“Von Erich” is one of the most famous names in the history of professional wrestling – being synonymous with both greatness and tragedy. While the latter was the subject of one of the first episodes of Dark Side of the Ring, there is an uplifting continuation to the story as the family legacy continues through Marshall and Ross Von Erich.
The two-third generation talents have been carving their own path – and their names in others kinds of stone as we’ll find out later – and building their own legacy as part of MLW of late, and the Tag Team Champions will be seen a lot more in the UK, with MLW recently confirming their new television deal this side of the pond.
Inside The Ropes‘ Gary Cassidy recently sat down with Marshall and Ross Von Erich to discuss the weight of their surname – both in terms of pressure on their shoulders and the respect it holds in the business – as well as delving into their family history, MLW, and what the pair want to leave behind as their own legacy when all is said and done.
First things first, I’m over here in Scotland. You guys are somewhere a little bit nicer. You’re in Hawaii! I believe the Von Erich family moved there in 2007. Is that correct?
Marshall: Yep, that’s correct!
Ross: You did your homework, right?
That’s my one bit of research out the window! But I need to ask, why Hawaii – and is it as beautiful as everyone thinks?
Ross: So, my dad and my grandfather, and my uncles, you know, we have a big history in Japan and, coming from Texas, they would always stop in Hawaii on the way to Japan. My grandfather was the first one to fall in love with with Hawaii and then my dad was coming back in the ’80s. It just seemed like it made sense to my dad. You know, when it’s all said and done, he wanted to move out here where it’s peaceful, you know, and he kind of deserved a break. That’s mainly the reason we came out here. But we couldn’t be any more happy. It’s beautiful. We’re just loving it out here.
Marshall: We’re sheep farmers down here – we’ve got 40 head of sheep – and it’s a great place to to get away from the city. When we go to wrestle in New York or Chicago, to come here after – where it’s just quiet… You can reflect on how the show’s went. I see why all my uncles fell in love with this place. They were all planning on coming here one day – but yeah, we finally made it.
Yeah, and there’s one little story that I found when doing my research. I need to ask you guys if this is true. I believe the story said that you guys climbed to the top of Korakuen Hall, before wrestling there, and found a little something carved into a stone. Is that true?
Marshall: Yeah, I’m not 100 percent sure if it was Korakuen Hall. I’m, like, 80 percent sure because it happened at the beginning of our career, but it was more of what happened or what we saw. I’m pretty sure it was probably Korakuen Hall.
Our thing is we always go to the roofs of venues. If we’re at the venue before the show, we go to the roof. Get away from everybody, it’s quiet, just calm down and talk about the match, say a little prayer.
We went to this building, went up to the top – and it was at the time in our careers, we’re wondering if we’re doing the right thing, if we should be in wrestling, if we’re good for it, because we’re losing a lot of matches. We were young, dumb, and so we were sitting there and I got on his shoulders and we carved, we scratched our names in the wall – “Ross and Marshall, 2012, Von Erich.”
We went and had our match, had a decent match. We still had those feelings. We came back to that spot after the show was over, sitting there talking, and on the other side of the building, on the brick wall, we saw another scratching, another scratch mark. We didn’t really think anything of it. Then we said, “Let’s go check it out,” got on his shoulders and it said, “Kevin, David.” My dad always draws an alligator. My whole life, he’s done that. And he drew a little alligator with sharp teeth and I knew is my dad’s signature. It said, “Von Erich.” It was confirmation, knowing that we were in the right place at the right time, it’s where we’re supposed to be. That was the moment that kept us in wrestling.
Yeah, that is that story. Absolutely incredible.
Ross: We needed it so bad. We needed that confirmation at the time. You know, we were just we’re going through the ringer, training, building the rings, cleaning up the dojo. And so to have a little bit of a confirmation, like, “Yeah, you’re on the right path, you’re doing what you’re supposed to be doing.”
Marshall: It gave us hope. It gave us hope that, “OK, this is it, keep trucking, keep going and see what happens.”
