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Kerry Gene Adkisson (February 3, 1960 – February 18, 1993) was an American professional wrestler under the ring names Kerry Von Erich, The Modern Day Warrior, and The Texas Tornado and was part of the Von Erich family of professional wrestlers. He is best known for his time with his father's promotion World Class Championship Wrestling (WCCW), where he spent eleven years of his career, and his time in World Wrestling Federation (WWF). Adkisson held forty championships in various promotions during his career. Among other accolades, he was a five-time world champion: a four-time WCWA World Heavyweight Champion and one-time NWA World Heavyweight Champion, and a one-time WWF Intercontinental Champion.
Professional wrestling career
NWA Texas (1979–1980)
Kerry was the son of wrestler Fritz Von Erich. His brothers, David, Kevin, Mike, and Chris, were also wrestlers. Kerry was also a standout in high school track and field and possessed a record-breaking discus throw. He debuted in his father's promotion, NWA Texas/Big Time Wrestling on June 17, 1979 against Gary Hart. In Big Time Wrestling, he held many Texas Tag Team and American Tag Team titles.
World Class Championship Wrestling (1980–1982)
Most of Kerry's fame was made in Texas' World Class Championship Wrestling (WCCW), where he was nicknamed "The Modern Day Warrior." On December 28, 1980, his first NWA American Heavyweight Championship reign came after he defeated Gino Hernandez for the vacant title. He lost the title to Ken Patera before winning his second NWA American Heavyweight Championship from The Masked Superstar. In May and June 1981, Kerry exchanged the NWA American Heavyweight Championship with Ernie Ladd. On October 25, he teamed with Terry Orndorff and they defeated The Great Kabuki and Chan Chung to win the NWA American Tag Team Championship. After having short angles as a singles wrestler, he began teaming with his brother Kevin. On March 15, 1982, the two brothers wrestled Gary Hart and King Kong Bundy to a double disqualification. On June 4, Von Erich defeated former NWA World Heavyweight Champion Harley Race, elevating him to main event status.
Kerry started feuding with the NWA World Heavyweight Champion Ric Flair. On August 15, he got his very first shot at the NWA title against Flair in a two out of three falls match, which Flair won to retain the title. On December 25, Kerry got his next title shot against Flair in a no disqualification steel cage match, with Michael "P.S." Hayes, as the special guest referee. The Fabulous Freebirds helped Kerry to win the match, but he refused to take their help and said that he didn't want to win by cheating. Terry Gordy slammed the cage door on Kerry's head, which led to Flair winning the match and retaining the title. This culminated in a historic feud between the Von Erichs and the Freebirds that lasted for over five years.
St. Louis Wrestling Club (1983)
World Class Championship Wrestling (1983–1989)
Feud with the Fabulous Freebirds (1983–1984)
On June 17, 1983, he teamed with Bruiser Brody to defeat the Fabulous Freebirds for the NWA American Tag Team Championship. On July 4, Kerry and his elder brothers Kevin and David defeated the Fabulous Freebirds in a two out of three falls match to win the NWA Texas Six-Man Tag Team Championship. They lost the titles back to the Freebirds on August 12. On September 5, the brothers took on the Fabulous Freebirds in a rematch for the titles; the Freebirds retained their titles by pinning Kerry. On November 24, Kerry defeated Michael Hayes in a loser leaves Texas steel cage match.
On December 2, the Von Erichs defeated the Freebirds for their second NWA Six-Man Tag Team Championship. On December 25, Kerry defeated Kamala by disqualification. On January 30, 1984, he teamed up with his brothers Mike and David against the Fabulous Freebirds in a six-man tag team match, which the Von Erichs lost by disqualification.
