clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

This Day in Wrestling History (Feb. 10): David Von Erich Passes Away

Today’s TDIPWH will be presented in two parts. The second part will focus on the career and life of Curt Hennig, who died 14 years ago today.

this day in wrestling history

38 years ago today in Chicago, Illinois, Giant Baba defeated Abdullah the Butcher to win the PWF Heavyweight Championship.

33 years ago today in Tokyo, Japan, David Alan Adkisson, best known to wrestling fans as "The Yellow Rose of Texas" David Von Erich, dies while on tour with All Japan Pro Wrestling. He was just 25.

Born July 22, 1958 in Dallas, Texas, David was an avid fisherman and hunter as a child, and enjoyed hunting with his brothers Kevin and Kerry and father Fritz. David also enjoyed raising horses, a hobby that turned into quite the profitable business away from the ring. David was a two-sport star at Lake Dallas High School and gained a scholarship to North Texas State University, but dropped out to join the other family business: professional wrestling.

David began wrestling in June 1977; just two months in, he went to a thirty-minute draw with Harley Race for the NWA World Heavyweight Championship. David was considered a future star primarily for his memorable promos and interviews (his natural fiery temper played a hand in that). David would be well traveled over the next few years. In May 1979, he defeated Harley Race in Missouri in a non-title match. He wrestled one match for the WWF in November 1979, then after briefly returning to Texas, wrestled in Florida under the guidance of James J. Dillon, whose stable included Kendo Nagasaki and Jimmy Garvin. During his brief time there, he was mentored by Dory Funk, Jr., and often teamed with him or Dory's brother Terry.

David returned to Texas in 1982 with Jimmy Garvin, and the two would create one of the hotter angles in World Class Championship Wrestling History. The angle culminated on July 4, 1983 when David won the WCCW Texas State Championship. The win forced Garvin and his valet Sunshine to serve as valets for David for a day. The two would go their separate ways following the feud; Garvin would feud with Chris Adams, while David joined the rest of the Von Erichs in the blood feud with the Freebirds.

It was David that invited the Fabulous Freebirds to WCCW in the fall of 1982. Michael Hayes and Terry Gordy made the trip initially, but Buddy Roberts did not. Initially booked as faces, the group turned heel when Michael Hayes turned on Kerry Von Erich after gift-wrapping the NWA world title, then Terry Gordy slammed the cage door as Kerry tried to leave the cage. David would be a part of many notable Freebirds vs. Von Erichs bouts, including a handcuff match against Terry Gordy in April 1983, a six-man tag bout at Star Wars in July 1983, and defeating Gordy for the NWA United National Championship in February 3, 1984.

During that time, he also feuded with Ric Flair, whom he defeated for the NWA Missouri Heavyweight Championship in September 1983; the reign was seen as a stepping stone to him winning the NWA world title the following spring. After Flair made some dismissive comments about David's brother Mike's wrestling ability, David proposed that Mike could last ten minutes with Flair. If Mike failed, David could never again challenge for the NWA world title; if Mike succeeded, David would get a shot at Ric on his own terms, naming the time, place, and stipulations for the bout. On January 30, 1984, Flair failed to defeat Mike in the 10 minutes, giving David his NWA world title shot.

The match, scheduled for April, would never happen. While on tour with All Japan Wrestling, David was found dead in his hotel room in Tokyo. In the days leading up to his death, David was taken to the emergency room at Spohn Hospital in Corpus Christi, Texas after he had complained of dizziness and flu-like symptoms. The official cause of death was never determined.

Many, including Ric Flair, suggested that a drug overdose led to his demise and David's friend Bruiser Brody removed the evidence, flushing the drugs down a toilet to protect the family name. Bill Irwin, who was on the same tour with David, disputes the claim. The Von Erichs themselves said it was a heart attack caused by ruptured intestines resulting from acute enteritis, a theory supported by Kevin Von Erich and former World Class referee David Manning. At the time of his death, David was survived by his wife Tricia. She was interviewed about the tragedy in the June 1984 edition of The Wrestler magazine, but has largely been out of the public eye since.

