Just like last year's Hall of Fame had a Florida flavor in its inductees with WrestleMania XXIV held in Orlando and inducting Gordon Solie, Eddie Graham, and the Brisco Bros, this year's event in Houston seems to have a Texas flavor with Stone Cold Steve Austin and a rumored Cowboy Bill Watts going in. Other Texans rumored to be Hall of Fame-bound this year are the Funks.
Now, following on that theme, how could you have a "Texas" Hall of Fame induction without the Von Erichs—the most famous family in Texas wrestling?
For those who are unfamiliar with the Von Erichs, I suggest you watch the World Wrestling Entertainment's released Triumph and Tragedy of World Class Championship Wrestling DVD, or the independent documentary Heroes of World Class DVD and get a wrestling history lesson as well as a lesson on the dangers of drugs, alcohol, and fame at a young age.
In a brief career recap, Fritz was the father of the Von Erich boys, and was a very successful wrestler himself in the 1960s and 1970s.
He went on to become the owner of the WCCW in Texas and, with the help of his sons, turned the promotion into one of the biggest of the 1980s.
WCCW really changed how wrestling was presented on TV, and was very influential towards today's wrestling product. Fritz died of cancer in 1997.
David Von Erich was the first son to gain popularity, and was scheduled to win the National Wrestling Association title from Ric Flair, but died months before the match was to occur. He died in Japan of acute enteritis according to the official report, though some say drugs were involved.
Kevin Von Erich is the only living brother of the Von Erichs, was also hugely popular in the '80s, and held many titles with his brothers.
Mike Von Erich wrestled until 1985, when he had to undergo shoulder surgery. During the surgery he contracted toxic shock syndrome and nearly died. He never fully recovered from the infection and suffered some brain damage from the high fever that accompanied it. Mike committed suicide in 1987.
Chris Von Erich tried to follow in his brothers' footsteps, but was much smaller and never achieved much success. He committed suicide in 1991.
Kerry Von Erich was probably the most successful of the brothers as he won the NWA title from Ric Flair at the first David Von Erich memorial event at Texas Stadium in front of over 40,000 in 1984.
He also won the World Wrestling Federation Intercontinental title in 1990, now the WWE, during his brief time there. A little known fact on Kerry is that he wrestled with an artificial foot after a motorcycle accident in 1986. Kerry also committed suicide in 1993.
This family deserves to be in the Hall of Fame due to their sheer popularity in the 1980s.
Before wrestling went national, and then global with the WWF, the Von Erichs were selling out arenas around the world, including events in Japan and Israel, and drawing crowds of 30,000 and 40,000 at home in Texas.
WCCW TV ratings were huge wherever the show was broadcast, and the Von Erich brothers had endorsement deals with businesses all over the Dallas area. They were well ahead of their time in that area.
If Fritz had decided to take the WCCW national in the early '80s like many suggested he do, WCCW may be standing where the WWE stands today.