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Kevin Von Erich

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Kevin Von Erich
Von Erich in 1983
Birth nameKevin Ross Adkisson
Born (1957-05-15) May 15, 1957 (age 67)
Belleville, Illinois, U.S.
Pam Adkisson
(m. 1980)
Children4 (including Marshall and Ross Von Erich)
FamilyVon Erich
Professional wrestling career
Ring name(s)Kevin Von Erich
Billed height6 ft 2 in (188 cm)[1]
Billed weight235 lb (107 kg)[1]
Billed fromDenton, Texas
Trained byFritz Von Erich
RetiredJuly 17, 2017

Kevin Ross Adkisson (born May 15, 1957) is an American retired professional wrestler, better known by his ring name, Kevin Von Erich. A member of the Von Erich family, Von Erich is best known for his appearances with his father's World Class Championship Wrestling promotion.[2] He is a former world champion, having once held the WCWA World Heavyweight Championship.

Football career[edit]

Adkisson played football at North Texas State University as a fullback until an injury ended his football career and dream of playing in the National Football League.

Professional wrestling career[edit]

World Class Championship Wrestling (1976–1990)[edit]

Early career (1976–1981)[edit]

Adkisson in 1977

Adkisson started wrestling as Kevin Von Erich in 1976. He spent most of his career wrestling for his father's promotion, World Class Championship Wrestling. Kevin's natural athletic ability and good looks made him one of the promotion's biggest stars. He achieved great success in the company both as a singles and tag team wrestler, often participating in many of the company's high-profile feuds. Kevin was also known for wrestling barefoot, highly unusual in a sport where almost all wrestlers wear high-topped boots. World Class announcers often jokingly referred to him as "The Barefoot Boy" on WCCW broadcasts. Kevin later admitted in an interview that he never set out to wrestle barefoot, but that before one of his matches someone hid his boots as a joke, and he wasn't able to find them before his match, so he just went out barefoot to wrestle, and it later became his trademark. Contrary to popular belief, he wore boots in matches in his early career, including his debut match against Paul Perschmann and in a match against "Superfly" Jimmy Snuka. Kevin was a big fan of Snuka's, who also wrestled barefoot, and Kevin often performed a move similar to Snuka's flying body splash from the top rope, which Snuka called the Superfly.

During the late-1970s, Kevin established himself in the Dallas territory. His first major success came in 1978 while wrestling as a tag team with his younger brother David. During the year, they captured the NWA Texas Tag Team Championship on two occasions as well as the NWA American Tag Team Championship. On Christmas Day 1978, he established himself firmly in the singles ranks of the promotion by defeating Bruiser Brody for the NWA American Heavyweight Championship. In 1980, Kevin Von Erich made his only wrestling appearance in the WWF on January 21 against Johnny Rodz, in a match he won. As the 1980s dawned, Kevin became one of the promotion's most viable performers and continued to win numerous championships in both singles and tag team competition with a variety of different partners. However, his highest profile partners would always be his brothers Kerry and David. As the early-1980s progressed, Kevin would appear often at other NWA-promoted territories, including St. Louis, Georgia Championship Wrestling and briefly Florida Championship Wrestling. Kevin also competed in a few matches for the World Wrestling Federation.

Freebird-Von Erich Feud (1982–1984)[edit]

In early 1982, the Fabulous Freebirds, consisting of Michael Hayes, Terry Gordy and Buddy Roberts, left Georgia Championship Wrestling after meeting WCCW booker Gary Hart at a show. Appearing in World Class, the trio instantly became fan favorites due to a combination of their unique talents and chemistry as well as their close friendship with the Von Erichs. All three rose quickly through the ranks and in late November 1982, Hayes and Gordy defeated the team of King Kong Bundy and Wild Bill Irwin for the NWA American Tag Team Championship.

