By Robert Wilonsky
The boys began paying the price for their hard work. Kevin started shooting up with painkillers while in his late teens; his knees, ruined by football, used drugs almost non-stop. David and Kerry also began using drugs to numb the paint.
"We were taking shots of deadener in our knees every Monday night before the matches, and that would last a few days," Kevin says. "It was just a fact of life. If you make athletics your business, it's a tough business, and you want to have your body as your vehicle. You have to have it in good working order, and if it doesn't work, you've got to put deadener in there and make it work. We abused our bodies."
Whenever the phone rings early in the morning, Kevin will, in an instant,from a deep sleep and answer the phone. He will, as he says, simply"freak out," so sure someone is calling to deliver the worst of news.
At dawn on February 10, 1984, Kevin received the call that his brother David had died in Japan. The family knew he was sick when he left to wrestle in January, but Jack and Doris never imagined a small flu would evolve so quickly into an intestinal inflammation that would, in a painful instant, take their-year-old son's life.
Just like that, another son was dead -- and part of the business was now gone, the Von Erich who was perhaps the best wrestler in the family. The 6-foot-7 David -- who had cultivated the image of the cowboy, never was without his black hat and leather vest -- he was the son who had come out most like his old man. David, who was at once goofy-looking with mangy red hair and imposing physique, had mastered Fritz's Iron Claw...and did it with a smile. Most thought David would become the Von Erich while his other brothers came into their own. In May of 1984, David was scheduled to beat Ric Flair for the National Wrestling Alliance heavyweight championship. He never got the chance to take the title from Flair; instead, Kerry won the title in front of more than 40,000 at Texas Stadium.
"I'm still not over Dave's death yet," Kevin says, the first signs of dawn peeking through the curtain. "That was the worst one. In 1984, when I got that phone call in the morning..."
He pauses, then looks down at the table. He reaches for a tortilla chip. "All the other deaths were terrible; they were bad, but nothing was like the first one. It was like something in me, like...I don't know."
Kevin looks up and flashes a sad sort of smile. "It hurt to the point where it just couldn't hurt anymore. I didn't shut down or anything. It's not like I lost my ability to love or be soft or enjoy music or art or anything. But somewhere in there just...like...I don't know how to put it. Maybe it was a defense mechanism or something."
To be continued...
The Great American Bash is being held for the seventh time at the Baltimore Arena in Baltimore, Maryland. Tonight we face the possibility (once again) of seeing the retirement match of Hulk Hogan and (once again) the retirement match of Ric Flair. Of course, we expect Flair to lose because we know that he is due for some time off to heel an injury. As for Hogan, well, he has been talking like a guy who is ready to retire lately. In a recent interview, Hogan stated that he was ready to "head back to the barn" and was "seeing the light at the end of the tunnel - so we shall see what we shall see.
We also have an inkling that Diamond Dallas Page is likely to lose his match as well, in order to take a break of his own.
We also have the "Big Surprise" to deal with, of course.
As the program opens we see Baltimore police officers stationed outside the arena to arrest Bill Goldberg if he shows his face.
First up, Misfits in Action come down for a little comedy relief. Captain Rection calls his troups to attention then handed the mic to Lt. Loco, who is set to defend his Cruiserweight Title against the Disco Inferno, who was accompanied to the ring by the Filthy Animals. The match itsef is pretty furious as would be expected out of these two very talented grapplers. With each man having about five guys on the outside this plays out very much like a quasi-lumberjack match. As te match progressed it became apparent that Disco really has no effective defense against Guerrero's more high flying style. So he did nothing at first, which tended to cause his opponent to get over confident. Disco was on the Champ in a moment once that happened. The match pretty much ended at the instigation of Capt. Rection's "Pops" - who was wiped out at ringside, thus drawing the referee's attention while various members of both sides got illegally involved in the match until Disco was knocked unconscious and covered by an unconscious Lt. Loco. After the match, Major Guns had to give mouth-to-mouth to Pops too revive him.
Between matches, Eric Bischoff takes the time to mention that his "Surprise" involves Kevin Nash is some fashion...or does it..? The announcers mention that there has been all kinds of speculation so that little tidbit could very well be a swerve...
The Mamalukes take on Kronic in the second match to determine the #1 contenders for the Tag Team Titles. Vito chose to wear his Hardcore Title belt into the ring...or onto the apron really - he lets Johnny the Bull do most of the work in this match at first. Later he gets more involved, and in fact it is Brian Adams who is the last person to finally get involved in the match. Throughout the match, Big Vito continued to be seemingly more interested in shining up his title belt then helping his partner. The audience took all it could of this and then erupted into a "Vito Sucks!!" chant. Eventually, Brian Adams took the belt off of him and threw it to the floor. Moments later Vito abandoned the ring to recover his belt while his partner missed a spot, trying to leap to the top rope but stumbling and having to try again, then throwing a splash onto bare canvas. It was over in a flash as the Brians finished Johnny off. Vito never did return to the ring.
