WCCW Legends talk "Triumph & Tragedy"
Longtime in-ring rivals Kevin Von Erich and Michael "P.S." Hayes both solidified their sports-entertainment legacies in World Class Championship Wrestling -- Von Erich alongside his brothers and father, and Hayes as a member of The Fabulous Freebirds. The bitter rivalry between the Von Erichs and Freebirds defined World Class Championship Wrestling, but so too did the heartbreaking circumstances that befell the Von Erich family. Now, these two rivals have come together to tell our fans the amazing story of WCCW, and Tuesday's release of The Triumph & Tragedy of World Class Championship Wrestling brings both men back to the days when they fought for supremacy in Texas.
Did you have a favorite moment on this DVD?
KEVIN VON ERICH -- It was good to see so many of the guys again. The whole experience brought back a happy memory. So many people think that the story of the Von Erich family is sad, and there were sad spots, but it really is a triumphant story.
MICHAEL "P.S." HAYES -- I really enjoyed hearing everyone's take on the launch, the growth and the explosion of WCCW, including Kevin's. I was shocked by his honesty; I lost a brother, too. I didn't lose five. When I heard his spin on it -- about how most people feel sorry for him, but he doesn't because at least he had that many years with them it really helped me open up. It got my respect because it was like, "Wow, that's a really different and really cool perspective."
I haven't even gone through all the matches yet, just the documentary part. But I enjoyed seeing the clips of Fritz, hearing how WCCW started, and I really enjoyed seeing the Christmas thing again, which really catapulted the whole [rivalry]. There were a lot of favorites, let's just put it that way.
Were any moments on this DVD difficult for you to sit and watch?
VON ERICH -- Watching this DVD will be hard. My brothers were good men; they did their best, and some things will be very difficult to relive. Finding Chris when he died and holding his body, the stories of David and Kerry … it was extremely tough. There is a lot on this DVD that nobody knows, things I have never talked about and it really hit hard. Nobody had ever asked these questions before.
HAYES -- The part about David is extremely sensitive to me; it especially was at the time. I remember being in Texas Stadium and they played a video tribute to him, and I had to go into the bathroom and break down. All the stories are hard for me to hear, but the stories on David are especially tough.
Did you find it difficult for you to discuss anything about WCCW or your career?
VON ERICH -- I did have reservations, because I have my children and some of the story is rough. Life on the road is tough, but I have no regrets. I did my best, and so did my brothers. There is nothing to gain by not being honest about everything. There were a whole lot of good moments not to be eclipsed by my brothers' deaths.
HAYES -- No. As I said on MVP's VIP Lounge the other night, this DVD has a very strong message. People should adhere to the message and learn from other people's mistakes, because for every action, there is a consequence. In this case, there were a lot of actions that brought about the ultimate bad consequence. So I didn't have any reservations, and one of the main reasons why is because WWE was doing it. I knew it would be done best this way, and it will live on forever -- a lot longer than we will -- in its beauty.
What does the release of this DVD mean to you on a personal and professional level?
VON ERICH -- I feel like I had a responsibility to my father and brothers that the story of WCCW came out the way it really was. It was important for me to keep the integrity of this story intact. I always wanted WWE to have the tape library. WWE can do more with the tapes than I could have. I couldn't do the proper justice to the tapes. I would never be able to make this DVD available to as many people as WWE could, so I am very proud that WWE has them, because they are in the right hands.
HAYES -- It means everything to me. This story had to be told. All of it hasn't been told yet. You could easily do a Von Erichs DVD. You could easily do a Fabulous Freebirds DVD. The fact that the story has been told, though, and told so well, I was proud to be involved with the cover of it and producing it.
When you get to my stage in this career, there are certain things you want to have achieved. Having this DVD done by WWE and told this well is one of those things that if you go to the house and never come back again, it will put a smile on your face. I feel that this DVD is riveting. It is heart-wrenching. It does show you tragedy, but it also shows the triumphs.
The beauty of this DVD is that if you never knew about World Class Championship Wrestling -- the Von Erichs, The Freebirds and all the other cast of characters -- you are enthralled within the first 15 minutes. You fall in love with the characters, and then it breaks your heart with the characters. It is a greatly told story, and an absolutely true one. I'm very biased here, but I believe it is the best [DVD] WWE has ever done.
Is there a moment in your WCCW career that you can pinpoint as your best?
VON ERICH -- There are two kinds of moments to have. One is an in-ring accomplishment like winning a title or wrestling a great competitor. But to me, the things that always stick out are the tag matches or the Eight-Man Tag Matches where I fought alongside my brothers, and sometimes my father.
HAYES -- Everybody is defined by certain rivalries, whether it's sports or politics or whatever the case may be. You think of Andre the Giant and all the people he ever faced, the first name you are going to say is Hulk Hogan. When you say Von Erich, the first name you are going to say is Freebird and vice versa. Both groups had other rivalries, but the one between us was the defining moment for not just myself and The Freebirds, but for the Von Erichs too.
Is there anything you wish could have been included on the DVD?
VON ERICH -- I wish the DVD could have been two days long to include everything. Specifically, I wish they could have just shown the amount of people who came and supported us at David's funeral, and also the fans in Israel during our tour there in 1985. There were so many people, and they just treated us great. But like I said, the DVD was done great. I really like how it turned out.
What message do you hope our fans take from this DVD?
VON ERICH -- Life is short and it is beautiful. Enjoy every minute you can with the people you love. If you love what you are doing, grab it, chew it up and enjoy it. Because when it is gone, it won't come back.
HAYES -- I think they can see the growth of WCCW. I hope people understand the message. To me, the worst drug ever is fame. The '80s were what they were, but unfortunately, a lot of people aren't here because of the way it was. It wasn't "just say no" back then; it was "just say yes," and again there are consequences for that. I just hope people see that a lot of competitors made some wrong decisions and paid the ultimate price.
What did the appearance in the cult classic Highlander mean to The Freebirds?
HAYES -- My experience with Highlander wasn't all that much. Verne Gagne set up the deal, and in my opinion, we didn't get paid s***. We went out there and wrestled, and they shot it and used what they wanted to. It was good exposure, but it didn't put The Freebirds on the map.
Can you talk about your re-emergence as The Hardys' manager during WWE's "Attitude" era?
HAYES -- Matt & Jeff and I are really close, and I am very proud of their success. At the time, I was living vicariously through them, hoping for one more run or a new Freebirds, but that just wasn't going to happen. Sports-entertainment was heading in a new direction. But back then, we did our promos from town to town. The reason you got into the business back then was because you already loved it. That's not the case anymore. It's a great job now, with perks and money.