Yeah, most definitely. So, I’ve interviewed a few people who have come from famous families, and not all of them have kept the surname while wrestling. Was it ever a consideration for you guys to change your names, to not have the Von Erich name, or was that just never a consideration?
Marshall: We’ve wrestled each other as kids, and we grew up Von Erich fans as well as it being in our blood. But after going to Japan and seeing how my grandfather, seeing how respected and loved he was. My uncles, seeing how loved and respected they were in Texas, and just the honour that came with the name – it was just such an honour to to be a Von Erich and that name has been done nothing but blessed us and opened doors for us.
We’re definitely not entitled or anything. We know that we didn’t earn that name, that it was given, but we do feel like we need to give everything that we have or we’re not honouring the name. We need to leave everything in the ring, try as hard as we can, just just like my uncles did, just like our grandfather did. I feel like that’s how we try to respect and honour the name – by leaving it all out in the ring.
Obviously it sounds like there’s an added pressure there. I always say it can go one or two ways because maybe the door is open for you because of the name, but it’s also a much heavier door to break down because of the pressure attached. We’ll never know how much it helps or burdens people because no-one can do both!
Marshall: Wrestling is all we know. We we were born into it. We live and breathe wrestling. It’s been in our lives the whole time.
Ross: He was a toddler going through my dad’s matches. I remember following my dad up around the dressing room and…
Marshall: Walking around in our underwear with wrist tape, trying to look like Dad. That’s how we were brought up into it. I’m not gonna lie and say there’s no pressure from being a Von Erich. But this door, we didn’t open it. These are the cards we were dealt. Being Von Erichs, we didn’t pick that. I feel like we’ve got to at least try.
It’s crazy, it was the only door we didn’t even try to open. Harley Race called us, invited us to a wrestling camp. We got scouted by Pro Wrestling NOAH scouts in Japan from that – and it just kept progressing, kept progressing. We were going to go play football and do track in college and, you know, everything halted for wrestling. Now I know that I’m not in control of this. This is something that God’s brought into our lives and it’s the door that he opened. We didn’t open it. So, until he closes it, we’re going to keep pushing.
It is a heavy door though! That door’s got some weight.
Yeah. At least there’s two of to knock it down!
So, the Von Erich name, I took great interest in the edition of Dark Side of the Ring that documented your family because, you know, a lot of people know of the Von Erich name from many years ago – and it is always associated with greatness, but also tragedy. Dark Side of the Ring, though, didn’t just show tragedy, it showed hope for a new chapter in the legacy of the name. How difficult was it for you guys to be on that show, or was it a no-brainer to get your story out?
Marshall: Dark Side of the Ring, it was the perfect time. We were already talking to MLW for a few months before Dark Side of the Ring even happened. And it was kind of like… It was at such a perfect time, because when MLW message us and told us they wanted us – and Court Bauer – it was at a time where we weren’t sure if we’re going to continue to wrestle. We’re about to see what else was next.
Like I said, the door didn’t shut. It stayed open and they called us. And then this Vice thing came out and was just perfect timing. People got to see that there were two more Von Erichs, third generation Von Erichs. “Are they going to carry the name?” We get signed by MLW. ESPN covered it. And it was such a perfect timing.
That’s what we want people to know – we don’t want anybody’s sympathy, but that makes us love everybody so much for having that compassion towards my family and loving us. It’s just so humbling as we go out and see the people behind us. It’s different when people believe in you rather than people hating on you. When they believe in you, that’s a different kind of pressure – and you want to prove them right.
Ross: And our favorite thing, I think, about the Vice thing coming out was… I didn’t even think this would happen, but a lot of people out there are dealing with grief, just like my family, and they have their own things. When we get messages to my dad saying that our story helped them deal with their grief or showed them to look at the bright side, that was the most humbling thing to us, is that people were benefiting from it and that it was a helpful source. So, that’s the main reason that we’re glad it’s out there.
