Thursday, December 27, 2007

Austin, Texas 1963

Johnny is bloody in the ring in Austin, TX after a tough match with Louie Tillet in 1963. That's Leo Garibaldi in the ring behind him holding a microphone.

From Johnny Weaver's personal scrapbook. Photo credit unknown.

Friday, December 14, 2007

1973 Christmas Tree

The image above was the back page on the December 1973 issue of Mid-Atlantic Wrestling Magazine. The ornaments on the tree were nine of the top "good guy" wrestlers at that time. Can you name all nine of these Mid-Atlantic Wrestling stars?

The text in the box at the base of the tree says: "From the staff of Jim Crockett Promotions, Inc. and all the Wrestlers"

Christmas ornaments on the tree: The star at the top: Jack Brisco. 2nd row: Johnny Weaver, Jerry Brisco,Sandy Scott. 3rd row: L.D. Lewis, Amazing Zuma. 4th row: Scott Casey, Nelson Royal, and Terry Sawyer.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Weaver Injured in Dobson NC Match

by Carroll Hall (

The Dobson, NC Lions Club sponsored their second Wrestling card on Thursday April 3, 1969. It was even better than the first. This time Johnny Weaver and George Becker defended their Southern Tag Team Championship against the current Atlantic Coast Tag Team Champions, Rip Hawk and Swede Hanson. After Johnny and George defeated Rip and Swede in the two-out-of-three fall match, the angry Hawk and Hanson attacked Weaver and Becker after the match. Rip and Swede picked Johnny Weaver up and threw him like a missile towards the ring corner. Johnny's head and shoulder struck the post between the top and second rope knocking Johnny out. We stayed and watched them remove the ropes from the ring and later Johnny was carried back to the dressing room

It was a good thing that members of the Surry County Sheriff's Department were able to hustle Rip and Swede to the dressing room because that is one of the hottest crowds I was ever a part of.

The following week on TV we saw that Johnny Weaver was okay but his shoulder and upper arm were taped up. Johnny and George got to pay Rip and Swede back four weeks later on May 1, 1969 when they won the Atlantic Coast Tag Team belts from Rip and Swede in Winston-Salem, NC.

I would not have missed that match for anything.

Also something else I forgot to mention was the small country store about two miles from my house was an "advance ticket outlet" for the shows and had the large posters in the window promoting each show. The store was called "Crooked Oak Grocery". The store still stands today but sadly is now closed. I asked the owner at that time if I could have the posters when the show was over and he told me that the person who brought them said they would be coming back to get them.The store owner then said if no one came back to pick them up I could have them. I did not get either of those posters but did get one for Sept.1981.

A Legendary Team is Born

June 2, 1962

Two new professional wrestling tag teams on the local scene appear in a featured match at the LEXINGTON YMCA tonight.

GEORGE BECKER, the all-time Carolina fan favorite, teams with young JOHNNY WEAVER, to meet the mad Russian combination of JOHN SMITH and IVAN KAMEROFF in a two-of-three falls contest. The match has a one hour time limit.

The Russians have been together as a team for some time now but are making their first LEXINGTON appearance as a combo. They are both mean and dangerous. BECKER has just recently taken on the up-and-coming WEAVER as his full-time partner. JOHNNY has been wrestling in the Carolinas only a few months.

The maniacal Mexican PANCHO VILLA returns to the arena to battle young REGGIE PARKS in the evening's semifinal event, set for two-of-three falls.

Prelim singles bouts scheduled are TONY BAILLARGEON against "Big" JIM WRIGHT and MAURICE LAPOINTE scrapping with FIRPO ZYBSKO.

Action gets underway tonight at 8:15.

Research and transcription by Mike Cline

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Johnny Weaver Gateway Interview

Johnny's interview with the Mid-Atlantic Gateway is now online on that website. You can go directly there by CLICKING HERE.

Sorry we haven't had many recent posts here on the Weaver blog in November, we've been working hard on getting the Gateway interview ready. The good news is, however, we have also been working hard scanning a great deal of the material in Johnny's personal scrapbook, which we will be presenting here on the blog, so look for it soon.

Also, don't miss the Gateway feature on "Johnny Weaver Weekend" in Rocky Mount VA.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Summer Nights

This is a beautiful poster from 1968, from the collection of Carroll Hall at It was a gift to him from Norman Harris in Wilkesboro NC. Carroll actually attended this show, and was understandably excited to come across this poster.
The main event featured the classic tag team rivalry of the 1960s:
Becker & Weaver vs. Hawk & Hanson.

From the Poster Collection on the Mid-Atlantic Gateway.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Johnny Weaver in Rocky Mount

Edited 11/8/07: See a report and photos of this show on the Mid-Atlantic Gateway.

* * * * * * *

Johnny Weaver will be making a special appearance this Saturday night 11/3/07 at the American Championship Wrestling show in Rocky Mount, VA. The event is taking place in Ramsey Hall Gym at Franklin County High School. Bell time is 8:15 PM.

Also appearing on this show are Mid-Atlantic Wrestling alumi Sandy Scott, Don Kernodle, Jim Nelson, Keith Larson (Rocky Kernodle), and Ric McCord.

Rocky Mount VA is located about 20 miles south of Roanoka VA. For more information, including a map showing directions to the venue, click the link below.

Mid-Atlantic Legends in Rocky Mount VA Saturday 11/3

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Fan Club Photo

This is the 8 x 10" B & W photo of Johnny Weaver and George Becker from 1968. This came from the Becker/Weaver Fan Club, Pam Daniels was the president and she was from Norfolk. Each member received this photo along with the membership card and other items. Johnny signed this for me at the first fanfest in Charlotte. - Don Holbrook

Monday, October 15, 2007

Mr. October

The Mid-Atlantic Wrestling softball team was alleged to have been unbeatable in the summer and fall of 1973. That's their story and they're stickin' to it.

