Ric Flair vs. Kevin Von Erich (WCCW 2nd Von Erich Memorial Parade of Champions 5/5/85)

Match Reviews

Lightning refuses to strike twice for the Von Erichs.

Obviously, the story of the Von Erichs is one of tragedy, but there’s a real narrative melancholy to how this entire match plays out. The year before, Kerry Von Erich tapped into the special mysticism of a particular moment in time–fighting in the stead of a deceased brother to finally knock off city boy Ric Flair in Texas Stadium to win the NWA Title. Here, in the same venue, a year later, and the magic has waned. Kevin’s not in the main event, attendance has dipped, and there’s something deeply painful about watching Kevin try and fail to capture what had been the year before. Notably, Kevin comes down to the ring wearing an old ring jacket of David’s, hoping the power of the yellow rose will see him through.

This obviously doesn’t go the way Kevin wants.

For one, he’s no Kerry. The same natural power advantages that allowed Kerry to steamroll the champ the year before don’t exist here. At the same time, Flair’s a year keener and wiser to the games the Von Erichs play. The brothers down south never really keep him down for long, and on this night Flair has a much easier time setting his strategies into motion. Kevin gives him trouble early on, sure, but Flair’s not floundering as he did before. He’s able to use the knee to the gut often, and he falls back consistently on a strategy that worked against Kevin before: tossing him out of the ring. Whenever things get too heated for Flair, it’s disrupting Kevin’s momentum by sending him to the floor that always seems to reset things.

In the opposite of the year previous, nothing ever seems to go right for Kevin here. Flair cheats while holding an abdominal stretch? He pays in that Kevin reverses it quickly but Flair escapes it with seemingly no trouble. It’s the bigger things too, things that had done Kevin good against Flair before that just don’t land. At one point, Flair tumbles into the second ring and Kevin nails the crossbody that he got the Dusty pinfall on Flair with two years prior. But spilling into the second ring means the referee is delayed following them to count the fall, and that means Flair gets to kick out. Perhaps most crushing is when Kevin grabs a backslide on Flair–Kerry’s winning hold the year prior–and Flair gets his boot on the ropes to break up the fall. 

It’s sort of no wonder then why Kevin loses his temper here. The action spills to the floor, they both get counted out, and Kevin’s only recourse is to grab the Iron Claw after the bell and hold on like his life depended on it.

On a meta level too, there’s something to how this fails to live up to how explosive and energetic their Sportatorium match was. Again, I probably can’t help but read into it having just seen The Iron Claw and viewing this from a wider historical perspective, but there’s something to be said about the quality slowly seeping out from something like this. It’s not bad, definitely still a borderline great match with a lot to offer, but the bloom is off the yellow rose.

It’s a shame that the Von Erichs were so plagued by tragedy outside of the ring. Even in something like this, it’s clear that they knew how to tell tragedies in the ring with skill.

Rating: ***3/4

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