Throwback Thursday: NWA World Class Championship Wrestling (July 2, 1983), As Seen on WWE Network and Peacock

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This week Throwback Thursday heads back to the best damn lil’ rasslin’ promotion in Texas as we revisit a classic, International Wrestling Star Wars edition of NWA World Class Championship Wrestling, as seen on the WWE Network and Peacock, that aired 40 years ago this month!

 

By the summer of 1983 World Class Championship Wrestling (WCCW) was on fire, quickly becoming one of the hottest, most-watched territories in all of wrestling.

Promotion owner Fritz Von Erich—patriarch of the Von Erich wrestling dynasty—was looking to make the sudden Dallas boom work for himself and the Dallas territory itself by elevating eldest son David into the NWA World title picture.

While Kevin Von Erich had earned the World title match with Ric Flair (who had just lost the NWA World title to Harley Race the week before this International Star Wars event took place) it was David Von Erich who was set to steal the show.

The NWA World Heavyweight title—the white whale of Fritz Von Erich’s career—seemed closer than ever before as the race to be the top territory in the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA) was heating up.

To those careful observers it seemed clear that of the crop of young stallions rising through the Alliance ranks, two stood out above the others: Ric Flair and David Von Erich.

David, recently returned from a sojourn to Eddie Graham’s Championship Wrestling from Florida (CWF) territory, was to be elevated to top babyface in the Dallas territory and positioned as the uncrowned World Heavyweight Champion.

As we’ll see on this week’s edition of NWA WCCW, David Von Erich’s push was anything but a fluke. Few wrestlers in any territory were allowed to so thoroughly whip a reigning NWA World Heavyweight Champion as David had whipped Harley Race at the International Star Wars event we’ll see this week.

Ric Flair, meanwhile, was in the midst of an iconic World title feud with Harley Race in the Carolina territory that saw Race place a “bounty” on Flair’s head to further prevent a rematch. Ultimately the Flair/Race program would culminate at the sports first modern supercard, Starrcade ’83, that would forever reshape the trajectory of the sport moving forward.

Key to both programs was the continued proliferation of cable television and the rapid implosion of the long-standing territory business model.

With “territories” dwindling and a number of once prominent promoters ceasing operations, a small number of powerful cartel promoters—like Fritz Von Erich and Jim Crockett, Jr.—remained, jockeying for the right to be the cartel’s top territory, thus dictating the direction and future of the NWA and its stars.

While Kerry Von Erich warred with the Freebirds and Kevin Von Erich fought to establish himself as a singles star, David Von Erich was primed to take on the world.

In the days and weeks after the June 17, 1983, International Wrestling Star Wars event at Reunion Arena, there was very little doubt among insiders and fans alike that the future of the NWA was going to run straight through Dallas, Texas.

David Von Erich, with his unique psychology and unmatched charisma, was preparing to not just win the NWA World Heavyweight title, but trap the strap in the dreaded Iron Claw with no interest of letting up.

 

 

The top story in World Class the week this edition of NWA WCCW aired was the continued fallout from the June 17, 1983, International Wrestling Star Wars event from the Reunion Arena in Dallas, Texas.

That night some 21,000 turned out to witness Kevin Von Erich fall short against new NWA World Champion Harley Race and David Von Erich throw down the gauntlet, making his own World title intentions clear.

Elsewhere on the card, Kerry Von Erich and the returning Bruiser Brody took the measure of Freebirds Michael Hayes & Terry “Bam Bam” Gordy to win the American Tag Team titles.

Buddy Roberts, while victorious against “Iceman” King Parsons in a “hair versus hair” match, was shaved bald instead, adding a new wrinkle to the Von Erich/Freebirds war, while Jimmy Garvin got the better of David Von Erich to win the vacant Texas Heavyweight title.

Now let’s head on over to the WWE Network on Peacock, hit ‘play’, and see how well this International Wrestling Star Wars edition of NWA World Class Championship Wrestling holds up 40 years later!

