Truth is stranger than fiction. It’s cliche, but it’s true.
Perhaps no genre represents that statement quite as well as professional wrestling, the over-the-top spectacle that originated on the carnival circuit. The scripted drama that unfolds in from of the curtain is sometimes tame compared to the controversy that that takes place behind it.
For the past few decades, the tale of the famous Von Erich family was known as one of the most compelling, yet tragic stories within sports entertainment circles. Over the years, within the niche of grappling historians, fascinating productions have been released that chronicled that triumphant and turbulent times of that family that were bonafide heroes in their home state of Texas. Sold out cards, local pizza commercials, and even board games went along with all the fame. Addiction, disaster, and suicide were intertwined with the grief and tragedy that the family endured.
Brian Harrison’s “Heroes of World Class” documentary is one of the best productions ever released on the pro wrestling business. That 2006 release was followed by WWE’s “The Triumph and Tragedy of World Class Championship Wrestling” the year after. It took more than 15 years, but just last month, “The Iron Claw,” Sean Durkin’s take on the Texas wrestling clan, hit the big screen with a main stream theater release. Zac Efron was slotted for the role of Kevin, the last surviving brother and the film’s main character. The movie received generally positive reviews, but garnered stark criticism for rather liberal use of creative license, with the complete omission of Chris being the prime example.
Still, the Von Erich story is so fascinating and proof of that is Iron Claw’s success at the box office, but what about the family’s accomplishments in the ring? The real-life narrative was so unbelievable tragic and certainly worth examination, but could that overshadow the classic moments that made the family so beloved in the first place?
While the two prior documentaries and movie release tell the story of Adkisson family, there’s a new production in the works that will deep dive into what made the Von Erichs a household name inside the squared circle.
The Von Erich Dynasty:Masters of The Iron Claw is the newest presentation from Joe Dombrowski, lead play-by-play announcer for Major League Wrestling and the English voice of AAA Lucha Libre. Joe, a passionate sports entertainment historian, has been enthralled with the grappling arts since his youth and has spent his entire adult life working in the industry, a time span of over twenty years.
Among his list of accomplishments of broadcaster, booker, and merchandise mogul, Joe also added content producer to his gigs that keep him busy as he often juggles multiple projects. Along with original productions like The Montreal Theory, The Brian Pillman Memorial Anthology, and more, Dombrowski also runs ProWrestlingLibrary.com, a streaming service with some of the most obscure footage and hidden gems now available through the advancement of modern technology.
Joe’s presentation on the Von Erich clan, an eight-hour collection of the family’s bouts that spanned over decades, was a collaborative effort that saw him bring together a myriad of resources to release a truly special compilation on the family that a new generation has discovered through The Iron Claw’s success on the silver screen.
“I’ve been very fortunate to have spent the past few months developing a business relationship with Savmar Media and the Mario Savoldi Wrestling Library, which to me is the greatest library of classic wrestling footage not owned by a billionaire in existence today. Being aligned with Savmar allows a lot of exciting opportunities when it comes to content sharing and increased distribution for both sides, and for me, it opened a door to things like USWA-Texas, and Global Wrestling Federation, and IWCCW, and promotions and territories of that ilk that have classic Von Erich footage. With that as a foundation, I knew we could put together something special and unique, and as both of us started digging and inquiring as to what else is out there, it just got more and more special,” Dombrowski explained.
Joe painstakingly spent many late nights in front of his computer screen scribbling notes for the production that eventually amassed to more than thirty classic contests that demonstrated not only the skill of their performance, but also how cemented the Von Erichs’ rock star status was in the Lone Star state. With that in mind, Joe wanted to focus the spotlight of his production on the positive spectacle of the ring rather than the gloomy real-life tragedy that took center stage for other presentations based on the Von Erich name.
“You can expect the most complete and comprehensive look at the in-ring careers of The Von Erichs as a family ever put together. A lot of tellings of their stories put an emphasis and focus on the tragedies, and understandably so, it’s a huge part of what makes that family’s story so emotional and memorable. But,we weren’t interested in doing that here. I’d much rather show you the triumphs – Kerry going an hour against Ric Flair, or David trying to beat Harley Race. I’d rather you see all the iconic names that the Von Erichs have shared the ring with, from Steve Austin to Mark Calaway to the Freebirds to Jerry Lawler. I’d rather show you a Von Erich or two you might not even know about, and how they connect to the overall story. The love the fans had for the Von Erichs is palpable, and those cheers and screams stand the test of time. This is over 30 matches, over 8 hours, showing you what made this family so beloved in the first place. Let’s celebrate the memory of what one family built,” Joe commented.
The heyday of the regional territory system saw as many as five full-time organizations running in Texas, but the name Von Erich is the most closely tied to the state. Through the innovative World Class television show at the time, the family were global stars, but always kept their foundation in Denton, Texas. Fritz was the patriarch, David was the ring general, Kerry was the rock star, Kevin was high-flyer, and the younger Mike and Chris were the scrappy underdogs that represented the family. This Dynasty release represents all of that action through its rare footage of the entire family.
“I’ve always been a fan and had such huge respect for the Von Erich name. I was watching Kerry as a really young kid. In time, I learned of his history and family. I’ve worked with Ross and Marshall in MLW and they epitomize polite and respectful and hard working, you can tell they were raised extremely well. That entire second generation – David, Kevin, Kerry, Mike, and Chris – all of whom are featured and represented on this set, by the way, had so much responsibility being such huge stars at such young ages. They deserve all the praise and love and fan support out there, and deserve to be remembered not just for how their stories ended, but the things they did while they were here that touched so many and lives on forever,” Dombrowski concluded.
To order the set, you can go to Joe-Dombrowski.com or ProWrestlingLibrary.com
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Until next week
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