Moody told Jim Cornette during his Ring of Honor (ROH) Straight Shootin’ Series conversation about the respect Fritz had amongst the Texans.

Fritz was God. He could do no wrong. He could have run for the governor of Texas and won. And he had so many strings – a businessman. He was so respected there.

William became especially tight with Kerry, the former NWA World Heavyweight champion, who was clearly the biggest star in the family. This helped integrate William in the locker room.

Kerry and I shared a special bond. We spent a lot of time together, not only in locker rooms around the world, but special times as we traveled back and forth from Dallas. Kerry was misunderstood by many people, especially some who never grow tired of dragging his family's name through the mud. But, if you really knew him, you realized that he had a heart bigger than the state of Texas. He was a great friend.

The Von Erichs could literally could do anything and get away with it. They were rock stars, with the talent and looks to back it up. When David died on a tour of Japan in 1984, it took the heart out of WCCW, and they never quite recovered from it. There was a dent in the psyche of the fans and the wrestlers… and that dent started bleeding out until more and more tragedies occurred. Soon, tragedy is what World Class was known for and the fans stopped coming.

When Percy Pringle and Rick Rude arrived, World Class was still riding high, but the bottom was about to fall. With the onslaught of the World Wrestling Federation (WWF), who were decimating all of the regional territories, to all of the internal issues going on within World Class, something was about to break.

On February 2, 1986, Gino Hernandez, one of the top heels in the area, died of a drug overdose. On June 4, 1986, Kerry Von Erich had a motorcycle accident that eventually led to his foot being amputated, which led to a severe drug addiction and, eventually, his suicide.

The Percy Pringle character was one of the bright spots in a world that had started to sour. Pringle brought levity and humor to a landscape that so sorely needed it. But, no matter how William Moody tried to rectify things, behind-the-scenes or in front of the camera, the building was already starting to burn, and his best efforts could not put out the flames.

Moody was more than a team player, he did anything he could to keep World Class going. He worked in the office doing publicity, in charge of programs and merchandise. He was a color commentator for their secondary market shows. He was a promoter for spot shows. He wrestled countless gimmick matches. He even wrote a book (with Dennis Brent) encouraging young fans to get involved in professional wrestling.

Moody told Jim Cornette jokingly:

I was everybody’s whore. And I loved it! It was so much fun. But I enjoyed it, and I got paid for it… just like a whore.

Of course, he managed. His stable of stars included some of the biggest names in the history of the game: Steve Austin, Cactus Jack, Buzz Sawyer, The Great Kabuki, Blackjack Mulligan, to name but a few. He even managed a greenhorn named Mark Calaway under a mask as “Texas Red” in a match against the monstrous Bruiser Brody, with the only instructions from the booker being, “Bring him back to the dressing room after the match.” (Texas Red eventually became The Undertaker… but that is another story.)

Manager Skandor Akbar (Jim Wehba) was a cousin of Moody’s mentor, Frankie Cain. Akbar saw the respect and loyalty that Moody possessed, so he went out of his way to help him learn the craft. Referee Bronko Lubich, a former headlining wrestler and a key office figure in WCCW, would guide Moody much like a caring father would. Moody sat, very happily, under the learning tree at every opportunity.

Eventually, due to his dedication, even Gary Hart warmed up to William. “Uncle Gary,” as he called him, taught William many elements needed to “up” his game and survive.

Moody was, by nature, likeable and accommodating, despite his on-screen personae leading people to believe otherwise. He was comedy fodder for many, but he was truly one of the forces that held World Class together. You could almost add “babysitter” to his considerable list of duties, as well, because when things got out of control with the boys (and they frequently did), Moody was frequently called upon to smooth things over.

So many people associated with WCCW had died or suffered misfortune over the years that it got the reputation of being “cursed.” Moody could not help but address it publicly.

I wish I had the vocabulary to completely explain how my heart is aching again at another loss of a brother and friend. There have been so many. The list goes on... and on. I find myself asking, “Will there be another… and who will it be?” Yes, there will be another.

Despite all these challenges, William Moody absorbed so much knowledge and skill working for World Class Championship Wrestling (and, later, the United States Wrestling Association), it took his résumé to another level entirely. As a performer, he really found his voice and got well-deserved national recognition for his efforts. As a businessman, he learned how to guide through the land mines of life, which allowed his career to flourish on the highest of levels. It’s pretty plain that his education in Texas set the stage for his graduation to the big leagues, as a showcase performer in the World Wrestling Federation.

