Christmas 1982 was anything but Merry for the Von Erich family and their fans at Reunion Arena in Dallas. It was a part of the annual Holiday Star Wars event put on by World Class Championship Wrestling.
Beloved Von Erich brother Kerry was gearing up for a shot against the NWA world heavyweight champion, Ric Flair. But this was no ordinary title defense. It would be inside a steel cage, and furthermore, there would be a special guest enforcer on hand too. That referee was Michael Hayes, who with Terry Gordy and Kerry's older brother David had just won the WCCW 6 man tag team titles.
So it seemed like a lock. The newest Von Erich ally was going to be calling the biggest match of Kerry's young career. What could possibly go wrong? Well, it is wrestling, so everything.
Flair of course was the heel champion who everyone hated. He and Hayes went back and worth throughout the match. Terry Gordy hung out outside the cage as added enforcement. This was long before the 4 Horsemen, so Flair was truly on his own at this event. Or so it seemed.
When the official official in the match, David Manning was knocked out, Hayes took over. He decked Flair and told Kerry to cover him. Kerry refused. Then Hayes forced Kerry to make the cover put the honorable Von Erich wouldn't let Hayes make the count. As Kerry tried to leave the ring, he was greeted with the door of the cage right into the face. That of course rendered him nearly unconscious and the opportunistic Flair, who had no honor, made the cover and won the match.
This set off one of the greatest rivalries in wrestling history. The Von Erichs and Freebirds feuded for years. The two sides swapped the 6 man tag titles and spilled plenty of blood in the years that followed. Father Fritz would even come out of retirement to help his sons avenge the evil actions of the 'birds.
So, a night of peace on earth turned into one of the biggest and best rivalries in the history of wrestling.
Merry Christmas everyone.