By Robert Wilonsky
His hands are those of his father -- enormous, fleshy, strong. They are calloused, almost faded, worn from years of wrapping them around men's faces and using them as weapons. These are the hands that wrestled a decade's worth of opponents, men with such names as Ric "Nature Boy" Flair and "Gorgeous" Gino Hernandez. He made a small fortune with his hands, as his father did before him, and as his brothers did during their shortened stays in the ring. His hands carried on the family business even after Dad retired and his brothers died. He inherited The Iron Claw, the grip that made the old man a legend and the family a wrestling dynasty.
Yet when he shakes hands standing in the atrium of a Lewisville Mexican restaurant, the man once and forever known as Kevin Von Erich is soft, gentle, almost consciously so. He looks slightly worn down, tired -- you can see that much in his sleepy eyes. His gut seems a little more ample, a touch softer than it did a decade ago, when he seemed to be made of granite.
Kevin Von Erich can still intimidate you simply by being, yet it's almost as though he is hiding the strength in his body and in those hands. His is now the yielding handshake of a father who plays catch with his sons; who holds his four children and caresses his wife of 18 years; who moves boxes into the office he is setting up to deal with his father's estate. His is the handshake of a gentle man known to his family and closest friends only as Kevin Adkisson.
Kevin Von Erich doesn't really exist anymore. He disappeared two years ago, when Adkisson stepped into the wrestling ring for the final time. His body had been wrecked by injuries to his knees and to his head, having endured seven knee surgeries and at least five serious concussions. Even now, he walks with a slight shuffle, like a man who has been on a horse too long.
Kevin -- dressed this cool November afternoon in a plaid flannel shirt, faded jeans, and a pair of flip-flops -- says he is not in any pain, physical or emotional. He claims he has put behind him the injuries that wrecked his once-promising football career, the wounds suffered in the ring -- and the deaths that have made the Von Erich name synonymous with tragedy.
Just 15 years ago, the Adkisson family was enormous -- five brothers and a happy mother and father who were married when they were almost children. They lived, for a moment, a storybook life on 137 acres in Denton County, in a house Doris Adkisson designed and her husband, Jack, built. They owned, for a moment, the world of professional wrestling.
Then, in 1984, the brothers began dying, succumbing to accidents, illnesses, drugs, and self-inflicted gunshot wounds. The family had already lost one son -- 7-year-old Jackie, to an accident in 1959 -- then David fell. Then Mike, then Chris, then Kerry. The loving couple divorced. The empire collapsed -- ravaged first from the outside by cutthroat competition, then from the inside by death. By 1995, there were simply no more Von Erichs left to wrestle. Kevin was the last brother alive, and he wanted no more of it.
Long ago Kevin had his fill of professional wrestling that had become more spectacle than sport. "To tell the truth," Adkisson says now, "wrestling was just a job to me."
If he ever loved it at all, it was because wrestling gave him a chance to be with his brothers and father -- but they're all gone now, and they have left Kevin to take care of the estate, to keep the Von Erich name from becoming a footnote in wrestling's scant history books. Even now, he and his late brother Mike's ex-wife have begun putting the family history on a Website. It's a sort of "virtual museum," as Kevin calls it, a cybershrine to the glory days.
Kevin is 40 years old now, the lone survivor of the Von Erich legend. He has outlived his five brothers and just buried his father, who died of cancer two months ago. Kevin rarely goes public with his grief, acting as if his personal loss belongs to someone else. He speaks about his father and brothers almost as though they were out of town for a while, gone on a trip and due to return at any moment.
"I don't know what some kind of psychologist would say," he explains, emitting a quick grunt you might mistake for a chuckle. "I do just pretend it never happened, and it works fine for me."
But then why build a monument to your memories? Why attempt to preserve the very pain that has stalked you your entire life? His tragedy isn't virtual; it's remarkably real. Kevin claims the Website is all about making money, but get him talking about the past, chronicling his losses, and it becomes obvious: Kevin Von Erich is still wrestling -- only this time with his demons.
To be continued...
My first web page...
It is two weeks short of exactly one year since the death of Owen Hart in this same venue and WCW Slamboree 2000 is on the air from the Kemper Arena in Kansas City, Missouri. Tony Schiavone, Scott Hudson and Mike Tenay are our hosts for the program.
