A Look Back at the Music Videos of World Class Championship Wrestling By Dan Murphy
World Class Championship Wrestling will always hold a special place in my heart.
WCCW used to air on ESPN on weekday afternoons back in the late 1980s. I would rush through my paper route and hurry home to watch the Von Erichs, The Freebirds, Gary Hart’s stooges, Skandor Akbar’s goons, and the ridiculously slow counts from referee Bronko Lubich.
I bought my first VCR specifically so I could tape episodes of WCCW. I still have most of those VHS tapes, packed away in the recesses of a closet, simply because I still can’t part with them. They were a part of my childhood.
World Class may have been an old-fashioned rasslin’ territory, but in many ways, it was ahead of its time. Recently, I was sitting in a bar when Bonnie Tyler’s “Holding Out for a Hero” came on the jukebox. Like an acid flashback, my mind reeled back to a music video of the Von Erichs that World Class produced, set to that song.
I can’t remember Raw results from two weeks ago, but I can vividly remember those World Class music videos. I searched YouTube to find some of the best videos WCCW ever produced.
Yes, some (OK, most) of them are hokey. Some hold up surprisingly well. World Class was trying to tap into pop music well before Vince McMahon ever dreamed up the “Rock and Wrestling connection.”
Some of these clips aren’t the best quality, but they can give a sense of the atmosphere and “feel” of World Class better than some of the documentaries released in recent years.
Here’s a look at the music of World Class:
“Shout” by Tears for Fears
Announcer Bill Mercer sounds hopelessly out-of-touch with the pop music scene of 1985 when he introduces this video from “The Tears for Fears.” The slow-motion sequences nicely illustrate the athleticism of Kevin Von Erich, Chris Adams, and the Fantastics. The stylized graphics effects are synched to the music and do a good job of capturing the aura of attractions like One Man Gang and The Great Kabuki. The split-screen effects were in vogue on MTV at the time. This was cutting-edge for its era, and it suitably showcased a variety of World Class wrestlers, getting them over without them having to say a single word.
“Eye of the Tiger” by Survivor
Hulk Hogan laid claim to “Eye of the Tiger” by virtue of his appearance in Rocky III, but this tribute video to Kerry Von Erich beats out anything Hogan ever did with the song. This video instantly established Von Erich as a viable World title contender. The workout footage and the selection of clips where opponents sold for him like he was Superman made him look absolutely bigger than life. It’s heavy on the sex appeal for the ladies and presents Kerry as a cross between Conan the Barbarian and Roger Daltrey from The Who. For a brief moment in time, Kerry looked like he had the potential to be the top star in the world. This captures that moment.
“The Heat is On” by Glenn Frey
This has to rank as my personal favorite World Class video, largely due to the attempts to match up the action with the lyrics of the song (“The pressure’s on” shows a concerned Sunshine, Iceman King Parsons gets hit with a fireball just as the chorus of “the heat is on” hits, and – in a moment of inspired lunacy, super-imposing a singing mouth over the freeze-framed face of Gino Hernandez on the “ooh oh ooh” part). Casual racism from Gary Hart, Chris Adams getting his mullet brushed at the local SuperCuts, and Missy Hyatt in her prime … it doesn’t get any better than this.
“Badstreet USA” by Michael Hayes
I believe this was the first song recorded by a wrestler for his own entrance music. The production of the audio was top-notch with a drum line and guitar riff that sounded very much like most of the hair metal of the mid-1980s. Hayes voice is, to be nice, unique. You’ve got to be impressed with a man wearing a black leather pants and a matching vest who can run off punks just by shaking his golden mane in their direction. A suitably over-the-top video for the Freebirds, the most over-the-top act in WCCW history. Watch carefully for Jimmy Garvin’s cameo.
“Holding Out for Hero” by Bonnie Tyler
These days, people like Vince Russo tell you that the concept of “good guys” and “bad guys” is outdated in wrestling. Baloney. This video captured the Beatles-esque reaction the Von Erich boys elicited from their female fans. Kevin, Kerry, Michael, and David – all proud warriors, white knights fighting for the honor of Texas. Look how the fans explode when Kevin scores a surprise pin over Ric Flair. Kerry literally leaves girls swooning in his wake. Wrestling will always need its heroes.
“Heaven Needed a Champion” by Jill Floyd
I included this somber performance dedicated to David Von Erich because it illustrates the sense of community World Class epitomized. A young girl from a local choir sang a song written specifically for David after his death. Some people criticized Fritz Von Erich for trying to capitalize on his sons’ deaths, but this was a sweet, emotional, and heartfelt tribute to a wrestler who was adored by the fans. There is an innocence here that has sadly since passed us by.
“You Might Think” by The Cars
The person who posted his gem on YouTube dubbed it “The Greatest Wrestling Music Video of All Time.” I won’t disagree. This campy piece features a “Who’s Who” of superstars gracing the Sportatorium ring, including Andre the Giant, The Junkyard Dog, Killer Khan, and King Kong Bundy (all of whom would be jumping to the WWF a short time later), along with the usual WCCW cast of characters. What stands out most of all is the sense of fun World Class provided, as well as the different wrestling styles and personalities the company featured, from Andre to Stella Mae French. There literally was something for everyone. It was a good time to be a wrestling fan … and one of the main reasons why these videos are still entrenched in my brain almost 30 years after they aired.