Edits for this edition of NWA World Class Championship Wrestling are not an issue on the WWE Network and Peacock. Context, meanwhile, is solid. Nearly every prior edition of NWA World Class Championship Wrestling, dating back to January 2, 1982, along with a few “Hidden Gems”, are available for you to watch right now on the WWE Network and Peacock!

 

NWA World Class Championship Wrestling #80 (WATCH)
Date: July 2, 1983 (TAPED: June 17, 1983; International Wrestling Star Wars) – Location: Reunion Arena, Dallas Texas
Attendance: >21,000 – TV Ratings: N/A
Commentators: Bill Mercer – Interviews: Marc Lowrance

IN POP CULTURE:
Number One Song: “”Flash Dance…What a Feeling” (Irene Cara)
Number One Album: Thriller (Michael Jackson)
Number One on Television: Trapper John, M.D. (CBS)
Number One Film in Theaters: Return of the Jedi (Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Billy Dee Williams, Anthony Daniels, & Frank Oz)
U.S. President & Vice President: Ronald Reagan & George H.W. Bush

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 International 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 International 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)

 

This week’s edition of NWA WCCW begins with a special International Wrestling Star Wars open before we head inside the Reunion Arena where Bill Mercer welcomes fans to the show.

Bill Mercer gives us a rundown of the card to come before tossing to our first Peacock ad-break of the hour that includes the standard match graphics.

 

—“3-on-1 Handicap Match” (1:53)
Kimala w/Friday & Skandor Akbar vs. Tola Yatsu, Mike Bond, & Arman Hussain

This is a three-on-one match, with all four men in the ring at the same time and two referees to call the action. To win, Kimala must defeat all three men, not just one.

This would mark the final match for both Yatsu and Hussain in the territory. As for Mike Bond, he would continue to appear off and on, in limited capacity, until November 1985 when Bond wrestled his final matches in the territory.

Bill Mercer’s commentary and the way Mercer describes Kimala is a thing of pure beauty. It may not be traditional “rasslin’” commentary but it’s a brilliant example of Bill Mercer painting a stunning image on the fly about an otherwise indescribable individual.

Yatsu, Bond, & Hussain try to employ some kind of plan the three cooked up in the back but it’s not very effective. Just as it looks like they may have Kimala where they want him Kimala comes roaring back.

Out of nowhere Kimala lands the body splash Yatsu, eliminating Yatsu at 1:47.

Bond & Hussain attempt to double-team Kimala before both men end up on the floor. Bond reenters the fray but Hussain, despite Friday & Akbar’s urging, grabs the eliminated Yatsu and heads to higher ground, abandoning Bond.

Kimala beats the snort out of Bond before landing a pair of splashes to Bond’s back, pulling Bond up at the count of two. After landing a few more shots to the face of Bond Kimala lands a final running splash for the three-count at 3:26.

WINNER is Kimala w/Friday & Skandor Akbar (Pin, 3:26, last defeating Mike Bond)

 

After the match Kimala celebrates his win before splashing the helpless Mike Bond. Suddenly Bruiser Brody appears from the back, rushing to the ring to help his friend Mike Bond.

Brody belts Kimala as the referees try and hold Brody back. Kimala tosses Friday and looks ready to go to war with Brody but the fight simmers down before the two can come to further blows.

Bruiser Brody checks on Mike Bond as Kimala leaves the ring, where Friday & Akbar do their best to hold Kimala back. We then to our next Peacock ad-break with a shot of Brody carrying Bond, over his shoulder like a side of beef, to the back.

 

Coming out of the break Bill Mercer sets up and tosses to a pre-taped interview that Marc Lowrance conducted with Bruiser Brody.

Lowrance starts by noting that Brody has come “all the way from Japan” to team with Kerry Von Erich to wrestle the Fabulous Freebirds for their American Tag Team titles. “It must mean a lot,” Lowrance says.

Brody says he’s been away from Dallas and the state of Texas, “at least in body”, for a “long time”. In any business, Brody says, one makes “a few good friends”.

