We start this issue with the sixth installment of our series on the tragedy of the Von Erich family.
By Robert Wilonsky
David's death was, in one sense, bad for business. But it did allow Mike -- an average-looking kid who didn't have his brothers' rough good looks or, athletic style -- a chance to step up, to fill the void as the third brother in the act. But in 1985, during a match in Israel, he dislocated his shoulder. During surgery to correct the injury, he contracted toxic-shock, which sent his temperature soaring to 107.
Somehow Mike survived -- his parents referred to his recovery as a miracle -- but he struggled for months to regain his strength. His body, once so resilient, rejected the workouts. He was in constant pain -- and galled by his failure. His falling apart became public: He stumbled when in the ring and turned against his family, once attacking his own father. Then, he was arrested in Fort Worth when he got into a fight with another motorist at a stop light.
Addicted to painkillers and tranquilizers, he was arrested for driving while under the influence of drugs on April 12, 1987. He was released on bond, then disappeared two days later.
On April 17, his family found the 23-year-old in a sleeping bag near Lake. He had killed himself with Placidyl, tranquilizers prescribed to him by a Fort Worth doctor who had been treating Mike. Beside the corpse was a note in which Mike said he was going to meet David in a better place. In the end, Mike also wrote that he was "a fuck-up."
At the funeral, Kerry issued a statement. "I am so glad Mike is with David. Mike never really liked to be alone." Not long after Mike died, Kerry left the family business and went under contract to the WWF -- much against the wishes of the family. The Adkissons abhorred the WWF's "style," as Kevin put it, the all-spectacle-no-sport wrestling practiced by Vince McMahon's stable of cartoon characters. Kerry became The Texas Tornado, another silly-ass name. It wasn't good enough just to be a Von Erich.
Kevin, exhausted now by the toll the sport had taken on his family, began to look for a way out. "After Mike had died, we pretty much -- well, I-- had lost my zest for wrestling," he says. "It just wasn't fun. Too many was bad memories."
Of course, they would only get worse.
Of all the brothers, only Chris truly loved wrestling -- and yet he was the one who would never make a career in the family business. Chris was too small too wrestle -- a mere 5-foot-5 and 175 pounds -- too frail from asthma and the medication that stunted his growth and made his bones fragile.
To the rest of the brothers, all of whom had athletic aspirations outside the ring -- wrestling was just a business, a way to kill time during off seasons. They were forced into the ring only after circumstances went against them. But Chris wanted to wrestle -- if only he could , Kevin says, he could not.
"He had so much pressure, but not from us," Kevin says. "He had pressure on himself and maybe from the fans, too. Sometimes fans can be cruel. They don't know what they're doing, but they can say things like, 'Hey, are you going to be a wrestler when you grow up?' and things like that. They would just kill Chris, because he never got tall and healthy."
Kevin recalls one night in Little Rock, during one of Chris' rare appearances in the ring, how he taught his younger brother to perform a drop kick-- a Von Erich specialty. The brothers would leap into the air, get parallel with the mat, wrap their legs around an opponent's neck and send them crashing to the canvas. Somehow, in the middle of violence real or imagined, the Von Erichs always seemed to fall with grace.
During a match in Texas shortly after that lesson, Chris and Kevin were a tag team, and Chris was in the ring. Kevin recalls how Chris hit his chest, then raised his arm to block the man's retaliatory shot. When the guy hit him, Chris' arm snapped -- it was broken, the bone so brittle that the prednisone he was taking for his asthma.
"I heard a pop, and I said, 'Chris, tag me,' and he goes, 'No, wait, I'm got to do my drop kick,'" Kevin recalls. "I said, 'No, Chris, no!' Well, a drop kick would have been perfect, but he couldn't do it. I could tell his leg was broken. But he threw his drop kick anyway, and he fell and broke his shin bone, too -- the radius and the ulna. Broke 'em both. It was too bad that it just wasn't to be for Chris. He had heart, though."
Chris became too weak and too injured to wrestle. In September 1991, after being up on cocaine and Valium, the 21-year-old took his own life with a 9mm pistol. He killed himself on the family's farm, a mere 300 feet from the home Jack had built for his wife. Kevin found his brother lying near a trove of old Indian relics that Chris and Mike had once collected.
There was also a suicide note, which read: "It's nobody's fault. I'll be with my brothers."
To be continued...
