Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Kerry Von Erich

When I first saw the documentary of the rise and fall of the World Class Championship Wrestling, I thought the most impressive Von Erich brother was Kerry Von Erich. He seemed the biggest and he had god-like hair.
Doing some research on Kerry, I discovered that he did not actually obtain his physique naturally but by the help of steroids. At the beginning of the documentary, there were several pictures of Kerry and the rest of the Von Erich brothers and they all seemed reasonably ripped even as youngster so I naturally assumed that they're muscles were natural from working out intensely. I must say I was quite disappointed to learn this.
Thinking about it though and knowing by the end of the documentary that Kerry was addicted to several types of drugs even from the early 80's, it just would seem natural that he would of experimented with steroids at a young age.
Something else that impressed me about Kerry was the fact that he wrestled for most of his career with a prosthetic right foot. Kerry was involved in a motorcycle accident in 1986 which eventually caused him to lose his right foot. What I didn't know was that the reason he eventually lost his foot was because he prematurely attempted to walk and crushed the bones. Also, it was believed drugs were the reason for his motorcycle accident.
What was impressive about have a prosthetic foot was that he kept it secret from the media for a long time. The documentary made it seem like the fans never found out about his prosthetic foot until after he stopped wrestling, but after doing some research I discovered that it was revealed during a match with Colonel DeBeers. DeBeers grabbed Kerry's foot and attempted to drag him from his foot and in doing so he pulled off Kerry's prosthetic foot. I was curious to know how the crowd took this news, but I did not find anything on this topic.
Probably the best moment I saw of Kevin was when he beat Ric Flair at Texas to win the NWA World Heavy Weight Championship. This win was in tribute of his brother David, that had died jsut three months earlier. I remember I got goosebumps for some reason when I saw this match in the documentary. After the documentary I tried to find the entire match on, but couldn't find it.


Sam Ford said...

Kerry's winning the NWA World Title was an important event, but it was obviously meant for David. And interesting side notes, Chris, about Kerry's foot.

He wrestled in the WWE for a few years as "The Texas Tornado," but they never revealed that he didn't have one foot, as he never made it a part of his WWE gimmick.

Anonymous said...

Allow me to first introduce myself as I am coming to "the dance" late and therefore will be replying to several threads below. Hence it will be in "bunches." I guess this is my internet equivalent of "retconning," allowing myself to transport myself to week one and participate in the threads.

I'm Bryce McNeil. I am a PhD student in the Communication department at Georgia State University. I wrote a M.A. Communication thesis on Vince McMahon and corporate apologia; an excerpt of which you will read later this semester. I thank Sam for the opportunity to participate in this course, which I think is intriguing and fantastic.

In response to this post specifically, yes, the NWA title was most definitely meant for David. In his autobiography, Ric Flair basically all but directly states that he was the only Von Erich worthy of the honour.

Another sad piece of footage is the 1993 "Current Affair" story on Kerry's suicide. Fritz tells the interviewer how Kerry has been wrestling with a prosthesis "all these years" and it's "never been revealed." It was so sad to see that he really seemed to believe that no one knew. In fact, it was an open secret in the industry although Flair suggests that Von Erich showered with boots on to hide it from everyone.

Kerry winning the NWA title was a big moment although Flair even rains on this a little by noting the underwhelming backslide finish (the only time I ever saw a World title change hands with that move). He suggested it was done that since a "distant" Kerry would likely forget any elaborate finish.

Sam Ford said...

Bryce, thanks for the extra info on Kerry, and you make some good points. Welcome to the conversation, and we look forward to hearing from you more!

Peter "The Malcontent" Rauch said...

Props for the research on Kerry's foot. I had been wondering how it would be possible to keep something like that secret in such a public endeavor.

Not really being a wrestling fan per se, I'm not particularly surprised or upset when I hear that a particular wrestler used steroids to attain their physique. I wonder if this is one of the conceptual difference between people in and outside of the fan community: I tend to assume, as a matter of course, that modern wrestling is about as corrupt as current laws allow, and moreover, since the matches are works to begin with, the main objection to steroids in sports doesn't seem to apply.

Are steroids a big deal among fans? Are certain stars reputed to be "clean" and others not?

Sam Ford said...

For most fans, there are two general reasons why they get upset about steroids or growth hormone or other such body enhancement drugs. First, as far as resentment goes, many hardcore fans resent people who get where they are based on their physique and not natural charisma or athletic ability. So, when a wrestler gets a push becuase of a physique that fans believe was obtained through drugs, there is often a backlash against them.

WWE has instituted a drug policy and has been more rigorous about policing its roster in the past couple of years, but there have been a massive number of wrestlers from the 80s and 90s who have died from enlarged hearts and health conditions that point toward sustained steroid use. So, the other reason people get upset about steroids in wrestling is a system in which wrestlers feel they must risk their long-term health in order to have the body to remain a top star.

So, steroids are a big deal among fans, but not nearly as much as they are in sports where they give people an actual athletic competitive edge

Carolina said...

If it is indeed true that Kerry used steroids in his career, I don't blame him. The reason for that is not so much that steroids are a huge problem in wrestling, but just because of the family he was born into. His father was a successful pro wrestler and Kevin stated in the video that Kerry was the favorite son, hands-down. Being the favorite son to Fritz Von Erich must have come with unrealistic expectations about what he could and couldn't accomplish. I think that's why I don't feel disappointed that he used them. It seems as if all the brothers, except for Kevin, succumbed to the pressure put on them due to the family they were all a part of. If this is how things truly went, you have to wonder what kind of personal issues Kerry was dealing with during his career... not only was he losing his brothers, but he was still expected to perform. I think it all, unfortunately, got to be too much in the end.

Sam Ford said...

Kerry went on to perhaps be even more well-known after leaving World Class. The NWA title reign for those few days was the highlight of his career, but he was hired by the WWE in 1990 and was there for a couple of years or so as "The Texas Tornado" Kerry Von Erich and held the Intercontinental Title, feuding with Mr. Perfect, among others. He had been gone from the WWE for about a year, probably, when he committed suicide.

X P said...

The whole thing about Kerry using steroids to basically live up to his father has to be analyzed a bit. What if Kerry became Fritz's favorite after Kerry started wrestling, then that would mean Kerry had already started using steroids.
Also, Kerry seemed to be addicted to several drugs, so steroids could of been jsut another addiction. Though the drug addictions could of come from dealing with all the family deaths he was going through.
I'm not sure about his steroid use, jsut that it dissapoints me to know that he basically cheated to get to the level he was then. The reason for my comment was jsut to put more ideas out there.