82. KERRY VON ERICH
Real Name – Kerry Gene Adkisson
Aliases – Texas Tornado; Modern Day Warrior
Debuted – 1979
Titles Held – NWA World Heavyweight; WWE Intercontinental; WCCW American Heavyweight; WCCW Six Man Tag
Other Accomplishments – died on 18th February 1993 from self-inflicted gunshot wound to the chest; wrestled on a fused ankle for many years after a motorcycle accident in 1986; PWI Match of the Year against Ric Flair (1984); Wrestling Observer Feud of the Year – Von Erichs vs. The Fabulous Freebirds (1983, 1984); Wrestling Observer Match of the Year – Kerry, Kevin, and Mike Von Erich vs. The Fabulous Freebirds (1984)
One of the most tragic stories in the history of wrestling is that of the Von Erichs. Fritz Von Erich, a native of Texas did not play up his American roots like many stars in the history of wrestling. Instead he played upon his German Ancestry and became one of the most hated heels in the country. Despite his heel career as a wrestler, he was the patriarch of one of the most dominant families of wrestlers in history. They dominated the Texas region and arguably their brightest star was Kerry.
Kerry Von Erich got his first chance to shine in the face of tragedy. Older brother David passed away and at the tender age of 25 of gastroenteritis. In response the NWA held the David Von Erich Parade of Champions in 1984. In the main event Kerry defeated NWA champion Ric Flair to become NWA Champion. Although this was certainly the highpoint of his career, he would be champion for just under three weeks. He had the third shortest title reign in NWA history, although he did lose in controversial fashion with his foot on the bottom rope.
He had his greatest consistent success in World Class Championship Wrestling, which was the Texas territory run by his father Fritz. He and his brothers, Mike and Kevin had an almost two year feud with the Fabulous Freebirds comprised of Michael P.S. Hayes, Terry “Bam-BamÃ¢â‚¬Â Gordy, and Buddy Roberts. They had some absolutely violent wars and tore up the South with their six man matches.
Tragedy struck again for Kerry in 1986 when a motorcycle accident left him severely injured. He attempted to walk too soon after dislocating his hip destroying the bones in his foot. The damage was so severe that it needed to be amputated. He hid this fact from nearly everyone and went on to have a classic bloodbath against Jerry Lawler for the AWA title. It was not long before the WWF would come calling.
Kerry Von Erich made his debut in the summer of 1990 and was immediately one of the most popular athletes. He entered into a feud with Mr. Perfect over his newly won Intercontinental Title filling in for Brutus Beefcake who had just had the parasailing accident that would change his career. Kerry won the Intercontinental Title from Mr. Perfect at Summerslam that year which was also only his fourth televised match with the company. He subdued the Perfect One with his patented Von Erich Claw Hold and then the Texas Tornado Discuss Punch. This was before the days of the twisting shooting star senton or Tilt-a-whirl powerbomb would only net two counts. It was a simpler time when squeezing someone’s forehead, spinning around and punching them in the face was more than enough to score a victory. Much like his NWA Title reign, his tenure as IC champ would be short lived as he dropped the title back to Mr. Perfect after only a few months.
He would stay in the WWF for another 18 months before heading back to familiar territory. This time it was the Global Wrestling Federation in Texas. Sadly, this would be where he would the story would end for Kerry. After the tragic loss of his brothers David, Mike, and Chris, Kerry took his own life in February of 1993.
Kerry had the most success of any of the Von Erichs, but he could not escape the personal demons that haunted his family. He was one of the most popular wrestlers of the 1980s and early 1990s, and truly deserves his spot as one of the top 100 wrestlers since 1980.
The entire Top 100 Wrestlers Feature can be found here.