He can be called "The Voice of World Class". Interviewer,commentator and apart of the franchise known
as "World Class Championship Wrestling". His name is Bill Mercer. We recently got a special interview with Bill to find out
what he has been up to and his thoughts of Wrestling's most legendary promotion.
BILL MERCER -"A WORLD CLASS LEGEND".
1.How did you get your start with World Class Championship Wrestling?
BM:I was in an out of wrestling broadcsting since 1953 when I started working at KRLD TV, Channel 4. I was hired to broadcst
the Tuesday night LIVE wrestling from the Sportatorium 8-10pm. After the networks took over the nighttime hours we moved
to STUDIO wrestling taped in Channel 4's studios. In 1959 I went into baseball broadcasting and football and was out of wrestling
filling in when needed. Then I left KRLD and didn't do anything with wrestling til 1976 when I returned from the Chicago White
Sox and Fritz von Erich (Jack Adkisson) asked me to do the Saturday night wrestling in Fort Worth on Channel 11. About
1980 Mickey Grant put World Class Championship Wrestling, on Channel 39. Mickey and I had discussed the use of new tv camera
techniques and it was nearly an instant hit here and around the world.
2.Describe your opinion of The Von Erich family and there story?
BM The von Erich story is complicated and simple. Fritz rather dominated the boys who for the most part, except for Chris,
grew up to be better than average athletes. The story is fairly simple about five boys growing up in the shadow of their famous
father.with a carefree life on the farm near Lake Dallas, north of the city of Dallas. David and Kevin attended what is now
the University of North Texas where David had the potential to be a top basketball player. Kevin had never been injured in
football before coming to UNT and then tore up both knees and turned to wrestling. All the boys were fine high school athletes.
Kerry was probably the finest physical athlete and could have made a name in the Olympics in the discuss
except that was the year they were cancelled. He was at the Univ. of Houston for a short time. Mike had the physical appearnce
of David and a geat deal of desire. Chris was the smallest..an asthmatic and not much potential in wrestling.. I always thought
it unusual that five boys followed their father in his business. That would be hard to find in most families I would guess.
But, to their credit and Fritz's tutelage they WERE World Class and as they vanished so did it. I enjoyed my relationship
with each of them. I felt close to all of them and felt their loss very personally. Their mother, Doris, was a kind and friendly
3.What was Dallas,Texas like in the 1980's? Could you go out in public?
BM: Oh the 1980's were amzing. My daughter, Laura, complained, slightly, that everytime we went ANYWHERE someone wanted
my autograph. WCCW was so popular I had autograph requests in Las Vegas,in Florida and of course all over Texas, Louisiana,
this area. When some Mideastern students came to North Texas where I was also teaching, they would see me and rush across
the campus excitedly. As you probably are aware I was the fourth most popular tv personality for a time in Israel...behind
the von Erichs. I was in the same period sports reporter for the most popular radio station in Dallas, so I had
folks admiration from all sides.
4..Some of my favorite interviews you did was with Michael Hayes & Terry Gordy outside. Gordy came out of the
Freebird,yelling and going nuts over Killer Khan. And when you and Gary Hart went to the One Man Gang's neighborhood
and wanted to take him out to dinner. Gang refused. Did all of the WCCW stars live in Dallas?
BM:I think one of the things that really sold WCCW was the 'specials' we did. The little interview/slice-of-life kind
of things that personalized the individuals. The Freebirds were wonderfully nuts...and always put me down! That was a lot
of my appeal to the fans I think: I was short, friendly, tv journalist (not a cheerleader) and could have been easily
overpowered. Kimala still apolgizes for pushing me down in the weeds accidentally during an interview. The features we did
with the von Erichs were classic. One I recall was with David riding horses at sunset with Willie Nelson singing, "Don't Let
your Boys Grow Up to be Cowboys" . It was stunning I thought. Then we had me walking up to Georgeous Jimmy Garvin's house
to talk about Sunshine, his female manager and instead Precious, in a flimsy outfit opened the door...folks talked about that
We had the perfect mix of heals and baby faces in that series when it started. Gino Hernandez was superb...Chris Adams
the perfect Englshman gentleman and all the others with the focus on the Von Erichs. They knew exactly how to thrill the fans...young
girls were nearly fainting...and the old Sportatorium rocked with Yippies,college kids, suits and typical wrestling fans.
