This week Throwback Thursday, with a bit of help from WWE Network and Peacock, heads back to the “World Famous” Dallas Sportatorium for an exciting edition of Fritz Von Erich’s popular World Class Championship Wrestling that happened 39 years ago this month!
By June 1983 the boom times were just beginning for World Class Championship Wrestling (WCCW). It had been nearly six months since the heel turn heard ’round the world, when Freebird Terry Gordy slammed a steel cage door in Kerry Von Erich’s face on Christmas night in the Reunion Arena as Kerry challenged then-NWA Worlds Champion Ric Flair for the most prestigious Championship in professional wrestling. In the intervening six months the war between the Freebirds and Von Erichs had helped to make WCCW one of the most popular and prosperous territories in all of wrestling. While the Von Erichs picked up their share of wins, the early portion of the war largely belonged to the Freebirds, whose street fighting tactics and gang warfare flustered the clean-cut Von Erichs. But other talent was smartly being folded into the story by this point. Kevin Von Erich was challenging Harley Race for the NWA World title; David Von Erich was feuding with Jimmy Garvin over the Texas title; Freebird Buddy Roberts was feuding with “Iceman” King Parsons; Bruiser Brody had joined with Kerry Von Erich to challenge the Freebirds for their American Tag Team titles; and Skandor Akbar’s “Devastation, Inc.” had made a deal to assist the Freebirds when needed. These kinds of booking decisions were designed to give the main program (Freebirds/Von Erichs) a rest at points, so as to not burn it out too soon, as well as broaden WCCW’s creative output and build as many stars as it could. At this point the push was on for the June 17, 1983 Wrestling Star Wars card at Reunion Arena in Dallas, Texas, which was already in the books when this edition of WCCW aired. The Star Wars card on June 17, 1983 drew a massive crowd of 21,000 to see American Heavyweight Champion Kevin Von Erich come up short against then-NWA Worlds Champion Harley Race, Buddy Roberts take “Iceman” King Parsons hair, Jimmy Garvin steal the Texas Heavyweight title from David Von Erich, and Kerry Von Erich & Bruiser Brody win the American Tag Team titles from Freebirds Michael Hayes & Terry “Bam Bam” Gordy in one of the first major wins for the Von Erichs in their war with the Freebirds. The June 17, 1983 crowd was one of the largest to ever witness World Class action at the Reunion Arena and served to put the rest of the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA) on notice that Dallas was the territory in the NWA. Despite the massive success World Class was having, and the hordes of cash it was bringing in, pay disputes were a constant issue, having already driven former head booker Gary Hart out of the territory earlier in 1983 and nearly driving the Freebirds out as well. In spite of the ups and downs on TV and beyond the mat, WCCW was rapidly becoming one of the most important territories in all of wrestling, helping to launch future stars and make household names of others.
The main story in World Class at the time this edition of WCCW aired was the continued Von Erich/Freebird war and the big Wrestling Star Wars card. Among the key stories was Kevin Von Erich’s pursuit of Harley Race’s NWA World title, Buddy Roberts looking to take the hair of “Iceman” King Parsons, and Kerry Von Erich teaming with the wild-man Bruiser Brody to go after the Freebirds’ (Hayes & Gordy) American Tag Team titles. But with stars from All Japan Pro Wrestling on the card, including Giant Baba, Genichiro Tenryu, and Jumbo Tsuruta; the vacant Texas title to finally be decided between David Von Erich and Jimmy Garvin; and the rise of Skandor Akbar’s Devastation, Inc., there were thrilling and exciting stories up and down the WCCW roster for a variety of fans, young and old, to get swept up in. Away from the ring the top song in the country the week this edition of World Class Championship Wrestling aired was Irene Cara’s iconic “Flashdance… What A Feeling” while Michael Jackson’s Thriller was in its 17th consecutive week at the top of the album charts. On television CBS’s Newhart scored its first-ever ratings win while Superman III, starring Christopher Reeves, Richard Pryor, Jackie Cooper, Annette O’Toole, and Margot Kidder, was the top film in the nation, momentarily dethroning Star Wars: Return of the Jedi.
With that out of the way, let’s fire up the WWE Network on Peacock, hit ‘play’, and find out how well this edition of World Class Championship Wrestling holds up in 2022!
Edits aren’t an issue with this edition of WCCW on the WWE Network and Peacock, but there is some harmless tape distortion throughout that makes the audio sound a bit jumpy. Context, meanwhile, is nearly perfect with almost every prior edition of WCCW dating back to the start of 1982, as well as a few “Hidden Gem” cards, available for you to enjoy on the WWE Network and Peacock right now!
