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.