Actually, this photo of the team appeared in an issue of Mid-Atlantic Wrestling Magazine published that year and was taken June 10, 1973 in Mooresville NC at a benefit to raise money for medical expenses for a brave 10-year old kid named Mike Atwell. The Mid-Atlantic All-Stars battled the Mooresville Policemen and Firemen to a 23-23 tie after 8 innings!

From left to right -
Front row: Nelson Royal, Johnny Weaver, Scott Casey, Klondike Bill
Back row: Jack Reid (coach), David Royal (coach), Les Thatcher, Big Boy Brown (in back), Angelo Martinelli, Bob Roop, Jerry Brisco, Ronnie Garvin, and Sandy Scott.
Not pictured: Big Bill Ward, John Ringo and Jackie Crockett. Jack Reid worked for Nelson Royal at his ranch and Western Store in Mooresville. Photo by Gene Gordon

Some highlights from the game included "Mr. October" Johnny Weaver making what was described as a "diving, rolling, Willie Mays catch" on the foul line in left field, as well as 4 hits and several R.B.I.s. Catcher Les Thatcher had the only home run of the afternoon, and Big Bill Ward pinch-hit and scored the eventual tieing run. But there were lots of funny moments as well, and I will be printing the text of the article that accompanied the photo above which will give the complete run down of the game. That will appear in a future post; October just seemed like a good time to post this photo. -D. Bourne

Friday, October 12, 2007

A Long Journey

Johnny Weaver: 43 year old just keeps on wrestling and winning
by David Hunter, Mount Airy News, Mount Airy NC
March 26, 1979

Pilot Mountain - Swede Hanson staggers to his feet at the taunts of children surrounding the ring. “Come on Swede,’ ya big dummy,” they say. “Get out of the ring, you’ve been licked.” Gleeful shouts of “ha, ha, ha, ha! ” from children and adults alike.

Taking a moment to gain his equilibrium, the Big Swede gradually makes his way back to a locker room to recover from his ordeal.

Recover from what? Alas, the trials of a professional wrestler. The “Swede” is the latest in a long line of victims of the “sleeper” hold, compliments of Johnny Weaver. Weaver had long since left the ring in victory when Hanson was just gaining consciousness.

Yes. Johnny Weaver. The George Blanda and John Havlicek of professional wrestling.

Johnny Weaver appeared in Pilot Mountain Saturday night with some of his cohorts for a night of wrestling in Surry County.

By enduring everything from injury to just plain old age, Weaver has lasted through more than 20 grueling years of professional wrestling and is still going strong, more popular than ever with his many fans.

“I never wanted to do anything but wrestle and race stock cars” Weaver says, “ if I hadn’t wrestled, I don’t know what I would have done”

Weaver, a 6-1, 230- pound out of the basketball mad state of Indiana, raced stock cars for a living before he took up wrestling. Citing security, good benefits and an abiding love for the sport, Weaver got involved before moving to the Mid-Atlantic area in 1962 for greater opportunity.

Weaver said his wrestling travel averages nearly 100,000 miles a year in and around the Carolina’s and Virginia’s. As for his earnings? They’re somewhere near the same in numbers. Weaver did say he was a six figure man, but wouldn’t pinpoint how much exactly. “There are 14 or 15 of us who make six figures, said the 43 year old Weaver. “Of course a lot of it is inflation or I wouldn’t make that much and I wish I could save some. Then there’s income tax and that gobbles it up”.

Of course Weaver probably wouldn’t have to look far for someone willing to share his burden or trade places with him. He makes no money outside the wrestling ring. His earnings strictly come from a set fee in addition to a percentage of the gate attendance.” As long as the body stays in shape and holds up, I’ll keep wrestling”, he says determinedly. Asked if his peers view him as an old wrestler who won’t let go, Weaver said “ No, because I’m still winning. If I ever stop winning, they may start saying that. As long as I have the speed and technique, I’ll keep wrestling. I’ve got nothing but experience. My speed hasn’t really slowed down. It’s remained pretty much the same. I play an hour and a half of handball a couple of times a week and it helps keep me in shape. Strength isn’t all important, although it helps,” he says with a laugh.

Speed and technique have always been Weaver’s strong suit in a game dominated by size. Weaver began the profession as one of the bigger men around. Modern training methods, drugs and the “new breed” of younger wrestlers have made him one of the smallest. However, if he is not looked up to in size, he is in respect. “He’s a great wrestler”, says one of the younger “ kids”, Terry Sawyer. “We love him and really look up to him. If we have a problem, we talk it over with him”.

Weaver said, “I’m still learning. New holds and methods of wrestling are coming up all the time”.
Weaver’s most famous hold is probably the “sleeper,” which put out the lights of the massive Swede Saturday night. “I learned it from Mr. Moto, a Japanese wrestler years ago,” says Weaver in his simple way of speaking.

“You cut off the arteries carrying blood to and from the brain and your opponent loses consciousness,” he explains.

Weaver has never left the Mid-Atlantic area since arriving in 1962, except for a one-year excursion to Japan and injuries that kept him from wrestling for most of 1976. “Feel that,” he says, pointing to his scalp. Lumps seemingly jump out of his hair when my hands run across them. Look closely at his forehead and what appear to be wrinkles are actually well sewn up scars.

“I’ve been hit by canes, chairs, fists and posts and have to keep wrestling four or five times a week, especially all weekend long. The people who say wrestling is fake haven’t been in the ring.”

"But there is entertainment involved, isn’t there John?"