NWA World Class Championship Wrestling #78 (WATCH)
Date: June 18, 1983 (TAPED: June 10, 1983) – Location: Dallas Sportatorium, Dallas, Texas
Attendance: N/A – TV Ratings: N/A
Commentator: Bill Mercer – Interviews: Bill Mercer
CHAMPIONS AT THE TIME:
NWA World Heavyweight Champion: “Handsome” Harley Race (June 10, 1983, St. Louis, Missouri, from “Nature Boy” Ric Flair)
NWA American Heavyweight Championship: Kevin Von Erich (March 11, 1983, Dallas, Texas, from Terry “Bam Bam” Gordy)
NWA Texas Heavyweight Champion: “Gorgeous” Jimmy Garvin (June 17, 1983, WCCW Wrestling Star Wars, defeated David Von Erich to win vacant Texas Heavyweight title; the title was held-up after a controversial finish between David Von Erich and Jimmy Garvin in April 1983)
NWA American Tag Team Champions: Bruiser Brody & “Modern Day Warrior” Kerry Von Erich (June 17, 1983, WCCW Wrestling Star Wars, from the Freebirds (NWA Brass Knuckle Champion Terry “Bam Bam” Gordy & Michael “P.S.” Hayes))
NWA World Six-Man Tag Team Champions: The Freebirds (Michael “P.S.” Hayes, NWA Brass Knuckles Champion Terry “Bam Bam” Gordy, & Buddy Roberts) (December 25, 1982, WCCW Christmas Star Wars, defeated “Iron” Mike Sharpe, Ben Sharpe, & Tom Steele to become inaugural Six-Man Tag Team Champions; David Von Erich stood in for an absent Buddy Roberts and relinquished his share of the Six-Man Tag Team titles to the absent Buddy Roberts after the match)
NWA Brass Knuckles Champion: Terry “Bam Bam” Gordy (March 25, 1983, Dallas, Texas, from The Great Kabuki)
WCCW Television Champion: The Mongol (May 30, 1983, Fort Worth, Texas, from “Iceman” King Parsons)
Following the usual WCCW open of the era we head inside the Sportatorium in Dallas, Texas where Bill Mercer welcomes us to the show. Mercer gives a run down of the card before we head to our first Peacock ad-break of the hour. Coming out of the break Marc Lowrance tends to bit of the usual housekeeping before introducing the first bout.
—Tag Team Match (1:28)
Johnny Mantel & “Iceman” King Parsons vs. WCCW Television Champion The Mongol & NWA World Six-Man Tag Team & American Tag Team Champion Buddy Roberts
This is a fun, fast-paced opener. The main story here is the ongoing saga between Parsons and Roberts, who were scheduled to face off in on a “hair versus hair” match at the June 17th Wrestling Star Wars event, which (again) was already in the books by the time this edition of WCCW aired. The babyfaces get the better of both Mongol & Roberts for much of this one before Buddy Roberts backs “Iceman” into the corner and fights back control of the match. Soon enough Mantell gets the hot tag before the match begins to break down. “Iceman” goes after Roberts, pounding away on Roberts as Mongol grabs Mantell and delivers a big running powerslam for the 1-2-3 at 10:36.
WINNERS are WCCW Television Champion The Mongol & NWA World Six-Man Tag Team & American Tag Team Champion Buddy Roberts (Pin, 10:36)
After the match we see a replay of the finish as Mercer hypes an appearance from Kamala next and we head to the next Peacock ad-break.
—Singles Match (14:29)
Mike Reed vs. “The Ugandan Giant” Kamala w/Friday & Skandor Akbar
Complete and total squash here. Reed tries for a few punches but Kamala walks right through them. In the end Kamala lands a couple of big splashes for the pinfall at 1:34.
WINNER is “The Ugandan Giant” Kamala w/Friday & Skandor Akbar (Pin, 1:34)
Following the match Akbar & Friday have to coax Kamala off of Reed before we head to the next Peacock ad-break with a slow-motion replay of Kamala taking the fight to Reed.
—Singles Match (18:44)
Ron Starr vs. Mr. Ebony w/Skandor Akbar
This was Mr. Ebony’s debut on WCCW TV. Ron Starr gets a bit of offense in early before Mr. Ebony (Tom Jones) shuts Starr down and takes complete control of the match. After having his fun stretching and pounding on Starr, Ebony closes the show with a Ken Patera-style swinging full nelson for the submission win at 3:51.
WINNER is Mr. Ebony w/Skandor Akbar (Submission, 3:51)
After the match Mr. Ebony holds on to the full nelson for a bit longer before releasing the hold and, with Akbar, getting an earful from the referee. We then cut to ringside where Bill Mercer interviews Skandor Akbar, who is flanked by Mr. Ebony. Akbar starts by saying that anyone who is going to be a part of his Devastation, Inc. has to be proficient in all aspects of wresting, and puts over Ebony’s “Greek god” physique and Kodiak Bear strength. Mr. Ebony is “here to stay”, Akbar tells us. Akbar says he’s heard all about the dangerous, championship caliber wrestlers on “World Class Wrestling” and wonders who can beat Kamala. Where are the Von Erichs and the Adams? Akbar wonders. Akbar wants competition and says that he’s angry, “and when I’m angry things begin to happen!” Akbar warns the wrestlers of “World Class Wrestling” that he is taking over and will dominate the area. When Akbar is done, he says, all the fans will be able to say is the names of his Devastation, Inc. stablemates. Akbar reiterates his desire for competition before Bill Mercer wraps the interview and sends us to our next Peacock ad-break with a replay of Ebony’s swinging full nelson.
