Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The Tragedy of the Von Erich Brothers

Former pro wrestling superstar Kerry Von Erich stood in the wings of the Sportatorium in Dallas, Texas, watching the night's matches unfold. It was February 12, 1993, and the man formerly known as the Texas Tornadao in the WWF (now WWE) found himself out of the national spotlight and back on the indie circuit with the Global Wrestling Federation.

Kerry Von Erich
As a member of the famous Von Erich clan of wrestlers, Kerry had achieved the greatest fame of all his brothers by signing and competing in the then World Wrestling Federation. From 1990 to 1992, he appeared on TV and at pay-per-views, even competing in Wrestlemania VII. But just as quickly as his star began to rise, he run ended. The WWF /WWE regulated him to a jobber, the wrestler who goes out week after week and loses to bigger-named stars. He asked for and was granted his release in 1992.

He returned to Dallas, Texas and the GWF, quickly winning and then losing the USWF Texas Heavyweight Championship. Nothing seemed to be going right for him. On the evening of February 12, he entered the ring for a tag team match, teaming with 'Gentleman' Chris Adams against Johnny Martel and Black Bart. The match was uneventful and Von Erich found himself having a hard time focusing. There was too much on his mind from his personal life. Drug charges, a marriage falling apart, his career flailing. The match ended in the pre-determined disqualification of Von Erich and Adams.

After the match Von Erich fled back to his father's ranch in Denton. Back in 1986 he had lost a foot during a motorcycle accident and had become addicted to pain killers. On February 17, he was indicted on drug charges for a forged prescription and was facing jail time.

The next day, on February 18, 1993, Kerry Von Erich committed suicide by shooting himself in the chest with a magnum revolver.

He was the fifth of six children to die before the age of 35:

  • First-born son Jack Jr. died in 1960 at the age of 6, when he was accidentally electrocuted. 
  • David Von Erich was a rising star in pro wrestling, when he overdosed on drugs while on tour in Japan, on February 10, 1984. 
  • Mike Von Erich had no real interest in being a wrestler, but was forced into the ring nonetheless by the family patriarch, Fritz Von Erich. While on tour in Israel, he suffered a shoulder injury and developed Toxic Shock Syndrome after his surgery. Never able to regain full strength, he retired from wrestling and committed suicide by overdosing on tranquilizers on April 12, 1987. 
  • Chris Von Erich was the youngest, smallest, and least athletic of the Von Erich brothers, but he had the most desire to become a pro wrestler. Despite years of trying, his career never took off. Severe depression set in and on September 12, 1991, he committed suicide with a gunshot wound to the chest.

The Von Erich wrestling clan. From left: Kerry, Fritz,
Kevin, Chris (front), Mike, and David.
Source: Wikipedia
After Kerry Von Erich's death in 1993, only second-oldest son Kevin Von Erich remained. He retired from the ring in 1993 and moved to Hawaii.

Fritz Von Erich lived into his late 60's until September 10, 1997, when he finally succumbed to lung cancer that had spread to his brain.


3 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. A sad story about this family. The children of Kerry and Kevin are starting wrestling careers. Here's oping the Von Erich curse is finally broken.

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  2. Kerry actually drove his Jeep over a high cliff as he shot himself in the chest...I guess he wanted to make sure he didn't mess up.

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