Go! Kevin! Go!

Starting at the 01:15 mark in this 1979 match in St. Louis, a very young Kevin Von Erich holds a headlock on Roger Kirby for two minutes and twenty seconds. The more Roger squirms, the tighter Kevin squeezes. When Roger grabs the pro-wrestling scion by the hair, Kevin throws his hip into it as he wrenches his opponent's head painfully. Roger lifts Kevin up and drops him on top of the corner ropes, and still Kevin holds fast. Nobody works headlocks the way Kevin did, spotlighting his own lithe muscularity and tenacity (and testiness) as a grappler at the same time.

Ultimately the long hold puts Von Erich in an untenable position, which lets Kirby keep him cornered while kneeing and stomping his ribcage and stomach and ultimately clamping him in a near-paralyzing chinlock in the center of the ring. However, a couple of elbow smashes frees the golden boy and segues to the second of KVE's classic but never-better-executed holds: the arm bar (04:36), which, along with the side headlock, ranks high among the moves that make wrestling my homoerotic fetish of choice.

Again Kevin makes drama out of a textbook hold: When Roger grabs the ring ropes to force a break, Kevin yanks him back to the center of the mat, never loosening his grip on the heel's arm. In the kneeling position, with one knee pressed to his opponent's jaw, the hold shows off Kevin's V-shaped back and buns of steel. The jerk Kev gives the bottle blond's arm at 05:13 is orgasmic. Words cannot describe. And you cannot convince me that Von Erich was not wise to the erotic heat of these holds.

As the ring commentator describes at obsessive length (with comparisons to wrestling hottie Joe Stecher, of the 1910s--a tragic figure, too, to judge by the Wikipedia bio), Kevin Von Erich was in the process of revamping the body scissors as a "submission hold" ... at the request, we're told, of a wrestling promoter. (A wrestling promoter after my own heart, I would assume.)

Naturally, Roger Kirby proves himself worthy of this crushing comeuppance, which he does through hair-pulling, trunks-pulling, and strangulation. A lengthy slug-out climaxes in a blocked "iron claw" (the Von Erich patrimony) that Kevin switches to a claw into Kirby's squishy midsection. All is grade-A perfection except for the disappointing dud of an ending--leaving the highly touted body scissors submission to our imaginations.

In 1979, Kevin was reaching his peak (two years into his pro career), physically and stylistically. If today's young wrestlers in underground wrestling aren't already studying late 70s, early 80s KVE matches, they ought to be. I can think of nobody who worked the erotic angle of pro wrestling as effectively yet quietly as Von Erich.

He had the good sense--or perhaps instinct--that the crowd loved to see his lean, hard body pressed up against his opponents. He also knew that maintaining a hold for a minute or longer gave fans time to soak in his and his opponent's contrasting physiques and that small thrusts and twists ("detail work," as I call them) could captivate even a large audience. As the commentator on this match indicates, whatever raw instincts Kevin brought to his libidinally charged wrestling style, it was also deliberately honed through careful study of predecessors like Stecher.


  1. I would pay a lot of money if anyone ever released a DVD of all of Kevin & Kerry's matches in HD.

  2. You know, I think I actually remember this match! It was a good one.

    I loved Kevin, but not usually his opponents. Kirby was one of the better ones.

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