“You’ve got your colorful wrestlers, just like Joe Namath in football. There’s people with more personality who make it more interesting,” he says in defense of the widely held notion that most if not all of professional wrestling is nothing but a big show. “Yeah, it’s been going on for a long time,” he admits of the accusation.

“But it’s been fun,” he says with a big grin. “I’ve had the chance to do a lot of things I never would have been able to do. It’s really opened doors for me. I’ve got a lot of satisfaction out of it, met a lot of people and have traveled all over. It’s a living… not a game,” he states.

And so the show (if it can rightfully be called that) must go on. Weaver was to have been in Roanoke, Virginia Sunday night, followed by an appearance in Harrisonburg, Virginia Tuesday, Richmond, Virginia Friday and all the way down to Kingsport, Tennessee this Saturday.

That’s a lot of miles for a guy who already has plenty of mileage.

Research and Transcription of Article by Carroll Hall,

Monday, October 8, 2007

A Guiding Hand

After publishing a feature on WGHP TV studio wrestling on the Mid-Atlantic Gateway a few years back, I received an e-mail from a fellow who, as a young man, had a life-changing encounter with Johnny Weaver. Here is that e-mail:

Dear Mid-Atlantic Gateway,

I spent many days at the TV tapings at High Point, and I got to know a lot of the guys, at least as well as a little kid that was star struck could. Two of my earliest memories are from those tapings.

I never had a dad around, and even as a very young man I was already showing signs of going down a bad road. I was fighting and telling lies. My mom saw where this kind of thing could lead. Well one day after we went to the tapings at WGHP, she went to Johnny and talked to him for a few minutes, then she called me over. I was in awe. The studio was empty other than us. Johnny was sitting on the ring near were the seats were and I was standing there next to him looking up at my hero. My mom had let him in on my acting up, and he asked me what was going on. I really don’t remember what I said, more than likely not a lot, people that have known me for a long time would be shocked that I was ever at a loss for words, but I was then. I do remember that he asked what I wanted to do with my life, and I said with out a moments thought that I wanted to be a wrestler. He smiled and said if I acted right at home and did not give my mom problems, and did good in school, that he would one day teach me how to wrestle.

Well I thought of that many times in my life after that. I ended up only being 5'8" so I never did call him on it! But I have no doubt that it changed my life. I did stop telling lies, and tried to be a good person, and I to this day try my best to live a life where I help people. In just a few minutes he became my role model, and I will never forget that.

- Michael Roach, February 2006
Originally published on the Mid-Atlantic Gateway

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Southern Title Chase

by Carroll Hall

In May 1965, Johnny Weaver made a trip to Tampa for for a special challenge match on Championship Wrestling from Florida hosted by Gordon Solie. The show aired on May 29, 1965 there in Tampa.
Johnny faced Big Bob Orton in this special TV match. Johnny Weaver used his rolling cradle on Orton. At that point Bill Dromo jumped up on the ring apron just as Orton pushed Johnny off at the count of two. Johnny collided with Bill Dromo, then Bob Orton covered Johnny Weaver for the win.

The Florida TV was already airing in a couple of TV markets in NC but for the benefit of fans who did not receive that show, the entire match was shown on the Crockett TV shows.

After Bob Orton regained The Southern Heavyweight belt during a June tournament in Florida, he immediately brought the title to Jim Crockett Promotions where he would defend it over the next six months. Not long after arriving here Johnny Weaver challenged Big Bob Orton to match on WBTV Charlotte, NC. Johnny Weaver pinned Orton in the one fall non-title match.

Weaver and Orton would have many matches throughout the territory. Some of the matches ended in a draw with Orton winning one fall with the "Piledriver" and Johnny winning a fall with the "Sleeper." Big Bob Orton left the area still the champion in January, 1966.

* * * * *

August 27,1965 Richmond,Virginia
Weaver Gets Big Chance On Friday

Richmond - Young Johnny Weaver gets his big chance on Friday's State Fairgrounds pro wrestling card.

The popular youngster will take on Southern Heavyweight Champion Bob Orton at two-out-of three-falls with a one hour time limit.

In the semifinal, Brute Bernard and Skull Murphy go against Omar Atlas and Gory Guerrero.

Diamond Lil meets Darling Dagmar in an all girls midget match, while in the opener it will be George and Sandy Scott,former tag team champions,against The Viking and Pedro Zapata.

Action starts at 8:30 p.m.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Johnny Weaver Must Not Be Sold!

Carroll Hall at recently received a letter from long time wrestling fan Norman Harris of Wilkesboro NC. Mr. Harris had been kind enough to mail Carroll one of the rarest pieces of memorabilia I've ever seen. It is an "advertising pass" that gave the bearer a discount on the price of admission for a card at the Lexington YMCA in Lexington NC on July 6, 1968.

The pass features a photo of Johnny with the sleeper hold on George "Two Ton" Harris. I also love the references to the TV shows that aired on WBTV in Charlotte and WGHP in High Point NC. During those days. both stations aired unique programs taped at their local studios. The WBTV program was hosted by Big Bill Ward; the High Point show was hosted by NC Broadcast Hall of Famer Charlie Harville. (For more, check out Studio Wrestling.)

Norman had Johnny autograph the pass at the Mid-Atlantic Wrestling Legends Fanfest in Charlotte in February of 2004. - D. Bourne

* * * * * *

Here is the card from that night in Lexington, courtesy of Mike Cline:

July 6, 1968

Rival tag teams of long standing and teams absent for sometime will clash in tonight's professional wrestling feature at the LEXINGTON YMCA.

The headlining contest will be GEORGE and SANDY SCOTT, THE FLYING SCOTTS, against ALDO BOGNI and BRONCHO LUBICH, now being managed by MR. GEORGE HARRIS, formerly known as "Two Ton". These four wrestlers have a bitter rivalry going back several years in the Carolinas, and one can only imagine what influence HARRIS will have, now that he's in the mix.