On May 6, David's brother Kerry (whom tragedy would fall upon nearly a decade later) would win the NWA World Heavyweight Championship from Ric Flair in Texas Stadium. Kerry wore a robe memorializing David, but would not wear it again after losing the title eighteen days later.

27 years ago today, All Japan Pro Wrestling and New Japan Pro Wrestling co-promoted Super Fight from the Tokyo Dome in Tokyo, Japan. Nearly 64,000 fans were in attendance for the event.

  • Takayuki Iizuka defeated Osamu Matsuda.
  • Naoki Sano & Pegasus Kid defeated Akira Nogami & Jushin Thunder Liger.
  • Blond Outlaws (Hiro Saito, Norio Honaga, and Tatsutoshi Goto) defeated Hiroshi Hase, Kantaro Hoshino, and Kuniaki Kobayashi.
  • Brad Rheingans defeated Victor Zangiev.
  • Steve Williams defeated Salman Hashimikov.
  • Masa Saito defeated Larry Zbyszko to win the AWA World Heavyweight Championship.
  • Jumbo Tsuruta & Yoshiaki Yatsu defeated Kengo Kimura & Osamu Kido.
  • Genichiro Tenryu & Tiger Mask defeated George Takano & Riki Choshu by countout.
  • Big Van Vader and. Stan Hansen fought to a double countout for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship.
  • Koji Kitao defeated Crusher Bam Bam Bigelow.
  • Antonio Inoki & Seiji Sakaguchi defeated Masahiro Chono & Shinya Hashimoto. Lou Thesz was the special referee.

24 years ago today in Dortmund, Germany, Bret Hart defeated Ric Flair via submission to retain the WWF Championship.

It would be Flair’s final match with the WWF. Flair came to the WWF with a lot of fanfare and controversy in August 1991 as the reigning NWA World Heavyweight Champion and in possession of the promotion’s belt. That got the WWF in hot water as they were not permitted to show the belt on their programming.

Flair’s biggest win came in January 1992 when he was the last survivor of thirty in the annual Royal Rumble match to win the then-vacated WWF Championship. He would lose the title just two and a half months later at Wrestlemania VIII to Macho Man Randy Savage. Flair would win the title back for a second time in September, but would lose it just six weeks later to Bret Hart. With the WWF looking to get younger and Flair growing dissatisfied with his place in the company, the two sides agreed it would be in Flair’s best interest to return to WCW.

Due to a no-compete clause, Flair could not wrestle again until June 1993 when he wrestled at Clash of the Champions XXIII. Flair would wrestle again for the WWF, but not until the 2002 Royal Rumble, just about a year after the WWF bought WCW.

11 years ago today, Strikeforce held its debut event, Strikeforce: Shamrock vs. Gracie, at the HP Pavilion in San Jose, California. The first officially sanctioned MMA event in California had 18,265 were in attendance, at the time the largest attendance for any MMA event in North America (the record is currently held by UFC 129, taking place in April 2011 in Toronto; 55,724 were in attendance for that show).

Among the participants were ex-WWE competitor Daniel Puder (defeating Jesse Fujarczyk by submission), future Ultimate Fighter winner Nate Diaz (TKOing Tony Juarez) and Ken Shamrock's brother Frank Shamrock knocking out Cesar Gracie in just 21 seconds.

Originally founded as a kickboxing promotion in 1985, Strikeforce would eventually rise to the second biggest MMA organization in the world, behind the Ultimate Fighting Championship. In March 2011, Strikeforce would be bought by Zuffa, LLC, the then-parent company of the UFC. It would run as an independent promotion until closing in January 2013. Perhaps their biggest fighter acquisition post-sale would be Ronda Rousey, who would go on to be one of UFC’s biggest stars.

11 years ago today, Wrestling Society X tapes its pilot episode for MTV.

The show, produced by Big Vision Entertainment (the company that would put together Xtreme Pro Wrestling's one-night only reunion a couple years later), was presented as a secret society of wrestlers that fought in an underground fight club where not only anything goes, most anything was legal.

