Fans that followed the World Class Championship Wrestling promotion based out of Dallas, Texas throughout the 1980s, will remember Marc Lowrance. His no-nonsense approach to wrestling and his professionalism when interviewing wrestlers and announcing the matches made him stand out. His 10-year career while working for Fritz Von Erich allowed him to witness and experience historic moments that took place in the sport. We had a chance to talk to Marc about the Von Erichs, the promotion’s successes, the territories tragedies, and its decline.
Q: How did you start working for World Class Championship Wrestling?
A: The job fell into my lap. It was a fun thing to do and it was an easy way to make good money. The people at World Class were good and honest. After teaching school for a few years, I pursued the ordained ministry. Since the work for the promotion was always in the evening, it allowed me to work and at the same time, go to school during the day.
Q: What was the World Class promotion like in its prime?
A: It was remarkably successful and it was phenomenally popular.
Q: How would you describe the popularity of the Von Erich?
A: The Von Erichs were remarkably popular. We have to remember, the heels that they worked against were a big part of their popularity. World Class had good heels. The Fabulous Freebirds, Gary Hart, Skandor Akbar, and Gino Hernandez and Chris Adams, were good examples of that. Good heels make a wrestling office.
Q: What do you think made the World Class territory so successful?
A: The television production that developed out of channel 39 under the hand of Mickey Grant was exceptional. It was the first time that wrestling was ever was produced in a way that it looked like other professional sports. It was fast-paced and it was time-sensitive. It had instant replay and the production team had cameras up close and on the apron of the ring. The entire production brought new credibility to that acrobatic form that drew a whole new audience into wrestling.
Q: Why do you think the fans got so intensely invested in the Von Erich and Freebird Feud?
A: It was all about timing. There was a lot of intensity from all those personalities that were involved in that particular feud. Terry Gordy, Michael Hayes, and Buddy Roberts were all three different as night and day, but they all complimented each other so well. The Von Erichs were the hometown, wholesome, and good-looking boys. It all played out so well.
Q: What do you remember about David Von Erich’s death?
A: His death was a tragedy. David was going to be the leader of that family and he would have been a positive influence on his brothers. He was intense and he was most like his Daddy. It was just a sad tragedy that David died.
Q: What did it mean for the promotion and the Von Erich family when Kerry won the National Wrestling Alliance World title?
A: Well, it was a great thing for the promotion and it was kind of like a “make it right situation” after David had died. The rest of the wrestling world was not too impressed with it and Kerry wasn’t allowed to keep that belt too long. Kerry was not reliable and that hurt him. Kerry could have been one of the top names in the world of wrestling, but you just couldn’t count on him.
Q: What are you surprised that Kerry only held the NWA title for just three weeks?
Q: What was Gino Hernandez like?
A: Gino was a great guy. He was good looking, he was personable, he was bright, he was funny, and he read people in certain situations well. I enjoyed his company. He befriended numerous people in the office and he was well-liked. Gino could go to any of the booking offices in any of the territories and be mid to top card draw right away. He was a good worker, he was good on the camera and everyone hated the fact that he self-destructed.
Q: Was it a shock to anyone that his death was ruled to be a result of Cocaine intoxication?
A: Well, drugs were very present in that wrestling territory. When that wrestling promotion took off in the early ’80s and when it continued, it was still operating as it was in the ’70s. There was never anything done to help the wrestlers. Many of the guys were uneducated and they just didn’t know how to manage life. When it came to their finances, their careers, their relationships, their alcohol and drug habits, their travel, and their taxes; they were pretty much on their own. Since the wrestlers at World Class were doing well and they were becoming stars, the people that could provide the so-called “forbidden fruits” were always seeking them out. They just didn’t have that strong protective insulation that they needed. The promotion was very vulnerable to that.
Q: What was Bruiser Brody like?
A: He was a great guy. He loved the wrestling business. He knew the business well and he was a good businessman. Brody managed his money well. He was a committed husband and father. I had a great deal of respect for him and I enjoyed my time working with him. It was very sad that he lost his life.
Q When you think about all the tragedies that happened to several of the wrestlers in that territory, what goes through your mind?
A: The farther along we go, we’ll understand more about it, and the farther along we go, we’ll understand why. Unless you are a wrestler, none of us know what it was like to be in a wrestler’s shoes. Drugs were very much involved in the business in that era and there was a lot of pressure on those men. There were also a lot of immaturities so it was just a sad mix.
Q: What do you think caused the decline of the Dallas wrestling territory?
A: The decline of the territory happened because Fritz chose not to run against other promotions and when he didn’t do it, other people did. When Ted Turner and Vince McMahon started doing it, they became the magnet for top talent. So, World Class and the other regional territories couldn’t keep their top wrestlers. Other people in the business just started doing wrestling better. It was frustrating to see the mindset hold World Class back from becoming what it could have been. That frustration was accelerated by those who were in the wrestling business for life, which I wasn’t. Since I lived with that frustration, I had many conversations with many people about it. If the promotion had been run by a visionary leader, it would have been what the WWE wound up becoming.
Q: Why did you end up leaving the World Class promotion?
A: My departure from the promotion was because I had already taken my student parish and the conflicting worlds were starting to get in the way, so I left very graciously. By that time, it had become Jarrett’s promotion. It was sad to see the World Class promotion out of business, but for me, it timed out well.
Q: What is your fondest memory of working with World Class promotion?
A: I don’t know if I have a single fond memory that stands out for me. Although, it was a blessing to get to do that for 10 years and because of it I learned a lot about life.