Burdened by a tragic past, Kevin Von Erich wants his family to be remembered for the bad and the good, but with a focus on the truth.
We recently caught up with Kevin Von Erich, the last remaining son of the great Fritz Von Erich, patriarch of the Von Erich family.
With the Von Erich’s story being featured on an episode of Dark Side of the Ring and a biopic movie, The Iron Claw, expected to come out in late 2023, Kevin wants to ensure that he is able to control the message and ensure that people get the truth about his family. For that reason he has decided to run a stage show in Texas. The first leg was a huge success so a second leg of the tour is starting in September in Texas. The new tour dates for Stories From the Top Rope are: September 1st in Dallas, Texas; September 2nd in San Antonio, Texas; September 3rd in Corpus Christi, Texas; September 5th in Houston, Texas; and September 6th in Shreveport, Louisiana.
Ultimately, Kevin wants to do this show for his father, Fritz Von Erich and brother, Kerry Von Erich.
“I don’t want their name to be smeared. They don’t deserve it,” Kevin Von Erich told SlamWrestling.net in an exclusive interview. “My dad, especially, was an honorable and a good man. You know, I can only say good things about him… I just couldn’t stand for that, you know? And if you turn on YouTube, everybody wants to believe that he made us wrestle and made us do this and that. Everything can be farther from the truth. All of our screw ups, we brought on ourselves, and so it’s not my dad’s fault. He was a good man. And I just want the world to know that.”
Kevin won’t be hitting the stage alone though. “David Manning is also going to be with the show and he was a referee from back then. And David got got a gift at remembering these stories. And they were so funny, too. I mean, I forget so many of them, but with David there, they just come pouring out. So that’ll be that’ll be great. And then another guy that’s part of the show is Dale Hansen, who’s like a legend in the sportscasting world,” said Von Erich. “He’s a kind of controversial, but you can tell his heart’s in it. And I think it’s going to be really be a good.”
Depending on your age and where you lived, you saw a different Von Erich on your TV screens. If you were in Florida, David Von Erich was a star in the early 1980s. Then the whole clan ruled Texas in the 1980s.
For those who watched WWF in the early 1990s, you would be familiar with Kevin’s younger brother, Kerry Von Erich, better known as the Texas Tornado. Kevin remembers his brother fondly, “[Kerry] was like a great big, happy puppy. He loved people and he he had a real soft spot towards children and women,” Kevin Von Erich told SlamWrestling.net in an exclusive interview. “He was just really good at breaking the ice and making a jokes about himself to get the kids laughing, we just loved him. Everybody loved him. He was so funny and was just a great, happy, friendly, funny guy.”
The Iron Claw, stars Zac Efron as Kevin Von Erich, Jeremy Allen White as Kerry Von Erich, Harris Dickinson as David Von Erich, and Maura Tierney and Holt McCallany as the parents, Doris and Fritz Von Erich. A variety of other names are being portrayed including Chavo Guerrero Jr. as The Original Sheik, Ryan Nemeth as Gino Hernandez and MJF as Lance Von Erich.
The biopic is roduced by A24, and Kevin noted that he is not very involved in the movie and that makes him a bit nervous as he doesn’t know how his family will be portrayed. “It’s scary, man, because like I did call the director, Sean Durkin is his name, nice guy, and we’ve spoken a few times and I said, ‘You know, Sean, I’ve heard some news, take your phone and go to YouTube and and it’s just crazy on YouTube, they can just say anything. And it doesn’t need to be near the truth.”
Kevin’s quest for truth comes as he recounted some stories he’s heard others say about his upbringing. “One story is that we would dye our feet black so that our father would think we have wrestling boots on and he would hang us upside down on a wire on our ankles, and make a fight upside down and all those crazy stories. People can go wild with their imaginations. But I liked my father, my father was the most honorable good man I’ve ever known. I admired him so much, and all the wrestlers, and all the promoters also did. He was president of the NWA, you know. My dad was an honorable and good man, but if you listen on YouTube and some of the wrestlers that talk on there didn’t even know my dad and talk about Fritz. Like Michael Hayes. I don’t know why he said Fritz was so money hungry when he was not. I mean, I like Mike [Hayes], you know, but that’s that’s over the top.”
While Kevin isn’t heavily involved in the making of the movie, he does feel okay with its production as he feels it will be authentic as his family has been on set numerous times, even helping with its production with some stunt work.
