Kevin Ross Adkisson (May 15, 1957) is a retired professional wrestler under the ring name Kevin Von Erich of the Von Erich Family. He is the last surviving son of wrestler Fritz Von Erich and had four brothers that wrestled, David, Kerry, Mike and Chris, as well as an older brother, Jack, Jr., who died in 1959.
Kevin Adkisson played football at North Texas State University as a fullback, second string to Garry Smith, until an injury ended his football career and dream of playing in the National Football League.
World Class Championship Wrestling
Kevin started wrestling as Kevin Von Erich in 1976. He spent most of his career wrestling for his father's promotion, World Class Championship Wrestling. Kevin's natural athletic ability and good looks made him one of the promotion's biggest stars. He achieved great success in the company both as a singles and tag team wrestler, often participating in many of the company's high-profile feuds. Kevin was also known for wrestling barefoot, highly unusual in a sport where almost all wrestlers wear high-topped boots. World Class announcers often jokingly referred to him as "The Barefoot Boy" on WCCW broadcasts. Kevin later admitted in an interview that he never set out to wrestle barefoot, but that before one of his matches someone hid his boots as a joke, and he wasn't able to find them before his match, so just went out barefoot to wrestle, and it later became his trademark. Contrary to popular belief, He wore boots in matches in his early career, including his debut match against Paul Perschmann aka Playboy Buddy Rose and in a match against "Superfly" Jimmy Snuka. Kevin was a big fan of Snuka's, who also wrestled barefoot, and Kevin often performed a moved similar to Snuka's flying body splash from the top rope, which Snuka calls The Superfly.
During the late 70s, Kevin established himself in the Dallas territory. His first major success came in 1978 while wrestling as a tag team with his younger brother David. During the year, they captured the NWA Texas Tag Team Championship on two occasions as well as the NWA American Tag Team Championship. On Christmas Day 1978, he established himself firmly in the singles ranks of the promotion by defeating Bruiser Brody for the NWA American Heavyweight Championship. As the 1980s dawned, Kevin became one of the promotion's most viable performers and continued to win numerous championships in both singles and tag team competition with a variety of different partners. However, his highest profile partners would always be his brothers Kerry and David.
As the early-1980s progressed, Kevin would appear often at other NWA-promoted territories, including St. Louis, Georgia Championship Wrestling and briefly Florida Championship Wrestling. Kevin also competed in a few matches for the World Wide Wrestling Federation.
Freebird-Von Erich Feud
In early 1982, the Fabulous Freebirds, consisting of Michael Hayes, Terry Gordy and Buddy Roberts, left Georgia Championship Wrestling after meeting WCCW booker Gary Hart at a show. Appearing in World Class, the trio instantly became fan favorites due to a combination of their unique talents and chemistry as well as their close friendship with the Von Erichs. All three rose quickly through the ranks and in late November 1982, Hayes and Gordy defeated the team of King Kong Bundy and Wild Bill Irwin for the NWA American Tag Team Championship.
A feud between the Von Erichs and Freebirds developed roughly a month later. During WCCW's annual Christmas show in 1982, Kerry Von Erich faced Ric Flair for the NWA World Heavyweight Championship inside of steel cage with Michael Hayes acting as a special referee. As explained in The Triumph and Tragedy of World Class Championship Wrestling DVD, the storyline, developed by Gary Hart, was written as Hayes having been selected by fans to be a special enforcer type of referee in the match. Near the end of the match, Flair shoved Hayes, which resulted in Hayes punching him. Hayes then tried to place Kerry on top of Flair to make the three count. Von Erich refused to do so since it wasn't the "Texas thing to do", which lead to a brief shoving match and argument between the two. Hayes, disgusted with the situation, told Terry Gordy, who had been assigned as the gatekeeper, to open the cage door. As Hayes is about to leave Von Erich was attacked from behind by Ric Flair, with the former accidentally hitting Hayes and knocking him out of the cage. The angle was written as having neither Hayes nor Gordy being aware that Kerry was shoved into Hayes. As Kerry was getting to his feet inside the ring, that was the signal for Gordy to slam the cage door shut, hitting Kerry on the head and costing him the championship.
The Freebirds immediately became the top heels in the company, due to the belief of many fans that their actions cost one of their local heroes the NWA World Heavyweight Championship. As the feud was building, the WCCW television broadcasts were syndicated to television stations all across the United States, giving the promotion millions of viewers each week in the U.S. alone. This changed the face of wrestling and how it was marketed and presented to audiences. The extremely physical nature of the matches between the two factions captivated fans, changing preconceptions about what professional wrestling was and could be. Throughout the next several years, the Freebirds and Von Erichs engaged in numerous high-profile matches that were very physical in nature with the various members of each group feuding over various championships within the promotion. The feud is seen today by many fans and wrestling industry insiders as one of the best worked and most memorable feuds in the history of professional wrestling.
This line of drama ended, when Kevin's brother David Von Erich, died in Japan from acute enteritis of the upper intestine. This broke up the symmetry of the wrestling rivalry, though eventually the remaining brothers went on to wrestle individually, with varying degrees of success.
Kevin also had a long feud with Chris Adams that lasted for months and had many violent matches, including two well-known chair shots on each other that required hospitalization for both men. Kevin would also tag-team with Adams on numerous occasions before and after their feud. Away from the ring, Kevin and Chris were close friends; Kevin served as a pallbearer during Adams' funeral in 2001 and traveled to England to visit Adams' family afterwards. In recent interviews, Kevin stated that Adams was the toughest wrestler he's ever wrestled in his career and he showed a great amount of respect for the British-born wrestler.