Its unorthodox presentation included musical guests, plants, special effects, and camera shaking when a wrestler came in contact with an electrical weapon. In addition, a musical guest performed at the beginning of the show and would join in on commentary for the remainder of the show.

Wrestlers who worked the pilot episode had to sign an agreement stating that they would commit to a full season should the show be picked up; notably, Hunter “Delirious” Johnson refused to sign the agreement, as it would have prevented him from signing with TNA (ultimately, he was not picked up by TNA).

The show would indeed be picked up by MTV in the summer, and the remainder of its only season would be taped over a one-week period that November.

  • In a WSX Xtra match, Human Tornado defeated Luke Hawx and Puma in a three-way match.
  • Jack Evans defeated Matt Sydal.
  • 6-Pac and Vampiro co-won the WSX Rumble, earning the right to challenge for the WSX Championship on the next episode. The match was conducted like a Royal Rumble match, with two men starting and new entrants added at 45 second intervals. Once all the participants entered the match, the first two men to retrieve one of two contracts from high above the ring (via a ladder, obviously) would earn the title shot. Other participants (in alphabetical order) were Alkatrazz, Chris Hamrick, Justin Credible, Kid Kaos, New Jack, Puma, Teddy Hart, and Youth Suicide. Hamrick, Credible, and New Jack would not appear for WSX when the show got picked up.

9 years ago today, TNA presented Against All Odds from the BI-LO Center in Greenville, South Carolina.

It was the only time the event was held outside of the Impact Zone in Orlando. Also in an interesting bit of trivia, Awesome Kong and Scott Steiner faced the same opponents again in the 2009 event, with the same outcome.

  • In a dark match, Consequences Creed & Sonjay Dutt defeated The Rock 'n Rave Infection (Jimmy Rave & Lance Hoyt).
  • AJ Styles & Tomko defeated BG James & Bob Armstrong to retain the TNA World Tag Team Championship.
  • Traci Brooks defeated Payton Banks.
  • Scott Steiner defeated Petey Williams in a Feast Or Fired Briefcase match.
  • Eric Young defeated James Storm.
  • Awesome Kong defeated ODB to retain the TNA Knockouts Championship.
  • Abyss defeated Judas Mesias in a Barbed Wire Massacre match.
  • Booker T and Robert Roode fought to a double countout.
  • Jay Lethal & Motor City Machine Guns (Alex Shelley & Chris Sabin) defeated Johnny Devine & Team 3D (Brother Devon & Brother Ray) in a six-man tag team street fight. As a result of the win, Jay Lethal won the X-Division Championship.
  • Kurt Angle defeated Christian Cage to retain the TNA World Heavyweight Championship. Samoa Joe was the special enforcer.

8 years ago today, TNA releases Petey Williams and Lance Hoyt.

Williams would spend most of his final wrestling years on the independent circuit, though he made appearances for Ring of Honor and Lucha Libre USA. Williams had sporadic appearances for TNA in 2013 and 2014. Williams retired from wrestling in July 2014.

After a brief stint in WWE as Vance Archer, Hoyt has spent the last seven years wrestling mostly for New Japan Pro Wrestling and Pro Wrestling Noah.

4 years ago today, New Japan Pro Wrestling presented The New Beginning from Hiroshima Sun Plaza Hall in Hiroshima, Japan.

  • Jushin Thunder Liger, Manabu Nakanishi, Tama Tonga, Tiger Mask and Yuji Nagata defeated Chaos (Jado, Takashi Iizuka, Tomohiro Ishii, Toru Yano and Yoshi-Hashi)
  • Time Splitters (Alex Shelley and Kushida) defeated Forever Hooligans (Alex Koslov and Rocky Romero) to retain the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship.
  • Prince Devitt defeated Ryusuke Taguchi to retain the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship.
  • Killer Elite Squad (Davey Boy Smith Jr. and Lance Archer) defeated Tencozy (Hiroyoshi Tenzan and Satoshi Kojima) to retain the IWGP Tag Team Championship.
  • Togi Makabe defeated Yujiro Takahashi.
  • Laughter7 (Katsuyori Shibata and Kazushi Sakuraba) defeated Hirooki Goto and Wataru Inoue.
  • Shinsuke Nakamura defeated Kengo Mashimo.
  • Minoru Suzuki defeated Kazuchika Okada.
  • Hiroshi Tanahashi defeated Karl Anderson to retain the IWGP Heavyweight Championship.

