling business, a likely heir to the WCCW promotion operated and owned by his father Fritz; but most importantly to me then, he just kicked ass (sorry Mom)!
After David's death, WCCW managed to have a few more outstanding years, as Kevin and Kerry continued the Von Erich legacy.
I not only admired World Class' heroes, I always LOVED their heels. The Freebirds, who were the forerunners to the "Stone Cold" Steve Austin character some 14 years prior to the fact, were good ol' Southern boys who loved to drink and get rowdy, strutting to the ring often accompanied by awesome rock music (Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Freebird" or Michael Hayes' own "Badstreet U.S.A."). They knew how to get under the fans' skin, and most of us, if we were being honest, loved them for it!
WCCW also had such great heels as "Gorgeous" Jimmy Garvin, who would not only strut in and out of the ring, but would tell anyone who listened that "it's not my fault" for being the most talented and best looking wrestler in the industry...facts that were hard to argue with, as he always seemed to have a title around his waist and a gorgeous blonde bombshell (Sunshine and later Precious) on his arm. Man, was he cool or what?
I would be remiss if I did not mention one of the most underrated tag teams of the 1980s, "The Dynamic Duo" -- "Gentleman" Chris Adams and "The Handsome Halfbreed" Gino Hernandez. Adams, the turncoat, had so many intense matches with former friend Kevin Von Erich, and even though many of us today have been "smartened up' to a lot of the workings of professional wrestling, just watch the old Adams-Kevin matches, and tell me those guys were not really pounding on each other!
Hernandez has always been number two, behind David Von Erich, as my favorite professional wrestler of all time. He was cocky, good-looking, as charismatic as they came, and like the Freebirds, who could make the crowd hate them so much, fans seemingly "loved to hate him".
The October 1985 Cotton Bowl hair versus hair match the Duo had with Kevin and Kerry Von Erich is as every bit as much a part of WCCW folklore as the Christmas night cage match between Flair and Kerry three years earlier. Unfortunately, it would also be one of World Class' last hurrahs.
As the years went on, it seemed like we lost former World Class alumni on a semi-regular basis. Whether it was the Von Erich tragedies, the murder of Bruiser Brody, the unexpected loss of Rick Rude, or the senseless murder of Chris Adams, many fans have grown to wonder if professional wrestling's version of Camelot might have suffered the very same curse brought upon another American institution, the Kennedys.
Regardless, for most WCCW fans (myself included), the good times tend to outweigh the bad when it comes to the history of World Class Championship Wrestling -- having the luxury of being able to treasure our memories whenever we feel we want to (via our own personal video collection). So today, we can smile easier when we see a 61-year-old professional wrestling "god" drop his pants on television for one of his employees to kiss his bare butt, that our love for professional wrestling is not totally dead.
The Intelligent Sensational Enhancement Guy, being older than dirt, began following the promotion much earlier:
The first time I can remember seeing wrestling on Channel 11 in glorious black-and-white was when I was maybe eight or nine. A kid who lived around the corner had invited me over to check it out one Saturday night -- I think Killer Karl Kox was in the first match I saw. Anyway, this kid absolutely IDOLIZED Johnny Valentine -- he was always doing elbowdrops on his younger brother. He got me somewhat interested, but I wasn't totally hooked until I saw KTVT's Main Event Wrestling on the night of September 5, 1970 when ring announcer Boyd Pierce, in the middle of a midcard match, picked up the house mic and announced, "Will a policeman come to the dressing room, please?" A minute or two later, Bob Orton Sr. and his former partner Boris Malenko, who had recently broken up resulting in a face turn for Orton, were brought to the ring early for their main event grudge match because, as commentator Dan Coates explained, they had been brawling in the locker room and "there may not BE a main event if we don't get them out here RIGHT NOW!" (If this angle sounds familiar, it's because it was used again for a memorable Terry Gordy-Killer Khan war some fourteen years later. Despite what promoters may think, some wrestling fans do have long memories.) Pretty tame stuff by today's standards, but to this impressionable kid, it truly seemed as though things were careening madly out of control, right there on the tube.
Eventually, I started begging my folks to take me to the Sportatorium (which wasn't in the best of shape even then!), where I saw Fritz Von Erich's epic battles with Toru Tanaka, Stan Stasiak and other legends throughout the early '70s. Toward the end of the decade, I admittedly wasn't following the sport as much -- yes, friends, I was watching the original Saturday Night Live. (Hey, we're talking "the Beatles of comedy" here!) I guess it was a good thing for me, though, that the Coneheads and Roseanne Roseannadanna eventually disappeared from the airwaves and SNL began to suck, because I got to witness the beginning of a new era in wrestling a couple of years later.
Unlike a lot of fans, I stuck with the promotion even when things became almost too depressing for words, and was saddened the night in 1990 when I turned on the set to watch Championship Sports, only to find that the show was suddenly no more and its timeslot was being filled with infomercials. No on-air goodbye to longtime fans, no nothing -- that was it.