The program starts with the Cruiserweight Title defense as Chris Candido (w/Tammy) faces the former Champion, The Artist Formerly Known as Prince Iuakea with his valet, Paisley. I think this is the only New Blood vs. New Blood match on the card. Both of these guys are good wrestlers, each with an aggressive streak, and both looking to enhance their not so considerable reputations. The match went out to the floor almost immediately and then ended up on the runway leading to the ring. They are back in the ring for a moment then the Artist is thrown to the floor. He comes back with a suplex from the inside out but Candido is little affected because he lands on his feet. Back inside, the Artist gets a short powerbomb but again, the Champ is not really slowed down until he goes for a Frankensteiner off the top and misses. After some more back and forth action, Candido is thrown by a big Samoan drop off the top. Now the girls are fighting outside on the runway. Tammy grabs a chair as Paisley turns back to see to her man. Tammy swings and hits Iukea with the chair. After a false ending, which everyone (including the crowd, the sound crew and Tammy) thought was it, Candido hurridly signalled Tammy to turn back then delivered a piledriver to take the pin. After the match, Candido was low blowed and tumbled out to the floor, then the losing team stripped Tammy to her sports bra and underwear.
Next up the Hardcore match pitting Terry Funk vs. Norman Smiley and his "mystery paretner" who is no mystery - Ralphus. This one started out in the mens' room where Funk went looking for his opponent and ended up getting a fire extringuisher sprayed in his face. Screamin' thus took the early advantage, attacking with trash cans, chairs, etc. The partner fails to reveal hiself through most of the match - in fact it almost seems like the guy is one of the cameramen at times. He is wearing baseball catchers' gear and so is unidentifiable - and incidently, completely useless in the match. His wimpy trashcan shots have no affect on Funk whatsoever (except to provide occasional distraction). Eventually, Smiley seems to have been taken out of it while Funk drags the "mystery man" back out to the ring where he is finally revealed as who we knew him to be the whole time. At this point, Smiley reappeared and trashed Funk with a ladder. Ralphus almost (horrors!!!) had his pants removed - and stood in a corner to watch the rest of the match. Repeated chairshots put Smiley firmly in charge until he decided to turn the fght over to his partner. Bad idea. In no time Smiley is surprised by a rollup and pinned. For some reason Norman and Ralphus decided to share a big wiggle to the delight of the crowd.
Mean Gene interviewed the World Champ backstage. David Arquette revealed that he was scared to death.
The "Perfect" Feud was advanced in a match between "the Perfect One" Sean Stasiak and the former "Mr. Perfect" Curt Hennig. For this match, Stasiak is even using a variation on Hennig's old WWF music. Hennig is remarkable for being able to hold his temper against this upstart. He goes at it with a calm confidence which is certainly warranted - but a bit surprising. Down front, three members of the Misfits (Van Hammer, Lance Leroux and Chavo Guerrero) are sitting in multicolored fatigues. Stasiak finally turned the tables with a sleeper but Hennig fights back up to his feet and escapes. Stasiak goes for a splash off the top but missed to turn the tables back again. Now the fight is all Hennig and he roughs up his opponent in one corner then takes him to another to deal out some more. Suddenly, Stasiak comes out of the corner and gets a fisherman's suplex (also known as the Perfect/Hennig Plex) and takes the pin.
Backstage, Scott Steiner showed us once again that he is no friend to Vince Russo as he tells him not to touch him. The next match is Hugh Morrus (also matching his Misfit companions' outfits) vs. Steiner. Morrus comes to the ring and announced that from now on he wants to be called by his "real" name - Huge E. Rexion (sp?). Steiner brings his usual female companions to the ring. This is a non-title match, by the way. The announcers start referring to Morrus as "Captain Rexion" for some reason as he throws Steiner to the floor. Moments later the ladies provide distraction so that Steiner can blindside him as he returned to the ring. But Steiner's opponent still manages to hold onto the advantage until he is distracted once more and then tied up in the corner ropes. Steiner could have taken the pin after the next exchange but chose instead to let Morrus up while he intimidated the referee. He finally went for the pin after a big belly-to-belly suplex - but failed. Now he is trying in earnest to pin his opponent - but the big guy is not going down easy. In fact he recovers quickly and gets several more offensive moves before Steiner stops him with a Steinerline. He is going for a Tombstone but Morrus reverses it and gets the move himself. He then went for his moonsault but Steiner rolled away and was only caught partially. He was staggered for a bit but then came back and slapped on the Steiner Recliner to win the match. He was preparing to dish out more punishment when Booker T ran down and broke that up.