Diamond Dallas Page was interviewed in the back, vowing to do a number on Mike Awesome in the ambulance match up next. The match itself takes place immediately after the interview. Page surprised us all by wheeling Chris Kanyon out in a wheel chair to cheer him on, leaving him on the platform to put a "safe" distance between him and the ring. The match goes almost immediately to the floor where the two combatants each gives as good as he gets. Back in the ring, each has a chair in his hands and they weild them like swords until Awesome loses his weapon, then gets bashed. Later, Awesome dragged a table out from under the ring and set it up on the outside. In a flash he had Page up and Awesome Bombed him through the table. Page was placed on the stretcher but rolled off as it pulled away toward the back. Still weakened, Page was easy pickings fpr his opponent. Back in the ring, Awesome hits a frog splash and then a second one on the lifeless Page. Then he sandwiches Page between two chairs and goes for it again...and misses when Page rolled away. Both guys are down as Kimberley runs out to hit Page with a steel pipe - which brought Miss Hanconk out to grab her by the hair and drag her away. Page disabled Awesome at that point and he was being wheeled away when Bischoff appeared threatening Kanyon on the platform. Page ran in to help his friend and was surprised when Kanyon suddenly stood up out of his chair and put a Diamond Cutter on him!!! Page was knocked off the platform and then stretchered away and lost the match. Kanyon tore off his outer shirt to reveal a New Blood shirt underneath.
GI Bro made his entrance on a zip line straight into the ring to face Sean Stasiak, who dressed up in camoflage fatigues and face paint. This is a "Bootcamp" match which we are told means that the last man standing will be the winner. On paper this looks to be a rout for GI Bro - but this is professional wrestling... The match itself takes place all over the arena - I assume this is no DQ, no countout, etc. Back in the ring, GI Bro is downed and comes very close to staying down for the ten count twice in a couple of minutes. A few minutes later it happened again. Still Booker struggled to his feet - so Stasiak slapped on a sleeper - which Booker fought out of and things became a little more even. Booker hit a suplex and Stasiak was down for an eight count. When he got up, GI Bro hit him with a missle drop kick. Chuck Palumbo ran in with the Lex Flexer but suffered an axe kick. He recovered though, and got in his shot as he and Stasiak whaled on Booker. Booker recovered and was taking on both guys on until he ejected Palumbo then hit Stasiak with the weapon and won the match.
Kanyon was interviewed backstage and bragged about putting Page out - except that he was shown footage of what happened after the match. Page was put in the ambulance but then fought his way outside of it before it could pull away. We also see that Goldberg's funny car is lurking about.
Shane Douglas came out to exercise his potty mouth in a rant against his opponent in a table(s) match, the Wall. The idea behind this match is for the winner to put his opponent through five tables in order to end the match. The Wall dominated the action throughout the early going. Douglas' first offense is a poke in the eye which gives him the advantage for the first time in the battle. They go to the floor where Douglas trys to set his opponent up for his first table shot. He goes for a suplex but it is blocked and Shane finds himself being chokeslammed through the first table. The Wall follows up and after a little dustup, he drops Douglas through a second table. Now we find out that the rules are that it is the best of five - which means that the Wall only need to do it one more time. After the Wall no-sells a low blow, Douglas lures him back to the rear of the arena where there is a ladder set up and a stack of three tables. He climbs the ladder which again lures the Wall up the opposite side. It appears to be a set up - but the Wall then attempts a choke slam from there - only Douglas has a set of brass knucks and uses them to knock his opponent off the ladder and through the three tables to win the match. After the match is over, the Wall takes his ire out on the referee by throwing him throught a table for spite.
Out back, Hollywood Hogan screaches up in his Charger, decked out in black and white boas and threatening to kick somebody's butt.
Big Papa Pump and his dames enter for a match against Talentless Tank in an "Asylum" match. At the last moment it is announced that Rick Steiner has been added to the match to make it a handicap contest. The Asylum is a round cage which sits inside the ring ropes so this is a very small battleground - especially for three individuals. The referee is superfulous, since he is outside the cage. Of course, the Tank/ick faction dominated the festivities until Tank decided to use a chain. Rick objected to that but Tank used the chain anyway, hitting Rick by mistake. Scott got the chain and downed Tank thus ending the very short match.
