Monday, November 16, 2009
Please take time to browse through some of the older entries on this blog and remember the legend of Johnny Weaver, one of the great names in Mid-Atlantic Wrestling history.
Special montage created by Mike Cline at Mid-Atlantic Grapplin' Greats.
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Listen to the voice of Greenville wrestling Billy Powell as he promotes Johnny Weaver's return to Greenville on this night (click the play button):
This originally aired on Mid-Atlantic Wrestling on WFBC TV 4 out of Greenville. It a 30 second audio-only spot inserted into the wrestling play-by-play by Bob Caudle.
Clipping courtesy of Mark Eastridge. Audio courtesy of Kent Smith.
Saturday, August 22, 2009
Dewey Robertson and Johnny Weaver were Mid-Atlantic Tag Team Champions in 1981, feuding with such international teams as Japan's Mr. Fuji and Tenyru, and the Russian team of Nikolai Volkoff and Chris Markoff managed by Lord Al Hayes.
Photograph by Steve Davies
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
Wendi Weaver congratulates The Kamakazi Kid on his tournament finals victory over Ric Converse in the 2009 Johnny Weaver Memorial Cup held August 15 at the Mid-Atlantic Sportatorium in Burlington NC. Mid-Atlantic wrestling legend Don Kernodle also made a special appearance at the event.
Randy Hedrick, who took the photo above, wrote the Gateway about Johnny Weaver and his daughter Wendi:
"He is the first hero I had as a child wrestling fan and working with him later in his life was a treasure. Wendi has turned into one of my very favorite guests as well, she's a very good representative of her father and all of the memories we cherish from the Mid Atlantic."
For more photos and information, visit the Weaver Cup History page on the Mid-Atlantic Gateway. (Special thanks to Randy Hedrick, IndyInsiders.com.)
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
Wendi Weaver and Commissioner Cross dedicate the new Mid-Atlantic Sportatorium in Burlington NC to the memory of Johnny Weaver. The dedication took place before a CWF Mid-Atlantic wrestling event there, Saturday June 20. (Mid-Atlantic Gateway Photo)
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Sunday, May 10, 2009
Thursday, April 16, 2009
I received some interesting e-mails from Rob Kell who is an exploration geologist working in Chile, South America. Rob grew up watching Mid-Atlantic Wrestling in Richmond and sent me some great memories from his days in the 1960s and early 1970s going to matches at Strawberry Hill. Here are some excepts from a couple of those e-mails. - Dick Bourne
Well, it would be tough to top what I have read in your column of memories. I was raised in Richmond, Virginia, and during the 1960's was able to go to wrestling events at Strawberry Hill (the State Fairgrounds) on numerous occasions.
Several times my buddies and I went to see Johnny Weaver. Clearly, I remember Johnny taking on Dory Funk, Jr. for the NWA championship belt. The match went the distance (i.e. best of 3 falls) with Funk retaining his title. But I am talking about being enthralled for an hour with back and forth incredible wrestling and Johnny on the verge of taking the title.
Of course, I remember Johnny and George Becker's tag team battles, but especially against the Bolos (never written about) and of course Rip Hawk and Rock Hunter or later with Swede Hansen.
The last time I saw Johnny in person was at Parker Field in Richmond, Virginia where he paired with Sailor Art Thomas to beat Skull Murphy and Brute Bernard. It was unusual because it was outdoors and on a Sunday, plus thunderstorms threatened the entire evening. This did not stop an exciting main event match.
However, as kids, we all tried to apply that sleeper hold and would always be sure on Saturdays to watch All-Star Wrestling with Bob Caudle and often were rewarded with a match of Becker and Weaver against a lesser opponent (i.e. Prince Omar and Pedro Zapata or Jack Vansky) to wet our intrigue with an upcoming match against the Great Bolos, Bronco Lubich and Aldo Bogni, Doc and Mike Gallagher, etc.
When I was kid - I was raised in a middle class neighborhood (all GI homes) and with lots of buddies my age - so, we'd get a parent to take us out to Strawberry Hill to watch the wrestling and another parent would pick us up at the end of the matches. We could not get out every Friday night - but usually maybe once or twice a month. So, I got to see some great professional wrestling - which has long ago disappeared.
Most people today look at the wrestling entertainment today - and although apparently immensely popular - lacks so much of what once was (i.e. actual wrestling).
