Not All In The Family: The Worth of the Von Erich Name

Brian Damage

If you are a fan of pro wrestling, it is hard for you not to at least be familiar with the Von Erich family from World Class Championship Wrestling in the 1980’s. The Von Erichs ruled Texas wrestling during this time. They consisted of the patriarch Fritz and his real life sons David, Kevin, Kerry, Mike and later Chris. While extremely popular, their careers were all cut short due to tragedy. Drugs, alcohol and suicide plagued the Von Erich family and brought a once very profitable promotion to its end. Despite all the scandals and tragedies, the Von Erich name still means something in pro wrestling, although perhaps not like it used to.

In reality, Von Erich is a fictional name that started out in the 1950’s, starting out with Jack Adkisson who portrayed a villainous Nazi sympathizer named Fritz Von Erich. He teamed with his kayfabe brother Waldo Von Erich in various territories. Eventually, Jack Adkisson gained control of the Von Erich name and passed on that name to his sons when they got involved in the business. As time went on, Fritz’s son David died while on tour in Japan, younger son Mike nearly died from toxic shock syndrome and later committed suicide.

With a shortage of Von Erich boys, Fritz made the horrible decision to “create” a new Von Erich in a cousin named Lance Von Erich. The fans didn’t buy it and ultimately scrapped the gimmick. The youngest Adkisson son…Chris tried to carry on the Von Erich legacy, but was very small in stature and was continually sidelined by injuries. The pressures associated with living up to the Von Erich name was too great for Chris and he too killed himself.

Kerry was arguably the most successful of the Von Erich boys having won the NWA world title and branching out of Texas and winning the WWF intercontinental title. Drugs plagued Kerry and his career, however, and after staring at a long jail sentence….took his own life. That left Kevin, who also had his own personal demons as the only surviving Von Erich child. He eventually retired from full time wrestling in 1995.

You would think that was the end to the Von Erich name in pro wrestling, but soon there would be a third generation to the name. Starting in 2007, the first and only female to carry on the name was Kerry’s daughter Lacey. She was signed to a WWE developmental deal, but was eventually cut. She gained her biggest success in TNA wrestling as a heel in the faction ‘The Beautiful People.’ She admittedly enjoyed her time as a wrestler, but was not 1005 committed to the business and ultimately left it full time in 2010.

Two years later, Kevin Von Erich’s sons Marshall and Ross decided to join the family business and began their careers in 2012. They are currently signed to Major League Wrestling (MLW) and very much still active. As of now, they are the only legitimate Von Erichs in professional wrestling. With that said, that hasn’t stopped promoters and wrestlers outside of the Adkisson family from trying to profit on the Von Erich name. More recently, there have been more Lance versions in wrestling than there are actual Adkisson versions.

In recent years, a new crop of “Non Erichs” have emerged in professional wrestling. Men and women who have no real blood connection to the Adkisson family trying to profit from the famous name.

Mark Von Erich

Texas based independent wrestler Rick Lerebeus posed as a member of the Von Erich clan in the late 1990’s to early 2000’s. He is most known as a journeyman wrestler who competed in WCW as ‘Rock Hard Rick.’ Lerebus insisted he was given permission by Kevin Von Erich and the late Skandor Akbar to use the Von Erich name. Others have said that Kevin issued Lerebus at least one cease and desist to stop him from posing as a member of the Von Erich family. In either case, Mark Von Erich is/was not a real member of that family.

Kayden Von Erich

A wrestler trained by the late ‘Killer’ Tim Brooks, Kayden Von Erich was claiming to be a nephew of the Von Erich brothers. He basically wrestled on the Texas independents under that moniker, but again…not a member of the Adkisson family.

Karen Von Erich

This one was/is a bit offensive, but Karen Von Erich was a wrestler on the indies claiming to be the illegitimate daughter to Fritz Von Erich. Not only that, but the gimmick also entailed her to be suicidal.

Rip Von Erich

The name says it all…Rip (Get it) In actuality, however, the character was a “one off” gimmick from MLW in 2019 to help advance the storyline feud between ‘Filthy’ Tom Lawlor and the Von Erich brothers (Marshall and Ross).

While the Von Erich name is very much alive in pro wrestling today…it has also branched out in the music world with bands like The Von Ehrics and The Von Erich Suicide Mission. A band from the Adkisson’s hometown of Denton, Texas called ‘Bowling for Soup’ has a lead singer named Jaret Reddick go by the name Jaret Von Erich….with Kevin’s permission of course.

All in all, despite the various scandals and tragedies that have plagued the Von Erich family through the years….their name is still very much marketable. While Ross and Marshall hold down the Von Erich name for at least a few more years….you never know if there will be more Adkissons in the future to continue the name that was once the very pride of Texas wrestling.

2 thoughts on “Not All In The Family: The Worth of the Von Erich Name

  1. Rock Hard Rick pretended to be a Von Erich? My mind reels. Doubt seriously Kevin gave him permission for name usage. Karen sounds like she needs a new gimmick, immediately.

    Liked by 1 person

    • He also wrestled as Mark Valiant in the Global Wrestling Federation… I remember Iceman Parsons cutting a promo bashing him for “running around” thinking he was a Von Erich

      Liked by 2 people

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