After the break we join Bill Mercer at the announce position where Mercer introduces, and tosses to, a Kerry Von Erich music video prior to the main event Brass Knuckles Championship match. The original music for the video, Survivor’s “Eye of the Tiger”, has been overdubbed, for obvious reasons.
—NWA Brass Knuckles Championship (28:32)
“Modern Day Warrior” Kerry Von Erich w/NWA American Heavyweight Champion Kevin Von Erich vs. NWA World Six-Man Tag Team Champion Terry “Bam Bam” Gordy(c) w/NWA World Six-Man Tag Team & American Tag Team Champion Michael Hayes
This is a great, stiff match that illustrates the greatness of Terry Gordy. Kerry has the match early, able to keep Gordy reeling before Gordy, cheating just to cheat, lobs Kerry over the top rope. Despite this being no disqualifications in this bout Terry Gordy & Michael Hayes still cheat as if the match were under normal rules, providing a subtle masterclass in the art of being a true heel. Despite Kerry’s best efforts Gordy controls the bulk of the bout, though he can’t put Kerry away. Out of nowhere Kerry lands a beautiful dropkick to turn the tide before cinching in the Von Erich Claw Hold! Hayes looks to be ready to interfere, which brings Kevin to the apron, inadvertently distracting the referee. With the referee distracted Michael Hayes breaks up the Claw. Kevin drops to the floor and goes after Hayes only to be stopped by the referee. As the referee deals with Kevin, Hayes stands on the apron and gives himself up to Kerry Von Erich. As Kerry goes after Hayes, Gordy delivers a brutal running knee to the back of Kerry’s head to score the 1-2-3 at 8:21 to retain the Brass Knuckles title.
WINNER and STILL NWA Brass Knuckles Champion, NWA World Six-Man Tag Team Champion Terry “Bam Bam” Gordy w/NWA World Six-Man Tag Team & American Tag Team Champion Michael Hayes (Pin, 8:21)
Following the match the referee tends to a dazed Kerry Von Erich as brother Kevin taunts the Freebirds to return to the ring and fight before we see a replay of the finish. Back in the ring Kerry is recovered and with his brother Kevin, and the fans, begs for five more minutes with Gordy. We then head to the final Peacock ad-break with another replay of the finish.
Coming out of the break we join Bill Mercer in the ring for an interview with the Freebirds. Hayes begins the interview by crowing about the continued success of the Freebirds, the titles they still hold in WCCW, and how Buddy will have “Iceman” King Parsons’ hair after the 17th. Hayes then wonders what would happen if the Von Erichs had to wrestle the Freebirds in The Omni in Atlanta or the Mid-South Coliseum in Memphis, in “Dixie”, saying the Freebirds are beating the Von Erichs brains out in their own home area. We then see another replay of the finish of the Kerry/Gordy Brass Knuckles title match with Hayes spinning the interference around on Kevin Von Erich. Gordy jumps in and slams Kevin Von Erich for sticking his nose in Gordy’s business. Nobody does that to “Big Daddy”, Gordy says, and nobody sticks their nose in the Freebirds’ business. Mercer then asks Hayes about Wrestling Star Wars on June 17th and Hayes & Gordy’s American Tag Team title match against Kerry Von Erich & Bruiser Brody. Hayes rips Brody for “selling out” and fighting with the Von Erichs before tossing the interview to Buddy Roberts to talk about his “hair versus hair” match with “Iceman”. Roberts explains the power of the Freebird hair removal cream and vows to take “Iceman’s” hair on the 17th for sticking his nose into Freebirds’ business. Buddy says he’s proud of his partners in the Freebirds, proud to be World Class wrestlers on World Class Championship Wrestling, that goes “worldwide”, and proud to be the World Six-Man Tag Team Champions. Hayes laughs at Kerry Von Erich, saying “he tried”. “They’re great wrestlers,” Hayes says, “they’re just not as good as us!” Hayes closes out the interview by saying that we are looking at the World Champions all across “the world!” Mercer wraps the interview, and the show, and the credits roll to bring another chapter of World Class Championship Wrestling to a close!
This is an exciting and action-packed edition of World Class Championship Wrestling! All the action, even the squashes, is great, and the interviews are good to great as well. The match of the night is, clearly, the main event Brass Knuckles title match between Terry Gordy and Kerry Von Erich. If you’re looking for a great wrestling show and some great, hard-hitting action this is the show for you! If you haven’t seen this edition of WCCW, or it’s been a while, you can’t go wrong seeking this show out on the WWE Network or Peacock! You may end up liking it, and that’s never a bad thing!
Already subscribed to the WWE Network on Peacock? Then you can relive the classic edition of World Class Championship Wrestling right now or experience it for the very first time! As always, let us know what you think in the comments section below!
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Thanks for reading – until next week, see ya at ringside!