Where Are They Now? Kevin Von Erich
Kevin Von Erich never believed that when he began playing football as a youth, he would end up becoming one of the biggest stars in WWE history.
As the son of wrestling legend Fritz Von Erich -- a man who helped lay the foundation for future stars in the business, including all of his sons -- breaking into wrestling was "different, mainly because I didn't think wrestling was going to be what I did. I always thought football was my future. Wrestling was more of an amazing summer job that lasted 22 years and paid very well."
Our fans may remember Kevin Von Erich from his days as a barefoot competitor in World Class Championship Wrestling (the WCCW video library was recently purchased by WWE), or more recently his 2005 appearance at WWE Homecoming in Dallas. "The Golden Warrior" received a rousing ovation, along with many other legends of WWE, before disposing of then-Raw Superstar Rob Conway with his famed Iron Claw.
"That was great. I remember having swollen knees at that time, but I stepped into that ring and I felt I could go again -- and I did. You feel that crowd and man, you're there."
When Von Erich entered WCCW, his journey within the squared circle would be a family affair, as his brothers Mike, Chris and Kerry (you may remember Kerry as The Texas Tornado in WWE) would all be by his side in the promotion. The Von Erichs would enter into one of WWE's greatest rivalries when they began to battle The Fabulous Freebirds in classic six-man tag matches. Those matches and other recollections are something Von Erich will never forget.
"A lot of memories run together when you spend so much of your time wrestling, but I will always remember being able to step into the ring with the likes of Bruiser Brody and Terry Gordy, among many others," Von Erich said. "There are many big moments for me beyond that, for example meeting Jack Brisco when I was just a 17-year-old kid -- every moment to me was special when I first broke into the business."
Von Erich then recalled one city he remembers the most -- St. Louis.
"In one of the arenas, the lights above made a cross, and my brothers and I would always look up to those lights, slap each other on the backs, and go out there and perform," he said. "Then I was looking up at those lights, and I was all alone. WWE went from being a great experience, to drastically turning at the end."
Along the way, Kevin Von Erich endured great personal losses before deciding to retire. Dealing with these tragedies among other things, played a role in why he decided to step out of the ring.
"My situation was so different because I lost my brothers. I knew I didn't want to get old in the ring." He added, "The real thing that took me out of the business was that it wasn't fun anymore. Everything reminded me of my brothers."
Today, Von Erich has newfound happiness with his family. He recently relocated everyone to the island of Kauai, the northernmost of the Hawaiian Islands. It is here where he spears fish and enjoys his new property.
"I have my four kids, and I even brought my mother out there," Von Erich said, as a smile came across his face. "My son Ross is 18, and he is the spitting image of my brother Kerry. He is a real good running back, but he hurt his knee, so I encouraged him to drop football. We talked about him getting into wrestling a little, but he wants to play for University of Hawaii." Marshall, Von Erich's 14-year-old son is described as "a wild man who loves to surf."
In a family known primarily for its wrestling males, Von Erich's daughters have made him just as proud.
"My daughter Kristen handles all my business, and then my other daughter Jill is still in Texas, finishing things up on the ranch I just sold, and then she will join us out here."
Asked if he thought there was a place for him in today's WWE, Von Erich smiled. "Heck, yeah. If I were still going, I would love it," he said. "It would be like going to the old territories and trying to make a name for yourself by seeking out and killing the king of the mountain. If you want to be a king, you have to kill a king, that is just the way the business works."
As for his favorite Superstars of today, Von Erich has a sentimental place for Shawn Michaels. "I see myself in Shawn a bit, because we both looked up to Jose Lothario, so watching Shawn brings me back."
Kevin Von Erich's message to our fans is simple and sincere. "Thanks for not forgetting me because I enjoyed everything I did. It was the very best I could do…it was the very best my brothers could do -- so thank you."