Nitro opens with the usual set of PPV recaps and comes to us live from Richmond, Virginia for the aftermath of the Great American Bash. First to the back of the building where the New Blood's limo pulls up and disgorges Vince Russo, Eric Bischoff, and yes...Bill Goldberg. The announcers are having a cow over Goldberg joining the bad guys (Scott Hudson is sitting there without a shirt but wearing a tie for asome reason). And speak of the devils, Russo and Bischoff make there way to the ring for their opening rants...sans the monster. Actually, Russo stands by while Bischoff says his piece then intorduces the turncoat. Bill looks out at a sign reading, "Why Bill, Why?" and declares, "Don't ask me why...ask me why the hell not!" then he goes on to explain that he has signed a "deal with the devil" to get what he wanted...to stand over "all the guys who tried to screw me!" Kevin Nash appears at this point on the platform and addresses the G-Man. Taunting him for being a whiner. Nash's theory is that Goldberg didn't make Goldberg - it was the other wrestlers who made Goldberg. With that he vows to leave the building tonight with Goldberg's blood on his hands and then charges the ring. He is grabbed by police, maced and cuffed before Russo orders them to release Nash into his custody to face Goldberg later on the program. Outside, Scott Steiner shows up and adds his own brand of mayhem to enhance the confusion. He eventually settles down and takes charge of Nash's young nephew at Kevin's request.
Terry Funk had a chance to challenge for his Hardcore Title back and went after Big Vito in the back until some security guys pulled him off. He escaped them and went after Vito who was fleeing for his life through the back halls of the building. They eventually make it out to the arena but never manage to get near the ring as the battle rages in the offstage areas. Finally they do make it to ringside but not into the ring as they brawl about on the floor. Vito makes a great showing and eventually puts Funk through a table and pins him. After the match, in a show of sportmanship, Funk tosses the champ the belt then offers his hand. They shake hands then Vito raises Funks arm. Funk turns away and gets Pearl Harbored. Figures...
Buff Bagwell made his return to Nitro tonight with Shane Douglas at his side and challenged Kronic (or Colonic - as he put it) to face them in the ring. This brought the self-same team out, of course, and the battle was on. At least in the early going, it pretty much went as it always seems to between these two teams. Buff and Barf are just overmatched. Period. But as the match progressed, and Bagwell got involved the advantage shifted back and forth...and yet Kronic continues to look unbeatable - and so they are in this one as the "High Times" is put on Douglas and he is pinned. After the match, Douglas was hot at Bagwell - although it was he who messed up during the fight. He pretended to bury the hatchet but then attacked from behind with some brass knucks. New feud alert!!!
The Artist Formerly Known as Prince Iukea held a press conference to announce that he would henceforth be known as...the Artist. Capt. Rection's POP broke up the conference by crawling around under the table.
The Misfits in Action came to the ring and Capt. Rection ranted off on the Artist for putting his hands on his grandfather and declares war on the Prince, who makes his entrance behind his spokesperson Paisley, who demands that the match be against Lt. Loco for the Cruiserweight Title. The Captain agrees and the fight is on. This is a pretty evenly fought match with Guerrero doing his talented best and the Artist taking every shortcut he can come up with. Nevertheless, Guerrero gets his opponent tied up in the corner for Major Gun's jewels shot - but Paisley gets in between them...so MJ does Paisley instead! Guerrero came back with a quick flying move and retains his title.
In the back, Ric Flair and his younger son arrive. Meanwhile, Russo is trying to ply Goldberg with women - but the monster is having none of it. Not very heelish behaviour if you ask me.
After the break, the Cat meets Hollywood Hogan driving up and informs him that he has arranged a World Title shot for Hogan tonight on the program (actually, Jarrett had demanded the match earlier on). Hogan accepts...then Jarrett blindsides him with a guitar shot.
Vince Russo and David Flair come to the ring where Russo congratulates the youngster on his match last night on the PPV then launches into a rant against everyone who ever done him wrong. He addresses Ric Flair, saying that he isn't going to take it anymore. He vows to personally retire the Nature Boy tonight and then calls him out. Flair appears in street clothes, obviously having no intention to wrestle this evening, and answers insult for insult. He warns Russo that he better jump on someone else because he is going to get himself hurt. Russo seems to be having a nervous breakdown in the ring, telling Flair, "I hat you, Flair!"Flair turns the scenerio around at that point - challenging Russo to a retirement match - Russo's retirement, that is! He also wants to become the boss, take his son back and shave Russo's head. Amazingly, Russo agrees to the match - on the condition that it be a father and son match - Russo and David against Flair, in a handicap match. Flair counters with an offer of a tag match with Reid on his team. Russo accepts and the match is made.