A feud between the Von Erichs and Freebirds developed roughly a month later. During WCCW's annual Christmas show in 1982, Kerry Von Erich faced Ric Flair for the NWA World Heavyweight Championship inside of a steel cage with Michael Hayes acting as a special referee. As explained in The Triumph and Tragedy of World Class Championship Wrestling DVD, the storyline, developed by Gary Hart, was written as Hayes having been selected by fans to be a special enforcer type of referee in the match. Near the end of the match, Flair shoved Hayes, which resulted in Hayes punching him. Hayes then tried to place Kerry on top of Flair to make the three count. Von Erich refused to do so since it wasn't the "Texas thing to do", which led to a brief shoving match and argument between the two. Hayes, disgusted with the situation, told Terry Gordy, who had been assigned as the gatekeeper, to open the cage door. As Hayes is about to leave Von Erich was attacked from behind by Ric Flair, with the former accidentally hitting Hayes and knocking him out of the cage. The angle was written as having neither Hayes nor Gordy being aware that Kerry was shoved into Hayes. As Kerry was getting to his feet inside the ring, that was the signal for Gordy to slam the cage door shut, hitting Kerry on the head and costing him the championship.

The Freebirds immediately became the top heels in the company, due to the belief of many fans that their actions cost one of their local heroes the NWA World Heavyweight Championship. As the feud was building, the WCCW television broadcasts were syndicated to television stations all across the United States, giving the promotion millions of viewers each week in the U.S. alone. This changed the face of wrestling and how it was marketed and presented to audiences. The extremely physical nature of the matches between the two factions captivated fans, changing preconceptions about what professional wrestling was and could be. Throughout the next several years, the Freebirds and Von Erichs engaged in numerous high-profile matches that were very physical in nature with the various members of each group feuding over various championships within the promotion. The feud is seen today by many fans and wrestling industry insiders as one of the best worked and most memorable feuds in the history of professional wrestling. This line of drama ended, when Kevin's brother David von Erich, died in Japan from acute enteritis of the upper intestine. This broke up the symmetry of the wrestling rivalry, though eventually the remaining brothers went on to wrestle individually, with varying degrees of success.

Feuds with Chris Adams and Ric Flair (1985–1990)[edit]

Von Erich alongside fellow Texan wrestler Terry Funk, circa April 1985.

Kevin also had a long feud with Chris Adams that lasted for months and had many violent matches, including two well-known chair shots on each other that required hospitalization for both men. Kevin would also tag-team with Adams on numerous occasions before and after their feud. Away from the ring, Kevin and Chris were close friends; Kevin served as a pallbearer during Adams' funeral in 2001 and traveled to England to visit Adams' family afterwards. In recent interviews, Kevin stated that Adams was the toughest wrestler he's ever wrestled in his career and he showed a great amount of respect for the British-born wrestler. Kevin had several close matches with NWA World Champ Ric Flair, including the main event of the 2nd David Von Erich Memorial Parade of Champions at Texas Stadium, but never won the title.

Folding of WCCW and United States Wrestling Association (1989–1990)[edit]

After the failure of SuperClash III, in 1989, Kevin became very despondent over his father's decision to sell the promotion to Jerry Jarrett, who owned the Memphis-based CWA, despite his brother Kerry welcoming Jarrett into the mix; the merged promotions became the USWA. However, because of disputes, including suing Jarrett himself, he pulled WCCW out of the USWA in 1990, but he couldn't resurrect the promotion his father built and had no choice but shut down World Class that November. Kevin did manage to draw crowds to the Sportatorium in the early going, but with the absence of his brother, manager/booker Gary Hart, and the lack of televised matches, World Class' survival was very thin. During that time, Kevin competed very little; other than wrestling in other independent cards promoted by either himself, Chris Adams or Gary Hart. Kevin did not participate at all in the August 4, 1989 card in which World Class formally became USWA Texas, while brother Kerry, who competed on the card earlier, reportedly left the Sportatorium shortly after his match. Kevin however did help out a young Steve Austin increase his abilities in the ring during this time, and considers Austin as one of his friends to this day.

