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