Today would have been the 46th birthday of Louis Mucciolo, Jr., but wrestling fans knew him best as Louie Spicolli.

Born in San Pedro, California, Mucciolo trained under Bill Anderson after the two met at a wrestling show in the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena. He debuted in the WWF in 1988 at just age 17 under the ring name Louie Spicolli and work squash matches until 1995.

He also spent some time in Mexico, spending three years there. Two of those three years, Louie, Tim Patterson, and Bill Anderson formed a stable known as Los Mercenarios Americanos (The American Mercenaries). The masked rudos feuded with the Villano family. The feud ended with the Mercernarios unmasking in July 1991. The trio disbanded in 1992.

Spicolli spent some time on the independent circuit in the United States, including the Herb Abrams' version of the UWF, the Interwest Wrestling Federation out of Arizona, and Smoky Mountain Wrestling. He also made several appearances for Frontier Martial-Arts Wrestling, but was fired from the company after throwing a bottle of urine out of a bus window.

In 1994, he returned to Mexico and joined AAA. He was a part of the heel Los Gringos Locos stable with Eddie Guerrero, Konnan, and Art Barr. Spicolli, known as Madonna's Boyfriend, competed in a six-man tag team match at When Worlds Collide in November 1994, the only AAA PPV ever held in the United States. The exposure led Spicolli back to the big leagues.

Louie returned to the WWF in 1995 as grunge fan Rad Radford, whose gimmick in part was he was the alleged boyfriend of Courtney Love. He had a brief feud with--then joined with The Bodydonnas. He was kicked out of the group due to his poorly toned physique. He rarely scored a significant win before being released in 1996 after he was found unconscious by a neighbor after he overdosed on Soma pills. After being released from intensive care, the WWF released him on the condition that he could not work in rival WCW for a year.

Spicolli struggled with depression and drug abuse during his brief run in ECW in 1996. Intially debuting as a face, he turned heel and feuded with Tommy Dreamer. After it was discovered he was negotiating with both WWF and WCW undercover, Paul Heyman fired him.

Spicolli would split time with trainer Bill Anderson's Empire Wrestling Federation before signing with WCW in late 1997. He would serve as a lackey for the nWo, specifically Scott Hall in his feud with Larry Zbyszko. Spicolli and Zbyszko were set to face off at Superbrawl VIII, but the bout never took place.

Spicolli had stopped using drugs for a time, but relapsed when he found out that his mother was terminally ill with cancer. Louis overdosed on Soma and wine, choking on his own vomit in his sleep. He was found dead in his Los Angeles home on February 15, 1998, just five days after his 27th birthday. LA County investigators found an empty vial of male hormone testosterone, pain pills, and an anxiety-reducing drug.

Today would have been the 62nd birthday of Christopher Adams, or simply Chris Adams.

Born in Rugby, England, Adams devoted his early life to judo, first training at age nine. A black belt in judo, he and his younger brother Neil won national and world championships, and both brothers were on the Olympic team (Chris in 1976, Neil in 1980 and 1984, winning silver medals both times).

With no formal training, he began his pro wrestling career in 1978, working for Joint Promotions and wrestled frequently on ITV's World of Sport. Adams was pretty successful, winning the British Commonwealth tag team and light heavyweight championships, and competed with and against famed Brits Dynamite Kid, Fit Finlay, Davey Boy Smith, "Big Daddy" Shirley Crabtree, Adrian Street, and Tony "Banger" Walsh, who would become one of his closest friends.

He moved to Los Angeles in 1981, and after initially wrestling barefoot, he used the more traditional armpads, kneepads, and boots. He wrestled primarily for promoters Mike and Gene LeBell and again found success, winning the NWA Americas singles and tag team championships in 1982.