The interviews and features really made the show unique. No not all of them lived in this area because they worked other areas.
5..What lead to WCCW's downfall?
BM:When David died in Japan, something went out of the show. The television director, producer and I discussed this not
too long after that. It seem that some of the spirit, or air or something escaped. Of course there were still those huge crowds
at Texas Stadium and the Cotton Bowl. But then Kerry tore up his leg, Mike nearly died from the infection and then did commit
suicide and it just went away. Fritz with all the personal turmoil, losing his boys one by one undoubtedly lost interest and
lost his stable of wrestler s to other promotions who offered them guaranteed contracts. I recall writing ithat the von Erich
dynasty was like a sky rocket that took off, exploded over the world and then quickly faded away. What could have been if
everyone had stayed and this WCCW had taken off like these couple of promotions today?
6.Do you think WCCW footage would ever be released on DVD?
BM:I don't know about DVD. Kevin has all the tapes, I believe, and I am sure would be intersested in making the money
that could be gained with DVD. There are some brilliant shows. The Hair Match at the Cotton Bowl with Hernandez-Adams
against the von Erichs...fabulous.
7.Tell us about what you have been up to since the closing of WCCW?
BM:I was broadcasting at KVIL while doing WCCW...KVIL was the top station in the market and I was the sports guy on the
popular morning show with Ron Chapman..in my opinion the best dj I ever heard. Then I went to the University of North Texas
fulltime.( I had joined them in 1959) I had also been teaching there, broadcasting their football and basketball and
working publc relations. In 1996 I retired but have since, 2001, gone back to teaching a couple of courses. I have also kept
my hand in baseball having fun as a sometime radio partner, on the road, with Mike Capps the announcer of the Round
Rock Express Baseball Team.
Four of us who worked together at KRLD TV and radio back in the 50's-60's have written a book, "When the News Went Live
Dallas 1963" about our experiences as reporters during the Kennedy assasination. The guys are Bob Huffaker, Wes Wise
(who later became mayor of Dallas) George Phenix and me. The book is in bookstores now or can be purchased on line at
I am in the process of writing another book: "Bats Balls and Body Slams" about my career and broadcasting of baseball,
football and wrestling. I hope to finish it by summer.
WORD ASSOCIATION. I say the name and you say your thoughts.
Bruiser Brody: One of the most imposing figures in the ring. Big and tough and fun to work with. He did not like giving
him questions we had not discussed! Terrible way for him to die.
Great Kabuki: Kabuki, Gary Hart (his manager) and I had these wonderful little scenarios that were kind of designed as
journalistic interviews. Gary always deferred to my teaching/journalist credentials and I deferred to hs managerial expertise.
Kabuki blew that green mist on me accidentally one time and apologized every time he saw me... .
Skandor Akbar: Wonderful man. We had these confrontations that were like somebody trying to buy a Rolex watch on the
cheap! Akbar had that "don't trust me' attitude. He was great.
Gino Hernandez: I really don't know what Gino was like when he wasn't high...on life or some substance. What a wonderful
heal for the show...handsome, devilish, maybe dangerous but always a good friend. I attended a couple of events with him and
realized I was definitely in a different generation! Another one of the reasons WCCW died..with him.
The Missing Link: Absolutely the strangest guy and gimmick in the business. When he was on the show everyone would ask
about him..all those fans perplexed by him. Saw him recently and he looks the same.
Gary Hart: My oldest friend and adversary in wrestling period. Well along with Killer Karl Kox. Gary and I have had some
of the most memorable conflicts, interviews and relationship of anyone I know in wrestling. There was one tv interview...ah
but I am saving that for MY book!!
The Freebirds: The word Crazy comes to mind. Absolutely without much redeeming quality the thing that they displayed
in their three-man attack on the wrestling world. Could never trust them, note the various times I was dissed by them, and
yet they had a ton of talent. Never surprised what they might do. I guess in the movies they would have been the Three Stooges.
Thanks for inviting me to join you in this discussion. WCCW was a beautifully produced program. It was the FIRST of its
kind with the new handheld cameras, personal features and all the wonderful talent. It had REAL class, as
opposed to what is produced today. Too bad it didn't last long enough.
Thank you Bill Mercer