By Brian Kelley
In the 80’s wrestling was on fire, and there were no wrestlers that were more loved than the Fritz Von Erich’s sons, Kerry, Kevin, David, Mike and Chris Von Erich. Though their home was the Texas promotion World Class Championship Wrestling, fans across the country and around the world fell in love with the Von Erich’s. Fans cheered , shouted and cried at times as they took on such villains as the Freebirds, “Gentleman” Chris Adams, “Gorgeous” Gino Hernandez, One Man Gang as well as having wrestling the great manager Gary Hart trying to take down the Von Erichs.
One of the greatest moments in wrestling history was on May 6, 1984, when Kerry Von Erich defeated “Nature Boy” Ric Flair in a historic match, in front of over 45,000 fans at Texas Stadium to win the NWA World Heavyweight Championship. Kerry’s victory was a tribute to his brother David, who had died three months earlier and for whom the event, the David Von Erich Memorial Parade of Champions, was named.
In their prime the Von Erich’s were the Beatles, Elvis and Jim Hendrix combined. Loved not only in the states but their impact on wrestling in Japan is still felt today.
Last fall, the fans around the Midwest were thrilled when Harley Race announced that participating during the annual WLW, WWE and Japans Pro Wrestling NOAH was the recent inductee in the WWE Hall of Fame Kevin Von Erich would be appearing.
During the week of the camp MWR was a guest of WLW and Pro Wrestling NOAH as Kevin along with WWE’S Steven Regal and Ricky Steamboat. The three stars along with Race taught the young wrestlers around the country who were fortunate to take the week long camp to learn with three of the top wrestling promotions around the world.
During the annual camp show, the fans came up to MWR with smiles that would remind you of a young child at Christmas time as they spoke about the kindness of one Kevin Von Erich. Sometime you meet your heroes that you grow up with and they live up to your expectations. It was an easy recap to do when so many fans left happy meeting Kevin, Harley, Steamboat and being entertained by the stars of WLW with a stacked card that featured a main event match between Steven Regal vs. Ace Steel.
The Pro Wrestling NOAH website reported earlier this year on January 14 that Kevin’s sons Marshall and Ross Von Erich who had participated in the WLW/Pro Wrestling NOAH/WWE camp in the fall, were on their way to Japan to work on their skills at the Pro Wrestling Noah dojo.
NOAH GM Ryu Nakata and USA and foreign affairs representative Ken Hirayama visited Kevin Von Erich & his family at their home. Kevin was pleased to meet with Ryu and showed him as his boys Ross & Marshall works out at their gym and teaching those fundamentals of the professional wrestling.
Kevin Von Erich and his sons arrived safely at Haneda Int’l Airport. As they announced their participation for NOAH Development program officially at the live coverage atNTV’s building media park along with many fans and other media outlets.
Ross & Marshall commented as they are very excited and honored to be able to join the NOAH organization and can’t wait to start training .Kevin commented as he was very pleased to have his 2 sons joining NOAH to start building the basic foundation.
Marshall and Ross are both natural athletes as Ross was highly respected as he won several fitness and weight lifting competitions as well as coach’s awards and recognition for his performance throughout high school and college. Marshall excelled at both football and discus, being named to the Kauai Interscholastic Federation All-Star team as a wide receiver and breaking a 12 year old island-wide record in discus.
When I met Marshall and Ross, I knew of their athletic background as I was honored to interview their dad who proudly spoke of them. When I saw them they were soft spoken and while I saw them in the ring during the camp I could tell they were timid and shy hitting the ropes.
So when I received word from the offices of WLW that Ross and Marshall were to make their wrestling debut in April in the Midwest, I was excited about the opportunity to take photos of the Von Erich’s first matches. To be a man and to be honest with you, I was not expecting much from them as far as ring work as they were so new.
