Waldo von Erich
REAL NAME: Walter Sieber
BORN: October 2, 1933 Toronto, Ontario
DIED: July 5, 2009 Kitchener, Ontario
AKA: Waldo von Seiber, Waldo von Erich, The Great Zimm, Wild Man Zim, The Great Hornet, El Tigre, Mr. M
6'0", 265 pounds
Waldo von Erich was one of the toughest, most successful wrestlers in the '60s and '70s. He had killer fan heat and held titles everywhere he went.
Born and raised in Toronto, Wally Sieber learned the mat game at the Western YMCA under Red Garner. One of his fellow trainees was the future Bearman Dave McKigney. Heavy into bodybuilding, weight training and swimming, he turned pro at 17.
He travelled the world and hit all of the promotions across Canada, including Calgary under the Harts, where he remembered for SLAM! Wrestling in a April 1998 interview, that "the Hart kids used to wash my car."
It was in Minnesota that he first met the late Fritz von Erich (real name Jack Adkisson), and they became instant 'brothers', and held the NWA American tag belts together in 1967.
As a single, he peaked in matches against Bruno Sammartino at Madison Square Gardens in New York for the WWWF World title.
von Erich held the Buffalo-Cleveland version of the World title in the early seventies, and feuded with Johnny Powers.
He also held the North American title as The Great Zimm, the U.S. heavyweight title, the U.S. tag team titles with Gene Kiniski, and was Texas champion.
In keeping with the German gimmick, von Erich's famed finishing move was the Blitzkreig, a kneedrop off the top rope and a yell to go with it. He was also great on the microphone and would mercilessly pick on the babyfaces and announcers, like Lord Athol Layton, Billy Red Lyons and Dominic DeNucci.
He "got almost everything" he wanted from pro wrestling, including fancy cars, and world-wide fame. He even owned a lake in Northern Ontario for a while, and a castle in Belize.
von Erich first tried to retire in 1973, but stuck around until 1979.
He worked for a while with the
Cambridge, Ont.-based ICW promotion and helped to train tomorrow's stars, including The Highlanders and Eric Young.
von Erich has lived in Elmira, Ont. since 1972.
Outside of wrestling, he is well-known for creating a chair to help alleviate back problems, especially for athletic injuries. von Erich has also worked with many doctors and specialists over the years.
He was married for 29 years to Betty before getting divorced, and they have three daughters.
Waldo von Erich results archive
Waldo von Erich photo gallery
July 13, 2009: A final goodbye to Waldo von Erich
July 7, 2009: Waldo von Erich: The consummate heel
July 6, 2009: Waldo von Erich dies suddenly
Mar. 18, 2009: Waldo von Erich Q&A: Part 2
Mar. 18, 2009: Waldo von Erich Q&A: Part 1
June 13, 2004: Von Erich was an old-school villain
When I attended ICW last summer, I did not know how I would be
treated, tought, style of teaching and every other thing that makes
you a pro wrestler. Then one of these teachers comes up to me and
says, "hi, I'm Waldo von Erich", I looked at this man because I knew
what he had accomplished. And Waldo made me feel like home at ICW and
make me felt like he was part of his family. I was calling him Uncle
Wally. He made me feel like a special person, and he was the teacher
who showed me the most respect. He looked out for me, and told me
when I was working too hard, or not hard enough.
Wally Sieber. Photo by Terry Dart
I'll always remember Von Erich giving Milt Avruskin and George Cannon fits
whenever he was around. He was a major star on SUPERSTARS OF WRESTLING and
was one of my favs. At the time it wasn't popular to like the bad guys
which made him even better in my eyes. If memory serves me correct, one of
those famous battles with Bruno Sammartino he brought a old style can
opener into the ring and used on Bruno. WILD!
The German, was his nickname given to him by Big Bad John in Sydney in the
early to mid 70's. Waldo was a good looking athlete, always competitive and
gee he contributed to the steel cage matches and the war against the peoples
army in Mark Lewin, King Curtis, the late Spiros Arion and Shiek Wadi Ayoub.
When Waldo was in the Buffalo-Cleveland promotion, their show was on TV in Utica, N.Y., near my hometown of Morrisville. They'd have monthly live events there and we'd go cheer him on, going against the grain of the fans and then some. He even had a fan club at Morrisville-Eaton HS (yours truly, president) and when we taped a news show for our senior-year TV class we worked variations of his name into each of the stories (Eric von Waldo, Van Walters, Eric Vann, etc.).
A great athlete, and great memories!
Not only did Waldo von Erich hold the NWF World title but he held the North
American title and the tag-team title twice, once with the Executioner (I
don't know who was under the mask but would love to) and with Oscar (the
Crusher) Verdue. He was not beaten in a tournament by Rougeau for the
vacated title, that was Killer Tim Brooks who was disqualified. Waldo could
draw heat like few others. He was more than a cut-out German, as his feud
with Hans Schmidt showed. He always found a different angle and then
twisted it in a way no one expected. And the man could wrestle.
D Jason Cooper
Dear Waldo, To this day I never will forget the nickname you gave Dominic
Denucci on the Old N.W.F. Wrestling TV Programs from the early seventies.
Does the name Spagetti Bender ring a bell. Anyway it's good to see one of
the greatest stars that made Cleveland wrestling history before there ever
was WCW or WWF cards running in Cleveland Area. If you ask true wrestling
fans what they remember in the last 25 years of Cleveland Wrestling history
they will gladly list Big Time Wrestling at Public Hall it's still there,
and The Cleveland Arena which is not still there, but the memories are!
How fitting to have an American Red Cross building at the Old Site on Euclid
Ave. Any wrestling that you may have on video tape of yourself, or others
from the two promotions that appeared during the late sixties and early
seventies I would definitely appreciate your time.
My e-mail is: firstname.lastname@example.org
I remember Waldo, coming to the Mid-south, and lashing out at Bill
Watts, and the press for those so-called statements that were said and written about him. Waldo
was always a rulebreaker, and hated with much passion by the fans. One
of his classic battles was against Dick Murdoch, in which he was
disqualified for leaping off of the top rope and landing a knee to the
side of Dick's head. His most hated rival was Cowboy Bill Watts, and
as much as I wanted to see Watts knock his block off, it never happened,
due to those unorthodox tactics of Waldo. As the Great Zim, Waldo
defeated a young champion known as Ted Dibiase, thus shocking the fans
by removing the mask, and revealing himself as Waldo Von Erich. I
wasn't fooled because I knew it was him.
I'll always remember the broadcast where you came in the ring and bashed a heavy steel chair over Dominic Denucci's head and then proceed to give him several Blitzkriegs to the neck until Tony Parisi came to Dominic's aid.This then started a feud that lasted several months through 1971.(I believe).One other distant memory I have is a special ceremony in a TV taping where a little girl was presenting a special award to a popular wrestler and you came on the scene, snatched the plaque from the terrified girl, and either broke it or attacked the good guy wrestler!
You are still in my mind the greatest "Nasty/Brutal" Wrestler of all time. I only wish you had come to my home town of Grimsby to wrestle once!
Bruce Metcalfe, Mississauga, Ontario
The wrestler was unbelievable! He could generate fan heat like few wrestlers could. I still remember when he went into the ring with his WW
2 helmet and whipping crop. Where can you find tapes of his matches?
Waldo, thanks for making those wars in Australia fun and making Saturday nights wrestling nights. Thans for the memeories of being able to yell and scream at a true wrestling star.
Greg Kelly, Melbourne, Australia