I can still remember some matches - once - Bronco Lubich and Johnny "Rubberman" Walker wrestled to a 45-minute draw - it was Bronco Lubich's first introduction to Richmond and there was some promotion about this for the week ahead of the match. How the two wrestlers pulled that off - I don't know but incredible holds and escapes or reversals with neither being able to gain an advantage. Of course, a week or two later Bronco Lubich shows up again but with big/mean Aldo Bogni - and boy - saw them plenty of times in excellent matches - against Scott Brothers and once against the Infernos with Bronco Lubich getting his face burned up by that incendiary device Infernos used (not the loaded boot this time).
I saw the Gallagher Brothers many times and you don't read about them - but they were as formidable and won often with that "blinder hold" and the elbow smash off the corner top ropes - saw them put away George Becker and Billy Two-Rivers once - also they took apart the Scott Brothers as well. There were the numerous battles between the The Bolos and Kentuckians - and once match where Johnny Weaver had twisted the mask around so that one of the Bolos could not see - and still somehow the Bolos pulled off a win (in confusion Bolos pulled a switch and loaded head butt to George Becker ended that match as I remember).
The list goes on and on - Texas Death Match (remember those) - one was Rip Hawk and Swede Hanson versus Brute Benard and Skull Murphy - pretty bloody and horrific.
But many matches were quite cleverly thought out - Bronco Lubich and Aldo Bogni with Homer O'dell manager against Scott Brothers - toward heated end of the 2 of 3 fall match - Homer O'Dell hung his cane in one of the corners and Bronco Lubich irish-whipped George Scott into that corner - down he went and was pinned for controversial end to the match. There was a grudge re-match scheduled the very next week - so, we had to go see that - and this time again even at a fall apiece - I think they trade sleeper holds to win those falls (i.e. Lubich had his cobra wrap George Scott with sleeper on Bogni) - anyway the third fall - was again heated and you could not tell who was going to pull it off - again O'Dell snuck over hung the cane in the corner and together Lubich and Bogni together irish-whipped George Scott to that corner but Sandy Scott ran over - and jumped up to lay as a bridge across the corner to block and protect his brother from slamming into the cane - and the Scotts now had the cane and they used it - bloodying Lubich terribly and again lost the match - this time by disqualification - of course, the fans were going crazy.
Just tremendous times - who today would sit through an hour long 2 out 3 falls tag team or singles match today?
Anyway, I was very sad to hear that Johnny had passed away several years ago now. Difficult to believe.
- Rob Kell
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
Tuesday, March 31, 2009
Here is a great photo of Johnny working behind the scenes in TV production. Even though Johnny was by 1983 a regular member as a TV commentator and working behind the scenes as well, he still was fairly active in the ring, and would continue to be so well into 1984.
This photo was in the "Starrcade 83" photo album. I didn't think they were still using 2" video tape at that point, so this photo could have been taken a little earlier.
Sunday, March 29, 2009
Mid-Atlantic Legend Johnny Weaver Dead at 72
PRO-WRESTLING ILLUSTRATED ANNUAL 2008
Among the many wrestling heroes that came through the Carolina wrestling scene throughout the territory's rich history, perhaps none was more beloved than Johnny Weaver.
Weaver, whose wrestling career spanned more than 40 years, was found dead from natural causes in his Charlotte home on February 15. The accomplished wrestling announcer and booker was 72 years old.
"The business has lost one of the greats," Weaver's former friend and colleague, Blackjack Mulligan, told the Charlotte Observer. "He was a master at this business. He's going to be missed greatly."
Born in East St. Louis, Illinois, Weaver began his pro career in the mid-50s and came to work for Jim Crockett, Sr. in his Mid-Atlantic territory in 1962. Weaver made his first big splash as part of a main event tag team act with partner George Becker. The two captured multiple championships and took part in memorable rivalries against teams including Swede Hansen and Rip Hawk and Gene and Ole Anderson.
Using his "Weaverlock" sleeper hold, Weaver also saw singles success, and was a perennial top contender for the NWA heavyweight championship.
Weaver wore many other hats, including those of a creative team member and a likeable and knowledgeable color commentator – a role he played for nearly 20 years until leaving the wrestling business in the late 1980s. As an elder statesman, Weaver also helped groom some of wrestling's future stars working in the territory, including Greg Valentine, Roddy Piper and Ric Flair.