Special referee Billy Kidman comes to the ring after the break. This is the Jarrett/Hogan Title match. Jarrett enters next looking like the proverbial cat who swallowed the canary - as if he really believes that one guitar shot could put Hogan out of action for more then a few minutes. He grabs the mic and demands that the bell be rung and Hogan be counted out. Of course that us short sighted... Hogan stalkes to the ring looking a bit subdued but nione the worse for wear. The match is on immediately and Hogan is all over his opponent. I hear that Kidman was not happy about thw way things went last night, whining that Hogan wrestled stiff during their match. On the floor, Hogan takes off his weight belt and whips the Champ. He is bleeding from the head due to the earlier guitar shot but it doesn't appear to be slowing him down. Back in the ring, Jarrett gets the drop on the challenger and takes the advantage for the first time in the match. Hogan comes right back, however and knocks Jarrett to the floor again. Jarret gets a chair and uses it but then Kidman snatched it away and then tossed it to Hogan! This brought Russo and Goldberg out to the platform to watch this a little more closely. As Hogan cements his advantage, Goldberg storms to the ring and prevents a pinfall. As Hogan gets shakily to his feet, Goldberg stays out of his line of sight then unleashes the spear...on Kidman! Hogan tries to respond but Goldberg spears him as well, then Jarrett sets up a table so Goldberg can use his jackhammer to put Hogan through it. GI Bro ran in to defend Hogan so Goldberg and Co. bailed. A stretcher is being brought to the ring as we cut to commercial.
Diamond Dallas page comes to the ring after the break carrying a lemon, which he declares he wil have with his beer after he has his say in the ring. He talks about the struggle he went through to become a wrestler as 35 years old. He mentions Bischoffr which brings the man himself out to the platform. Page continues to address his remarks to Bischoff, talking about his wife - who has joined Bichoff and Kanyon on the stage. He tells her, "You gave me so much that all I wanted to do is give back." Then he addresses his former friend Kanyon, about how he (Page) took the youngster under his wing. He then surprises us all by declaring that he is hanging it up - and leaves the ring. Bischoff mocks him but Kimberly and Kanyon actually appear to be a bit nonplussed by this turn of events. We last see Page departing through his adoring fans as we cut to commercial.
Vampiro makes his way to the ring, presumably to gloat concerning his victory over Sting last night. This is startng to sound all to similar to the Undertaker/Kane set-up - Kane the burn scarred brother and all that... The Demon makes his return at this point, and does a little fire eating act before the fight starts in the aisle and goes to the ring with the Demon in command during the early going. Back out on the floor, Vamp reclaims the advantage and they fight up the ramp toward the platform where Vamp climbs to the lower portion of the big screen and then dives onto his opponent. It looks like Vampiro hurt his leg during his leap - but we are already gone to watch Scott Steiner leave Kevin Nash's nephew in the care of one of his freaks. Back in the parking lot, Nash is cooling his heels in a squad car.
Kanyon comes out with Kimberly to DDP's music. Kim grabs the mic and taunts her soon-to-be former husband and then hawks her new fragrance, "Positively Me". Kanyon then shows a doctored version of Page's book - calling it "Positively Kanyon". He throws out a challenge, which is answered by Scott Steiner! Kanyon bails in a hurry as Steiner approaches the ring but then re-enters...and gets his butt kicked for several moments before coming back with a reverse atomic drop and gets a two count. Kanyon then turns around and puts a Diamond Cutter on the referee! Steiner recovers and is all over his opponent again when Mike Awesome runs in and blindsides BPP. They start to punk Steiner but Kronic run in and clear the ring. Kanton and Awesome flee with Kronic on their tails. Meanwhile, Kimberly runs into Miss Hancock. back to the ring they go where Kimberly is back-peddling to sucker Miss H in so she can shoot the perfume in her eyes. She grabs the famous glasses and crushes them under foot.
In the Flair/Flair vs Russo/Flair match, Ric is the dominant factor from the opening bell. It seems strange that Russo is standing up to Flair's chops until it is revealed that he is wearing a chest protector over his skinny chest. Flair takes care of that in short order then his chops echo through the arena. Having disposed of Russo he beat down his son and slapped on the figure four. But Russo recovered and struck with his ball bat. Reid tried to intervene but is pulled off by David. Ric is beaten down then Russo calls Beth Flair to the ring and orders her to hit her husband with the Statuette of Liberty. She refuses so, Russo does the deed. In the midst of a second punk job, Megan Flair (Ric's oldest daughter) throws in the towel, thus ending the match. Russo and David then proceeded to shave the Nature Boy's head!!! Flair recovers but is held back while Reid is similarly shaved... Great set-up...but for what? This supposedly ends Flair's career...