Kerry's biggest career highlight was on May 6, 1984, when he beat "Nature Boy" Ric Flair in a historic match, in front of over 45,000 fans at Texas Stadium to win the NWA World Heavyweight Championship. Kerry's victory was a tribute to his brother David, who had died three months earlier and for whom the event, the David Von Erich Memorial Parade of Champions, was named. He lost the belt 18 days later in Yokosuka, Japan, back to Flair in a bout that was marred by controversy: Von Erich's feet were on the bottom rope following a reversed rollup, but the referee ignored this and made the count. Kerry has the 12th shortest NWA World title reign in history. In reality, the NWA only allowed Kerry a short reign due to his substance abuse, and he was told to drop the belt to Flair before the May 29 encounter between Flair and Ricky Steamboat.
On July 4, the Von Erichs lost the six man tag title to the Fabulous Freebirds. The title was held up due to the Freebirds winning after interference by Killer Khan. On September 3, they defeated the Freebirds in a handicap steel cage Loser Leaves Texas match for his fourth six man tag title reign.
Later feuds; amputation (1984–1989)
After ending their rivalry with the Fabulous Freebirds, Von Erich brothers next feuded with Gino Hernandez, Chris Adams, and Jake Roberts. Kerry's angle with Adams was born out of Adams' angle with his brother Kevin, which began on September 28, 1984 (when Adams turned heel against Kevin following a tag team loss). In order to remain on kayfabe terms, Adams and Kerry wrestled as a tag team two days later in San Antonio, since the heel turn had not aired on television yet. On October 27, 1984, Hernandez, Adams, and Roberts defeated the Von Erichs to win the Six Man Tag Title in a match that saw Bobby Fulton substitute for an injured Kevin. On October 29, he defeated Gino Hernandez for his fifth NWA American Heavyweight Championship. On November 22, he teamed with Iceman Parsons to defeat Jake Roberts and Kelly Kiniski. He later refereed a Texas Deathmatch between longtime rival Terry Gordy and Killer Khan, which Gordy won, via Kerry's decision. On December 25, Kerry again got a shot at the NWA World Heavyweight Championship, a title he had lost many months ago. The champion Ric Flair intentionally got disqualified to retain the title. On December 31, the Von Erichs defeated Hernandez, Roberts, and Adams to regain their NWA Six-Man Tag Team Title.
On June 4, 1986, Kerry was in a motorcycle accident that nearly ended his life and left him with a dislocated hip and a badly injured right leg. Doctors eventually had to amputate his right foot. According to brother Kevin, Kerry injured the foot following surgery by attempting to walk on it prematurely, crushing the bones beyond repair and thus forcing the doctors to amputate it. He was able to continue wrestling after the accident with a fused ankle. Kerry was able to keep his amputation secret for a while. However, during a match on an AWA card in Las Vegas against Colonel DeBeers, Kerry's secret was exposed. During the bout, DeBeers ended up on the outside, but he grabbed Kerry's foot and tried to pull him out of the ring. However, he ended up pulling off Kerry's boot with the prosthetic foot attached.
During his last days in WCCW, Kerry Von Erich would be embroiled in a feud with Jerry "The King" Lawler (AWA World Heavyweight Champion) over who would be the Undisputed Heavyweight Champion. Kerry was then the WCWA (World Class Wrestling Association (World Class' final used name before the USWA days) Heavyweight Champion. They would meet at an interpromotional event called SuperClash III to settle the dispute. Prior to this match, Kerry accidentally cut his arm causing it to bleed. During the match, he also received a cut to the head. When he later had Lawler in a clawhold on the mat with Lawler's shoulders down, the referee saw the blood on Kerry's head, thought it was excessive, and stopped the match. The crowd thought Kerry won by submission but instead "due to excessive bleeding" the referee stopped the match and awarded the decision and the WCWA Championship to Jerry Lawler. This would mark the end of Kerry's WCWA run.