But with the passage of time, and as the sport strays farther and farther from its roots, it seems there's a bit of a resurgence of interest in this promotion which broke so much new ground, only to have others steal its best ideas and leave it in the dust. In many ways, WCCW is where the modern era of American professional wrestling began, and I'm proud to be able to help give its fans a way to relive an incredibly exciting time.
What can we expect from this site?
The best way to describe the kind of website we've tried to put together is "honest but fair." It's not a total fan worship site, though you will find some fan-oriented features here. We don't believe every story that has appeared in a dirtsheet is necessarily true, but we don't totally buy into the mythology that's surrounded the promotion over the years, either. In short, what we're hoping to be is sort of a missing link (no pun intended) between the two extremes.
This is as good a place as any to address the subject of drug use by some of the promotion's stars (including, but not limited to, the Von Erichs). We're aware that there are some who prefer to simply remember the happy times, which is somewhat understandable considering the emotional pain experienced by many fans who watched tragedy after tragedy unfold. The drug issue, though, is the proverbial eight-hundred-pound gorilla in the room: without dealing with it, you simply can't have an honest discussion, or a full understanding, of why things went down in WCCW the way they did. That being said, we feel the topic can be discussed in a mature and sensitive manner, without the gossip-mongering and self-righteous bashing which occurs on many other websites; therefore, those incidents which are known to be true are addressed here accordingly.
However, while we don't aim to ignore or trivialize the many tragedies that occurred in World Class, we also don't dwell on them to excess; World Class Memories unabashedly applauds the promotion's numerous innovations and accomplishments, and celebrates the fact that -- for a few years at least -- these guys gave us one helluva ride.
What is meant by the terms "kayfabe", "booker", etc.?
This site is written under the assumption that the reader has at least a basic familiarity with pro wrestling's insider terminology, which is now commonly used on websites dedicated to the sport. If not, you can find glossaries at a number of these sites (and also at Wikipedia, which has a fairly exhaustive list).
I'm a professional photographer who owns the rights to one or more of the photos used on WCM. Can you please remove it/them?
Sure. But first, we ask that you take a moment to consider our position, as well as that of other wrestling websites. Nearly all the photos used here also appear on other sites as well and, usually, the photographer isn't credited. So there's no way of knowing who the actual owner of a particular image is, unless that person comes forward. Therefore, a pro wrestling webmaster basically has two options: either use the images and deal with the complaints as they come in, or have a dry, uninteresting, dull-as-dishwater site consisting entirely of text, text and more text. While serious wrestling historians might not mind the latter approach, the majority of fans would likely find it none too appealing.
That said, we will gladly remove an image upon request of the rights holder. In fact, we've already done just that on one occasion: when WCM was first launched in August 2006, one of the features was "The World Class Gallery", which was intended as a showcase for photos taken by WCCW fans back in the day. Great idea, no? Uh...no. The very first person to submit "their" pics turned out to be doing so under false pretenses; within hours after they were uploaded, we received an email from a well-known professional photographer, who was able to prove ownership of the images and requested their removal. As it was now obvious that we were walking into a virtual intellectual property minefield, we responded by apologizing to the photographer and relocating the entire World Class Gallery to the Recycle Bin. (The Gallery was the blindingly brilliant idea of ISE Guy, who now pleads temporary insanity.)
As an alternative to removal, if we've used images that you own, we'll also be happy to credit you (and provide a link to your website, if you have one). Again, we do respect your rights and will gladly work with you.
Why isn't (insert name of deceased wrestler here) included on the In Memoriam page?
This is definitely not intended as a slight toward the many legendary wrestlers who worked in Dallas/Fort Worth prior to 1982. While we do delve into the pre-WCCW years in some areas of the site, we've elected to keep the primary focus on the 1982-1990 period because of its special place in pro wrestling history, and in the hearts of its fans. And, because a virtual Who's Who of pro wrestling appeared in the Dallas territory at one time or another, a full list of every deceased worker from all 50 years of the promotion's existence (including the Ed McLemore era) would be an enormous one indeed.
For those wondering if their favorite pre-WCCW star is still among the living, Wrestling Title Histories co-author Gary Will maintains what is undoubtedly a definitive listing of deceased pro wrestlers.
Why doesn't WCM have a message board?
Actually, we did have one when this site was first launched in August of 2006. It was taken down after getting less than a dozen posts in six months, probably because there were, and are, several other good World Class boards on the Web already (including Kayfabe Memories' WCCW forum and the Von Erichs Forum). If you'd like to participate in an online discussion with other fans of the promotion, we recommend that you check out those sites.
Hey! You guys are wrong about (insert incorrect information from this website here)!
That's entirely possible. While we're strong believers in getting things right, that doesn't necessarily mean we have gotten everything right -- there's always a chance that new info may come to light, or that we may have simply screwed up somewhere. So if there's something we need to correct (please be sure it's factual and not based on hearsay), by all means, feel free to shoot us an email and take us to task for it.
Do you have a banner ad that I can use to link to WCM on my website?
You bet! Just save one of these to your hard drive, upload it to your site (no hotlinking, please!) and link it to our homepage.