Mike Awesome comes to the ring to face Chris Kanyon while the recap video shows him powerbombing Hulk Hogan through a couple of tables. Early in the match, Awesome takes the advantage and pretty much runs with it until Kanyon managed to get him shoved up against a ringpost and then hit im with a basball slide (ouch!!) Awesome recovers quickly and retakes the initiative with a concerted attack on the back of his opponent. As Awesome starts tearing into Kanyon using ringside weapons, the crowd started chanting "ECW!" Awesome finally trips himself up by climbing to the top with a chair in hand only to be caught there and upset. Kanyon takes the advantage for the first time in the match and almost gets the pin after a big move off the top. He gets a series of pin attempts but no cigar. Awesome reverses a powerbomb attempt and follows up with a clothesline - then he goes to the floor and starts rolling up the safety mats. This gave Kanyon a chance to recover and Awesome had to subdue him before he could go for a powerbomb from inside the ring to the bare floor - but Kanyon slipped off his shoulder. Awesome had his opponent out on the runway to try again when Kevin Nash stalked toward the ring. before he could do much a passle of New Blood thugs ran out and attacked him, bringing Millionaires Clubembers out to even the odds and chase off the villians.
Vince Russo is backstage with Liz - ordering her to change her clothes and telling her to watch what happens next as Lex Luger makes his way to the ring to take on Buff Bagwell. Russo seems to have something in mind... In the match, Buff is dominant during the early going until Luger reverses a suplex attempt and takes the initiative. From there it is all Luger for several minutes as the fight goes on inside and outside the ring. Back inside, Buff turns the tables and then slaps on a reverse chinlock sleeper. Luger fights his way to his feet then they both clothesline each other. Bagwell recovers first and slaps on a camel clutch variation. Some well placed knees turned the tables and then we go backstage to see Liz attacking Russo with a baseball bat. She runs to the ring and attempts to hit Buff but he blocks the shot and grabs the bat to hit Luger. Then he makes a big mistake by throwing the bat outside the ring. As he climbs the top corner to go for his Blockbuster - Liz whacks him in the back and he falls into the ring - where Luger racks him for the win. Luger and Liz are embracing in the ring when rookie Chuck Polumbo runs in and attacks then racks him. He is wearing a "Total Package" outfit right down to the insignia on the back of his tights. Buff runs off with Liz in his arms as Luger is beaten down.
Shane Douglas (sorry - I can't call this guy "the Franchise") comes to the ring and delivers a rant directed at putting his his opponent down beforee Ric Flair makes his entrance. Flair, as usual of late, wears street clothes to the ring. Flair delivered his own rant referring to Douglas as a "dipsh*t" among other things. Douglas' answer is to go on the offensive immediately and dominate the early going of the match. His ultimate insult is to put the figure four on Flair early on. Flair makes it to the ropes and forces the break but Douglas manages to retain control of things until Flair used a low blow to upset his equalibrium (so to speak...) Now it is all Flair and the action is on the outside. Douglas is laid out on the announcers' table and pounded on. Back inside the ring, Douglas turns the tables then wraps a chain around his fist to regain the advantage. He foolows it wioth a series of three verticle suplexes then stops to pose for the crowd before going for the pin and failing. Flair recovered his feet and his composure and decks his opponent - then he starts going to work on the left leg of Douglas. He is about ot slap on the figure four when a disguised (in a Sting mask) Vince Russo emerges from the crowd and whacks him with a bat. Buff Bagwell is right there to help Douglas subdue Flair so Russo can hit him with the bat - but Russo decides that discretion is the better part of valor and is retreating when Lex Luger intercepts him and returns him to the ring. Flair is about to go to town on him when Vince Russo? suddenly appears on the runway!! Who is it in the ring?? It's David Flair!!! They work together on Flair until Kevin Nash shows up to help the Nature Boy. Daffney shows up at this point and delivers a low blow on Nash - allowing Russo to use the bat on Nash. They split before Luger can come back and lend assistance to his partner and Nash.
The next match is much anticipated - a one-on-one encounter between Sting and Vampiro. Vamp enters first followed by his opponent who arrived bat in hand. They meet on the runway and the fight is on. Sting, as usual, is all over his opponent to start the match and continues to dominate until the Dead Man resorted to a low blow. Vamp retrieves a lead pipe from under the ring and goes on the attack. Now it is all Vampiro as he whacks Sting again and again across the back with the weapon. The fights heads back up the runway with Vampiro still in control. Next he drags Sting back to the ring and clotheslines him back inside. A big powerbomb off the top turns it around and now Sting has the pipe. He delivers two Stinger splashes - the second one with the pipe for added emphasis. Then he hits the Scorpion Death Drop and takes the pin. He leaves the ring for a moment then turns back and delivers another big blow with the pipe.
Arquette and Diamond Dallas Page talk to Mean Gene backstage. They discuss their plan for the main event - backstage in another part of the building, Kevin Nash is searching for Russo to give him a "piece of his mind" so to speak.