United States Wrestling Association (1989-1990)
Kerry did continue to wrestle at the Dallas Sportatorium under the USWA banner, which acquired World Class in early-1989. He formed a tag team with Jeff Jarrett, and won the Texas heavyweight title twice. In 1990, Kerry feuded violently with Matt Borne, who turned heel during a ringside interview; during one match, the two battled outside the Sportatorium into the parking lot during a thunderstorm. Manager Percy Pringle also turned heel, and began feuding with Kerry. During the height of their angle, Kerry abruptly left the USWA/World Class and joined the WWF, billed as The Texas Tornado, leaving the Von Erich tradition to older brother Kevin (who was considered semi-active) and Chris. Honorary Von Erich "Gentleman" Chris Adams then became the Sportatorium's main headliner, feuding with Pringle, Steve Austin, and Jeannie Clark. World Class withdrew from the USWA soon thereafter, but without Kerry, manager Gary Hart, and lack of television and revenues, World Class ceased operations three months later.
World Wrestling Federation (1990–1992)
In the summer of 1990, he signed a contract with Vince McMahon's World Wrestling Federation (WWF) and debuted on the July 28, 1990 edition of Saturday Night's Main Event as a babyface named The Texas Tornado, defeating Buddy Rose, who coincidentally was older brother Kevin's opponent when he made his wrestling debut in 1976. At SummerSlam, Tornado substituted for the injured Brutus Beefcake and defeated Mr. Perfect (Curt Hennig) to win the WWF Intercontinental Championship. After he became Champion, Tornado defended the title for three months including a match against Haku on the October 13 edition of Saturday Night's Main Event before losing the title back to former champion Mr. Perfect in a rematch on the December 15 (taped November 19) edition of Superstars. Kerry lost this match, and the title to Perfect due to interference from "Million Dollar Man" Ted DiBiase.
At Survivor Series in 1990, while still Intercontinental champion, he wrestled in a Survivor Series match where he teamed with the WWF Champion The Ultimate Warrior (formerly The Dingo Warrior in World Class) and the Legion of Doom (Hawk and Animal). He was eliminated by long-time rival Mr. Perfect but his team won the match. At the Royal Rumble, he participated in the Royal Rumble match where he entered fifth and was eliminated by The Undertaker after lasting nearly half an hour. He made his WrestleMania debut at WrestleMania VII, defeating Dino Bravo following a Tornado Punch. At SummerSlam, he teamed with the British Bulldog and Ricky Steamboat in a six-man tag team match to defeat the team of The Warlord and Power and Glory (Paul Roma and Hercules).
At Survivor Series, he teamed with Sgt. Slaughter, Jim Duggan, and Tito Santana against Colonel Mustafa, The Berzerker, Skinner, and Hercules. He did not eliminate anyone, but his entire team survived. He made his last pay-per-view (PPV) appearance at the Royal Rumble in 1992; he participated in the Royal Rumble match for the vacant WWF World Title. He was eliminated by the eventual winner Ric Flair, the man Von Erich beat eight years before for the NWA World Heavyweight Title. Kerry's push eventually ended as he was relegated to jobber to the stars status. He left the WWF in the summer of 1992. He then had a brief run with ECW.
United States Wrestling Federation and Global Wrestling Federation (1992–1993)
Kerry returned to Texas and claimed the USWF Texas Heavyweight Championship, which he lost to Dynamite Dixon in November. This would be Kerry's last championship belt. Kerry returned to Dallas to compete in the Global Wrestling Federation (GWF), where he began teaming with former arch-rival Chris Adams. Kerry's final match took place on February 12, 1993. It was a tag team match in the GWF at the Sportatorium on which Kerry and Chris Adams lost via DQ to Johnny Mantell and Black Bart.
On March 16, 2009, WWE.com announced that the Von Erich family would be inducted into the 2009 class of the WWE Hall of Fame by longtime rival, Michael Hayes. Fritz, Kevin, Dave, Kerry, Mike and Chris Von Erich were the members of the family that were inducted. Kevin received rings for his father, Fritz, as well as each of his brothers. WWE made two hall of fame rings with the name "Kerry Von Erich" inscribed on the inside. Both Hollie and Lacey along with their mother Cathy (Cathy and Kerry were divorced at the time of his death) attended the WWE Hall of Fame ceremony at the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas on April 4, 2009. Kevin gave Hollie and Lacey each a ring with Kerry's name inscribed inside.
