Thursday, May 1, 2014

The Von Erich Family...Conquers Space?

It may be hard for a wrestling fan to fathom, but sometimes it wasn't just the WWF unleashing odd and wacky merchandise onto the fans.  Promoters like Fritz Von Erich knew, just as Vince McMahon did, that there was a public clamoring to buy up merchandise of their favorite pro wrestling stars.  The big difference was that while McMahon featured a bevy of heroes and villains on his merchandising, Von Erich largely limited his to the top babyfaces of his promotion--his very popular and marketable sons.

It's obvious today when unearthing Von Erich memorabilia from its previous owners that these fans truly cared. Their screams of terror when the boys found trouble in the ring were equally as loud as when Kerry, Kevin, and the others triumphed in victory.  Worries about the next group of Von Erich opposition, be it the Fabulous Freebirds, Devestation Inc., or any number of others, followed these fans throughout their days until the next glimpse of WCCW action.  They believed.

The world knows how the Von Erich story progressed.  Thanks to coverage in mainstream news outlets, even many non-wrestling fans can equate the family name to tragedy.  Despite some who think that reliving the past can dredge up those bad memories, viewing and collecting the memorabilia of this family can actually be quite the opposite.  It"s obvious that the Von Erich family brought a lot of joy to a heckuva lot of people.  Seeing these items are a reminder of the good times.

While Kerry may have been dubbed "The Modern Day Warrior" and several WCCW events entitled "Star Wars," these were not the Von Erich family's only ventures into fantasy.  In 1988, Sage Productions out of Tyler, Texas produced a comic book entitled "Saga Of The Von Erich Warriors."  While the family's battles with Michael Hayes, Chris Adams, and Gary Hart easily could have filled a comic book, somewhere along the line it was decided that Fritz, Kevin, and Kerry would instead...go into outer space.

It seems that the defenseless Namorians (of Namoria, naturally) have finally found their galactic lives threatened by another race known as the (nefarious?) Nefarians.  With the upcoming wedding of Namorian Emporer Zrail to his childhood sweetheart Princess Davette, the entire race that should be celebrating is instead deeply concerned that they will become slaves of the hostile Nefarians.  The answer?  Beam the Von Erich family to Namoria, of course!

But the excitement just begins there.  Kerry battling an otherworldly tiger.  An attacking alien motorcyclist.  Fritz using shocking language such as "Hog Wash" and "Hell."   This is truly an out-of-this-world adventure.  I'd love to know exactly how this idea came about, but that's probably a secret that only those who were in on the brainstorming sessions between World Class Championship Wrestling and Sage Productions will ever know.

The all black and white art is pretty good, although you can tell that various stock photos were given to the artists for reference and copied.  Some of the Fritz shots look to date back to his "evil Nazi" days.  I'd venture to guess that the non-Von Erich characters in the comic were based off of people at the production company.  Then again, this particular Namorian named Raztar who explains the situation to the Von Erich's looks a heckuva lot like Robert Wagner.  Maybe a back issue of TV Guide was hanging around the studio.

Perhaps the only WCCW reference comes in a full-page ad on page 16.  Shirts!  Hats!  Jackets!  Photos!  And of course, a bumper sticker.  Apparently the promotion had a large backlog of photos available, as the Dingo Warrior was still available despite being long gone from WCCW.  What so many of us wouldn't give to order twelve of everything off of this page.  It's not like the Simpson Brothers have that many gimmicks available!

Of course, I don't have to tell you that Fritz, Kerry, and Kevin save the day.  It's assumed that Zrail and Davette tie the knot in intergalactic matrimony, but that's unfortunately never confirmed.  Accompanied by an almost Beatles-esque piece of artwork, we are told that although peace had been restored to the planet, the Von Erich's have decided to stick around for awhile.  Does this mean that further intergalactic Von Erich adventures were planned to be immortalized in comic form?  As far as I know, we never found out.

It's not the Von Erich Family album or any of the other treasured WCCW items, but it's fun.  It's relatively easy to find (I'm sure loads were printed...) and no WCCW/Von Erich collection is complete without it.  Who knows, maybe Luke Skywalker will mention a trip to Namoria in the next Star Wars movie.  I'd be all for a Kevin Von Erich cameo...May The Force Be With Him!

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