A career that always seemed bright also seemed to always be pulled down controversy.
The final controversy came on Sunday morning.
Chris Adams, who trained WWF superstar Steve Austin, was killed following a brawl in Waxahachie, Texas. He was 46.
Adams was visiting a former roommate in Waxahachie when the roommate and Adams began an argument. The roommate shot Adams in what was called self-defense.
Adams started his career in Stratford, England where he trained in judo. When he trained for wrestling, he took his knowledge of judo and mixed it with his new knowledge of wrestling. It was a mixture that carried his whole career. He used his “superkick” to finish off opponents long before Shawn Michaels stepped into a ring.
He even used his judo skills to win championships in England before the age of 21. Trying to survive, he mixed his time between judo and wrestling before journeying to the United States to try to make his mark. He made his professional in-ring debut in 1978.
Adams journeyed to Texas during the early part of the 1980s where he met with the Von Erich family of the World Class Championship Wrestling organization. Fritz von Erich, who WCCW ran Texas for the 1980s, immediately took to Adams’ skills. He was brought in as a fan favourite.
His first initial feud in the area was with Jimmy Garvin, winning the WCCW Texas title from Garvin on November 24, 1983. The two would exchange the title over the next few months and feud well into the summer.
Later, Garvin was teamed up with his manager Precious in many mixed battles with Adams and Texas mainstay Sunshine. The four battled, with Adams and Sunshine coming out on top, at the first annual David Von Erich Memorial Card in 1984.
The next year, Adams was teamed with heel manager Gary Hart and later teamed with Gino Hernandez. The team of Adams and Hernadez quickly became the two most hated men in the area. Nicknamed “The Dynamic Duo,” the two took on the Von Erichs and allies in many battles throughout 1985. The team was even shaved of their hair, forcing them to dawn similar masks to hide their bald heads. The duo used their similar look under the mask to fool opponents on who exactly they were facing. The duo were able to capture the tag team gold there as a team as both also were able to capture singles titles in WCCW during the same period.
“It was fun, and we were making so much money that we didn’t care,” Adams once said about his time with Hernandez.
With the unpleasant death of Hernandez in early 1986, Adams was turned fan favorite again where he battled John Tatum and Rick Rude before leaving the WCCW in late 1986 following an incident on a plane.
Adams was sentenced to three months jail time for headbutting an American Airlines co-pilot during a flight. He felt shame and looked elsewhere for work when he got out of jail.
One state north of Texas was the land where Bill Watts laid claim. His Mid-South promotion had just become the Universal Wrestling Federation and was being mixed into the NWA. The UWF was the area where such stars as Sting and Rick Steiner first made their mark in the business.
Adams was well liked by Watts and won the UWF Tag Team titles along with Terry Taylor. The two ruled over UWF for a short time including a win over Sting and Rick Steiner at the UWF “Superblast at the Superdome” show in the summer of 1987. As all things in wrestling go, nothing lasts forever.
Taylor and Adams would break-up and then battle for Taylor’s Television title. Unfortunately, Adams suffered nerve damage in his back during a match with Taylor. He was out of action for a few months, and was never able to really wrestle full-time again.
Adams recovered and split his time between wrestling for WCCW, now renamed the USWA, and training young men and women who wanted to become a wrestle.
One trainee would be named Steve Williams, who later took the name Steve Austin. Adams trained the long-haired blond Austin into Adams’ best trainees. When Austin made his ring debut, it re-created the old trainee turns on trainer feud with a new twist.
Jeannie Clarke, former wife of Adams, was brought to the ring to accompany Austin. Adams enlisted his current wife Toni Adams, who was used for angle a year before. Toni was then facing P.Y. Chu-Hi and Tojo Yamamoto, but this time she was facing her husband’s ex-wife and ex-friend.
Austin left the USWA with Jeanie Clarke, and Adams was left in limbo when the USWA was closed in 1991. Adams was seen very little over the next few years. He made ends meet by continuing with his wrestling school and selling wrestling rings. (His wrestling school and ring web site is no longer up.)
But his life was not easy. He was convicted of drunken driving twice in his life, and was put on probation when he was convicted of insulting Toni in their home in Texas.
Former manager Gary Hart remembered when Adams would be drunk. “He’s no longer a nice, sweet guy.”
He tried to move on with his life by promoting wrestling cards throughout the south and even overseas throughout the 1990s. he would also assisting in coaching the British Judo Team in the 1996 Olympic Games.
Also, Adams helped train the infamous Gracie brothers in the art of judo and grappling. The Gracie brothers have won numerous ultimate fighting championships over their career, and they still compete today.
He was never really able to make it again in wrestling besides a short stint in 1998 and 1999 with WCW. There he was brought in to fill time for WCW’s expanded television coverage.
In April 2000, Adams was once again in the news. He and his girlfriend had been drinking and taking the drug GHB. Twelve hours later, his girlfriend, Linda Kaphengst was dead. Fourteen months later he was charged with manslaughter.
Under Texas law, a person can be convicted of manslaughter if the defendant recklessly causes someone else’s death. He had pleaded not guilty and was awaiting trial.
His trial will never come.
Adams put his life in perspective once. “It’s up and down, then something comes along and makes it crash.”
He could not be more right.
May 14, 2009: Chris Adams documentary a classic with mass appeal