Eric Bischoff is the special referee for the next match and enters to his own music with Kimberly. This is Hulk Hogan vs. Kidman. Kidman enters with Torrie as Kimberly joins the announce team (but doesn/t say anything) for this one. Hogan brings his nephew Horace as his second. That is enough to cause Kidman to bail at least temporarily. Bischoff sends Horace away. Kidman gets the early advantage through guile but can't hold onto it against such overwhelming power. Hogan drops him spreadeagle on the top rope then clotheslines him onto the runway and down to the floor. Kidman re-entered the ring and took back the initiative via his flying moves. But again it is only a momentary respit. Hogan takes control again on the outside until Kidman contrives to put Torrie between himself and the Hulkster. Using her as a shield he lands a forearm. Everything he does is only stopgap however. He just doen't have the bulk to have that much affect on the big guy. Bischoff does his best to provide distraction and helps Kidman to stay in the match against the odds. Kidman is doing yoeman service as Hogan pounds him silly. He goes for the pin but Bischoff simply refuses to make the count. Hogan then misses a series of three elbow drops as Kidman rolls aside each time - but Kidman is not getting any offense. Outside the ring he is slammed onto the announce table. back inside he recovers monetarily but again Hogan just is too much for him to handle. Hogan goes for the legdrop but Bishcoff got between then - so Hogan knocks him down. Bischoff rolls out of the ring and comes back with a chair but Hogan beats him to the punch - then goes out to bring in a table! In fact he throws two of them inside and starts setting them up. Kidman is collapsed outside the ring while Bischoff is out cold inside. One of the tables collapses so Hogan leans it against the ropes then sets up the second one and prepares to put Bischoff through it. But Kidman gets a chairshot and goes for the pin - but only gets two. He tries the chairshot again but Hogan knocks it back in his face then puts Bischoff through the table. He retrieves yet another table then is about to hit Kidman with a chair when the latter delivers a low blow. He places Hogan on the third table and goes to the top - but Hogan rolls away and Kidman puts himself through the table. Horace is back to raise Bischoff's limp arm to make the three count and give Hogan the win.
In the back, Russo is trying to stuff Liz into a bus but Luger is insode - so Russo comandeers a car and speeds away as Kevin Nash watches calmly from the sidelines.
The main event is a triple threat - triple cage match for the World Title. The current Champ isn't interested uin retaining the title - so the match is really between Jarrett and Page. Michael Buffer delivered the introductions. The cage is the massive structure from the "Ready to Rumble" movie - three tiers high with the World Title hanging above the top cage. The second tier is called the "Hardcore cage" because it is filled with chairs and trashcans and such. The top cage has guitars available to use as weapons. The match starts with Arquette running and Jarrett chasing him until Page catches him from behind. Arquette just stays out of it while the other two fight. He does try for a splash but misses. Meanwhile, Page pushed a ladder into the ring - but Jarrett hit a baseball slide and shoved the ladder into Page's ribs. Arquette keeps getting in the way and is taking some pretty impressive bumps. Before long Jarrett is busted open and Page is setting up the ladder to climb to the next level. His first attempt is thwarted by Jarrett with a belly-to-back suplex. Jarrett then tries to climb up but Page used a powerbomb to break that up. Jarrett comes back using the ladder and then a second one to beat Page down. Arquette is cowering on the floor of the arena when Page finally makes it to the second tier. He manages to get the bolt cutters and open the cage door before Jarrett arrives and attacks him from behind. Jarrett gets to the outside and tries to climb further but Page cuts him off. They fight with chairs and trash cans then Page threw Jarrett against the wall and it collapsed! Page tries to set uo a table but the floor is mesh and can't really support it in a level fashion. He manages to get it upright and puts Jarrett through it. Moments later they are fighting on the roof of the bottom cage - outside the second one where they could easily plunge to the floor. Mike Awesome appears from nowhere and attacked page - but the latter got the Diamond Cutter and took him out. Manwhile, Arquette has snuck past them and climbs right to the top where the title waits. Jarrett gets away and heads for the guitar room with Page right on his heels. They exchange guitar shots but both miss and smash the instruments against the cage walls. Both are down for a moment then Page heads up only to be smashed in the head by Arquette!!! It was a set-up!!! Jarrett climbs up and embraces Arquette before taking the World Title. Meanwhile Mike Awesome has recoered and is going for an Awesome bomb on Page - but Kanyon arrives in time to prevent it - then gets tossed off the cage to the runway!!! Awesome climbs the rest of the way to the top and raises Jarrett's hand as the program fades.
Well I guess they have plenty of conrtoversey to explore on Nitro tomorrow.
At least that's the way I see it...
Editor, Solie's Wrestling Newsletter
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This page is a personal tribute and is in no way connected to any of the wrestling promotions mentioned on it. It is dedicated to the Dean of Wrestling announcers, Gordon Solie.
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