Kerry Von Erich called Brody in Japan, Bruiser says, “inviting” Brody to help settle “something” that Kerry had “got involved in with the Freebirds”. Then Brody heard the Freebirds claim that Brody wasn’t a man of his word, that Brody wasn’t going to show up.

Sometimes, Brody says, “you know ya have to go somewhere”. And when Kerry Von Erich called and said he needed help the only thing that went through Brody’s mind was how, three years earlier when Brody was hurt, Kerry Von Erich was at Brody’s side.

There “was never a doubt” in Brody’s mind that he would be in Dallas, on this night, in Reunion Arena, fighting the Freebirds for the American Tag Team titles. Nor was there a doubt in Kerry Von Erich’s mind or the fans across the “whole country”.

Only in the Freebirds mind was there ever a doubt, or a hope, that Brody wouldn’t show up. With that Marc Lowrance wraps the interview and tosses to the next Peacock ad-break with a montage of stills from Brody’s promo.

 

Coming out of the break we see the newly crowned NWA World Heavyweight Champion Harley Race make his way to the ring. Kevin’s entrance, which featured Ted Nugent’s “Stranglehold”, has been edited out.

Bill Mercer notes that Ric Flair, who was originally scheduled to face Kevin on this night, was now no longer featured on the card.

Following the ring introductions Marc Lowrance reminds fans that the over-the-top-rope disqualification rule has been waived for this title match, allowing either Champion or challenger to toss the other over the top rope without penalty.

Also, Marc Lowrance notes, the disqualification rule has been waived. Should Harley Race be disqualified during this title match Race will lose the World Heavyweight title.

Harley Race is unhappy with the announcements, shouting about them being “Ric Flair’s stipulations”. When this title match was first booked, featuring Flair defending against Kevin, the two disqualification rules were set in place to prevent Flair from taking advantage of the rules to retain the World title.

Despite the title switching to Race, we’re told, the stipulations stand and Harley Race must abide by them.

 

—NWA World Heavyweight Championship – “Champion vs. Champion Match” (11:22)
NWA American Heavyweight Champion Kevin Von Erich vs. “Handsome” Harley Race(c)

Just one week prior to this bout Harley Race dethroned Ric Flair to regain the NWA Worlds Heavyweight title for a record seventh time.

The fans are solidly behind Kevin as this one gets going. Race looks to slow the match down to start but Kevin, using his speed and athleticism, gets the better of Race, scoring a near-fall off a reverse crossbody from the top.

Race tries to employ his typical dirty tricks to slow Kevin down but it’s to no avail. Kevin nearly puts Race out with a sleeper hold but Race escapes with a handful of hair.

Moments later Harley Race takes the first trip over the top rope, leading to Race arguing the point with the referee, who reminds Race that the move is legal in this bout.

Kevin continues to get the better of Race, posting Race between the top and second rope, coming ever closer to winning the coveted NWA World title.

Kevin retains the upper hand on Harley Race. As five minutes tick past Kevin cinches in the dreaded Iron Claw that Race escapes by tossing Kevin to the floor. As Kevin tries to get back into the ring Race delivers a solid headbutt that slows Kevin down.

As Kevin tries to reenter the ring Race slams Kevin’s arm into the turnbuckle. Even still, Kevin cinches in his body scissors that Race escapes by falling into the ropes.

Kevin is all over Harley Race before Race lands a sneaky, stiff headbutt that stuns Kevin. In a flash Kevin is hurled over the top rope to the floor where Kevin lands awkwardly on his left shoulder.

Kevin, nursing his shoulder (what we later learn to be a pinched nerve), tries to carry on against Race but cannot overcome the injury. When Kevin attempts an Irish whip the shoulder gives out, giving a surprised Race an opening.

Despite Kevin’s best efforts Race works his way back into the match by focusing on the injured shoulder. Race works over Kevin’s shoulder, taking the odd shot from Kevin now and again, before landing a crushing shoulder breaker for a near-fall.