Weaver later took on a second career as deputy sheriff with Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, where he was set to retire months after his passing. In the job, Weaver transported prisoners around Carolina, through the various back roads he became familiar with during his years as a wrestler.
Pro-Wrestling Illustrated is the premier wrestling magazine on the market. Check it out at your local newsstand, supermarket, Walmart, or order online at http://www.pwi-online.com/
Thanks to Blake Arledge and Peggy Lathan for their help with this feature.
Monday, March 2, 2009
To: Dick Bourne, Mid-Atlantic Gateway
From: Captain Michael Smith, Mecklenburg County Sheriff's Office
Date: February 27, 2009
I just wanted to again thank you for the continuous support for Johnny Weaver. I still miss that man everyday I come to work. We have many magnificent employees and dedicated individuals who put their life on the line and families on stand by on a daily basis. One thing we don’t have, or have not found yet, is another Johnny Weaver and I am sure we never will. He was the greatest.
Well things around here have moved forward. Many new faces have taken on the task but nobody has the trait of Johnny and nobody almost certainly ever will. I even miss Johnny more now than I ever thought I would.
I have about 8 more years until I retire and move on to another career and as much as I regret having to move on without my friend, co-worker, and a phenomenon and idol to many people, life goes on. And I miss Johnny.
Thanks for what you all continue to do to remember Johnny. You know he would not have wanted it, but he deserves it.
Captain Michael Smith
Mecklenburg County Sheriff's Office
(See also: Thanks Kid - Remarks Made by Capt. Michael Smith At Johnny Weaver's Funeral)
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
Fate (noun) - the force or principle believed to predetermine events.
I can’t help but believe that fate played a part in finding this photo of Johnny Weaver.
George South frequently visits a little used bookstore called Value Village on Central Avenue in Charlotte. He has this uncanny knack of finding wrestling related books in there. As an example, he once stumbled upon a book on the 1960s era New York Jets only to find a photo of Wahoo McDaniel making a tackle. Things like this happen often to him.
This past January, he visited this store and saw a book about the inaugural season of the Carolina Panthers NFL franchise. "Carolina Panthers Sunday" by Wallace Sears. If you know George, you know what a big Dallas Cowboys fan he is, and you probably also know that as much as he loves the Cowboys, he hates the Panthers to the same degree. So normally you would think he wouldn’t even bother picking up a book on the Panthers, much less thumbing through it. But he was strangely drawn to this one.
The book chronicled the opening day game; it was a photo journal of the entire day. George picked it up and opened it and there in the center of the first page he turned to was a beautiful photograph of Mecklenburg County Deputy Sheriff Johnny Weaver.
Weaver had gone to work as a Deputy Sheriff after his career in the wrestling business had ended. He had been working in the front office of Jim Crockett Promotions when the Charlotte based wrestling company had been purchased by Ted Turner in 1988. Not wanting to move to Atlanta, Weaver left a 30 year wrestling career and joined the Sheriff’s Department in 1989. He worked there 19 years until his death in 2008.
So consider this: What are the odds that photographer Joel Sartore would pick Johnny's bus out of the dozens of buses that morning, would take Johnny's picture out of the thousands of officers working security that day, and would have selected that photo for the book? What are the odds that 13 years later, George would have spotted that old book out of hundreds of old books buried away in that little used book store, and would have turned to that one page out of the over 200 pages in the book and found that photo of Johnny Weaver?
When I told my friend Peggy Lathan this story, she was the first to suggest fate, or something like it, played a role. "It was just meant to be. Johnny knew that book was in that little book store and led George right to it. He knew none of us would have found it otherwise."
I kind of like believing that's true.
- Dick Bourne
Sunday, February 15, 2009
Johnny is probably best remembered for his legendary tag team with George Becker in the 1960s and early 1970s. But he was also a top singles wrestler and was a top drawing challenger for the NWA world heavyweight championship, wrestling all the great champions of the era, including many title matches with Lou Thesz, Gene Kiniski, and Dory Funk, Jr. in particular.
On Thanksgiving night 1967, Johnny challenged Kiniski for the title in what was at that time a record breaking crowd at the Greensboro Coliseum, with hundreds of fans turned away.
Click the clipping above for a larger view.
We plan to continue to share memories and remembrances of Johnny's career here on the Weaver Blog. You can always find us by just typing in to your browser: http://www.johnnyweaver.net/ or find your way here via the Mid-Atlantic Gateway.