World Wrestling Federation (1991)[edit]

Sixteen months after his brother joined the World Wrestling Federation, Kevin wrestled in a dark match on December 2, 1991, at a Wrestling Challenge taping in Corpus Christi, TX where he faced and defeated Brian Lee.[3]

Later career (1991–1995)[edit]

Von Erich competed in Mexico's Consejo Mundial de Lucha Libre in 1991. On April 2, 1993, he teamed up with Chris Adams to defeat Fabulous Freebirds' Michael Hayes and Buddy Roberts at Global Wrestling Federation's Adkisson Benefit Show at the Sportatorium. Kevin's last round of glory occurred on January 7, 1995, while competing for Jim Crockett, Jr.'s NWA promotion based at the Sportatorium; where he won the North American heavyweight title defeating Greg Valentine. A week later he dropped the title to John Hawk. He then formed a very brief alliance with manager Skandor Akbar. Kevin eventually cut back on his ring appearances and formally retired by the end of 1995.


On October 3, 2005, Kevin made an appearance on the WWE Raw Homecoming show alongside other WWE Hall of Famers. Later that night, as Dusty Rhodes and the WWE Hall of Famers were gathered in the ring, Rob Conway came out and interrupted Rhodes. This eventually led to Conway's beatdown by several Hall of Famers, in which Kevin used the legendary Iron Claw on Conway, to the raves of the partisan Dallas, Texas crowd. Jim Ross said afterwards that he never thought he would live to see the Iron Claw again. On January 20, 2006, Kevin and his son Ross Adkisson (billed as Ross Von Erich) appeared on a local wrestling card in Longview, Texas as guests of Roddy Piper's Piper's Pit. During the segment, in which Kevin and Piper talked about going to the Sportatorium as teenagers, Skandor Akbar interrupted the interview to berate both Kevin and Ross. At one point, Akbar pushed Ross, which prompted Kevin to apply the Iron Claw on Akbar. Greg Valentine then pulled Akbar away, with Kevin, Ross, Piper and The Grappler taking in the cheers of the crowd. In 2006, Kevin, and a number of others from World Class Championship Wrestling's heyday, participated in Heroes of World Class Wrestling, an independently produced retrospective documentary about the promotion and the Von Erich family.[4] The documentary featured comments from Adkisson, Gary Hart, Skandor Akbar, Bill Mercer, Mickey Grant, David Manning, Marc Lowrance and via earlier interviews, Chris Adams.

Von Erich at the 2009 WWE Hall of Fame induction ceremony

Later that October he sold the rights to the (pre-1988) WCCW name and tape archives to World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE).[5] WWE subsequently began broadcasting WCCW's syndicated programming on their subscription video on demand service WWE Classics On Demand with Kevin and Michael "P.S." Hayes acting as hosts and later included WCCW footage on the WWE Network. WWE produced The Triumph and Tragedy of World Class, their own documentary on the territory in 2007.[6] Kevin was also featured in the 2007 WWE produced DVD The Most Powerful Families in Wrestling in a segment on the Von Erich family. On April 4, 2009, Kevin represented the Von Erich family as they were inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame by Michael Hayes. On June 15, 2014, at Slammiversary, Kevin accompanied his sons Ross and Marshall to the ring for a tag-team match.[7] On April 2, 2016, Kevin appeared at the WWE Hall of Fame ceremony to discuss his relationship with The Fabulous Freebirds.

Sporadic appearances (2017, 2023)[edit]

At 60 years of age, Von Erich returned to wrestling for the first time in 22 years on July 9, 2017. He teamed with his sons Ross and Marshall as they defeated Marty Jannetty, Jumping Lee and Gery Roif at The Rage Wrestling Mega Show in Tel Aviv, Israel.[8] On December 13, 2023, Kevin appeared with his sons Ross and Marshall on episodes of All Elite Wrestling's Dynamite and Rampage, as well as sister promotion Ring of Honor.

