Kayfabe, Lies and Alibis: A World Class Reunion

Skandor Akbar, Bill Irwin, and Gary Hart come together to relive some wrasslin’ history.

Hart explains how World Class first went by that name in 1980 but Hart had been involved in Texas wrestling since the mid 60’s.

Gary had issues with the promoters and left Texas, he ended up back there in 1976 and was named booker. He kept the job until 1982.

Hart looked for talent and gave them a platform to perform more so than trying to create stars that the fans might not buy into.

Bill Irwin talks of 500-mile road trips in Stampede and how grateful he was that Hart gave him a shot in World Class.

WCCW was running 5-7 days a week and had a lot of young talent.

Hart credits Bill Irwin with being able to make the Von Erichs look good.

Bill’s brother Scott kept wrestling even as he was battling cancer.

Akbar learned early in his career that he needed good promos to get himself over. This helped greatly when he transitioned to being a manager. Akbar puts over Kamala and One Man Gang as his two favorite charges.

Hart puts over Jim Barnett as the best promoter he ever worked for.

Akbar and Hart discuss the Ann Gunkel/Atlanta territorial war.

Kabuki was one of the earliest talents to use martial arts. Hart was surprised that nobody had made a star out of this guy in the past decade before Gary gave him the big push.

The locker room and some office talent made fun of Hart for bringing in such a tiny guy like Kabuki to be a top heel.
Hart paid thousands of dollars out of his own pocket to pay for Kabuki’s outfits.

Kabuki was an excellent chef and a great guy overall.

Abdullah the Butcher wasn’t a guy that Hart felt could be used full-time in a territory, so he was used as a special attraction by WCCW.

Irwin complains about the heat in the Sportatorium where WCCW ran TV shows. A great little place for wrestling. It was full of beer cans and rats.

Akbar chimes in and talks about the exposed wiring and other safety issues that was part of the Sportatorium.

Hart says the roof leaked and the benches for the fans were lousy. Hart thinks they should have closed it in the 50’s.

Danny Miller would stretch Hart because he knew Hart couldn’t fight him back because he didn’t have a true athletic background. Hart found his own violent ways of dealing with guys who tested him like that.

Dewey Robertson was working in Kansas City and making no money, so he headed to WCCW and became “The Missing Link”. Link had a big time drug issue during this time.

Chris Adams was well educated and had a college degree but he also fell into the WCCW drug culture and faded into those demons.

Bronko Lubich was a ref who didn’t want to climb down to count pins. Hart would tell the wrestlers to do a lot of near falls as a rib on Lubrich. Akbar and Hart talk about what a great guy he was.

Hart is asked about Gino Hernandez but he declines to talk about him because he still feels the pain of losing a fine young man to drugs.

The Ultimate Warrior got a push in WCCW as the Dingo Warrior. Hart reveals that Warrior was suppose to have a partner named Socko but a suitable wrestler was never found to play the role. Warrior was kept in short matches with good workers to hide his weaknesses. Warrior was groomed by Hart and always made sure to thank Hart when they saw each other over the years.

Bill Irwin brings up Al Perez and Tommy Rich as the two guys he enjoyed working with the most. Buzz Sawyer was a pain to work with.

Hart was upset with his Christmas payoff one year and quit WCCW. Hart ended up working in JCP with Jimmy Valiant. Hart loved the feud and had fun nightly.

Ric Flair asked promoters to not put him on right after the Kabuki/Valiant matches because the crowd was so riled up that Flair wanted a cool down match placed between them.

Akbar started using the evil Arab gimmick in 1966. He had tried to work as a babyface early in his career and just couldn’t get over.

Hart created the WCCW Six Man titles to capitalize on having three Von Erichs. This led to Hart recruiting the

Fabulous Freebirds to come in and good guys to set up an eventual feud with them facing the Von Erichs.

Michael Hayes was picked to be the special ref of a Christmas night World title cage match between Kerry Von Erich and Ric Flair. Hayes tried to hand Kerry the win and a confrontation followed. Hayes’ buddy Terry Gordy ended up slamming Kerry’s skull with the cage door and costing him the win.

After drawing over $100,000 for the show, Hart felt he was shorted in his payoff as the booker and quit.

Fritz Von Erich wouldn’t come around to manage the wrestling office. Fritz had real estate and cattle businesses he also ran and he allowed Hart to run the wrestling shows.

Hart was never told by Fritz that he had to run his kids on top, but the business demanded it.

The Von Erich boys never used nepotism to get their way.

Irwin explains that the Von Erichs weren’t big on selling since they were so big and tough that they didn’t have many opponents to physically oppose them.

Bill Irwin was in Japan when David Von Erich passed away. Von Erich had prescription drugs in his bag but did not die of an overdose as is rumored.

Irwin thinks David would have been the one to carry the family into the 90’s.

Hart blames Fritz making ref David Manning the booker for business starting to slide. George Scott came next and did ok, but rumors flew in the dressing room that Scott was tanking the promotion on behalf of his former boss Vince McMahon.

Hart then goes on a rant about Ken Mantel running an indy promotion in competition with WCCW. Fritz hired Mantel on to work for WCCW and Mantel booked Buddy Roberts, Terry Gordy and Iceman Parsons as a trio of “New Freebirds”.

Mantel then booked those three to attack Fritz on Christmas night in 1987 and that caused him to have a “heart attack”. Irwin’s facials during Hart’s spiel indicate he thought Hart was getting carried away a bit.

Hart quit again and WCCW closed down within six months. Gary blames Mantel and admits Akbar and Irwin won’t agree because they liked Mantel.

All the talents dying over the course of the 80’s put a bad stigma on WCCW and helped lead to the ratings and attendance dwindling.

Irwin was part of Mantel’s indy group and knew Mantel put every dime he had into it. Once Mantel went back to WCCW, he lost his ass financially.

Hart was told by Fritz that he had to book Mantel’s shows, Gary wasn’t interested in this job and secretly out sourced the job to his two pre-teen kids.

Scott Hall has heat with Irwin from the AWA days. Irwin is baffled by this since he never had any real issues with Hall.

Gary covers Dusty Rhodes’ babyface turn in Florida in the mid-70’s. The turn created 16 straight weeks of sell outs.

Bill Irwin’s brother trained with Buck Zumoffe. Irwin says Buck’s always been crazy.

They rip on Michael Hayes for taking so much credit for WCCW’s success on the WWE’s DVD that covered the territory.
Hart runs down all the stars that were created in Texas.

Final thoughts: A lot of retreaded info here. Hart dominated the conversation here but considering his verbal skills, that’s fine by me. Akbar looked bored during the whole taping and was even eating chips on camera while Hart talked. For what it’s worth, I believe this was Hart’s final shoot interview as he died only days after this was taped. Overall, If you’ve watched any of the other DVDs on WCCW’s history, you can skip this shoot with no concerns.

Written by Andrew Lutzke

The grumpy old man of culturecrossfire.com, lover of wrasslin’ and true crimes.

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