His experience and athleticism (he was among the first in America to use the enzugiri head kick and superkick finisher) got him a look from World Class Championship Wrestling promoter Fritz Von Erich, and Chris would join them in April 1983. First arriving as the "pen pal of Kevin Von Erich", Chris would win his first 11 bouts before losing to Kamala in June. He would team often with the Von Erichs in six- and eight-man tag bouts against the Fabulous Freebirds before turning his attention to Jimmy Garvin. Disguising himself as "The Masked Avenger", he defeated Garvin to win a shot at the NWA American Heavyweight Championship, a title he would go on to win on Thanksgiving. The two would feud well into 1984, finally defeating him for good in a loser leaves town match on July 4. It was a write off, as Adams was competing in the Summer Olympics.

After returning from the Olympics in August, Adams hired manager Gary Hart and turned heel and would feud with his old "pen pal" Kevin. After a tag match in October 1984, Adams was offered forgiveness if he fired Gary Hart. Instead, he concussed Kevin with a wooden chair (the chair actually broke in half by accident). Kevin returned the favor a month later, again with the chair breaking in half accidentally. Some of the broken wood nearly got in Adams' eye.

Adams would fire Hart in early 1985 and would be in a number of high profile feuds. During that year, he had Ric Flair beat for the NWA World Heavyweight Championship twice, but was unable to capture the title. Adams with Gino Hernandez would feud with the Von Erichs, ultimately resulting in Chris and Gino losing their hair. The duo would turn on one another and engage in a feud with each other. The feud resulted in Adams being (kayfabe) blinded by Hernandez with some hair cream during a January 1986 bout.

The incident allowed Adams time to visit family in his native England and tour Japan; however, the feud would not continue as Hernandez was found dead from a cocaine overdose on February 4. Though Adams was questioned in the death, he was not considered a suspect and Hernandez's death was ruled a suicide. Chris would return to Texas All-Star Wrestling and WCCW in April and feuded with Rick Rude, ultimately winning the World Class world title on the 4th of July, just days after an intoxicated Adams headbutted an airline pilot. Adams would hold the title until leaving the company in September due to legal troubles (the headbutt ultimately landed him in jail for three months), and a phantom title change had to be created.

Adams would compete for the UWF in late 1986 and 1987 before returning to WCCW in 1988. He would begin operating his own wrestling school in late 1988, and feud with one of his students, Steve Austin, who would wrestle at the Dallas Sportatorium less than six months after debuting. Adams would compete in a number of independents following WCCW's demise in 1990, including the Global Wrestling Federation, USWA, American Wrestling Federation, and Jim Crockett's version of the NWA in 1995. He also competed in two years for WCW before being released in 1999.

Adams was married three times, first to Jeannie "Lady Blossom" Clark (they had one daughter, Jade, who would later be adopted by Clark's second husband Steve Austin), then to Toni Collins (they had one child together, Christopher Jr.) from 1984 to 1994 (Collins died in 2010), and a third time for just six weeks prior to his death. Adams fathered another daughter, Julia, from another relationship that lasted from 1994 to 1999 (Julia’s daughter, Brandi Freeman, died of a drug overdose in 2003).

Adams nearly died of a drug and alcohol overdose in 2000 (his girlfriend at the time sadly died of said overdose within ten hours of being found in their apartment). He would be indicted on manslaughter charges.

While awaiting trial, on October 7, 2001, Adams was fatally shot in his home during a drunken brawl with a friend. The friend claimed self-defense and was ultimately acquitted of all charges. Prior to his death, Chris was considering moving to Florida to compete for the short-lived X Wrestling Federation. He was also in the planning stages of producing a wrestling documentary with Gary Hart, Bill Mercer, and Mickey Grant, and it was to feature footage from wrestling matches dating back to the 1930s.

A documentary was produced about Adams in 2008 called The Gentleman's Choice featuring many friends and family of Adams. In 2011, Adams' first daughter Jade, his youngest Julia, and son Chris Jr. launched a memorial site in his honor.

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the Cageside Seats Daily Roundup newsletter!

A daily roundup of all your pro wrestling news from Cageside Seats