Another tag match this week sends the popular duet of North Carolina's own LUTHER LINDSAY and New Zealand's ABE JACOBS against the Spanish-Mexican rowdies PANCHO VALDEZ and THE MATADOR.

Both tag matches are set for two-out-of-three falls.

Single bouts on tonight's card will pit LES WOLFE against FRANK HICKEY and BOB NANDER taking on PEPPY GOMEZ.

Belltime, as always, is 8:15.

Friday, September 28, 2007

The Loaded Boot

One of the memorable angles of the late 1960s was the loaded boot, a weapon of the masked Infernos and their manager the infamous J. C. Dykes. Weaver Blog contributor Carroll Hall ( remembers this angle so well, and did research on a show he attended in Winston-Salem on July 1, 1967, finding the newspaper clipping and photos related to the event. He presented his story and the related print material in his article on Wrestling Memories in April of 2005. I asked his permission to reprint the article here, so we might relive the night Johnny Weaver and George Becker turned the tables on the Infernos in a loaded card at the Coliseum. -D. Bourne

* * * * * * *

The Loaded Boot
by Carroll Hall

My two brothers and I were really wanting to go to the wrestling matches on that Saturday night in Winston-Salem. It didn't look too promising early in the week leading up to the card because Dad wouldn't be getting off work until 10:00 p.m. that night and I was not quite old enough to drive yet.

By mid-week we got lucky and worked out a deal with Jimmy, a close friend of the family. My brothers and I would help Jimmy chop the weeds out of his tobacco field in exchange for him driving us down to the Coliseum. He loved wrestling too.

My mom had never learned to drive at this point but she had made up her mind to do so. She had just bought a 1957 Dodge with the big fins on the back for $200. She let Jimmy drive that old Dodge to wrestling because the only thing that would run on his farm that day was his tractor. Well, Jimmy must never have driven anything so powerful as that old Dodge. He flew past every vehicle we came upon that night between Mt. Airy and Winston-Salem. Just imagine if you will three kids and one nut (just kidding Jimmy) flying down U.S. 52 in a "Batmobile" going to wrestling!

The old Coliseum was hot that night as it was nearly a full house and I don't believe that grand old building ever had air conditioning.

George Becker had made a promise on "Championship Wrestling" the previous week that he and Johnny Weaver had a big surprise for the Infernos and J.C. Dykes. The Infernos managed by J.C. Dykes had been wreaking havoc all over Virginia and the Carolina's during the Spring of 1967 with the Loaded Boot. Mr. Dykes explained in T.V. interviews that one of his Infernos was born with one leg shorter than the other. That was the reason he had to wear a built up boot. They won match after match when that Inferno would tap the toe of that boot to load it and kick his opponent in the stomach, then tap the heel to unload it.

In this match with Becker and Weaver the Infernos won the first fall with the loaded boot over Johnny Weaver. In the second fall Johnny Weaver used his rollup on Inferno1 and Inferno 2 came in and started tapping the toe of his boot to the mat. Of course the referee had his back turned while pushing George Becker back to his corner. Just as Inferno 2 went to kick Johnny, Weaver caught his foot and took him down. Becker then knocked the referee down so he could join Johnny.

Of course George and Johnny got disqualified which resulted in them losing two straight falls to the Infernos. No matter, they were going to remove that loaded boot at all costs. After they got the boot off, Johnny loaded it and started swinging it, clearing the ring of J.C. Dykes and the Infernos. Johnny then sat down in the middle of the ring and removed his own boot so he could try the loaded boot on. It would not fit Johnny, so in future matches with the Infernos, George Becker wore the boot. George would later loan the boot to the Scott Brothers (Sandy wore the boot) and Tex McKenzie and Nelson Royal (Nelson wore the boot).

Rip Hawk and Swede Hanson got disqualified in the semi-main event against the Kentuckians.

Was chopping weeds all day worth getting to see all this? You bet!
Link To Original Article on

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

One of Many Great Park Center Nights

by Mike Cline

One summer Monday night in 1968 0r 1969, I journeyed down to Charlotte's Park Center after seeing the Saturday build-up on WBTV's Championship Wrestling for a big feud match between the Southern Tag Team Champions Gene and Ole Anderson versus crowd favorites George Becker and Johnny Weaver. Both teams were heavily pushed on TV that week, with Becker & Weaver promising to regain the belts from "The Minnesota Wrecking Crew".

The two-out-three-fall match began (all tag matches in Crockett land back then were of this nature). Well, after two falls, all was even (this was usually the case). The winner of the third fall would get the Tag Team Belts. I recall vividly the point of the match in which Johnny Weaver ended up on the Park Center floor, and before he knew what was happening, Ole Anderson posted Johnny's noggin' against the solid steel ring post. Johnny disappeared from our site. The crowd is going crazy. Finally, Johnny staggered to his feet, his face the proverbial Gordon Solie "crimson mask", and I mean big-time. Johnny is delirious, swinging and attacking anything close to him. He gets back into the ring, and he slugs Gene, he slugs Ole, he slugs George, and he slugs the referee. Oh no---slugging the ref means a DQ, and no belts.

The show is over. Johnny is dragged to the dressing room seeking medical attention. Everyone goes home. I'm disappointed, because George & Johnny remain beltless. But they were still champions in my eyes.

Taken from "The Road To Statesville", as originally appeared on the Mid-Atlantic Gateway in July, 2003.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Thesz vs. Weaver

by Dick Bourne

In the spring of 1965, NWA World Heavyweight Champion Lou Thesz made a string of title defenses for Jim Crockett Promotions. Two of those defenses were back to back shows in Greensboro NC against Johnny Weaver, who had worked his way into title contention over his first three years in the "All Star Wrestling" area.

