The Iron Claw Gets Multiple Things Wrong About Fritz Von Erich. Setting The Record Straight

 Fritz Von Erich looking sad.
Credit: A24

As evidenced by CinemaBlend's The Iron Claw review, this was a great movie, and I'm late to the party in agreeing with that because I only recently watched it with my Max subscription. The tragedy that surrounded the Von Erich family is truly sad, but delivered engaging storytelling with powerful scenes that make for an instant classic. At the same time, there are some inaccuracies that need to be talked about, and a lot of them are tied to Fritz Von Erich.

Holt McCallany played Fritz perfectly and made a great antagonist for the viewer to judge while watching The Iron Claw. It was an award-worthy performance that was snubbed by Hollywood, but there are some things that viewers should know now that they've seen the movie.

Fritz Von Erich eating breakfast
Fritz Von Erich eating breakfast

Fritz Von Erich's Gimmick Definitely Played A Factor In Not Getting The Biggest NWA Title

Much of The Iron Claw's plot is centered around Fritz Von Erich and his quest to finally grab the family the World Heavyweight Championship he was denied during his career. In the movie, it's attributed to the family's streak of bad luck and the curse, but the real reason might be due to his troubling and problematic gimmick.

While Fritz was portrayed as a heel in The Iron Claw, the A24 movie sidestepped the detail that he was often billed as a neo-Nazi. Local promotions referred to him as a "Storm Trooper," implying he left the regime out of Germany and went straight into the world of wrestling. The gimmick was massively popular, but I think it's fair to say it's kind of obvious why he was never given the biggest wrestling title in existence.

That being said, Fritz Von Erich won a slew of titles across other promotions in his career. He even played a vital role in the renewed rise of pro wrestling in Japan, so it's not like he never had any accomplishments to hang his hat on. It was enough for the WWE to induct him into its Hall of Fame in 2009.

Fritz Von Erich looking proud of his boys
Fritz Von Erich looking proud of his boys

Kevin Von Erich Has Confirmed The Movie Misrepresented His Father

Kevin Von Erich was thrilled to see Zac Efron portray him, but acknowledged the movie wasn't as accurate as it could've been. For example, one of the Von Erich brothers was cut from The Iron Claw, but according to Kevin, it also didn't give the most accurate portrayal of his father, Fritz.

Kevin appeared on the Talk Is Jericho podcast to discuss the movie and noted that he felt his father came off as "pretty rank" in The Iron Claw. While he likes the movie, he wanted moviegoers to know the story is less historical and made for entertainment. Based on his comments, it seemed Kevin didn't like the implication that Fritz drove his sons to their unfortunate real-life deaths with the pressure he put on them to continually push for the world title.

Instead, the wrestler attributed it to drug addiction and said that Kerry losing his leg all led to those unfortunate tragedies surrounding his family. Readers who search the internet will find different opinions on Fritz Von Erich from the wrestling community, some of whom agreed with The Iron Claw's portrayal before the movie was ever released. With that said, it is worth noting what Kevin Von Erich, his son, has to say about the man and his take on it all.

Fritz talking to his son Kerry
Fritz talking to his son Kerry

Fritz Von Erich's WCCW Led To Major Innovations In Wrestling

The Iron Claw was mainly focused on the brothers and their family dynamic, and less was said about their wrestling company, WCCW. That's totally on brand, though I feel like the few times the business was mentioned, it was seen as a failing business. WCCW did pretty well by all reports, however, and had a syndication deal in many territories. At its peak, it outperformed big shows like Saturday Night Live, per Slam Sports.

WCCW also played a part in the innovation of pro wrestling, which was briefly mentioned during a family dinner discussion. The wrestling company was always celebrated for its high production value and was the first pro wrestling organization to have wrestlers come to the ring with music playing in the background. It's wild to hear that they used to just walk out to nothing. Imagine how weird it would be to see The Rock without his iconic music!

The wrestling organization was sold to Jerry Jarrett in 1989, but it didn't necessarily mean greener pastures for the organization from then on. Still, its legacy is fondly remembered, especially that of the Dallas Sportatorium, which was where later major names in wrestling, like Stone Cold Steve Austin, began their journeys.

Kevin Von Erich crying and holding his two sons
Kevin Von Erich crying and holding his two sons

The Von Erich Family Was An In-Ring Name, Not Their Actual Names

As a wrestling fan, I couldn't help but cringe at the fact that the Von Erich family was actually called by their wrestling names and not their real-life names. Fritz Von Erich was actually Jack Adkisson, and while his sons had the same first names as their wrestling alter egos, their last name was also Adkisson.

Perhaps The Iron Claw sidestepped explaining this because then it would acknowledge that Fritz Von Erich adopted the name in an effort to sound more German, which then helped sell his gimmick as a Nazi more. It is noteworthy that the real family name does get mentioned toward the end of the movie, in which Kevin decides to give his first child the last name Adkisson rather than Von Erich.

Still, I couldn't help but feel a little miffed as a wrestling fan that it wasn't acknowledged. There are many with a base-level knowledge of pro wrestling who likely believe that someone named their child Hulk Hogan. It would've been a great way to expose the whole idea of wrestling names to the mainstream and pique the curiosity of those who want to know the actual names of their favorite superstars.

For any faults it may have, The Iron Claw is still an entertaining movie. As mentioned, it's is available to stream on Max and is one of many great movies to check out on the platform. Those who still have yet to see it certainly should, but just remember the facts before going in.