Marshall: My dad said that his story would be meaningless if nobody could learn from it, you know, and he said that, when he was young, all that mattered was having fun with his brothers. He needed to be broken down to a point where, you know, now he has twice the numbers in family. It was five and now it’s 20-something.
We’ve got 20 family members out here living in Hawaii. He’s the king of the property. Everybody loves him. It’s definitely a beautiful ending. We got to all wrestle together in Israel, as a six-man for my dad’s retirement and I feel like that that was kind of like the passing of the torch. It was a beautiful, cool moment.
I loved that because Dark Side of the Ring is notoriously pretty sad to watch, but the one with you guys – I feel like there’s an uplifting part of it as well. It wasn’t complete sadness. It gave you that hope.
I want to speak about another kind of trademark of the Von Erichs. Marshall, you wrestle barefoot. Why? What was that decision? Did you ever consider wearing boots or was it, “I’ve got feet so why not?”
Marshall: Exactly. I’ve got feet so why not? We went to Harley Race’s camp and they gave me some shoes to try on… I’m always barefoot, I hate wearing shoes. Every time I wear shoes, my pinky toe rips holes in shoes. It wears them down so fast.
Also balance, too. I feel more grounded when I can feel the ring and feel the ground. I’ve actually never worn shoes in a match or even in training. My dad told me one thing good about it is he can throw his wrestling trunks in his back pocket and then he can bring his work wherever he needs to go. He didn’t need to bring a whole bunch of bags, and so I can throw my trunks in my back pocket and I’m ready to go.
The Von Erich name is also synonymous with dropkicks. Aside from people with the surname Von Erich, who has the best dropkick in the business?
Marshall: Oh, man, there’s some good dropkicks out there!
Ross: I mean, Kota Ibushi‘s got a beautiful one.
Marshall: Yeah, Ibushi’s is awesome.
Ross: I mean, there’s some good ones out there. There’s some great ones out there. I appreciate a good dropkicks, that’s for sure.
Marshall: In Japan, it seems like all those guys, because they pound the fundamentals in you. In Japan, those guys have some really, really awesome dropkicks. But in MLW, there’s there’s some guys that can jump.
Myron Reed‘s got a great dropkick. Hammerstone, for a heavyweight, has a great dropkick too. Fatu – he’s got wings or something. That guy can fly. Doesn’t make sense, doesn’t make sense that he can jump so high.
Ross: He’s a freak!
Marshall: There’s so many guys out there with great dropkicks and it brings up the pressure. We’re Von Erichs so people expect something special, so we’ve got to jump even higher!
You mentioned MLW. There was a decision that came recently that was either crazy, genius or both! MLW moving to a Wednesday night. Wednesday nights are stacked with wrestling but the genius is MLW airs before WWE and AEW. What did you guys think about the move?
Marshall: Court Bauer, that guy is just a genius. He’s a mastermind. He’s constantly working to make MLW grow. He has an army of men at MLW, where the roster, each guy wants to better the name and make MLW look good.
We all believe in the product. Whatever decision Court makes, he’s the general of the process. We’re behind it 1,000 percent. And, you know, he’s he’s been in MMA. He’s done everything. He’s been in the business for a long time. And so there’s not many things he hasn’t seen and we trust him.
I love that! MLW first and then people can watch… Because MLW, I think it’s becoming less of a secret, but it is one of the best kept secrets in wrestling right now. It’s got a fusion of all kinds of wrestling.
If you want to watch luchadores, you wanna watch hardcore, you don’t watch shoot fighting. It’s got a little bit of everything, you know, and I’m just happy that we’re there. We’re part of it.
Maybe about two years ago, I knew the name but didn’t know much about MLW. Over the past year and a half to two years, the company has exploded. So it’s not such a good kept secret. Now, everyone’s finding it – as seen with the recent UK TV deal!
Marshall: We want to come back to the UK so bad! We have a lot of friends in Ireland, in the UK, but Scotland’s a place we’ve always wanted to go.