In the back, Ric Flair arrived with his family (minus his oldest boy, of course). We cut to a promo for the Hogan/Kidman match then to an interview with Hogan conducted by Mean Gene. The match followed on the heels of the interview as Kidman and special referee Horace Hogan made their joint entrance. As Hogan makes his entrance they show a sign reading, "The Real H.H.H. - Hollywood Hulk Hogan". Kidman goes right at his larger opponent but Hogan repeatedly rebuffs his attacks then sends him out to the floor. Back inside it is still all Hogan. The next time Hogan follows Kidman out to the floor and continues his assault then throws the kid back inside. So far Horace has stayed out of it except for an occasional admonision to one combatant or the other. Kidman gets a bit of offense off of an eye shot but then Hogan recovers and starts whipping the youngster with his weight belt. Horace finally threatens to DQ him if he doesn't put the belt away. Back out to the floor and Hogan grabs a chair only to have it drop-kicked into his face. Kidman delivered a second chair shot then rolled Hogan back inside. Moments later, Hogan slips back out and drags Kidman under the ropes to renew his assault. Behind them a sign reads, "Where's Silver King?" Back in the ring, Kidman gets a DDT on the chair and a two count against Hogan. After a second two count, Kidman gets into Horace's face about the speed of his count. Moments later, Hogan "Hulked UP" and starts his come back. In a flash, Kidman is in trouble again. He gains a little when he sends Hogan into a ring post - but then he tries to attack from behind and is slammed hard onto the broadcast table. In the back, Torrie is shown heading for the ring.She arrives at the ring and mounts the apron to hand Hogan a set of brass knucks! Kidman hits Hogan from behind and Torrie is knod=cked to the floor where she grabs her ankle. Kidman gets the knucks and uses them but Hogan kicks out of the pinfall. Kidman tries again and fails. Then Torrie enters the ring and delivers a low blow on her former boyfriend. Hogan retreives the weapon and puts Kidman down and pins him. Afterward, Hogan and Horace reconciled.
Backstage, Bischoff is freaking out, what with Hogan's revived fortunes and the Goldberg truck running around in the parking lot.
Next up the father verses son match between Ric and David Flair. In separate interviews, the both of them vow to win tonight. It is so weird to hear Flair cheering for Hulk Hogan and congratlating him on averting his retirement. The Flair family files into the arena before the introductions. David entered first with his mentor, Russo (the Brooklyn Dodger, as Mark Madden so aptly labels him). The Nature Boy is respledent in his best blue sequined robe as he makes what could e his last ring entrance. The first lockup results in a top wristlock which Ric wins easily. David probably weights 190 lbs. to his dad's 230. David starts brawling right away and I have to say the kid is improving day-by-day. He follows up with a high verticle suplex - textbook stuff. Ric counters with a belly to back then strips off his son's t-shirt before chopping him into the corner. Now it is all Nature Boy as the chops are flying and David is knocked to the mat repeatedly. Outside the ring Ric threatens to put his son through the temporary announce table. Around to the other side they go where Russo suddenly attacks with a bat then uses the lull to slap on a set of handcuffs. He rolls Flair back inside where David is waiting to slap on the figure four leglock. Russo tries to provide leverage but Flair is not ready to give up. Suddenly Reid Flair runs in and delivers a low blow on Russo then grabs the handcuff keys. He slips them to the referee before David ejectsw him. The referee frees Flair and tosse the cuffs to the floor where Flair's daughter Ashley snaps them onto Russo! In the ring, daddy is back in charge. Russo is livid as David is backing off. The Nature Boy is relentless as he pounds his son's forehead then starts working on his leg for the figure four set up. He slaps it on and David taps out immediately. Flair then grabs Russo and stands him in the corner to deliver a thunderous chop. Flair's family joins him in the ring as "Thus Spracht Methusala" blairs from the sound system. They start to leave but Russo calls for them to stop and hurls threats at hem. Up on the platform Flair and Reid aim some crotch shots at Russo hwho comes back with a promise to retire Flair tomorrow night on Nitro. That was a great match! Much better then I would have expected considering the competition...