A subdued Kevin Nash stalked to the ring for his main event match against Goldberg, who is preceeded to the entryway by the Filthy Animals and other New Blood members who then follow Goldberg toward the ring. The fight starts with a slugfest which Nash wins as he forces Big G to leave the ring in a hurry. Goldberg takes his time returning then hits a side kick to down Nash in a flash. He chokes Nash in the corner as he rants in his face. The New Blood watches from the aisle as Goldberg continues to pummel his opponent. But when Nash turns the tables the New Blood swarm toward the ring, thus distracting the big guy so that Goldberg can recover and blindside him with a chair shot. Nash's young nephew appears on the ring steps and is snatched by Russo who forces him to watch his uncle being humiliated. Scott Steiner runs in and starts fighting the thugs in the aisle but he is surrounded and beaten down by the police officers wielding billy clubs. Meanwhile Nash is out of it in the ring as his nephew, Hunter goes to his aid and Russo embraces Goldberg.
A match between X-Pac and Dean Malenko is short as Tori and the Road Dogg distract Malenko, handing X-Pac the win. In the back, Steph is freaking out over her pending title defense but HHH is preoccupied with his own problems.
Stephanie's match is the usual swerve job. She is tossed out and pretends to be injured, thus distracting the referee so that Kurt Angle can run in and suplex Lita. Steph then takes the easy pin and retains her title. Backstage Angle and Stephanie celebrate together...which doesn't sit well with Mr. Helmsley. Meanwhile, the rest of the faction has caught up with Kane, punked him, unmasked him and taken his picture with which they plan to blackmail him. Somehow I don't think that will work for them, but what do I know..?
The next match is a tag team contest pitting Too Cool against T & A. The match is pretty evenly fought until Scotty Too Hotty is tagged in and set to do the Worm. Val Venis comes in and interferes which leads to the DQ of T & A. Val goes on to hit Scotty with the ring bell and the trio continues with a beating of Too Cool until Rikishi comes out and takes control and almost gets another stinkie face on Trish.
The table match is another short one. The Dudleys have Vince and Shane set to both go through a table simultaneously when DX runs in and changes the scenerio. DX put D-Von through a table and then set Buh Buh Ray up for Tori, who needed two tries to finish the job.
Out in the parking lot, Triple H suggests to Bull Buchanon that he take a joy ride on The Undertaker's bike because the latter insulted the former. Undertaker gave chase in a limo he commandeered. Meanwhile, Crash Holly attacked Pat Patterson in the lot and chased Brisco in hope for the Hardcore title match. Crash gave Brisco a beating until Patterson came in and interfered, but then he accidently hit Brisco with a garbage can which cost him the Hardcore Title. After the match there were words but eventually Brisco and Patterson made up.
HHH's mystery opponent turned out to be Chris Jericho, who has pinned HHH once before (in a match that was erased from the record book, as Lawler pointed out). The challenger started strong in his initial attack and after some spirited give and take, he got so far as hitting a Frankensteiner off the top and a Lionsault. But Stephanie distracted the referee to prevent the pin. As Jericho tried to get the referee's attention, HHH made his come back and then knocked the referee out. Jericho took over control again and slapped on the Walls of Jericho. This time Stephanie actually got physically involved, slapping Jericho, who tried to slap the hold on her. This gave HHH his opening and he came back with a Pedegree and took the pin.
Matt Hardey challenges Chris Benoit for his Intercontinental Title in a very fast paced, high flying contest. In a missed spot, Matt stumbles on his way to the top and settles for a guillotine leg-drop off the second rope. Later, Hardey suplexes Benoit from the inside out to the floor as the crowd chants, "Holysh*t!" Benoit wins the match when he reverses an attempted face buster into the Crippler Crossface which Benoit held a little longer then necessary. Jeff Hardey runs in to the rescue but is taken out with a shot from the title belt to his face (ouch!)
In a King of the Ring qualifier, Christian took on Jeff Hardey, who was still a bit out of it from what just happened before the break. Surprisingly, he managed to turn a suplex attempt into a small package and rolls Christian up for the pin.
The main event is next with the Rock taking on Kane in a no holds barred match. The Faction came out to watch saying that if Kane doesn't destroy Maivia they will display the picture they took of Kanes face earlier. The match was brutal, see-saw action from beginning to end with neither man really dominating the other. At one point the Rock went for the People's Elbow but had to pause and kick Kane in the chest to complete the move. Then GTV came on and we see the Stooges getting ready to show us the picture...which is blank! The Stooges messed up again! This stops the match in it's tracks and then the Undertaker shows up and the situation explodes. The Dudleys hit the ring for more mayhem as bulk of the Faction is scattered in all directions. Back inside, the Rock puts the Rock Bottom on Vince and then he joins UT and Kane in punking HHH. The Scarey Brothers end the program by chokeslamming HHH through a table.
Despite a real fun main event, again, Nitro has managed to steal RAW's thunder...
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