All the hoopla surrounding the Dallas Cowboys' final game at Texas Stadium Saturday night got me to thinking about pro wrestling's significant place in the stadium's storied history.
Most people will think of Emmitt Smith, Roger Staubach, Tony Dorsett, Troy Aikman and other former Cowboys greats when reflecting on the stadium – and rightfully so. But on the afternoon of May 6, 1984, Texas Stadium was at the center of the wrestling universe.
One of the biggest events of the wrestling territories era – World Class Championship Wrestling's David Von Erich Memorial Parade of Champions – was held there that day. In the main event, Kerry Von Erich defeated Ric Flair to win the NWA world heavyweight title before a crowd of more than 30,000 (some sources list the attendance as more than 40,000).
WCCW made the Parade of Champions an annual event at Texas Stadium through 1988, although none of the shows were as memorable or well-attended as the first one.
In 1984, WCCW was among a number of wrestling territories that were thriving, and one of the few that had a national presence, thanks to its syndicated television show. WCCW owner and former wrestler Fritz Von Erich built the promotion around three of his sons (Kevin, David and Kerry), who were treated like rock stars in Dallas, especially Kerry.
David Von Erich, considered the best wrestler of the three, reportedly was being groomed to win the NWA world championship, which at that time was regarded as the most prestigious title in the business. The wrestling word was stunned, however, when Von Erich, 25, died while on a tour of Japan in February 1984. The official cause of death was a heart attack that stemmed from ruptured intestines.
Three months later, the big tribute show was held at Texas Stadium. There really couldn't have been any other finish than Kerry Von Erich winning the title in honor of his older brother, thus providing a happy ending to an emotional day that had many in the crowd in tears. As has been well-documented, there wouldn't be any more happy endings for the Von Erich family.