Kerry was married on June 18, 1983 to Catherine M. Murray. They had two daughters, Hollie Brooke (born September 19, 1984) and Lacey (born July 17, 1986). The couple divorced on April 22, 1992.
Kerry had a history of drug problems, and drugs may have been a factor in the motorcycle crash in 1986 that cost him his right foot. Kerry committed suicide by shooting himself with a magnum revolver in the chest, at his father's ranch in Denton, Texas, on February 18, 1993. Kerry drove a Jeep over a steep embankment at the time he shot himself. It was only one day after being indicted on a drug charge. Kerry was facing jail time for a pending prescription forgery charge. A memorial service for Kerry was held at the Dallas Sportatorium the day after his suicide, with both Chris Adams and Marc Lowrance delivering emotional speeches to the crowd. Two months later, a memorial wrestling card in his honor was held at the Sportatorium, which featured the last-ever match between the Freebirds and the Von Erichs. The funeral for Kerry Von Erich was held at the First Baptist Church in downtown Dallas. The Reverend W.A. Criswell officiated and reduced himself to tears as he described his "anger" over Kerry's death. His former wife, Cathy, attended with the couples' two daughters, Hollie and Lacey. Although already divorced and therefore not his widow, Cathy wore a black mourning suit complete with black hat and veil. Others, including Fritz, Kevin, Adams, Lowrance, Bill Mercer, Bronko Lubich, David Manning, Gary Hart, and bodyguard Bill Colville attended.
When his father, Fritz Von Erich, died in 1997 he was cremated and his ashes interred in the same plot as Kerry. David Von Erich, Mike Von Erich, Chris Von Erich, and Natasha Adkisson (Natasha is the infant daughter of David Von Erich and his first wife Candy) are all buried in Grove Hill Memorial Park as well and are all buried next to each other. The grave with Kerry's body and Fritz' ashes is not immediately adjacent to the other members of the family, but is close by.
- Entrance themes
- "Call Me" by Blondie
- "La Grange" by ZZ Top
- "Tom Sawyer" by Rush
- "Midnight Rider" by Hank Williams, Jr.
- "Tornado Warning" by Jim Johnston (WWF)
- "Stranglehold"by Ted Nugent
Championships and accomplishments
- NWA Big Time Wrestling / World Class Championship Wrestling / World Class Wrestling Association
- NWA American Heavyweight Championship (5 times)
- NWA American Tag Team Championship (6 times) – with Bruiser Brody (3), Kevin Von Erich (2), Al Madril (1)
- NWA Texas Heavyweight Championship (3 times)
- NWA Texas Tag Team Championship (3 times) – with Bruiser Brody (1), Skip Young (1), and Tiger Conway, Jr. (1)
- NWA World Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
- NWA World Six-Man Tag Team Championship (Texas version) (6 times) – with David and Kevin Von Erich (2), Kevin and Mike Von Erich (3), Kevin Von Erich and Brian Adias (1), Lance and Kevin Von Erich (1), Kevin Von Erich and Michael Hayes (1)
- NWA World Tag Team Championship (Texas version) (3 times) – with Al Madril (1), Terry Orndorff (2)
- WCWA World Heavyweight Championship (4 times)
- WCWA World Six-Man Tag Team Championship (2 times) – with Kevin Von Erich and Lance Von Erich (1), Kevin Von Erich and Michael Hayes (1)
- WCWA World Tag Team Championship (4 times) – with Kevin Von Erich (3), Jeff Jarrett (1)
- Pro Wrestling Illustrated
- United States Wrestling Federation
- USWF Texas Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
- World Wrestling Federation / World Wrestling Entertainment
- Wrestling Observer Newsletter awards