On Thursday April 8, Thesz met Weaver for the title on a loaded card that also featured two tag matches between four of the top teams in the area at that time. In "The Battle of the Bullies", Rip Hawk and Swede Hanson squared off against Bronco Lubich and Aldo Bogni managed by Mr. Homer O'Dell. The two teams were both disqualified. Another tag match (and remember, the Mid-Atlantic territory was primarily a tag team territory at this time) featured the brother combination of George and Sandy Scott defeating Nelson Royal and the Viking in three falls.

But the main event that night was the NWA title tilt between the venerable Thesz and his challenger Johnny Weaver, who by this time had arguably become the most popular wrestler in the territory.

The Greensboro newspaper reported the outcome:

Lou Thesz, on the verge of being pinned in the third fall, came off the ropes to defeat challenger Johnny Weaver in the feature match on the wrestling program at the Coliseum Thursday night.

Thesz won the first with a flying body press after 19 minutes. Weaver took the second with a sleeper hold in five minutes, and he had Thesz down for what appeared to be the clincher. But the champ had his foot over the rope, and the referee forced Weaver to get up.

Thesz then grabbed Weaver from behind for the clincher.

Weaver's excellent showing in this match earned him a return shot at Thesz on the next Greensboro Coliseum card on May 27. Not only that, villains Rip Hawk and Swede Hanson enlisted the aide of longtime fan favorite George Becker to continue their brutal "battle of the bullies" in a six-man tag match against Bogni, Lubich and manager Homer O'Dell. We'll report on that big card soon right here on the Johnny Weaver blog.

Clipping from the collection of Mark Eastridge. The clipping also appears in a print collection of newspaper wrestling clippings "Classic Clips #32" compiled by Scott Teal and Mark Eastridge and published by Crowbar Press.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Becker & Weaver Fan Club

Back in the late 1960s, Pam Daniels ran the official George Becker and Johnny Weaver Fan Club. Members received, along with other material (much of which we hope to post here later) an offical membership card signed by both Mr. Becker and Mr. Weaver!

There likely aren't too many of these left to be found. Weaver Blog contributor Don Holbrook is working on locating other mateirals from the fan club, materials that are over 37 years old!

Pam also ran a fan club for the Minnesota Wrecking Crew in the 60s. Some material from that news letter can be found on the On The Road feature on the Anderson Brothers Classic website.

Membership card provided by Don Holbrook.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Victory Ride

by Don Holbrook

I have vivid memories of George Becker and Johnny Weaver from here in Greenville. I began following wrestling in 1962, at 8 years old, when my dad took me and my best friend to the matches in Greenville. The feuds Becker and Weaver had in Greenville over the years, especially with Hawk and Hansen, remain in my mind until this day.

I can recall a deal once where the NWA President, Sam Muchnick, came to Greenville to sit at ringside and monitor the match and to award the tag title belts to the winner of a match between these two teams. They had a standing room only crowd and they turned hundreds of people away that night. George and Johnny won and the crowd actually carried them out on their shoulders. It was amazing. I will never forget that. Talk about living legends and household names, these two guys were all that and more around here in those days.

- Don Holbrook, Greenville SC

Photograph by Gene Gordon © Ditchcat Photogrpahy. Used with permission.
Photo from the collection of Carroll Hall,

Sunday, September 16, 2007

"Stretch him, Johnny!"

By Carroll Hall

I wish that I could have talked to George Becker and Johnny Weaver when I was growing up and going to the matches, but we always got our tickets at the door on the night of the shows, so most of the time we sat in the general admission sections. There was one time in Greensboro during early March 1968 that we got close to Johnny Weaver and my youngest brother yelled out "there's Johnny!" and Johnny turned around and said something like "hey guys." Johnny beat World Champ Gene Kiniski by DQ that night.

That was the first time, and one of the rare times, we ever sat in the ringside area. We went that night with my cousin and her fiancee before they moved to Wisconsin. When she came home for a visit last year she brought this up (36 years later) and said, "I still remember George Becker and Johnny Weaver."

In the third fall of that match, Kiniski had escaped the sleeper and the roll up. I told my brothers that I wish Johnny would surprise Kiniski by using Becker's abdominal stretch. So all three of us yelled at the same time "stretch him, Johnny!" Then the crowd at ringside joined in with a chant of "stretch him, stretch him!"

Lo and behold Johnny Weaver whipped Kiniski in to the ropes and locked him in the abdominal stretch. Kiniski could not escape so the whole crowd was on it's feet. We just knew in a few more seconds that Johnny Weaver was going to be the new "Woilds Champeen" as George Becker had predicted. Then Kiniski reached up and grabbed the referee with his free hand and pulled him in to Weaver knocking all three down thus causing the immediate DQ.

Though we were sad that Johnny did not get the belt, we went home happy thinking that Kiniski knew Johnny Weaver had him beat.

Oh how I wish I could go back to that time.

- Carroll Hall, Mount Airy NC

Friday, September 14, 2007

Classic Rivalry

By Carroll Hall

Johnny Weaver and George Becker wrestled Rip Hawk and Swede Hanson in the main event at the Greensboro Coliseum on Thanksgiving night Nov.26,1964. Their match there on Jan. 28,1965 (as featured on Wayne Brower's old poster) had more to do with what we were seeing or maybe I should say hearing in TV interviews with Charlie Harville. George Becker and Rip Hawk had been at each others throats for three years. They had wrestled each other in a singles match on the TV show which Rip won when he used the neckbreaker and maintained the hold into a bridge. When the referee started his count, Rip placed his feet on the bottom turnbuckle thus scoring the pin on George Becker.