Personal life[edit]

Von Erich, c. 1988

On August 1, 1980, Von Erich married Pam Adkisson; the couple lives in Hawaii and runs a family investment business together. Von Erich dabbles in commercial real estate and owns the rights to Southwest Sports (the distributor of World Class Championship Wrestling), now known as K.R. Adkisson Enterprises.

They have four children, including Ross Von Erich and Marshall Von Erich.[9][10]

Kevin is the last surviving child of wrestler Fritz Von Erich. He was the second-born son. Kevin had four brothers who wrestled: David, Kerry, Mike and Chris. His older brother Jack Barton Adkisson, Jr., born 21 September 1952, died at the age of six in Niagara Falls, New York, on 7 March 1959, after stepping on a trailer tongue. He received an electric shock which caused him to fall into a melting snow puddle face first, where he drowned.[11][12][13]

Other media[edit]

Adkisson, as Kevin Von Erich, appears in the video games Legends of Wrestling, Legends of Wrestling II, Showdown: Legends of Wrestling, WWE 2K17 and WWE 2K18.

A biopic feature film titled The Iron Claw starring Zac Efron as Kevin was released on December 22, 2023.[14]

Championships and accomplishments[edit]

Von Erich as WCWA World Heavyweight Champion, c. 1987

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Kevin von Erich « Wrestlers Database « CAGEMATCH - The Internet Wrestling Database". cagematch.net.
  2. ^ "Statistics for Professional wrestlers". PWI Presents: 1991 Wrestling Almanak and book of facts. Kappa Publications. pp. 55–71. 1991 Edition.
  3. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on July 17, 2011. Retrieved October 11, 2016.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  4. ^ "Heroes of World Class Wrestling". Right Here Pictures. Archived from the original on October 31, 2003. Retrieved December 19, 2007.
  5. ^ "WCCW FAQ". World Class Memories. Archived from the original on October 18, 2007. Retrieved November 25, 2007.
  6. ^ "The Triumph and Tragedy of World Class product information page". WWEShop.com. Retrieved November 25, 2007.
  7. ^ "TNA News: Kevin Von Erich to appear with his sons at Slammiversary". www.prowrestling.net. Archived from the original on March 4, 2016. Retrieved May 6, 2018.
  8. ^ "'Rage Megashow' wrestling event brings Israel into the ring". The Jerusalem Post | JPost.com. Archived from the original on December 3, 2017. Retrieved November 21, 2017.
  9. ^ "Kevin Von Erich". Bios. VonErich.com. Archived from the original on December 14, 2007. Retrieved November 25, 2007.
  10. ^ "Frequently Asked Questions". VonErich.com. Archived from the original on March 30, 2008. Retrieved May 26, 2009.
  11. ^ Hollandsworth, Skip (February 1, 1988). "The Fall of the House of Von Erich". D Magazine. Archived from the original on September 8, 2019. Retrieved September 2, 2023.
  12. ^ "Wrestler found shot dead family has lost five sons Latest tragedy apparently a suicide". Baltimore Sun. February 19, 1993. Archived from the original on September 2, 2023. Retrieved September 2, 2023.
  13. ^ Mustaqeem, Syraat Al (November 2, 2022). "The Iron Claw: What is the true story behind Zac Efron's new film?". Evening Standard. Archived from the original on November 3, 2022. Retrieved September 2, 2023.
  14. ^ "Zac Efron Is Nearly Unrecognizable In New Look For Wrestling Movie". screenrant.com. October 27, 2022. Archived from the original on November 3, 2022. Retrieved November 3, 2022.
  15. ^ All Asia Tag Team Title history Archived September 9, 2007, at the Wayback Machine At wrestling-titles.com
