Any fan of World Class Championship Wrestling knows about the Von Erich wrestling family. Heck, it was their promotion and Texas was their territory. There was David, Kevin, Kerry and Mike…there was also the baby of the family Chris and of course the patriarch…Fritz. During the early 1980’s, they had one of the hottest promotions in the country.
The Von Erich/Freebird feud was raking in the cash for WCCW and the Dallas Sportatorium was indeed the place to be. Fans just couldn’t get enough of the first family of Texas wrestling.
By 1984, tragedy had struck the Von Erichs and WCCW. David Von Erich…the man many in wrestling predicted to be a future world champion died suddenly in Japan. His death left a serious void in the lives of the Adkisson (Von Erich) family and also a tremendous void in booking for the World Class. It was around this time that Fritz began considering adding another “Von Erich” to his legitimate clan. Fritz reasoning was all about supply and demand…the fans demanded the Von Erichs every night and his sons Kevin, Kerry and Mike were being stretched real thin.
It only got worse for the family because in 1985, Mike had suffered from Toxic Shock Syndrome and suffered from a fever of about 107 degrees. The results were catastrophic for Mike because it is believed he suffered from some brain damage and was never the same in and out of the ring. With David gone and Mike struggling to make a comeback…Fritz decided to go ahead with his plan and introduce someone other than his real sons…as a Von Erich.
He found his new Von Erich in the form of a young up and coming wrestler from Don Owens Pacific Northwest promotion based out of Portland, Oregon. His name there was Ricky Vaughan and he was being pushed as a new star for that promotion working side by side with that territory’s biggest stars including Bobby Jaggers and Billy Jack Haynes. Ricky Vaughan would now come to Texas and be known as “Lance Von Erich.”
The backstory on Lance….as created by Fritz…was that he was the long lost cousin to the Von Erich boys. Fritz was his uncle and his father was that of Fritz’s former tag team partner and kayfabe brother…Waldo Von Erich. In reality…Waldo was in no way related to Fritz or the rest of the Adkisson family. Fritz even went as far as to acknowledge Lance’s last gig in the Portland territory as Ricky Vaughn. He said the reason he was named Ricky Vaughn was to try and make a name for himself without relying on the famous Von Erich name.
Everybody involved with WCCW’s booking and talent advised Fritz that this was a bad idea. His own sons pleaded with him not to go through with it…but Fritz was adamant that it needed to be done. Lance was immediately thrust into feuds with the Freebirds…Buzz Sawyer and Rick Rude. He went on to win a few titles while teaming with his “cousins” and the Dingo Warrior. (Ultimate Warrior)
The reception to the new Von Erich was really a mixed bag. Some fans accepted him for who he was claiming to be…while others were not convinced at all. WCCW booker and manager ..the late Gary Hart said that fans would come up to him after the shows and tell him they knew Lance wasn’t a real Von Erich. That was huge considering the time period where protecting the business was paramount.
Gary Hart believed and rightfully so…that many fans became angered and felt betrayed by the Von Erichs for trying to trick them into believing in Lance. Freebird Michael Hayes said it was the worst decision Fritz Von Erich made. Business for WCCW was beginning to cool down and with that came front office changes like bringing in Bruiser Brody to help book shows.
In an ironic twist of fate, Lance Von Erich wrestled Ric Flair for the NWA world title in Texas…the last time the NWA would come to WCCW…as it severed ties with the NWA. With Brody in power…Lance began slowly falling down the card. He was in some ways being phased down if not out of his plans for the promotion.
That didn’t sit well with Lance and when he confronted Fritz the two got into a heated argument. In a move to spite both Fritz and Bruiser Brody…Lance abruptly quit WCCW and went to work for a rival promotion in the territory. Fritz was beyond livid and in an extremely rare case of breaking kayfabe in the 1980’s…Fritz went on WCCW television and revealed to viewers…that Lance Von Erich was all a lie.
Fritz looked into the cameras and admitted that William Ricky Vaughan was in no way shape or form a Von Erich and that he was banned from WCCW from this day forward and his name would never again be mentioned on WCCW television. The damage was done and WCCW wasn’t the promotion it once was.
As for Vaughan himself…his wrestling career never really recovered either. He wrestled around the world under different aliases…but never achieved an abundant amount of success. He finally retired from wrestling got married and lives in Mexico.