Monday, July 2, 2012

Irv Muchnick's Born-Again Bashing

A couple of celebratory, pro-Von Erich posts at the Kayfabe Memories forum reminded me of an article I read by Irv Muchnick several years ago.  As it is fairly hard to find these days - and in the name of historical context, I felt it would be good to post a copy & paste.

Originally published in Penthouse magazine, Muchnick attempts to reconcile Jack Adkisson's evangelical stance in the 1980s with the ever-mounting family tragedies that befell him.  Outside of a couple of questionable spins (which is not at all new to him), Muchnick's piece was - and still is - quite powerful.   

So without further adieu...

Born-Again Bashing
By Irvin Muchnick


October 1988

MAY 11, 1987. LESS THAN A month after his brother Mike killed himself because he felt he couldn't live up to the family name, Kevin Von Erich was working the main event in Fort Worth when something rare happened: a moment of spontaneous, unmediated terror. As the television cameras rolled, teenage girls squealed, and spectators shouted for blood, Kevin and his opponent crisscrossed off the ropes. No doubt they were setting up the usual wild finish - perhaps a variation on the patented Von Erich Iron Claw, or a violent collision followed by an out-of-control brawl outside the ring, or maybe a miscarriage of justice with the ref taking an accidental bump and failing to see the heel clobber the baby face with a foreign object.

We'll never know what the climax of this match was supposed to be. For suddenly, without being touched, Kevin Von Erich's abused body defied the script. Instead of snapping smartly off the ring's taut ropes, he sagged heavily against the strands. Recoiling, he wobbled toward the center of the canvas, then collapsed, torso convulsing, pupils rolled heavenward.

The fans in attendance at the Will Rogers Coliseum probably thought they were witnessing the first documented case of a professional wrestler falling into holy rapture. What they were actually seeing, though, was the champion of the World Class Wrestling Association simply passing out in the middle of the ring in the middle of a match.

No matter what those in legit sports and others of respectable breeding may think, wrestling is a subtle, extemporaneous art form; experienced pros pride themselves on their ability to salvage even the most sour finish. But Kevin Von Erich's swan dive supplied more grim reality than any ordinary eight-man tag-team match could bear. Chaos reigned at ringside. The bell rang. The TV cameras were switched off. Wrestler Tommy Rogers scrambled through the ropes and performed C.P.R. on his fallen partner, who was turning blue.

Later, after being released from Harris Methodist Fort Worth Hospital, Kevin explained on television how he'd nearly been killed by a dreaded new oriental neck punch, courtesy of his hated rival, Brian Adias. Kevin vowed to avenge the blow the next time they met, whether it be in Fort Worth or Dallas or Mesquite or Lubbock or ...

With the heady brew of half-truth and chutzpah that only the hypemeisters of wrestling could concoct, a genuine brush with mortality became just another angle to sell tickets.