  16. ^ "Kevin Von Erich to Receive the Lou Thesz/Art Abrams Award in May - Cauliflower Alley Club". www.caulifloweralleyclub.org. Archived from the original on March 31, 2017. Retrieved May 6, 2018.
  17. ^ Royal Duncan & Gary Will (2000). "Texas: NWA / World Class American Heavyweight Title [Von Eric]". Wrestling Title Histories. Archeus Communications. pp. 265–266. ISBN 0-9698161-5-4.
  18. ^ "NWA United States Heavyweight Title (1967-1968/05) - American Heavyweight Title (1968/05-1986/02)". Wrestling-Titles. Archived from the original on September 28, 2018. Retrieved December 26, 2019.
  19. ^ Royal Duncan & Gary Will (2006). "(Dallas) Texas: NWA American Tag Team Title [Fritz Von Erich]". Wrestling Title Histories. Archeus Communications. ISBN 978-0-9698161-5-7.
  20. ^ "N.W.A. American Tag Team Title". Wrestling-Titles.com. Archived from the original on December 1, 2010. Retrieved January 19, 2020.
  21. ^ Will, Gary; Duncan, Royal (2000). "Texas: NWA Texas Tag Team Title [Von Erich]". Wrestling Title Histories: professional wrestling champions around the world from the 19th century to the present. Pennsylvania: Archeus Communications. pp. 275–276. ISBN 0-9698161-5-4.
  22. ^ "NWA Texas Tag Team Title [E. Texas]". wrestling-titles.com. Archived from the original on December 30, 2008. Retrieved December 27, 2019.
  23. ^ a b World 6-Man Tag Team Title (World Class) history Archived November 5, 2015, at the Wayback Machine At wrestling-titles.com
  24. ^ National Wrestling Alliance World Tag Team Title (Texas) history Archived December 26, 2008, at the Wayback Machine At wrestling-titles.com
  25. ^ Duncan, Royal; Will, Gary (2000). "Texas: NWA World Tag Team Title [Siegel, Boesch and McLemore]". Wrestling title histories: professional wrestling champions around the world from the 19th century to the present. Pennsylvania: Archeus Communications. ISBN 0-9698161-5-4.
  26. ^ "National Wrestling Alliance World Tag Team Title [E. Texas]". Wrestling-Titles. Archived from the original on December 16, 2016. Retrieved February 21, 2017.
  27. ^ Royal Duncan & Gary Will (2000). "Texas: WCWA Television Title". Wrestling Title Histories. Archeus Communications. p. 396. ISBN 0-9698161-5-4.
  28. ^ "World Class Television Title". Wrestling-titles.com. Archived from the original on October 27, 2018. Retrieved November 19, 2016.
  29. ^ Will, Gary; Duncan, Royal (2000). "Texas: NWA Texas Heavyweight Title [Von Erich]". Wrestling Title Histories: professional wrestling champions around the world from the 19th century to the present. Pennsylvania: Archeus Communications. pp. 268–269. ISBN 0-9698161-5-4.
  30. ^ "NWA Texas Heavyweight Title". Wrestling-Titles. Archived from the original on December 30, 2015. Retrieved March 30, 2017.
  31. ^ World Class Wrestling Association World Heavyweight Title history Archived August 13, 2012, at the Wayback Machine At wrestling-titles.com
  32. ^ World Class Wrestling Association World Tag Team Title history Archived June 8, 2003, at the Wayback Machine At wrestling-titles.com
  33. ^ NWA North American Heavyweight Title history Archived June 7, 2014, at the Wayback Machine At wrestling-titles.com
  34. ^ "PWI 500 1991". The Turnbuckle Post. Archived from the original on July 25, 2012. Retrieved August 28, 2012.
  35. ^ a b "PWI 500 of the PWI Years". Willy Wrestlefest. Archived from the original on October 29, 2013. Retrieved August 28, 2012.
  36. ^ NWA Missouri Heavyweight Title history Archived January 27, 2008, at the Wayback Machine At wrestling-titles.com

External links[edit]