You mentioned a few names there from MLW who have amazing dropkicks, but – apart from the Von Erichs – who should people be watching that they may not know yet?
Injustice. That’s a good, good young tag team.
CONTRA. Everyone knows Simon Gotch already, but he’s technically sound wrestler.
Marshall: Yeah, Fatu! Not much of a secret anymore. But yeah, if you want to see a big man fly, he can fly.
Richard Holliday. Richard Holiday – it’s hard to stay mad at him because he’s so funny but I’ve got a feeling he’s going to anchor a new show one day. He’s going to be on the news one day, he’s just too good on a microphone.
Douglas James is gone, but he was extremely talented.
Ross: It’s just you just got to wait and see. You know, these guys are up and comers. You know, we’re all a part of this team. I feel like we’re all being elevated at the same time, so sooner or later, people are going to are going to start noticing these guys and they deserve it, man.
Marshall: We have a super-awesome, powerful heavyweight champion. We have a powerful middleweight. We’ve got Hammerstone, who just looks the part. When you if you Google “pro wrestler”, Hammerstone should pop up.
That’s the roster that Court has, and it’s awesome. We’re just honored to be the Tag Team Champions right now. That’s crazy. We still can’t believe it but we’ve got to stay ready.
We’ve got to we got to continue to stay ready. My dad told us a couple of times, “Becoming a champion isn’t the hardest thing in the world, you can catch a guy when he’s not ready, but to remain champion is the battle.” And we’re getting ready for that day that we get challenged, we get challenged really hard. And that’s going to be another thing to overcome because losing never gets easy.
Ross: You never get used to it.
Well, #TheRestart is right around the corner, so I’m sure the competition will be coming thick and fast going forward.
I’ve got one final question. We mentioned a lot about the Von Erich name, about there already being a really strong legacy there. You guys carrying on and adding another chapter to it, or at least one more. What would you guys like the Von Erich legacy to be when you guys are done with the business?
Marshall: You know, man, that’s a great question – but a loaded question!
My dad had a nuts story, and it was tragic, but he said death, seeing your brothers die I can do two things to you. “It can make you hard and hard towards everybody else, and mad at the world, or it can soften you up and you can be compassionate towards people who suffer.”
We feel like that’s the real reason we’re into wrestling. You see these wrestling fans and they all have stories, they all have reasons why they’re there. Some just got fired, had a bad day at work, want to blow off some steam, and boo and cheer and let it out of the wrestling show. That’s that’s why I feel like we’re here.
The legacy we’d want to leave is there’s light at the end of the tunnel. We hold each other accountable to just stay positive and and to see the best in each other, see the best in people.
My dad my dad lived a crazy life of tragedy and all that stuff and so, our whole lives, we’ve always tried to focus on the good and have good perspectives. I think that’s one of the most valuable things my dad taught us. He said, “Don’t walk around moping, holding grudges at people, don’t stay mad at anybody, it’s not worth it. Let it go, and live in the moment.” And that’s what we’re trying to do.
Ross: As we were growing up, we were we were just taken by wrestling as kids. My dad, his brothers, my uncles were great examples of just being the good guy. We kind of want to be an example to kids, you know, and kind of follow that same kind of path.
Marshall: There’s a lot of kids out there that don’t have dads or are missing a parent or whatever.
And when I was eight years old, a wrestler could tell me anything, and I would do it and believe it, you know?
That’s the age it really grabs you at, so I want to use that use that pedestal for something good, you know? It’s crazy that wrestling allows that. You know, in Israel, we were wrestling in a crowd that was divided. It had all kinds of different people – but they were cheering together, booing together and had their arms around each other, drinking together over wrestling. Wrestling brought a big chunk of people together – and that’s pretty unreal.
Thank you to Marshall and Ross Von Erich for taking the time to chat with us. You can follow Marshall Von Erich here, Ross Von Erich here, and MLW here. Stay tuned for more information on MLW’s premiere on Sports Channel Network in the UK.