Kevin, all but crying in agony, rolls the edge of the ring as referee David Manning asks Kevin if the match needs to be stopped. An irate Kevin refuses to give up the fight as the fans rally around Kevin.

Kevin tries again and again to make a comeback but simply cannot sustain the effort thanks to the injured shoulder. Race survives another body scissors before deliver a double axe-handle from the second rope.

Race tries for a second double axe-handle but flies into the Iron Claw for his troubles. Kevin wrenches at the Claw with his good arm, but Race ducks low and sends Kevin through the ropes to the floor where Kevin again lands on his shoulder, this time directly atop a television camera.

As Harley Race waits for Kevin to reenter the ring David Von Erich arrives at ringside to aid his ailing brother. Kevin rolls into the ring and right into a series of knees from Race to the injured shoulder.

David catches Kevin on the apron, telling his brother to give it up, to live to fight another day. As David talks with Kevin, however, Harley Race steps over and, after kicking at Kevin, kicks David Von Erich in the head.

An enraged David rushes into the ring, shoving the referee aside. David catches a Harley Race kick and floors Race with a big right hand. David mounts Race and begins raining down blows as the referee finally calls for the bell at 14:48, disqualifying Kevin and ensuring that Harley Race retains the NWA World Heavyweight title.

WINNER and STILL NWA World Heavyweight Champion, “Handsome” Harley Race (Disqualification, 14:48)

 

David Von Erich continues to pound on Race after the bell rings. As Kevin finally makes his way back into the ring David Von Erich grabs the NWA World title from referee David Manning and begins to taunt Race, shouting that Race couldn’t beat his brother even if Kevin did have only one arm.

David then says he’s “waited long enough”, that next it’s David’s turn at the NWA World Heavyweight title. David says he doesn’t care if Race or Flair is the Champion, but says that if he can’t defeat Harley Race then David Von Erich will “quit wrestling”.

David then lifts the World title, as if to strike Race, before dropping the strap on Race’s chest and checking on Kevin, comforting his heartbroken brother.

Mercer then wraps the scene and tosses to the next Peacock ad-break.

 

After the break Bill Mercer sets up and tosses to a pre-taped interview that Marc Lowrance conducted with American Tag Team Champion “Freebird” Michael Hayes.

At this time in the show, for whatever reason, the sound becomes a bit distorted, sounding as if it were slowed down. It doesn’t interfere with the enjoyment of the program but it something that fans should be aware of.

Marc Lowrance begins by telling Hayes that Bruiser Brody, whom the Freebirds said wouldn’t show up, is here to team with Kerry to challenge for the American Tag Team gold.

Hayes “can’t believe” Brody showed up, nor the “conspiracy” that keeps occurring in Texas. Every time Hayes has to come to Texas to wrestle it angers Hayes.

Hayes says he’s a “world champion” on top of holding the American Tag titles. It makes the Freebirds proud, Hayes says, to not have to ask anybody “for nothin’” and haven’t since the three “were kids”.

When Hayes goes back home to Georgia it makes Hayes feel good. Hayes brings some money home, because he’s a champion, and doesn’t have a problem beating up on Kerry Von Erich for being “too stupid” to take the World title Hayes offered Kerry on Christmas night.

Or, Hayes says, for persisting to want a piece of the Freebirds. Now Kerry has Bruiser Brody by his side for this title match. It’s “one thing” to have to defend his title but another altogether to have to face Bruiser Brody.

Brody is “an animal”, “wild”, Hayes says, taking Marc Lowrance to task for seemingly liking the idea of somebody finally getting “a hold” of the Freebirds.

Brody might be big, Hayes says, but Hayes’ has a “brother”, Terry Gordy, who doesn’t back down from anybody and who will protect Hayes. Hayes doesn’t care what it takes, but at the end of the night the Freebirds are going to remain the American Tag Team Champions.

Hayes says he hates Brody. One time, Hayes says, he used to respect Brody. That was before Hayes found out that Brody was a Texan and “the same kinds a scum the rest of ’em are!”

As Hayes storms off, Marc Lowrance wraps the interview and tosses to the next Peacock ad-break.