George Becker and Doug Gilbert had a program with Hawk and Hanson in the fall of 1964 while Johnny Weaver and Haystack Calhoun were winding down their program with the Bolos.

George Becker and Doug Gilbert got into a scuffle with Rip Hawk and Swede Hanson on the High Point show during this time. Becker and Gilbert had their coats and ties on when they came out. In one of Wayne Brower's channel 8 photos where Rip Hawk looks very angry, I am almost positive that is George Beckers' coat we see in the photo after this altercation. Becker and Gilbert's shirts were ripped to shreds but they got the best of Rip and Swede.

When Johnny Weaver teamed up with George Becker as his permanent partner, the feud with Hawk and Hanson continued and just got better. They would wrestle each other hundreds of times over the next seven years.

- Carroll Hall, Mount Airy NC

Poster from the collection of Wayne Brower. Photo of poster by Steve Hall. One of the highlights of our weekend at Fanfest in Charlotte was when Wayne brought out all his old wrestling posters! -D. Bourne

Weaver Wins the NWA TV Title

The photo I posted earlier of Johnny Weaver with the NWA TV title prodded me to follow-up with this posting of the newspaper result form the 3/5/78 card in Charlotte. Johnny defeated Baron Von Raschke for the NWA TV title that night in the Charlotte Coliseum. He became only the 2nd NWA TV champion.

Baron Von Raschke had held the Mid-Atlantic TV title since 6/15/78, when he defeated Ricky Steamboat for the belt in the WRAL television studios. Baron then won a (ficticious) tournament comprised of all regional TV champs, the winner to be crowned the new NWA TV champion and presented with the new NWA TV title belt. -D. Bourne

Clipping from the collection of Mark Eastridge.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Champions in The Ring

This photograph was taken by the late, long time wrestling photographer Gene Gordon in Spartanburg SC on 3/25/78. Johnny Weaver is wearing the NWA TV title and "Mr. Wrestling" Tim Woods is wearing the U.S. title (a rare photo of both with those belts.) On the floor at ringside, behind Johnny, is ring annoncer/former wrestler/long time Crockett veteran George Harbin.

Johnny won the NWA TV title from Baron Von Raschke on 3/5 in Charlotte, and Tim "Mr. Wrestling" Woods had just won the US title a week earlier on 3/19 in Greensboro.

The two were wrestling against the former champions Raschke and Mulligan in a Texas Tornado rules tag team match in the Spartanburg Memorial Auditorium. All four contestants would be in the ring at the same time. The newspaper reported that Raschke and Mulligan won the tag match, which drove interest in the rematches for the respective singles titles. - Dick Bourne

Photo by Gene Gordon © Ditchcat Photography. Used with permission.
Nwspaper clipping from the collection of Mark Eastridge.

Friday, September 7, 2007

A Legend Comes Home

by Dick Bourne

When I first regularly started watching wrestling in 1975, a legend in the Mid-Atlantic area had just returned to action there: Johnny Weaver. For a kid who had only recently gotten hooked on professional wrestling, this was big. It was like Bart Starr had just returned to the Green Bay Packers or Johnny Unitas had returned to the Baltimore Colts.

As a young child, really up until I was around 10 years old, I was only a casual sports fan. But I had grown up hearing the names George Becker and Johnny Weaver. Just as I knew the names of Starr and Unitas in football, Pete Rose in baseball, or Wilt Chamberlain in basketball, I knew the names Becker and Weaver and I knew they were wrestling’s greatest tag team. For long time fans in the Carolinas and Virginia, there were no bigger names, and no bigger stars. In grade school, my friends would talk each Monday about the home run Pete Rose had hit, the touchdown pass Johnny Unitas had thrown, and right in there with all that discussion was how Weaver and Becker had just won the tag team titles. All of these guys were heroes.

So in 1975, as a young teenager now hooked on the weekly exploits of the Anderson Brothers, Wahoo McDaniel and Paul Jones, Blackjack Mulligan and a new kid on the block named Ric Flair, I was delighted to learn that one of the biggest names of them all was coming back to Mid-Atlantic Wrestling.

What I didn’t know then was that Johnny Weaver had been away on conquests in other territories, most notably the state of Florida where he held titles there. Johnny Weaver was wrestling royalty, and he was treated as such on his return by TV hosts Bob Caudle and Les Thatcher. It was as if Vince Lombardi had just sent Bart Starr back in the game to step under center once again.

And just as Unitas had that great arm, and Pete Rose had that famous head first slide into base, Johnny Weaver had the famous sleeper hold. And while there was always a big pop from the crowd when Wahoo went into the war dance or when Rufus R. Jones wound up the freight-train, there was no bigger reaction from the fans than when Johnny Weaver shot his opponent in to the ropes and then locked on the sleeper hold. It was something I looked forward to on television every week.

Yes, Mid-Atlantic wrestling’s biggest star was back. And as the old saying goes, business was about to pick up.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Weaver/Landrum Reunion

by Rich Landrum


I first met Johnny Weaver in the early 70’s when I started doing the ring announcing for the Richmond shows. This was a time when tag team matches were the stalwart main event and Johnny was teamed with the ever popular George Becker. They made a good combination back then … George the older wiser wrestler and Johnny the young, take it to them, youngster. Facing such villain tags teams as Aldo Bogni and Bronco Lubich with their manager, Homer O’Dell, Rip Hawk and Swede Hanson, Brute Bernard and Skull Murphy just to name a few, helped fill the seats each and every Friday night.

As years went on and we moved from the Fair Grounds to the Richmond Coliseum, I got to know Johnny a little better and came to realize that he was more than just a wrestler to JCP and as I transitioned into doing the TV announcing I realized that Johnny was the glue that held JCP together. Both as a mentor to the young up and coming wrestlers, as well advisor to the office.

