One declaration by the professional wrestling legend startled everyone, especially moderator Dale Hansen: Von Erich has never met one of his heroes, former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Roger Staubach.
“I remember as a little boy, I read Roger Staubach’s book First Down, Lifetime to Go,” Von Erich said from the stage. “I’ve admired him for a long time.”
Hansen replied, “You haven’t met Roger Staubach? I can call him on the phone tonight.”
Fans yelled, imploring Hansen to make it happen.
“That was the funniest moment of the night,” Hansen said afterward. “I actually thought [Von Erich] was kidding when he said that. I really did.”
It was that kind of night. Von Erich’s entrance was like those he made just before his matches in the Sportatorium — glitzy, with spotlights and the crowd lining the aisle to cheer him into the ring, or, in this case, onto the stage.
Dallas had not seen much of Von Erich since 2006, when he moved to Kauai, Hawaii, with his family. Longing for a return to Texas, he bought a ranch outside of Boerne, near San Antonio, a few months ago.
His return to Dallas was part of his “An Evening with Kevin Von Erich: Stories From the Top Rope” tour. On Saturday, he gave a similar show in San Antonio.
At the start of their show at the Majestic, Von Erich, who was known for wrestling in his bare feet, kicked off his shoes. Hansen pulled his off, too.
Over the next 90 or so minutes, Von Erich shared stories about his wrestling career, his injuries, the Von Erich brothers’ legacies, his personal tragedies, his father, his football career at the University of North Texas and what drew him to wrestling.
Von Erich won a World Class Championship Wrestling championship and assorted regional titles before retiring in 1993. The last surviving son of Fritz Von Erich, he saw two of Fritz other sons, Chris and Kerry, die by suicide, and a third, Mike, die of an overdose of sleeping pills in what was later ruled a suicide. Another son, David, died of an intestinal disease at age 24.
Von Erich shared insight into his career and his personal triumphs and tragedies. He and Hansen were joined on stage by former World Class Championship Wrestling referee David Manning, who gave his own anecdotes about the Von Erich family.
He also discussed the portrayal of the Von Erich family in the new A24 movie, The Iron Claw, which will be released on Dec. 22. He said he has no idea how the movie will play out, but he’s optimistic after hearing reports from his niece, Hollie [Chilton], and his sons, Ross and Marshall, who are in the movie.
Kevin Von Erich, who has repeatedly expressed how his father was a kind and caring man, was especially concerned about how his father would be portrayed on the big screen.
“When she saw the actor [Holt McCallany] that’s playing Fritz, she cried, she gasped. The actor ... saw Hollie crying, he had tears in his eyes,” Von Erich said. “When I heard that, I think this movie is going to be something that really tries hard.”
Backstage, Von Erich was reflective of starting the tour in Dallas.
“I love Texas, but even more I love Texans,” he said. “Thirty-nine years ago I was a wrestler, but people came to know me then. Thirty-nine years later, I believe they identify with the suffering and the things I’ve gone through, the disappointments, the failures, all the things that make up life, the ups and downs.
“Now, I’m as happy as I could be. I’ve never been happier.”
Read more about the Von Erichs and ‘The Iron Claw’
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- Dallas wrestling movie ‘The Iron Claw’ has cast the Von Erichs. What about their rivals?
- First photo from Von Erich movie shows Zac Efron delivering a mid-air dropkick in the ring
- Photos show Zac Efron bulked up to play Kevin Von Erich in upcoming film ‘The Iron Claw’
- Von Erich movie ‘The Iron Claw’ casts Jeremy Allen White alongside Zac Efron
- Zac Efron to star in Von Erich family biopic from movie studio A24
- Inside the Von Erichs — Dallas-Fort Worth’s most famous wrestling family
- The Von Erich wrestling dynasty may soon receive Hollywood treatment, thanks to a BBC-backed director
- Kevin Von Erich talks about ‘Wrestling the Curse,’ which finally airs Friday on ESPN