Boy was I wrong. Pro Wrestling NOAH in a few months had them in amazing shape and more than ready for their debut. Their first night in Sedan, Kansas they would fall down in defeat against the WLW Champion “The Prince” Jason Jones and the 2011 MWR Future Star recipient Brian Breaker. A great crowd and Pro Wrestling NOAH videotaping the matches for them to be broadcast in Japan there is no doubt that the pressure was on the young boys.
MWR fans may know that Jones and Breaker has been at war with each other for the WLW title but with the newcomers of the Von Erich’s invading their home turf, they seem to have joined together to keep them from winning their first match.
With the taste of defeat from two of the finest young wrestlers in the country, Marshall and Ross had to regroup, oh how I would of loved to have been in the car from Sedan, Kansas to Richmond, Missouri while Kevin gave his two sons advice on how to improve their chances to take down the team as good as Jones and Breaker.
The night in Richmond started out rocky for the youngest Von Erich, Marshall who went one on one against the former WLW Champion and a man who has made his way last year for a tour of Pro Wrestling NOAH Brian Breaker along with former WWE Star Trevor Murdock. Though Marshall was in phenomenal shape, Breaker still had the edge with his power and size, but the young Von Erich used his speed to have Breaker in trouble.
Yet, out from the back came the sneaky snake Jason Jones, who had come to ringside and interfered just long enough to give Breaker the chance to steal the victory.
Brian Breaker and Jason Jones 2, the Von Erich brothers zero.
The stage was set at that time for as the Von Erich’s challenged Breaker and Jones to a rematch in the main event of the evening.
The building seemed too erupted, the action seem to be at a furious pace from the start.
Then it happened Marshall locked on the fearsome “Von Erich” Claw on the champ Jones, the fan in me almost shouted in joy as I seemed to have been transported back in 1983 but thankfully, I was able to regain my composure to take photos and remember that I was there in a professional capacity. Jones may be evil at times but he can wrestle and by no means is not an idiot did not hesitate to find a way out of the Claw before Marshall had it completely locked in.
With the Von Erich’s on fire, Breaker and Jones used their experience and a little cheating to get the edge it was looking bleak for the young Von Erich’s.
The young fans screamed with all their might to encourage the third generation stars to fight back against the odds and dirty deeds being dished out by Breaker and Jones.
Just as fast and furious the match had started the end was about to unravel for the WLW Champ Jones and Breaker as Ross delivered bruising kicks left and right, while Marshall locked on the Claw on Breaker then hoisted him up for a slam…
Yet Jones made the save and threw Marshall outside the ring and got the edge on Ross and was prepared for a big move when Marshall was able to get away from Breaker as the two had been going at each other at ringside. Marshall delivered a dropkick on Jones from the back allowing Ross to use the leverage for a roll up as the referee hit the mat 1-2-3.
History had been made in Richmond, Missouri!!!!!
Pro Wrestling NOAH caught it on tape to take back home to the millions of fans in Japan ,both MWR and Pro Wrestling NOAH were at ringside to photograph the historic moment while HOF Kevin Von Erich and Harley Race watching attentively as Marshall and Ross captured their first win in their career.
Marshall and Ross will continue their training at Harley Race’s Wrestling Academy for the next few months to go along with their impressive training at NOAH.
MWR Fans I urge you to take each and every opportunity to see the Von Erich sons in action while you can in the Midwest. WLW is always worth the price of admission but you will want to say you were there when Von Erich mania began.
Ross and Marshall along with their dad Kevin will be action this Friday and Saturday night in Warrensburg, Missouri and Eldon, Missouri along with the rest of the stars of WLW, Jones, Breaker, Steve Fender, Ryan Drago, Jeff Strong, Jack Gamble, Stacey O’Brien, the Great Cheyenne, Britton Tucker, Elvis Aliaga plus much more.
Remember fans that this Saturday in Eldon, Missouri WLW will be honoring the 8-time NWA World Champion with a special Harley Race Night.
We hope to see you there.