Old School Spotlight: “Flamboyant” Eric Embry

Embry

In the long storied history of professional wrestling, many spandex clad gladiators have grabbed our attention and captured our imaginations. These colorful characters remain in the deepest recesses of our minds years after their glory days in the ring have passed. The most memorable grapplers from our years of wrestling fandom are often those that we encounter early on in our initial discovery of the mat game. This column will take a look at some of the most bizarre, flamboyant, charismatic, and downright terrifying pro wrestlers of all time.

Douglas Eric Embry was born in 1959 in Lexington, Kentucky. He was trained by the legendary Lou Thesz, and began his professional wrestling career in 1977. Early on, Embry worked in Eddie Graham’s Championship Wrestling from Florida and Joe Blanchard’s Southwest Championship Wrestling territories as a babyface. “Nitro” Eric Embry won gold for the first time capturing the NWA Florida TV Title in a 1981 tournament. At the time, the TV Title was the second most prestigious championship in the territory. Embry found himself battling the likes of: Ray “The Crippler” Stevens, Dory Funk Jr., and David Von Erich among others for the TV Title.

Once Embry left Florida for San Antonio he gained his first taste of national recognition as part of a tag team with partner Ken Timbs known as “The Fabulous Blondes”. As a member of this team, Embry would go on to hold the Southwest Tag Team Championship on five occasions with both Timbs and Dan Greer. It was during this time in his career that Embry really began to come into his own and understand the importance of ring psychology and connecting with the crowd. By the mid 1980s, the territory had dried up so Embry took his skills to Puerto Rico working for Capitol Sports Promotions’, World Wrestling Council headed by Carlos Colon. During 1985 and 1986 Embry held the WWC Caribbean Tag Team Championship, WWC Junior Heavyweight Championship, and WWC Puerto Rican Heavyweight Championship. He was a hated heel and had many memorable interactions with wrestlers, announcers, and fans alike during his stay on the island.

“The Flamboyant One” returned stateside in 1987 and landed in Fritz Von Erich’s World Class Championship Wrestling based out of Dallas, Texas. WCCW had enjoyed an unprecedented string of success. The territory had been red hot throughout the early-mid 1980s thanks to the Von Erich’s feud with The Fabulous Freebirds. Even though WCCW has started a slow decline, the territory was still loaded with great in ring talent and very bright wrestling minds, both of which Embry wanted to learn from. He went on to become the promotion’s very first Light Heavyweight Champion in September of 1987. He feuded with South African babyface, Shaun Simpson, an ally of the Von Erich family. The two traded the title back and forth several times throughout 1987.

Embry enjoyed his biggest moment in the national spotlight on December 13, 1988 as he made his lone career appearance on Pay Per View as part of the SuperClash III event from Chicago. Verne Gagne’s American Wrestling Association co-promoted this event along with Jerry Jarrett’s Continental Wrestling Association from Memphis, and POWW (Powerful Women of Wrestling) which was owned by former GLOW promoter, David McLane. Embry regained the WCWA Light Heavyweight Title from Jeff Jarrett on the PPV. He would only hold the title for a couple weeks before losing it to Cactus Jack Manson, future WWE Hall of Famer Mick Foley. Embry would regain the title from Manson in January 1989 and held the championship until April of that year when he won the WCWA Texas Heavyweight Title.

Around this time, Jerry Jarrett purchased a controlling interest in the financially troubled, WCCW, from the Von Erichs and Ken Mantell. Jarrett entrusted Embry as his booker for the territory. Embry has often been criticized for booking himself in a top spot and pushing himself too hard. Truth is, he got results. In the previous couple of years before Embry took over as booker, the Sportatorium had struggled to reach half its 4,500 seat capacity after years and years of complete sellouts every week. In a short period of time after taking over the book, Embry turned WCCW’s fortunes around making pro wrestling in the Dallas/Ft. Worth market a hot ticket again. Jarrett remarked, “Eric was and is a bright person with tremendous drive and a strong work ethic. He was full of good ideas, knew the wrestling history of that promotion, and was willing to make great sacrifices to rebuild the business.” During his time as booker for WCCW, Embry actually lived at the Dallas Sportatorium.

Embry ran an angle where he lost a loser leaves WCCW match. Manager Percival Pringle III, who had been one of the territories top heel managers for years, was now a babyface and rallied for Embry’s reinstatement through a write-in campaign. Pringle was trying to prevent the storyline takeover of WCCW by General Skandor Akbar’s Devastation Inc. faction. The reality of the situation was that Jarrett was being forced to rename the organization after a dispute with the Adkisson (Von Erich) family regarding the use of the World Class Championship Wrestling name. The blow off match was set for August 4, 1989 at the Dallas Sportatorium where Embry, a newfound fan favorite, seconded by his manager Percival Pringle III would face P.Y. Chu-Hi (Tennessee legend Phil Hickerson) managed by the devious Tojo Yamamoto representing Akbar’s side. The match would take place inside a steel cage and the winner would gain control of the promotion. Embry emerged from the cage victorious and the now iconic image of him tearing down the WCCW banner from the Sportatorium rafters is etched in the minds of southern wrestling fans everywhere. Embry continued to wrestle for the USWA Dallas promotion until 1991 when it closed. He then moved on to the Baton Rouge, Louisiana based promotion, Five Star Wrestling, and continued his feud with Akbar’s Devastation Inc. and made some more appearances in Puerto Rico.

Embry’s in ring career quickly and tragically came to an end late in 1992 when he suffered significant injuries in a car accident. Since that time he has settled in his native Kentucky and worked as a licensed electrician while keeping in touch with fans on social media and reliving “The Flamboyant One’s” glory days inside the squared circle. In the crazy spectacle that is pro wrestling one must often start as a successful heel to then become a viable babyface and vice versa. “The Flamboyant” Eric Embry was successful regardless of which locker room he emerged from and left his mark on the world of professional wrestling that will never be forgotten.

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