Living in the Shadows: Life of Mike Von Erich
How was being a part of a popular family of wrestlers ultimately caused Mike Von Erich’s death?
The Von Erich family had to go through a lot of tragic events and they have come to be known as the wrestling world’s cursed family. One unfortunate event was Mike Von Erich’s death.
Mike was born as Michael Brett Adkisson and was a professional wrestler along with his four other brothers, David, Kevin, Kerry, and Chris. Michael was one of the sons of the longtime wrestler, Fritz Von Erich. When he became a pro wrestler, he went under the name of Mike Von Erich.
Michael did not initially want to become a pro wrestler as disclosed by those he was closely associated with. He wasn’t as athletic as his brothers. Instead of becoming a wrestler, Michael wanted to be a cameraman and work for his father’s company, the World Class Championship Wrestling. Not only that, he could play the guitar and had hopes of becoming a musician. This was something different from the career that the rest of his family took. However, he finally caved into the pressure.
On the 24th of November 1983, Mike Von Erich made his debut in the wrestling scene. Even though Michael bore the Von Erich surname, he just did not have the same popularity as his brothers David, Kerry, and Kevin when they first started pro wrestling. This did not come as a surprise because he did not show as much enthusiasm for wrestling anyway.
However, an event that forever changed his life happened on the 22nd of August 1985. Michael was on a tour in Israel with Kevin, his brother, when he sustained shoulder injuries. He had a surgery at Brookhaven Hospital in Dallas and came out fine. After four days, however, he was brought to the hospital again. This time, it was to Baylor University Medical Center. Michael had a high fever with his temperature reaching 107°F or 42 °C. Subsequently, he was diagnosed with a toxic shock syndrome.
Though Michael was able to return to the ring after his injury, his friends had noted that he was never the same. His brother Kevin also said that Michael felt the pressure to live up to the expectations of becoming David, his older brother, whom he closely resembled. David Von Erich passed away three years prior in Japan and was considered as the breakout star of the Von Erich family. Because of this, Michael was pressured to achieve the same popularity as his brother.
Michael’s life and career ended on such a woeful note. But what was the cause of death? On the 12th of April 1987, he overdosed on Placidyl, a medication for insomnia. Mike Von Erich’s suicide note was only discovered four days after they found his body, which was on the 16th of April 1987 in Lake Dallas, Texas.
Living under the shadows of his more popular father and brothers, it was no wonder that Mike Von Erich collapsed under pressure and took his life. Not only did he suffer from the pressures of the wrestling world, but he also sustained injuries that may have further demoralized him, making him see suicide as the only way out.
If you would like to read more about the Von Erich family, please check out my book Fritz Von Erich: Master of Iron Claw. You can also follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads for more updates. Looking forward to getting in touch with you.
Wrestler Deaths. n.d. “Mike Von Erich Death—Suicide”. N.d. Accessed August 28, 2017. https://wrestlerdeaths.com/mike-von-erich-death/.
Wrestling With Death. 2011. “Mike Von Erich Battles With Toxic Shock Syndrome”. October 15. Accessed August 28, 2017. http://wrestlingwithdeath.blogspot.com/2011/10/mike-von-erich-battles-toxic-shock.html.