Sunday, March 29, 2009

Pro Wrestling Illustrated Annual - Year In Review

From the "Pro Wrestling Illustrated Annual" for 2008, where the review the significant events over the previous year:

Mid-Atlantic Legend Johnny Weaver Dead at 72
Among the many wrestling heroes that came through the Carolina wrestling scene throughout the territory's rich history, perhaps none was more beloved than Johnny Weaver.

Weaver, whose wrestling career spanned more than 40 years, was found dead from natural causes in his Charlotte home on February 15. The accomplished wrestling announcer and booker was 72 years old.

"The business has lost one of the greats," Weaver's former friend and colleague, Blackjack Mulligan, told the Charlotte Observer. "He was a master at this business. He's going to be missed greatly."

Born in East St. Louis, Illinois, Weaver began his pro career in the mid-50s and came to work for Jim Crockett, Sr. in his Mid-Atlantic territory in 1962. Weaver made his first big splash as part of a main event tag team act with partner George Becker. The two captured multiple championships and took part in memorable rivalries against teams including Swede Hansen and Rip Hawk and Gene and Ole Anderson.

Using his "Weaverlock" sleeper hold, Weaver also saw singles success, and was a perennial top contender for the NWA heavyweight championship.

Weaver wore many other hats, including those of a creative team member and a likeable and knowledgeable color commentator – a role he played for nearly 20 years until leaving the wrestling business in the late 1980s. As an elder statesman, Weaver also helped groom some of wrestling's future stars working in the territory, including Greg Valentine, Roddy Piper and Ric Flair.

Weaver later took on a second career as deputy sheriff with Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, where he was set to retire months after his passing. In the job, Weaver transported prisoners around Carolina, through the various back roads he became familiar with during his years as a wrestler.

Pro-Wrestling Illustrated is the premier wrestling magazine on the market. Check it out at your local newsstand, supermarket, Walmart, or order online at
Thanks to Blake Arledge and Peggy Lathan for their help with this feature.