I have a special place in my heart for Fritz and Doris Von Erich, their sons and their company. I would have never achieved the heights that I have enjoyed in pro wrestling if it wasn't for the six years that I spent in Dallas, Texas. God Bless them all!


I was still a heel manager and I had an office in the Sportatorium, handling all the souvenir merchandising. About that time, I started getting painted yellow, booked in mud matches, just having a grand old time.

In my stable of wrestlers was Matt Borne. Matt and Gary were pretty tight, and Matt was never known to be too tight-lipped. He told Gary how much I hated getting painted yellow every night. One quiet afternoon in the Sportatorium, I was in my upstairs office and Gary was in the booker's office downstairs. I heard footsteps and the next thing I heard was, "So Percival... Matthew says you don't like being painted yellow." We looked at each other, and all of a sudden something changed. We spent the afternoon laughing. From that day on, practically every afternoon Gary would come up to my office and we would share... hmmmm.... you know... things folks shared at the world famous Sportatorium.


Ralph worked for Fritz Von Erich and Company for many years as an announcer, referee, singer, and basically a jack-of-all-trades. To say that he became one of my family members is an understatement. He played a very valuable part in my two son’s lives when they were extremely young. He was their "Uncle Ralph.” During my roughest times in the business, right before I signed with WWF/WWE in December 1990, good 'ol Ralph was always there for us. No matter if it was bringing us a turkey on Thanksgiving, or just lifting us up in his prayers and his beaming smile.


When I think of Eddie Guerrero, I remember a 17-year old running around backstage at the wrestling matches in El Paso, Texas in the mid-1980s. During my early years with the Von Erich's World Class Championship Wrestling, Eddie's father, Gory, co-promoted the events there. Eddie hadn't started his ring career as of yet, so he helped out where ever he could. This included bringing the boys jackets back to the dressing room from the ring, and running to the concession stand for us. I smile as I recall one night when I was painted yellow by Matt Borne. Eddie pulled me aside as I was headed for the ring, giving me the "heads up" on a rib that was being played on me. He told me that my dear friend good 'ol Maniac Matthew Borne relieved himself in paint bucket that I was going to be doused with. Unfortunately, it was a bit too late for me to do anything about it. When I returned colored with several shades of yellow, Eddie was there to do what he could to help me clean up. I didn't see Eddie for several years after that, but we always recounted that night and laughed.


Many folks, in and out of our business, have different ideas when it comes to championship titles. Some view them as just a prop. They have the idea that since the industry is predetermined – or "worked,” using the so-called "smart" lingo – that the belts are just a “thing.”

I'm climbing back on my proverbial soapbox today to tell you that the assemblage of leather and metal, are far from being just a “thing.” When you pour your blood, sweat and tears into a business such as ours, the trophies that we gather mean so much to us. They represent the thousands of miles spent on the road away from your family. They stand for the many opponents that you have faced in those countless arenas around the world. The belts, simple to some, become a part of you. They are history.


I originally wrote this story on June 10, 1988, for the wrestling program at The Sportatorium. That world famous arena met its end and was demolished in 2003. Allow me to take you back in time, and pay tribute to this unique building that I love so much.

Even a five-year-old child can sit on the front row of the Sportatorium and feel it. When the bell rings at 8:00 pm on Friday nights, that huge, silver, metallic building on the corner of Industrial Boulevard and Cadiz Street comes alive!

When you visit the world famous wrestling arena, you can’t help but to think about the days gone by. “If only one of the pews in the front row could talk!,” I’ve heard that one a thousand times. No, the pews can’t talk, but I know somebody that can. That man is Bill Hines.

The following history was personally given to me in an interview with Mr. Bill Hines. Bill Hines was the maintenance man at the Sportatorium from 1950 until 1988. I knew that with 38 years of eating, drinking, and sleeping in the Sportatorium, he could tell me all I wanted to know. And boy, was I right!

The Sportatorium was originally built in 1936 for the first Texas Centennial Celebration. It was an 8-sided structure, with a flat roof, built by Bill Cox of the Cox Fence Company.

The first pro wrestling promoter in Dallas was a man named Burt Willoughby. The Sportatorium became one of the hottest tickets in the Southwest. Willoughby employed a man named Ed McLemore to handle the concessions at the boxing and wrestling events. Little did he know then, that this move is what would put the Sportatorium on the map.

Ed McLemore started out handling the popcorn, then the cold drinks, then and the hot dogs. Before Willoughby knew it, he had the entire concession business to himself. McLemore advanced in Willoughby’s company until he owned the entire business in 1940.