Vampiro makes his entrance as Tony is busy complaining that we still haven't heard what the "Big Surprise" is. This is the Torch match. Sting appears on top of the big screen, draws the torch up to where he is and then challenges Vampiro to join him up in the rafters. Vampiro is having none of it but Sting leaves the torch above the screen as he rappels to the arena floor. In the ring the match gets started with some furious action - pretty much evenly fought. One great move happens when Sting goes for a stinger splash only to meet the upraised boot of his opponent. Vamp grabs a can of gas and poured it all over Sting's head and body! The announcers are complaining about the smell as the fight continues down the aisle with Vamp firmly in control. At the platform, Sting recovers and makes a come back. The crowd is strangely silent as they witness what appears to be a very dangerous situation. The two of them start to climb the scaffolding holding the screen - and then Sting is pulled off and falls to the floor. Vampiro continues to climb as Sting tries to recover. Moments later he is following his opponent again. Vampiro arrives but then waits for Sting to join him before going toward the torch. The lights start to flicker causing a lightning type effect as the fight continues. Vamp is trying to haul Sting into the flames as fake thunder roars. Both disappear from sight as the way this illusion will workh becomes clear. Obviously one or the other will be substituted for a stunt person in a fire suit. Vampiro gets the torch and threatens "Sting" with it. Then "Sting" is alight and takes a high fall from the top and through the floor of the platform. Officials blanket the area in fire extiguisher fog in order to make the switch so that the real Sting can be hauled away on a stretcher. The announcers are subdued afterward and discuss how they might have reacted had it been Vampiro that took the fall. They show the replay several times while the announcers describe it for us.
Backstage, Tigress attempts to get Bischoff to reveal his big surprise. He is distraught and refuses to say what it is. "Screw it" he says. He is upset because all of his plans seem to have gone wrong tonight.
The main event is Kevin Nash's World Title shot, challenging Jeff Jarrett. Jarrett makes the first entrance and then is followed by Ernest the Cat Miller who has an announcement to make from the ramp. The announcers speculate that this is the "surprise" - no way - he introduces Konnan as the bell ringer, Rey Misterio as the time keeper, and Disco Inferno as the special "belt keeper". He then introduces Juvey out as the ring announcer and then himself as the speciel second referee. The deck is thus stacked... Nash seems to appear in the ring without an announcement - or maybe I am just old and missed it... As Nash quickly establishes his superior power the kibbutzers at ringside start distracting him and the referee to give Jarrett his opening. But Nash is a monster and soon reassumes command. The announcers say there is a strange sound in the hall (though we can't hear it) - it halts the action for a moment then the fight continues. Out the floor it goes where Nash drops Jarrett face first on the announce table then pursues him into the crowd. Nash beats the tar out of the Champion then hauls him back to the ringside area where Rey Misterio attacks the big man with a chair on his injured knee. Back in the ring, Jarrett continues the attack with the chair until the referee grabs it away and tosses it out to the floor. Jarrett continues to work on the knee - setting up for a figure four, no doubt. He goes for it but has trouble dealing with Nash's massive legs and is thrown off. He goes for and gets a half crab but Nash is not ready to submit yet. Jarrett relinquishes the hold and puts the boot to the injured leg again. He goes for the figure four a second time and gets it this time. Nash is almost counted out but languidly raises his shoulder to stop the count. He reaches for the ropes but can;t get there, so then he tries to turn the hold over but he is too weak. Finally he gets rocks over and gets the rope to force the break. Jarrett then distracts the referee while Konnan knocked Nash down with the bell. Jarrett goes for the pin but fails. They exchange blows and Nash gets a sidewalk slam. Rey tries to interfere but is ejected. Nash gets hold of the title belt and whollops Jarrett with it, but Disco knocks the referee out to stop the count. The Cat assumes the referee duties and tries a fast count on Nash but he kicks out in time. The Animals swarm in and are ejected but this gives Jarrett a chance to recover and put Nash down. Again the fast count fails. Jarrett goes for a guitar shot off the top but Nash slips past it and gets a chokeslam. The Cat counts two and then pretends to hurt his eye. Nash powerbombs him then puts the same on Jarrett. Charles Robinson tries to run in and count but is dragged back out to the floor. Rick Steiner and Tank Abbott run in to help the New Blood. Scott Steiner grabs Abbott and they brawl out of camera range. The Goldberg truck drives into the hall and then the man appears. He is in the ring and getting ready for the spear - but then he turns and spears Nash instead!! He invites Jarrett to take the pin! Russo and Bischoff emerge from the monster truck!! The crowd breaks into a "Goldberg Sucks!!!" chant.In the ring, Goldberg folds Russo and Bischoff into an embrace, thus revealing his "true colors". No doubt this is the surprise - and a worthy one at that, although hardly earthshaking...
At least that's the way I see it...
Editor, Solie's Wrestling Newsletter
This page is a personal tribute andis in no way connected to any of the wrestling promotions mentioned on it. It is dedicated to the Dean of Wrestling announcers, Gordon Solie.
Copyright 2000 - Jump City Productions