Friday, February 29, 2008

So Long, Johnny

by Jim Nelson

It is so hard to believe that it has been two weeks now since I heard of Johnny Weaver's passing. I was headed home from Tennessee in my big rig that I drive for Sunbelt Transport out of Jacksonville Fl. I had to find a place to pull over and sit for a few hours before I could continue on.

Johnny had been a hero to me, he always put the match first. He once told me,"Kid, You are only as good as the guy you are workin with." I never did forget that. He was so right too.

I called my friend Dick Bourne back, hoping he was wrong on his message. I managed to get a hold of my longtime friends Don Kernodle and Mike Weddle. I was just devestated, but finally managed to get rollin again and make it on home. Johnny had and always will have a special place in my heart.

When I first came to Charlotte in 1980, Johnny just went out his way to help teach me in that wrestling ring. I grew up watching him and and just thought he was the best. He always had us wrestling fans in the palm of his hand. I was a fan first and not afraid to admit it. I learned so much from him and finally got to be his tag team partner. I left Charlotte and Mid Atlantic Wrestling in May 1983.

I got to go this past year down to Burlington NC and see him at a CWF event. We talked and I told him what a great honor it would be if he could come to one of our ACW events in Rocky Mount Va. He told me it would be hard with his schedule, but he came up with a date. Saturday Nov. 3 2007,he said he could make that one so we made it happen for sure. We had Johnny there along with Sandy Scott, Don and Rocky Kernodle and Ric MCcord. Thanks so much to Dick Bourne, Peggy Lathan, Carroll Hall and David Chappell we had the best time ever. I got to be in the ring again with my hero and great friend and see that famous sleeper hold one more time. It had been 24 years since the last time, half my life ago.

We had the pleasure of throwing Johnny a suprise birthday party. We just never realized at the time how special this night would be. So glad we got all the pictures and video we did that night.

It has been a long tough two weeks for me, as I just know it has been for so many of us. I just cannot imagine how hard this must be on Johnny's family. I am still teary eyed today, but know that "A Man is not Dead until he is Forgotten." So as long as we remember Johnny, he will always be with us in our hearts. It has just been too hard for me to say goodbye, so I will just say -"So Long-Johnny!

- Jim Nelson

* * * * *

Photo 1: Johnny Weaver applies the sleeper hold to Jim Nelson in the WPCQ TV studios in Charlotte, September 1981.

Photo 2: Johnny Weaver applies the sleeper hold on Eclipso in Rocky Mount VA on 11/3/07. It would be the last time Johnny would apply his famous hold in a wrestling ring. Behind them, Jim Nelson applies the Cobra Clutch on Eclipso's manager Douglas Wentworth.