Growing up in the 1980s, I became a huge fan of World Class Championship Wrestling. I was hooked the first time I saw WCCW and the Von Erichs on television. Like most fans, I had no idea of what was going on behind the scenes. Who knew that the legacy of this great company would be what happened outside of the ring and not inside of it?
I recently received a copy of the Gentleman’s Choice DVD. The DVD is a documentary about the turbulent life and times of Chris Adams. Adams was one of World Class wrestling’s biggest stars. Like his biggest foes and greatest tag team partner, Adams would live a life of debauchery, chaos, and madness that took his life early at 46.
This production had been in the works for several years. I remember having Gary Hart on my radio show four years ago. Hart had mentioned the project back then. Legendary WCCW television producer Mickey Grant is the brains behind this one, and kept the project rolling after Hart’s untimely passing.
The DVD starts with the early life of Adams in England. Adams background as a judo champion is well documented. I think if MMA hit big during his prime, he would have been a prime candidate for it. Adams did dabble a bit in promoting a worked MMA company later in his career. Adams entrance into pro wrestling is discussed. Adams parents and brother are interviewed throughout the DVD.
Adams successful career in WCCW is discussed at length. The DVD features fantastic WCCW footage throughout the movie. Kevin Von Erich, Killer Brooks, Gary Hart, Skandor Akbar, David Manning, and Bill Mercer are among some of the WCCW alumni interviewed. Everyone seemed candid and provided great insight on Chris in and out of the ring. Adams’ best friend William “Boo Ray” Brent Parnell also gives great insight on Chris out of the ring throughout the movie.
Adams was a very troubled man. Adams had a problem early on with alcohol. A legendary incident on an airplane is discussed by everyone. A drunken Adams was arrested and jailed for hitting flight personnel. The story is retold by several people who were on the plane. It is a fascinating story, including Kevin Von Erich’s “plan” to get Adams out of it. That story alone is worth the price of the DVD.
This should have been a wakeup call to Adams. Adams spent time in jail following the incident. Adams came out clean and focused. Adams returned to pro wrestling and also returned to his partying ways. Adams would begin experimenting with drugs. Adams fondness for GHB otherwise known as the date-rape drug ultimately changed his life forever.
Adams seemed to really struggle with his personal life after WCCW closed. Like most successful territorial wrestlers, Adams was left unemployed and broke. Adams’ personal life was in constant turmoil with several unsuccessful marriages. I remember hearing a rumor about Chris and his wife Toni in Memphis many years ago. I was disappointed that it wasn’t addressed. Otherwise, everything seems covered in great detail.
Adams would later get a WCW contract in 1998. Adams didn’t get much of a push in WCW and became something of a preliminary wrestler. Some wrestlers can accept this, but Adams could not. Adams asked and was granted a release. Adams WCW career was never covered in the documentary.
Adams was a habitual GHB user. Friends recalled a broke Adams asking for $20 so he could get his fix. Adams’ fondness for GHB caught up with him in 2000. Adams and his girlfriend overdosed on GHB. Unfortunately, his girlfriend never woke up and died. Initially, Adams was initially found to have no fault in the death. However, Adams’ former friends would make a call that would change his life forever.
Adams had a falling out with another wrestler and his valet/manager during his foray into MMA. This was a very bitter breakup between the three. The valet contacted authorities and told them that they needed to look closer at Adams’ role in the death. An investigation opened and Adams was indicted on a manslaughter charge.
Adams’ final days are discussed by everyone on the DVD. Adams’ life came to an end on October 7, 2001. Adams and Parnell got into a heated argument in Parnell’s home. Parnell recalls the entire evening in the DVD’s most interesting segment. The night would end with Parnell shooting an enraged Adams in self-defense. Curiously Parnell’s mother who was in the home said she heard nothing. Adams died from the gunshot wounds.
Adams is remembered today more for his GHB troubles than as a wrestler. Adams’ influence as a wrestler continues to this day. It can be argued that without Chris Adams there would be no Steve Austin. Also, Adams was the innovator of the superkick maneuver. It is no coincidence that self-admitted WCCW fan Shawn Michaels would later use the move and the same name years later in the WWE.
The DVD is fantastic and one of the best wrestling documentaries that I have ever watched. Anyone who watched any of the WCCW documentaries needs to see this movie. The focus on someone other than a Von Erich will provide new insight into one of wrestling’s most infamous territories. Mickey Rourke played the Wrestler, but Chris Adams lived the Wrestler.
For more information on the movie check out the website at http://www.gentlemanschoice.tv.
Order Gentlemans Choice on DVD by clicking here.
To see more on World Class Championship Wrestling, order a copy of The Triumph and Tragedy of World Class Championship Wrestling on DVD click here.
Order the non-WWE World Class documentary, Heroes of World Class Wrestling on DVD by clicking here.