Monday, August 24, 2015

No Gimmicks Here

"Sunday Notes" by Steve Mann
Hillsborough NC newspaper
March 30, 1982


Professional rassler Johnny Weaver has his answers down pat after 19 years in the business.

Weaver, who admitted to being "over 40" but would agree to no more, was in Hillsborough earlier this week as part of a pro rasslin' card at Orange High School.

And when asked about some of the gimmicks fellow grapplers employed during his sterling career that has included tag-team championships with partner George Becker, Weaver said he couldn't think of any.

"That's not true" (that pro rasslers have gimmicks), said Weaver, who became known for his sleeper hold and figure-four toehold. "The only one I could think of would be Gorgeous George," who was pro rasslin's original prima donna.

When reminded of such performers as the masked Bolos or Homer O'Dell, the infamous manager who cracked people over the head with his cane, or the Moondogs who howl and are reputed to know less English than a new-born babe in China, Weaver said those weren't gimmicks.

"That's just part of the rassler," said Weaver, raised in Indianapolis, but who now calls Charlotte home. "That's no gimmick. That's just them."

Wonder what Weaver would call the get-up of Ninja, who rassled the match previous to Weaver's?  Ninja wore Japanese flip-flops and a pillow case over his head and fooled around with those martial arts chopsticks called nunchaks.

The oriental's opponent refused to tango until the pillow case was removed. It was, only to reveal a white-painted face with red lines extending from his eyes, purple lips and purple tongue. Ninja then wowed the crowd by blowing a stream of green smoke.

Glad to hear it's not a gimmick. For a moment there, I started to think that stuff was fake.

Saying as much rankles Weaver, in fact.

"Anybody who thinks pro rassling is fake is showing their ignorance," he snarled. "If they look at my scars," he said, pointing to his forehead, "and think catsup comes out of there, then they are really ignorant."

By the way, Weaver's popularity doesn't seem to be on the wane at all. His appearance drew hundreds of youngsters to him, each clamoring for an autograph.

And the hero, who has a daughter graduating from N. C. State University next month, obliged them all.

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Thanks to Mark Eastridge for the original newspaper clipping, and to Peggy Lathan for transcribing this article.