Christmas Day Wrestling: A Texas Tradition Revisited
Professional wrestling has given its fans many unbelievable moments throughout the history of time. People have fond memories based on these events. Many can still tell you to this day where they were when the first Wrestlemania came on, or the moment when Hulk Hogan bodyslammed Andre the Giant. These are moments etched in time, and will be with us forever.
While wrestling in the 1980's was far different than the current product we have today, there was a sense of realism, a belief in the principle of good over evil, an innocence, if you will. Long before the term "Sports Entertainment" was coined, the wrestling business tried to sell itself as a legitimate sport. One promotion that did this as well, if not better, than all the others was Texas based World Class Championship Wrestling.
For those not familiar, WCCW was an organization run by former wrestler Fritz Von Erich. He built the company around his sons, who became virtual rock stars. In spite of being run out of a glorified pole barn, World Class at one time was the most syndicated television program in the world. An unbelievable number of tragedies would lead to the demise of this organization, but that's a totally different story.
World Class managed to create some of the greatest moments in professional wrestling history. In this article, we look at the Christmas Night supercard which ran at Reunion Arena in Dallas from 1982-1986.
"Big Time Wrestling" had been re-branded as World Class in 1982, with the intent to build a national, and then worldwide, wrestling company. The very first Christmas night event would be instrumental.
The event featured 8 matches that evening, and the crowd of over 18,000 fans would witness the beginning to what many still call the greatest feud in wrestling history. WCCW's Kerry Von Erich faced reigning NWA World Champion "Nature Boy" Ric Flair in the Main Event. This battle was to take place in a steel cage, and a special referee was named to oversee the contest. The man in charge that evening was "Freebird" Michael "P.S." Hayes. The match was a closely contested battle, and at one point Von Erich would be able to win, although Hayes had interjected on his behalf. Von Erich refused to win this way, which angered Hayes. He would end up slamming the cage door in Von Erich's face, which would ignite the legendary Freebirds vs. Von Erichs war.
The success of the initial Christmas day card would lead to the event becoming an annual affair. The 1983 version would draw an even larger audience than the previous year, with 19,765 in attendance. Once again, 8 bouts were featured, and the Von Erich-Freebird rivalry again took center stage. This time it was Mike and Kevin Von Erich defeating Freebirds Buddy Roberts and Terry Gordy. The stipulation was loser must leave the state of Texas for 1 year. After losing the match, Terry Gordy was banished from World Class competition.
Christmas day 1984 would again see a Von Erich in the main event, as Kerry once again challenged NWA World Champion Ric Flair. Kerry would win via Disqualification, and Flair would leave Texas as champion. Another matchup featured a tag team battle between The Midnight Express and the Fantastics. These two teams would feud for the better part of the 80's and into the early 90's. The crowd was still very good for this event, as over 17,000 paid to be in attendance.
The 1985 edition would be the biggest as far as the number of matches, but attendance was down considerably from years gone by. An estimated 14,000 showed up, which is still pretty good for Christmas day. Once again the Freebird-Von Erich battle would captivate the wrestling world, as Kerry, Kevin, and their fictitious "cousin," Lance Von Erich, would beat Terry Gordy, Michael Hayes, and Buddy Jack Roberts in a "Lights Out" match.This would be the last battle of these bitter enemies on Christmas day, and would be a sign of things to come.
1986 would be the final supercard, and a disappointing crowd of only 7,000 fans showed up. The card was not bad, but certainly no where near the expectations fans had from years before. A young man known as Dingo Warrior would battle Bob Bradley to a double disqualification. Dingo would later come to fame as The Ultimate Warrior in the WWF in the 1990's. The highlight was a Loser leaves Texas battle in which Abdullah The Butcher defeated Bruiser Brody. This would mark the end of an era.
World Class Championship Wrestling shaped the history of professional wrestling, not just in Texas, but worldwide. They ran many other mega events over the years, such as the "Parade of Champions" in Dallas Stadium and "Star Wars" at the Cotton Bowl , during the decade of the 1980's. While now just a footnote in the annals of history, WCCW was a major player, and it's many contributions will never be forgotten. Just imagine 19,000 fans attending an event on Christmas, long before the invention of Pay-Per-View or the Internet.
Hopefully this article will help some to remember, others to discover, and all to enjoy the historic significance of World Class Championship Wrestling. It certainly had done that for me.
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