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Top 10 Wrestling Promotions: Countdown Part Four, Who’s Number One?

January 24th, 2014 at 1:33 PM
By Peter Schifani

Yes we have reached the pinnacle of out Top 10 countdown of the top wrestling promotions in the United States with the number one organization: World Class Championship Wrestling (WCCW). While there existence was short (1982-1989) there presence is still felt to this day in the sport. In case you missed the prior parts of the countdown you may go back to part one, part two and part three through those links.

Number One: World Class Championship Wrestling (WCCW). United States Wrestling Association (USWA)

Beginning as Southwest Sports in 1966 as part of the NWA when promoted by Ed McLemore, who had the original Sportatorium in Dallas rebuilt in 1953 after it had been destroyed in a fire. Jack Adkisson, who had been President of the NWA for a time, took over in 1982 and the name was changed from "Big Time Wrestling" to World Class Championship Wrestling as his sons, David, Kerry and Kevin Von Erich began there wrestling careers. Fritz stayed in charge until 1986 when World Class split off from the NWA to become the World Class Wrestling Association and declared the American Heavyweight Champion, which was part of the NWA's regional championships, there first WCWA Champion. The reason World Class is number one on our countdown is because of the nostalgia still felt by many fans over the promotion that was actually the first to do things like entrance music for the wrestlers, cameras right at ringside, and showcase the wrestlers in vignettes outside the ring. Something WWF would copy and use a few year into the "Rock and Wrestling Era." The main feud that catapulted World Class to preeminence during it's heyday was the Von Erichs versus the Fabulous Freebirds (Michael Hayes, Terry Gordy and Buddy Roberts).

The Sportatorium in Dallas was the main home for all of the action of World Class, and the small arena, with less than fabulous ventilation and asbestos siding on the outside had fans coming in droves to see wrestling action at it's finest, which was showcased in later years on ESPN weekdays at 4pm. The decline of the promotion started with the death of David Von Erich in 1984 while touring Japan. Kerry Von Erich would capture the NWA World Heavyweight Championship from Ric Flair as part of the tribute show to David held at Texas Stadium, but he would only hold the title for a scant 18 days. Mike Von Erich would try to fill the shoes of his older brother, but he would have his own death scare in 1985 when as a result of shoulder surgery he went on to suffer toxic shock syndrome and 107 degree fever that almost killed him. He would commit suicide on April 12, 1987 by overdosing on sleeping pills and alcohol, beginning a vicious cycle that his brothers Chris and Kerry would round out in years to come.

In 1986, after the split with the NWA, Fritz Von Erich and promoter Ken Mantell tried to take World Class to national prominence, but without traveling outside of Texas it never took hold. Eventually WCCW was sold to Jerry Jarrett in 1989, who owned the CWA, and two promotions were merged to become the USWA, which also tried to become a third national promotion to WWF and WCW. The USWA would continue through the mid-90's but only compete regionally in the Memphis area. They did share talent with the WWF at the time which helped them survive for as long as they did. Efforts to save the Sportatorium in Dallas and make it a landmark failed and the building was razed 50 years after it was built, in 2003. WWE owns the World Class video library which will be part of the "vault" on the WWE Network. The Von Erich family was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2009.

Tags: Kerry Von Erich, NWA, Ric Flair, Sportatorium, USWA, WCCW, World Heavyweight Championship, Wrestling

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