A new series on Viceland called “Dark Side of the Ring” explores controversial wrestling subjects such as the curse that has affected the Von Erich family.
Longtime wrestling journalist Bill Apter spoke to Wrestling Inc. on our WINCLY podcast about the series and his relationship to the Von Erichs.
“I tried to get on the series when they called me for photos but I don’t own the photos as PWI owns them,” Apter said of his former employer. “But I said, ‘These people you’re doing these interviews on, I was close to Geno [Hernandez] and the Von Erichs.’ I was close to everybody in that series.”
David Von Erich died at just 25 in 1984 and Apter says his funeral was the most emotional experience of his life. David really liked Apter as a person and that’s why the other Von Erichs gravitated towards him.
“[Family patriarch] Fritz was very hard-ass person to talk to,” revealed Apter. “I didn’t talk to him a lot. My main contact at that office was [WCCW booker] Gary Hart.”
Apter remembered the brief call he got from a Japanese photographer letting him know David was dead. He then got close to Kerry and Kevin who treated him like one of them.
“I remember Kerry calling me like one of the Von Erich brothers,” revealed Apter who then added that Kerry came to his home one time and talked to Apter’s daughter. He told her to not do drugs and work hard in school in the video that’s never been released before.
“I’ve never shown that anywhere. Somewhere down the line I have to find a real reason for showing that video and the right place to show it. I don’t know where that is,” admitted Apter. “In the meantime, Kevin and I have become really close. Kevin sent me a text last week asking if I was okay and I was like, ‘Yeah’. He said I heard you were in a bad way. Well my poodle Lexi died last week and I was devastated. But he had heard I was in a car accident, and I wasn’t, and he wanted to make sure I was okay. So my relationship has stayed close with him.
“As a matter of fact, about three or four years ago, I met his sons and they call me Uncle Bill.”
Kerry lost his foot in a motorcycle accident and wrestled with a prosthetic towards the end of his career, including his entire WWE stint as The Texas Tornado. Apter was asked if he ever discussed the prosthetic with Kerry.
“We never talked about it. I heard the rumors but because of my relationship with him, I never talked to him about it. If it was true, it was something he really didn’t want to talk about,” said Apter before adding that Kerry once came to the PWI office before signing with WWE and he had a chance to ask him about it but he didn’t.
“I didn’t want to invade or hurt our friendship and he’d be very sensitive about it?.I was more the “nice guy” reporter. If it was Dave Meltzer, Dave would have asked him.”
After years of doing print journalism, Apter is getting into TV and he talked about his new bi-weekly Roku series.
“I started off my career doing radio and magazines, but I always wanted to be on TV,” stated Apter. “I wanted to be the next Gene Okerlund. I had a lot of opportunities from major companies to do this type of thing periodically [but never followed through].
He then talked about how Jerry Jarrett launched the Roku channel he’s on and notes all the classic pro wrestling that’s available on it. They wanted some new material so they asked Apter to do a new show for them.
“The show basically is me talking to the audience, a mix of nostalgia and current news. Then going into videotaped interviews I’ve done with wrestlers through the years, a lot of which have never been seen before,” revealed Apter.
Apter’s full interview with Wrestling Inc was included as part of a recent episode of our WINCLY podcast. It can be heard via the embedded audio player at the bottom of this post. In it Apter discusses his close relationships with Bruiser Brody and The Von Erichs, the reported friction between Triple H and Vince McMahon, WWE’s declining ratings, how AEW’s TNT deal will affect WWE, his love of karaoke and more.
You can check out past episodes of the WINCLY here.