Thursday, September 18, 2014

Some points about World Class

I grew up watching World Class Championship Wrestling, so I probably took a bit more from the documentary Heroes of World Class Wrestling. A few points worth considering:

1. World Class (and others) had the opportunity to go national at roughly the same time at Vince McMahon. Most did not because of antiquated respect for the territory system. Dallas was big enough to paraphrase Fritz. That said, World Class struggled to keep its stars healthy in and around Texas. Expansion for them could have been far more costly and would strain the roster more. By the time Fritz and the gang were out of the territory mentality, it was largely to coordinate with other dying promotions (e.g. Verne Gagne's AWA).

2. The documentary makes brief mention of the dozens of World Class alum that died in their words prematurely. Yes, many died under 40 (Gino Hernandez, four Von Erichs, etc.), but the vast majority on that list died well after World Class. Using that logic, if I die a tragic death tomorrow, someone should connect it to the two days I worked for Papa Johns in high school. This is not to make light of the many who died young, but this was an industry problem, not a World Class problem.


Sam Ford said...

It does speak to that idea that a few mentioned, as to whether World Class was "cursed," with a range of deaths from drugs, to suicide, to freak accidents. It did seem to fall victim to what wrestlers in general from the 1980s seemed to fall victim to--early death--at a much higher rate.

But you're right that we are presented largely here with the view of World Class from the architects of World Class. Dave Meltzer touched directly on, and the documentary alluded to, the tasteless way Fritz Von Erich reacted to the deaths of his sons and the tragedies of his family in terms of capitalizing off of it. There is some question as to whether the culturally specific way he approached wrestling--and his desire to center everything on the legacy of the Von Erich family--could truly have gone national in the way McMahon went national, even if Fritz were willing to betray his alliances with other promoters along the way....

Timothy S. Rich said...

Good point regarding Fritz's apparent wrestling vision, which is clearly shown in the documentary in terms of the moral code in which the boys are expected to portray and the tragedies that undermine this code. Lest us not forget WCCW was on the Christian Broadcasting Network.

As a counterfactual, I wonder to what extent the fate of World Class would have been any different without the death of David Von Erich. Ultimately I expect that the territory would run out of dragons for the Von Erichs to slay. Furthermore, the notion of playing any of the brothers against each other would have cut against the established moral universe.