“Well, let me tell you this, this makes me feel really good okay. These people that are making the movie, they rebuilt the Sportatorium. They built the whole thing. I mean, their hearts are into this. This guy Zac Efron. My sons [Ross and Marshall Von Erich] went out there to the set to do some stunt work, you know, some wrestling scenes, and so they’re going to be in the movie,” he said. “But as they were there shooting [the movie], and my brother, Kerry’s daughter, Holly, had also shown up as Sean Durkin had also invited her. She’s a really sweet girl, just a beautiful little angel. And so she’s there and the actor — see, I don’t think anybody could play my dad, maybe General Patton. Maybe. He was so hard and fair and also really just known for being fair and truthful. As Holly was there on set, the actor who is playing my dad walked out [Holt McCallany] … when Holly saw him, she burst into tears. She loved my dad so much. That actor is trying to look like my dad so much and when he saw Holly cry, he cried, and they hugged.”
For the last 20 years, Kevin and his family have lived in Hawaii on a compound. But they will once again be calling Texas home later this month. “I always remembered my Texas and it was beautiful down there in the hill country. They have a lot natural springs, crystal clear water and, of course, the fish. I just love nature and spearfishing, I just love it down there. And so we haven’t bought the place, well, we have bought it but I’m going to sign the papers on the 8th of June and I’ll go to Texas then. But yeah, it looks like that’s when we’re going to move down, about mid-June.”
With the move to Texas planned, Kevin and his sons, Ross and Marshall, are thinking of a new business venture in the wrestling world that may come of no surprise to many people — a wrestling school. “My sons are talking about it. I’m too old, I’m not going to, you know, well, I can still wrestle, I’m not too old but my sons are fit now and there might be a demand.”
If the venture in Texas is successful, Kevin has some aspirations on a school out in Hawaii to accommodate the wrestlers on excursion to and from Japan. “If the thing goes well Texas, then what better place to have another one [school] here in Hawaii? We’re midway between the [United] States and Japan. And, you know, the boys who are all wrestling in Japan over and over, and so did I, and we’d be kind of a like finishing school kind of thing since there’s a different style in Japan, too. So we can kind of ease wrestlers into that.”
Speaking of his kids, Ross and Marshall Von Erich, it should be noted that per their dad, they are now officially free agents, no longer tied to Major League Wrestling. “Their contracts are up today as a matter of fact, June 1st, Ross’ birthday, we’ve been waiting for their contracts to be up so they’re kind of free agents now so we’ll see.”
Through all of the good and bad, Kevin has been able to find inner peace and is living comfortably in Hawaii.
“God has lifted me up and let me just say prayer works. You ask in Jesus’ name. And it comes about, I mean, here I am, I’ve been so peaceful and happy, I couldn’t ask for better. I came out here to heal and I did. And I raised my children and the ocean and nature and the mountains and the waterfalls and eating natural food we grow or, you know, we have sheep and fresh meat and good vegetables and oh, so many fruits, I grow so many here… It’s really been healthy.”
Through it all — the stage show, the movie, the potential school — his family’s legacy remains strong. He has high standards for himself and the name.
“It’s a hard task to try to be a role model. It’s like you don’t want to let your fans down, you know? And when you get caught doing something that’s terrible, it happens. And when you get caught with even speeding, it’s going to be in the news. Kerry, he had in his pocket, those were dissolved Aspirin that he had gotten wet, but they left it to speculation of white powder. Kerry did get on the cocaine, but it was years later. But, you know, it’s just indicative of how a rumor can just start like raging fire. I mean, there’s so much pressure on you to try to not let the kids down. Little kids are watching you… it is tough and it goes on forever. And the media loves to put you on that mountain, but they love to watch you fall off it even more. So it’s like a two-edged sword.”
Before ending the chat, Kevin asked to send a message to his fans and followers: “I just want to say thank you for watching me and loving me. And believe it or not, I love you too. If we meet, then we’ll shake hands and I’ll say, I’m glad we could entertain you. It was fun.”
Tickets for “Stories from the Top Rope” are on sale to the general public, and can be purchased at EmporiumPresents.com. For the audio version of this interview, tune into Sunday Night’s Main Event this Sunday, June 11 over at sundaynightsmainevent.com.