 

Coming out of the break we head straight to the ring where Marc Lowrance hands the microphone over to Michael Hayes so that Hayes can offer a challenge.

Hayes, infuriated over Buddy Roberts having his head shaved bald earlier in the night by “Iceman” King Parsons, challenges Parsons to a match anytime, anywhere, saying he’ll fight Parsons “for free”.

Hayes says it has to be a “lights out” match, and if Hayes doesn’t win then Parsons can cut Hayes’ hair.

Hayes hands the microphone back to Marc Lowrance, who finishes the ring introductions for this week’s main event.

 

—NWA American Tag Team Championship – “Tag Team Grudge Match” (32:08)
“The Modern Day Warrior” Kerry Von Erich & Bruiser Brody vs. NWA World Six-Man Tag Team Champions The Fabulous Freebirds (Michael “P.S.” Hayes & NWA Brass Knuckles Champion Terry “Bam Bam” Gordy)(c)

This match marked Brody’s first recorded bout in the World Class territory since August 31, 1981, when Great Kabuki defeated Brody in a “Texas Death” match.

This is an even bout to start before Gordy & Hayes get the better of Kerry. The Freebirds have the upper hand until Kerry slams Hayes’ face into the mat and crawls to make the hot tag to Brody.

Brody goes to work on Hayes before tossing an interfering Gordy to the floor. Brody delivers his famous one-armed bodyslam to Hayes and ends up giving one to Gordy before Hayes joins Gordy on the floor.

The match slows down as Gordy tags back in. Gordy trades shots with Brody, getting the better of Brody with a lariat, before Hayes tags back in to land a pair of high running elbow drops.

Brody quickly gets to his feet, though, fights off Hayes, and tags Kerry back into the match. Kerry lands a dropkick to Hayes as the match breaks down with all four men brawling in the ring.

Kerry batters Hayes, trying to set up for the finish, but Brody is out of position. Hayes saves the spot before going for it one more time. This time Brody is in position to pick up Kerry and slam Kerry atop Hayes for the 1-2-3 at 4:52 to win the American Tag Team titles.

This win marked Brody’s second (and final) American Tag title win and Kerry Von Erich’s fifth American Tag title win (of an eventual ten), ending the Freebirds lone American Tag title reign at 202 days.

WINNERS and NEW American Tag Team Champions, “The Modern Day Warrior” Kerry Von Erich & Bruiser Brody (Pin, 4:52)

 

After the match Michael Hayes freaks out at ringside, tossing steel chairs into the ring. While the Freebirds look to reenter the ring, Brody & Kerry hold the pair off and the Freebirds quickly depart through the fans.

As the new Champions celebrate their win we head to our final Peacock ad-break

 

Coming out of the break we return to ringside where Bill Mercer wraps up the card, talking about stories coming out of the event with replays of the key moments from this week’s show.

Bill Mercer then hypes next week’s show before signing off, bringing this week’s edition of NWA World Class Championship Wrestling to close!

 

Final Thoughts

This is an exciting, action-packed, historically significant edition of NWA World Class Championship Wrestling that is sure to please the most jaded rasslin’ fan.

The three matches we see are all great, but the two title matches (Harley Race versus Kevin Von Erich and the Freebirds versus Bruiser Brody & Kerry Von Erich) are the true stars of the show.

Though both matches are about as different as two matches can be, they are both fun and tell a helluva story. David Von Erich finally stepping up and taking aim at the NWA World Heavyweight title, though, is a true piece of Dallas wrestling history in the making.

The promos we see are all good to great, especially Bruiser Brody’s work, and the opening handicap match is fun. In other words, what are you waiting for?

Whether you’ve seen this International Wrestling Star Wars edition of NWA World Class Championship Wrestling, or it’s been a while, you won’t regret taking the time to seek this show out on the WWE Network or Peacock. Who knows, 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 this classic International Wrestling Star Wars edition of NWA 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!

For pre-WNN editions of Throwback Thursday, click here!

 

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