Once Johnny was brought on board as my co-host to World Wide Wrestling, his longevity and knowledge of the wrestling business became more apparent to me and I gave him the moniker “The Dean of Professional Wrestling”. Those were exciting, fun times for me and I looked forward to going to work every week despite the sometimes, long hours and travel.


All though I hadn’t seen Johnny in 25 years, we only stayed in touch by phone and email … that is until recently, when the idea of a surprise reunion came up for the 2007 Weaver Cup Finals in Burlington, NC. With the help of Peggy Lathan, Don Kernodle and Dick Bourne the whole thing was put together and the secret was well kept. I later learned that Sandy Scott and Jim Nelson would also be making a surprise visit, which made it equally exciting for me.

After my wife and I carefully checked into the same hotel that Johnny was staying that afternoon, I got his room number from Peggy and quietly approached his door and knocked. When he opened the door I announced, “The Dean and The Voice together again!” The surprised look on Johnny’s face was worth a million dollars and the feeling of camaraderie instantly returned as Don & Rocky Kernodle, who had been patiently awaiting my surprise arrival in Johnny’s room, as was Peggy Lathan, greeted me. I never will forget what Johnny said shortly after my arrival, “How’d you do this? I just sent you and email at 2:00.” It was then 5:30.

Later that evening, Johnny received another surprise by Sandy Scott and Jim Nelson when they walked out from behind a tent, while we were waiting for the Weaver Cup Tournament to start. Johnny seemed to have a constant smile on his face that night and it got even bigger when the promoter of the tournament, who tapes the show for TV, asked if we would open it just as we did for the old JCP World Wide Wrestling TV show. With little or no planning I walked on to set and welcomed everyone “to another exciting evening of World Wide Wrestling” and brought in my co-host, the “Dean of Professional Wrestling, Johnny Weaver.” The fans erupted into applause when he came on to the set and John’s smile got even broader. The evening at that point was a total success.

Some things I learned that night that I had forgotten … True friendships had been forged 25 years ago in professional wrestling and they last a lifetime. You can’t catch up on 25 years in one evening. Sadly there are only about 25 of us left from that era of JCP. And finally, we can’t party like we used to, nor do we need to.

- Rich Landrum

For more photos of the reunion of Johnny Weaver and Rich Landrum in Burlington, including photos of Sandy Scott, Jim Nelson (Boris Zhukov), Don Kernodle, and Rocky Kernodle (Leith Larson), visit the Mid-Atlantic Gateway page on the 2007 Johnny Weaver Cup Tournament Finals.
2007 Weaver/Landrum photo by Randy Hedrick,

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Most Popular Team Ever

Weaver and Becker were probably the most popular team ever in Greenville SC. Years after their run there were many others who were loved by the fans but overall I would have to say that they were tops. That does not mean others were not popular.

I think Weaver and Becker's success was mainly because of how the business was so well protected and believable back then. Plus a lot of hard work in the ring each and every night because back then, Crockett's area was known for the standard tag team main event and 2 out of 3 falls 60 minute time limit. So basically all their matches were long and hard fought. I recall them holding the Southern Tag Belts and Weaver held the Southern Heavyweight Belt at the same time, for what seemed to be years.

Truthfully, I don't remember the titles changing around all that much back then. Could it have been because it took several weeks for the angles to get over through television exposure? With no cable TV back then and in most markets around here, Crockett's All-Star Wrestling was about the only show that was seen throughout the territory. But it was a 1 hour tape and the local stations aired it each Saturday. I cannot even begin to imagine this formula for success ever working again, but it sure did back then!

- Don Holbrook, Greenville SC
from an ongong E-mail exchange with the Mid-Atlantic Gateway and Carroll Hall

To this day I have never seen another team get the response and fan support that Becker and Weaver had. In late 1964 after the feud between Weaver/Haystacks Calhoun vs. The Bolos ended, Calhoun and the Bolos left the area. That is when George and Johnny announced to Charlie Harville on the High Point show that they had decided to make their team permanent. They had teamed once in while since 1962 but most of the time they had teamed with other partners.

George Becker had been teaming with Doug Gilbert against Rip Hawk and Swede Hanson prior to this in the fall of 1964. Once Becker and Weaver teamed up for good their main foes were Aldo Bogni and Bronco Lubich with manager Homer O'Dell. After Bogni and Lubich won the the Southern Tag Team Championship from Eddie Graham and Sam Steamboat in Charlotte in May, 1965, it was on.

Becker and Weaver won the belts in Greensboro on Sept.9, 1965 while Haystacks Calhoun sat on Homer O'Dell outside the ring (I did not get to see this match. This is what Charlie Harville told on the channel 8 news.) Becker and Weaver held the Southern belts most of the time until 1969. The only teams that I know for sure beat them for the belts were Bogni and Lubich and Gene and Lars Anderson beat them for the belts on the High Point show but the belts were held up a week later. I have read that the Infernos and Missouri Mauler and Pampero Firpo had short reigns in 1967. If those title reigns happened they were in a part of the territory I was shut off from. Some title histories list the Infernos winning the belts on July 20,1967 in Greensboro but the newspaper clipping says Becker and Weaver won in two straight falls.

On May 1,1969 I saw Becker and Weaver win the Atlantic Coast Tag belts from Rip Hawk and Swede Hanson at the Winston-Salem Coliseum. For a while after George and Johnny would carry the Southern Tag belts over their shoulders and wear the Atlantic Coast belts or vice/versa depending on which belts they were defending on any given night. I don't really know what happened to the Southern belts. It is possible they decided to retire them on a TV show I might have missed.

