A year in the making, ESPN's 30 for 30 short film chronicling the rise and tragedy of Dallas' famous Von Erich wrestling family is set to air at 5 p.m. Friday.
The news, confirmed by D Magazine and Kevin Von Erich on Twitter marks a new addition to the long line of stories and documentaries based on the famous Von Erichs, from patriarch Fritz down to his sons Mike, Chris, David and Kerry. From their beginnings in Dallas and Fort Worth, the group rose to insane heights in Dallas wrestling and beyond, once packing 41,000 people into Texas Stadium to watch Kerry wrestle The Freebirds and beat Ric Flair.
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Up until World Wrestling Entertainment's (then the World Wrestling Federation's) WrestleMania 3 event in the old Pontiac Silverdome in 1987, this stood as the North American record for the largest crowd to ever attend a wrestling event.
Before Hulk Hogan really bought into the "say your prayers and eat your vitamins" routine that America ate up during the Rock N' Wrestling boom of the '80s, there were the Von Erich brothers, born-again Christians who would spout off Bible passages and testimony with the conviction of a fire-breathing deacon. Rugged good looks and country boy charm made them kings, not just to their legion of teenage fangirls but to their adoring fan base worldwide.
Tragedy always seemed to bring the Von Erichs back into the spotlight. David died in Japan in 1985 of a severe intestinal infection; Mike's health deteriorate due to toxic shock syndrome, leading him to commit suicide at 23 in 1987; and Chris and Kerry also committed suicide -- in 1991 and 1993, respectively. Despite the tragic circumstances befalling the family, they're still wrestling royalty. Especially in Dallas.
"I guess this is our destiny," Kevin told D Magazine in a 1988 profile on the family and their life in the business. "You have to go where your destiny leads you, no matter where that road might be. And for us, this is it."