When the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA) was still in its infancy, McLemore began promoting under the NWA banner at the Sportatorium. This relationship lasted until January of 1953. The reason for the breakup is unknown, but the NWA and the Sportatorium went their separate ways.

Then in the middle of a windy night on May 1, 1953, someone poured kerosene on the flat tarpaper roof. The Sportatorium burned to the ground! You would think that stopped Ed McLemore’s wrestling events? Wrong!

The matches were moved to Fair Park, to a livestock show arena. They were held there for six months, while the Sportatorium was being rebuilt. The doors were re-opened on September 22, 1953 and the new building was called “The Million Dollar Sportatorium.” The outside of the new structure was a rectangle, however, the inside still retained the original octagon shape.

Local television Channel-4 was on hand to broadcast live one of the most exciting events in Dallas pro wrestling history. I searched in vain for the card that night, but was unsuccessful. At one time Channel-4 used to broadcast live from the south side of the building, and Channel-8 televised live from the north side, AT THE SAME TIME!

The Sportatorium eventually rejoined The NWA. It was about that time that a young local football player named Jack Adkisson appeared on the scene. Adkisson was talked into trying pro wrestling, and broke his shoulder while working out for his first match. Jack’s first paid job at the Sportatorium was working as a bookkeeper for Promoter McLemore. McLemore died of a heart attack in 1969. Jack Adkisson had long already established himself as the legendary Fritz Von Erich.

Besides being a “Wrestling Hall of Fame,” the Sportatorium was also famous for another regular event, namely the Big D Jamboree. The jamboree appeared at the Sportatorium from 1948 until 1966. The country music shows were held every Saturday night, with all the stars of the Grand Ole Opry. In 1962, adults could get in for only 90-cents and kids for just 60-cents. “Back then you get a whole bus load of talent from Nashville for $500,” Bill Hines explained to me. “The great Hank Williams (Sr.) was here just three days before he died. Believe it or not, a newcomer named Elvis Presley was here many times.” Mr. Ed Watt came to work at the Sportatorium in 1953, booking the jamboree talent, and eventually became matchmaker for the wrestling events.

Bill said he saw them all: Hank Thompson, Sonny James, Johnny Cash, Lefty Frizzell, Charlie Walker, and of course my favorite “The Possum” George Jones. “Around 1954, the year after the building was rebuilt, Jamboree crowds started to decline.” Mr. Hines told me, “Something called rock and roll started coming around. Promoters from New York staged one of the first R&R shows in the south right here at the Sportatorium. They were all here. One night a guitar picker broke his instrument, and he brought it to my workshop under the bleachers. I was able to get it fixed for him just in time for the show. He shook my hand and said his name was Chuck Berry. Ray Charles, Fats Domino, Jerry Lee Lewis, all stood under the Sportatorium spotlights.”

Bill emotionally explained to me how hard it was back in the days when the crowds were segregated. “One section would be for blacks, and one section would be for whites. It rotated around the building.” He said that one of the biggest crowds was the night President Eisenhower was elected. “Our normal TV telecast was preempted for the first time. We had 7,000 people stacked to the ceiling.”

Bill Hines swore to me that as far as he knew, he built the first cage ever to be used in a wrestling match, in 1962. “It was made out of two-by-fours with chicken wire around the sides, and barbed wire on top. It was for a match between NWA World champion “Nature Boy” Buddy Rogers and Duke Keomuka. Fritz Von Erich and Duke sold the Sportatorium out for a solid year during that same time.”

“The bloodiest match I can recall had to be between Fritz and Johnny Valentine.” Bill said, “Fritz took one of those wooden chairs and put 30 stitches in Johnny’s head!” I could have talked to Bill all day, so I wrapped it up by asking him what he remembers most throughout the years. “There was the night that Wahoo McDaniel was bouncing off the old hemp ropes, and the top one broke! The Chief landed in Section F, Row 3!”

However, Bill added that his favorite story was the night he was closing down the building after a particularly wild night of matches. “As I walked around the top of the box seats, I noticed a man slumped over in his chair” Bill continued, “When I raised him up, there was a knife sticking out of his back right between the shoulder blades!”

Probably the best way to end this story is to mention the hundreds of thousands of wrestling fans who have filled this historic arena. That is what really brought the old building to life, the fans. Then there were all the wrestlers, from Gorgeous George to Gorgeous Gino Hernandez. There is no doubt that the Sportatorium was a legend in its own time.

Allow me to steal a line that Bret Hart used when talking about Madison Square Garden. "It may not be a church, but it is certainly holy ground.”