Kevin had several close matches with NWA World Champ Ric Flair, including the main event of the 2nd David Von Erich Memorial Parade of Champions at Texas Stadium, but never won the title.
After the failure of SuperClash III, in 1989, Kevin became very despondent over his father's decision to sell the promotion to Jerry Jarrett, who owned the Memphis-based CWA, despite his brother Kerry welcoming Jarrett into the mix; the merged promotions became the USWA. However, because of disputes, including suing Jarrett himself, he pulled WCCW out of the USWA in 1990, but he couldn't resurrect the promotion his father built and had no choice but shut down World Class that November. Kevin did manage to draw crowds to the Sportatorium in the early going, but with the absence of brother, manager/booker Gary Hart, and the lack of television, World Class' survival was very thin.
During that time, Kevin competed very little; other than wrestling in other independent cards promoted by either himself, Chris Adams or Gary Hart. Kevin did not participate at all in the August 4, 1989 card in which World Class formally became USWA Texas, while brother Kerry, who competed on the card earlier, reportedly left the Sportatorium shortly after his match. Kevin however did help out a young Steve Austin increase his abilities in the ring during this time, and considers Austin as one of his friends to this day.
Kevin's last round of glory occurred in the mid-1990s while competing for Jim Crockett's NWA promotion based at the Sportatorium; where he won the vacant North American heavyweight title, formerly held by Chris Adams. He then formed a very brief alliance with manager Skandor Akbar. Kevin eventually cut back on his ring appearances and formally retired by the end of 1995.
On October 3, 2005, Kevin made an appearance on the WWE Homecoming show alongside many WWE Hall of Famers. Later that night, as Dusty Rhodes and the WWE Hall of Famers were gathered in the ring, Rob Conway came out and interrupted Rhodes. This eventually led to Conway's beatdown by several Hall of Famers, in which Kevin used the legendary Iron Claw on Conway, to the raves of the partisan Dallas, Texas crowd. Announcer Jim Ross said afterwards that he never thought he would live to see the Iron Claw again.
On January 20, 2006, Kevin and his son Ross Adkisson (billed as Ross Von Erich) appeared on a local wrestling card in Longview, Texas as guests of Roddy Piper's Piper's Pit. During the segment, in which Kevin and Piper talked about going to the Sportatorium as teenagers, Skandor Akbar interrupted the interview to berate both Kevin and Ross. At one point, Akbar pushed Ross, which prompted Kevin to apply the iron claw on Akbar. Greg Valentine then pulled Akbar away, with Kevin, Ross, Piper and The Grappler taking in the cheers of the crowd.
In 2006, Kevin, and a number of others from World Class Championship Wrestling's heyday, participated in Heroes of World Class Wrestling, an independently produced retrospective documentary about the promotion and the Von Erich family. The documentary featured comments from Adkisson, Gary Hart, Skandor Akbar, Bill Mercer, Mickey Grant, David Manning, Marc Lowrance and via earlier interviews, Chris Adams.
Later that October he sold the rights to the (pre-1988) WCCW name and tape archives to World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE). WWE has since been broadcasting WCCW's syndicated programming on their subscription video on demand service WWE Classics On Demand with Kevin and Michael "P.S." Hayes acting as hosts. WWE has produced The Triumph and Tragedy of World Class, their own documentary on the territory. Kevin was also featured in the 2007 WWE produced DVD The Most Powerful Families in Wrestling in a segment on the Von Erich family.
On April 4, 2009, Kevin represented the Von Erich family as they were inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame by Michael Hayes.
He has been married since August 1, 1980 to Pam Adkisson. They currently live in Hawaii and run a family investment business together. Kevin also dabbles in commercial real estate, and owns the rights to Southwest Sports (the distributor of World Class Championship Wrestling), which was later renamed K.R. Adkisson Enterprises. Together they have five children; Kristen Rain (born February 3, 1981), Jillian Lindsey (born February 10, 1985), David Michael Ross,(born June 1, 1988), Kevin Marshall (born November 10, 1992). He and Pam have 7 grandchildren as well. Kristen and Joseph Nikolas, her husband, have one daughter, Adeline Claire and twin sons, Eli and Rush.and another son named Abram Jill is the mother of three daughters.
- Tag teams and stables
Championships and accomplishments
- NWA Missouri Heavyweight Champion (1 time)
- TWF Texas Champion (1 time)
- World Class World Heavyweight Champion (1 time)
- World Class World Television Champion (1 time)
- World Class World Tag Team Champion (3 time) - with Kerry Von Erich
- World Class Texas Tag Team Champion (2 time) - with David Von Erich
- World Class World Six Man Tag Team Champion (10 time) - with Kerry Von Erich & Michael Hayes (1), Chris Adams & Steve Simpson (1), Kerry Von Erich & Lance Von Erich (1), Brian Adias & Kerry Von Erich (1), Kerry Von Erich & Mike Von Erich (3), Fritz Von Erich & Mike Von Erich (1), David Von Erich & Kerry Von Erich (2)
- NWA American Heavyweight Champion (5 time)
- NWA American Tag Team Champion (3 time) - with Kerry Von Erich (2), David Von Erich (1)
- WWE Hall Of Fame (Class of 2009)