The Triumph and Tragedy of World Class Championship Wrestling is a controversial release from WWE Home Video. As a fan of WCCW growing up, I couldn’t watch this DVD fast enough. The documentary was so good that by the time I finished, I felt that it should have been released as a major motion picture.
Jim Ross says something very interesting towards the end of the DVD. Ross comments that he hopes that fans remember World Class for the exciting, action-packed, ground-breaking company that it once was, rather than the numerous tragedies. I think up until this DVD, anyone under the age of 25 only knew World Class for the tragedies and had no idea about how great this company really was.
The story of World Class is told through several key and not so key performers in World Class history. Kevin Von Erich, Michael Hayes, Jimmy Garvin, Skandor Akbar, Buddy Roberts, Bill Irwin, Gary Hart, are among the key personalities who give their version of World Class history on the DVD. Triple H, Shawn Michaels, Jerry Lawler, Ric Flair, Jim Ross, and Mick Foley are also interviewed but not as extensively as the others mentioned above.
A big part of the story centers on the Von Erich-Freebird feud. The feud is profiled as being a key turning point in the success and later failure of the company. Michael Hayes tells a great story about how the feud almost never materialized when Gary Hart quit World Class the day after the angle started. Imagine how history would have changed if the Freebirds left World Class the day after Terry Gordy slammed the cage door on Kerry’s head. Fritz probably would have gotten on television and told the fans that it never happened and we were all just dreaming.
It was interesting to listen to various people recount Fritz’s decision not to go national with the company. Quite a few of the wrestlers wished that Fritz would have taken the company national and toured the country. I remember being about twelve-years-old and seeing World Class on syndication while on vacation in New York. Fritz never followed it up his syndication with national touring due to his old-school ways. It is amazing in hindsight to think how differently the history of pro wrestling could have turned out if Fritz had taken the company and his boys around the country. I wonder if the real reason Fritz didn’t tour was because he knew his boys couldn’t handle a national touring schedule.
It is always curious when talking about World Class how the subject of the numerous deaths would be handled. David’s death in particular has been told about twenty different ways since he passed away in 1984. Bill Irwin talked about being the last to see David alive which is the first that I ever heard of that. Irwin’s story about David purging and eating too much left a lot to be desired in my opinion.
Kevin is fairly open about the deaths of all of his brothers. I got to know Kevin pretty well a few years ago and I can tell you that he believes everything that he says on the DVD. Kevin does talk about David taking pills, but says it was a combination of the pills, alcohol, and stomach problems that caused David to die in Japan. The cause of David’s death has been debated for years within wrestling and will probably never be 100% defined.
It is hard to listen to Kevin talk about the deaths of all of his brothers. You have to have a heart of stone not to empathize with a guy who can’t sit down with any of his brothers to share a beer and relive the great times. Kevin said some very strong words against suicide when talking about Kerry’s death. Kevin readily admits that he never fully got over David’s death back in 1984.
I wish some of the wrestlers would have talked more about working with the Von Erichs. I can’t tell you how many crazy stories I have heard from wrestlers who worked with the Von Erichs in Texas. Jerry Lawler briefly touches upon the infamous story of Kerry cutting himself prior to their Superclash match. Unfortunately, Lawler leaves out most of the interesting parts of the story.
All in all I would say the actual story told on the DVD was fascinating. For someone like me who grew up watching World Class and has heard all of the stories, I still found it interesting to hear the stories told from various perspectives. The production, presentation, and story of the DVD could hold up with anything released in the movies. The DVD held my attention the second I turned it on until the credits started to roll.
As always with WWE DVDs, a ton of matches are included on both of the DVDs. Personally, I would have been fine with an entire DVD of nothing but Von Erich-Freebird matches. The highlight of the matches has to be the Von Erich-Freebird Bad Street Match from the first David Von Erich Memorial Show.
The most fun part about watching any of the matches involving a Von Erich or a Freebird is the crowd. The crowd is nuts and on their feet for most of the matches. The Von Erichs were treated like genuine rock stars in Texas. Girls scream, guys cheer, and the building shakes every time a Von Erich enters the arena. The crowds really make the matches a lot of fun to watch. Iceman Parsons vs. Buddy Roberts, Kevin Von Erich vs. Chris Adams, and David Von Erich and Sunshine vs. Precious and Jimmy Garvin are all great due to the enthusiasm of the crowd.
I hope most wrestling fans get a chance to sit down and watch these two DVDs. You will get a real good idea of why fans like me have such a love affair with the wrestling that we grew up with. World Class for all of its tragedies really did revolutionize a lot of how we watch pro wrestling today. It is amazing to think that so much history came out of a regional territory. The story is a story that needed to be heard and I hope that people take the opportunity to watch, listen, and learn.
To purchase 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.
Check out more World Class footage and a documentary on WCCW star Chris Adams on the Gentleman’s Choice DVD by clicking here.