November 17, 1935 - February 15, 2008
Thanks Kid by Capt. Michal Smith
Hall of Heroes Class of 2008
The Greatest Finish Man Ever by Blackjack Mulligan
Weaver Has A Hold on Everyone by Mark Wineka, Salisbury Post
Memories Of Johnny Weaver And Saturday Afternoons by Mike Mooneyham, Charleston Post & Courier
Johnny Weaver Weekend 2007
Johnny Weaver Weekend 2008
Saturday, February 7, 2009
The "bad guys" were putting the boots to Robert Gibson as Ricky Morton had been thrown from the ring. Miss Teen South Carolina Shelley Benthalland, who had escorted the Rock and Roll to the ring, ill-advisedly entered the ring to protest. Superstar and South turned toward her and actually looked like they might do her bodily harm. A noise began to rise from the crowd as someone came running down the aisle toward the ring. Long time wrestling fans in attendance could hardly believe their eyes as the legendary Johnny Weaver hit the ring, disposed of the Superstar with a roundhouse punch and then shot South into the ropes and applied his famous sleeper hold. The roof about came off the Spartanburg Memorial Auditorium.
It was a special treat to see Johnny in the ring again, if only briefly. It was something he would only do a few more times in the last years of his life.
This photo is of Johnny with Miss South Carolina 2003 Jessica Eddins.
See lots of photos from this event on the Mid-Atlantic Gateway by visiting the following link:
Wrestling Night of the Legends 2004
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
Many of today's fans associate Johnny Weaver's broadcasting career with the Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling and NWA Pro Wrestling shows that aired in the 1980s, primarily as a result of Johnny's national exposure on NWA Pro when it was syndicated to markets all around the United States as Jim Crockett Promotions began to expand nation wide. But long time fans in the territory might best remember him with his first broadcast partner, the host of World Wide Wrestling from 1978-1982, Rich Landrum.
Landrum worked in Richmond VA as the ring announcer for Jim Crockett Promotions/Murnich Promotions shows in Richmond and the surrounding area going back to the late 1960s, and took over television host duties for the re-vamped "World Wide Wrestling" in 1978. Landrum made the weekly trek each Wednesday from Richmond to WRAL TV studios in Raleigh NC. He originally hosted the show solo with occasional guest co-hosts, and then took on Weaver as a regular partner in 1979, even though Weaver continued wrestling a near full time schedule through 1981.
They became a very popular broadcasting duo over the next four years, and are still remembered today, especially for one of their signiture spots where Johnny would offer his rendition of "Turn Out The Lights, The Party's Over" at the end of a match each week, as Landrum then reviewed the match's finish on instant replay.
In 2007, Landrum appeared on a Burlington NC wrestling event and briefly reunited with Weaver to introduce the finals of the Johnny Weaver Cup Tag Team Tournament. Weaver passed away 6 months later, and in November of 2008, Landrum made a second appearance at a tribute show for Johnny Weaver in Rocky Mount VA along with Johnny's daughter Wendi. The show also featured wrestling legend Jim Nelson/Boris Zhukov in action, who was one of Johnny's last tag partners during the last years of his career in the ring in 1983.
Special thanks to Wendi Weaver for providing this photograph from her father's personal collection.
Related blog post: Weaver does color commentary
Related feature: WRAL Studio Wrestling
Mid-Atlantic Gateway Interviews with Rich Landrum | Johnny Weaver
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
Friday, January 9, 2009
On the Friday night after Thanksgiving, November 27, 1981, Johnny Weaver and Jay Youngblood formed an unlikely duo and upset Chris Markoff and Nikolia Volkoff (managed by Lord Alfred Hayes) to win the Mid-Atlantic tag team championship.
The next morning Johnny and Jay appeared on the TV taping of NWA Championship Wrestling in Knoxville TN hosted by Les Thatcher, who conducted one of his trademark "Personality Profile" segments with Weaver. Youngblood wrestled in a singles match, but Johnny did not wrestle on this show.
The two appeared together on the show in an interview with Thatcher following Youngblood's match. Photos from that interview are included here. Special thanks to Wendi Weaver for providing these photographs from her father's personal collection.
Earlier that same week, Johnny and Jay served as Grand Marshalls at the annual Christmas parade in China Grove NC. A link to an article about that day and a photograph can be found here: Grand Marshalls