Triumph and Tragedy of World Class Championship Wrestling DVD Review
In December 2007, WWE released the “Triumph and Tragedy of World Class Championship Wrestling” which is the story of the rise of a small promotion in Texas that was on the verge of making it big until one tragedy after another got in the way. WCCW being a smaller promotion that was ahead of its time in production values, in and out of ring storytelling, and the upcoming roster, goes to show what the little engine that could was really able to do when pinned against the wall by competition. In less than 2 hours, the documentary helps capture most of the spirit that was behind WCCW, and for longtime viewers like me it brought back a lot of memories.
The DVD opens up with the man himself, Fritz Von Erich and how he rose from a professional wrestler to promoter coming from a family where working hard was a part of the game. It was interesting that Fritz got into wrestling originally to make some money for his growing family, but more would he know that it would become his career. To a degree, they don’t come out and tell you that Fritz pushed his sons to the point that it really put a dent in their self confidence, but it is heavily implied throughout. Especially the video with Mike Von Erich says a lot in that clip. They are sitting at a press conference with Mike and the doctors having come out of the hospital, Fritz comes on camera starting to rant as to how Mike will be back in the ring 100% in no time. When I was young and I had seen this video, I didn’t think anything of it since at that time wrestling was just as real as Santa Claus to me. When I think back to today and watch this video, I think Fritz was a POS. On the flip side, Kevin does defend his dad throughout the DVD, and he did say that his dad never pushed the boys.
The deaths of each Von Erich are covered fairly well on this DVD and I was surprised at one point that it seemed like they were glancing over Chris Von Erich. They did cover him even though his time and role in WCCW was so minimal. I really liked that they covered Jack’s death at the beginning also, I had totally forgotten about that one that he was electrocuted at such a young age. I have to give credit to Kevin for being able to hold all this together having all his brothers and parents pass away, being the only one of his siblings still on this earth. Just looking at these events, Kevin must have been the straight headed kid of the bunch.
Then we come to the highlight of the DVD, the reason why I call it the highlight is that so much time was spent on this piece that I felt like I was watching a DVD solely on Freebirds – Von Erich’s feud. Yes, this feud was the hottest thing going on in wrestling at the time and it’s what put WCCW on the map. Everything about and around this feud was brilliant, and goes to show that a rivalry like this is what’s missing from today’s TNA and WWE landscapes. I literally was scared for the Von Erich’s that the Freebirds were going to kill them.
Enter Michael Hayes, Buddy Roberts, and Jimmy Garvin to start telling their side of the story about this legendary feud. I do feel that these three did dominate the DVD a little too much and I think much has to do with Michael Hayes being on the booking/writing team. At first I didn’t recognize Roberts and especially Garvin, they looked so different. These three covered every piece and aspect of the feud along with Kevin’s comments, but then we also hit the Fritz heart attack angle that went along with the Freebirds feud. To this day, nobody is still sure if it was real or fake.
Some disappointments with this DVD: why in the world is Triple-H on this DVD? He had nothing to do with WCCW, but even worse was his comments about hardcore wrestling. I was like WHAT! Where does WCCW and hardcore come into the same sentence. I’d like to find the guy that gave him the green light to make those comments on this DVD. Where is the Bruiser Brody’s stabbing in Puerto Rico? That was huge and still is to this day one of the most talked about incidents in wrestling history. How about “Gentleman” Chris Adams death which for some reason is never mentioned? Even more confusing for me about this whole DVD is that why wasn’t Eric Embry mentioned? In storyline theory, Eric ushered the USWA era and I wish they would have covered this a bit more.
While some of the players here were covered such as “Wild” Bill Irwin, Iceman King Parsons, Gino Hernandez, the Missing Link, Kamala, the Freebirds, what happened to coverage of Cactus Jack, Eric Embry, The Fantastics, The Midnight Express, etc?
While the Freebirds took up a good portion of the DVD, the real star here was Gary Hart. Gary Hart was throughout the entire DVD, and just listening to him talk was pure gold. I think out of anyone on this DVD, he was the most honest. I really enjoyed his bits about being the booker in WCCW + also being the top heel manager with General Skandor Akbar not too far behind. I think the moment that sticks out the most is Hart trying to talk about Gino Hernandez, because to this day it still breaks his heart that such a young talent passed at such a young age because of his addictions. Hart explains that he was also attached to Gino because he tried to help him overcome his demons only to lose him to them.
For those looking to pickup this DVD, I highly recommend it and one of the best produced DVD’s that the WWE has put out on the market to date. I look at this one to be just as informative as the AWA DVD, but more engaging to watch. There are a few issues with the DVD as I mentioned above, as there are plenty of missing pieces. Technically, I felt like this documentary was short by a good half hour. To fill those pieces in, I highly recommend purchasing the “Heroes of World Class Championship Wrestling” DVD which was released by Big Vision Entertainment. Both DVD’s will provide all the knowledge you need to know about WCCW and its legacy.