- Carroll Hall, Mount Airy NC
from an ongong E-mail exchange with the Mid-Atlantic Gateway and Don Holbrook

I don't think that people who were not from around this area ever knew or understood the popularity of George and Johnny. I was in grade school and I remember all the kids at school knew who they were and everybody talked about the TV wrestling all the time. But a lot of the kids never got to go see the matches live. Their families could not afford it or didn't like it or whatever, but it was amazing how things were in those days. I don't ever recall Becker teaming with Doug Gilbert, I missed that somehow. But I do remember Johnny and Calhoun because they did the very same thing you described in Greenville during that time. I do remember the old Southern Tag Belts. They had a silver plate on them with red around the edge. I could only guess that some of the Crockett family has them tucked away someplace now.

Here's a tid-bit for you about George and Johnny. Last week I was telling Dick about the Asheville TV show on WLOS. It was hosted by a guy named Muncey Milliway who sat there and talked on and on while the tape ran as they couldn't show High Points promos. So Muncey would talk. One show I remember he was talking about how it had been over a year and a half since Becker and Weaver were in Asheville. They were making such a huge deal of them coming in next week. For years I could not figure out why they never went into Asheville. It was many years later that I figured it out. It was because Asheville ran on Wednesday nights in the old city auditorium and Becker and Weaver were busy every Wednesday doing TV in Raleigh.

It is so strange to think how individualized each little section of the territory could do things and the other towns knew nothing about it. The good ol' days!

- Don Holbrook, Greenville SC
from an ongong E-mail exchange with the Mid-Atlantic Gateway and Carroll Hall

Becker/Harville/Weaver photo courtesy of Wayne Brower

Let's Get Together

This newspaper ad was in the Winston-Salem Journal in 1970. The photo is of Championship Wrestling host Charlie Harville at ringside with George Becker and Johnny Weaver.

Learn more about studio TV wrestling: Studio Wrestling: WGHP-8 in High Point NC

Clipping from the collection of Carroll Hall, Wrestling

Monday, September 3, 2007

Johnny Weaver's Charlotte Debut

Charlotte Observer
February 5, 1962

HANS SCHMIDT, a brutal 240-pound German, will headline tonight's PARK CENTER wrestling card. SCHMIDT, noted as one of the roughest wrestlers now on the American circuit, will go against LENNY MONTANA. **

The bout, which will be a real test for the popular MONTANA, has been set for two of three falls, one hour time limit.

The rest of the card is dotted with new faces. The semi-final brings in newcomer BILL DROMO, a youngster with a big reputation, to meet rugged SWEDE HANSON. DROMO is from Detroit and specializes in the scientific approach to wrestling, unlike Mr. HANSON.

Another prelim unveils two newcomers to Charlotte, JOHNNY WEAVER,from Indianapolis, and EDDIE AUGER.

The 8:15 p.m. opener brings in still another new face, SIR ALLAN GARFIELD, who will team with TINKER TODD to meet STEVE BOLUS and KEN COOPER.

** MONTANA would later appear as Luca Brasi in the 1972 film THE GODFATHER. Remember the scene in which his hand is pinned to the bar with a knife and he is strangled with a wire.

Research by Mike Cline

TV Wrestling on Ch. 8

Clipping from the collection of Carroll Hall, Wrestling Memories

Jack Brisco on Johnny Weaver

Question for Jack Brisco:
I would like your take on Johnny Weaver as a wrestler and why he never went outside the Mid-Atlantic. One memory, watching Johnny go down to Florida to challenge you for the World title but he was under a hood as a "Mr Wrestling" and the "storyline" was he had come down to take you on in disguise because you were "ducking" him in the M-A.

Jack’s response:
I wrestled Johnny several times in the Carolinas. We sold out every time we wrestled. I have a very high opinion of Johnny. He is a good friend of mine. He made good money in the Carolinas and was always on top. He had no desire to leave there. He would have been a headliner anywhere he wrestled. - Jack Brisco

edited from the Jack Brisco Forum on the Wrestling Classics Board

Friday, August 31, 2007

Andersons Meet Becker, Weaver

Richmond, VA, Nov. 1, 1968

Three weeks ago the six-man tag team battle between the three Anderson Brothers and the team of George Becker, Johnny Weaver and Sailor Art Thomas drew a record throng to the State Fairgrounds professional wrestling arena.

Two of the Andersons will return Friday night to battle Becker and Weaver in a fence match to finish with no disqualifications. A six-foot chain link fence will be erected around the ring by the Atlas Fence Co. of Richmond.

Gene and Ole will represent the Anderson family as Lars is recovering from a knee injury suffered on a TV show.

Other bouts: Haystacks Muldoon vs. Tinker Todd; Mr. Wrestling and Abe Jacobs vs. El Gaucho and Leon Baxter; and Les Wolff vs. Billy Spears. The first bout is scheduled for 8:30 pm.

This preview article for the Friday night matches on Nov. 1, 1968 comes from the Petersburg,VA Progress-Index. The knee injury of Lars Anderson on TV is mentioned.

Gene and Lars Anderson had wrestled Johnny Weaver and George Becker at Raleigh TV taping in Oct. 1968. It was a 2 out of 3 falls match. After the two teams had split the first two falls,Lars Anderson climbed to the top rope during the third fall for a kneedrop on Johnny Weaver. Johnny rolled out of the way. Lars injured his knee.
When the show resumed after the commercial break,Gene and Lars had gone to the dressing room. The referee called for the bell and began the twenty count. (This was changed to a 10 count in Aug. 1973.)

When Gene and Lars did not return to the ring the third fall and the match was awarded to Johnny Weaver and George Becker.

I saw the match on All Star Wrestling hosted by Bob Caudle. The show aired on WSLS channel 10 Roanoke,Virginia on Saturday afternoon's at 12:30 p.m. in 1968.

- Carroll Hall