Related Links:

Weaver Weekend

The Johnny Weaver Blog

The Weaver Cup





Chappell:      Johnny, you also had some programs later in your active career I found really interesting and sort of wanted to know how they started. One was with Baron von Raschke. The sleeper versus the claw. That was a classic.


Weaver:         Number one, it was all George Scott’s idea. And he thought the claw versus the sleeper would get it. Well, it did. And it did, and it did good.


Chappell:      Yeah. You won the TV title then as part of that.


Weaver:         Yeah, I did. That was part of George Scott’s idea. When we did the thing, I don’t now how we really got into it, but anyway, I beat him for the title and then we did that for a month and then they came up with the match where the only way you could win it was with the claw or the sleeper. Nothing else counted.  Somehow we got the referee knocked down and we got outside the ring and he hit me with a chair and threw me in the ring and picked up the referee and I’m just laying there with the claw on me.


Chappell:      Do you remember when you were announcing and Lord Alfred Hayes would come in and he didn’t like the way you were announcing and you had a little bit of a program? Actually, that went a long time.


Weaver:         Yeah. I used it in Toronto, too.


Chappell:      That’s right. It was during that time you booked Toronto.


Weaver:         He had two big Russians. Chris Markoff and Nikolai Volkoff. It wasn’t the greatest team. They were clumsy and hard to wrestle, but Hayes was another Ole; he had that gift with the mike. He didn’t need to wrestle, you know, and people hated him.


Chappell:      He was picking at you for a number of weeks, I remember.


Weaver:         And then he came out on the set with us to commentate on matches, so I gave him my headset, right? Now I can’t hear anything. And he said something smart about me to Landrum, and Landrum would elbow me, and I and I said, “What’d he say?” And you know, it went on from there…


Bourne:         I remember that! You turning around and saying, “I can’t hear him Rich.”


Weaver:         Right! So finally I guess I heard the tape back and confronted him and it set up matches with his team.



Chappell:      Johnny, do you remember when you took the, this was in 1984, when you took the mask off of Jody Hamilton?


Weaver:         Oh yes.


Chappell:      And you became the Ultimate Assassin?  You actually wore the mask?


Weaver:         Yeah, then they got this guy Hernandez to come in, you know, as the other Assassin.


Chappell:      Actually for a while, that was your deal. You wore his mask.


Weaver:         Yes.


Chappell:      And I just couldn’t imagine– Johnny Weaver wearing the Assassin’s mask.


Weaver:         Had a lot of fun with that.


Cline:             I always thought that was really neat, though, because it was sort of like, you know, you had a big program with Hamilton when you first came here and then, you know, doing it again all those years later, which I thought was wonderful.


Bourne:         Johnny, for that late 70’s early 80’s period, you were such a stalwart figure in the promotion, and for a new guy to get over, he had to go through Johnny Weaver. And so they…


Weaver:         Well, that has been said, yes.


Bourne:         …when Roddy Piper came in, they put Piper with you first, they put Tully Blanchard with you first.


Weaver:         For them to get over.


Cline:             And the Super Destroyer, Don Jardine.


Weaver:         Yeah, God, I wrestled him an hour draw and had to go back and do it 90 minutes.


© Photo by Bill Janosik


Cline:             One of Johnny Valentine’s biggest first programs, too. When you tricked him into fighting Bearcat Wright on Channel 3 (laughter)


Weaver:         Yeah. And then Bearcat had a heart attack, a mild one, but he had to sit in a chair. He couldn’t go. Then they got Sonny King.


Chappell:      I had almost forgotten, too, that when Greg Valentine came in, he sort of went after you and put you out for a while. I guess he suplexed you from outside the ring back into the ring and you were out for 3-4 months. And when you came back, I think this was in ’77, had some really good matches with him.


Weaver:         Oh, yes.


Cline:             He dropped an elbow off the top.


Chappell:      That’s right, that’s right.


Weaver:         And then I had to lead him. Get him in a hold and he wanted to go to something else and I told him, no, no, man, stay with ‘em.   We’ve got ‘em coming.  And he’d say, (imitating Greg) ”Oh, yeah, OK. OK.” (Laughter)


Chappell:      Johnny, what about one of my favorites – Art Nelson.  You sort of had a love/hate deal with him for a while. Could you kind of go through some of that, because I thought that was a great time period with Art.


Weaver:         Art was a rugged, you know, rugged guy, rugged heel. And they had the Kangaroos. They had the Kangaroos here. And they were supposed to be the brass knucks champions. And Art and I had had matches and we finally worked up to where we put boxing gloves on and did boxing matches. And they were going to go with the Kangaroos, so I said, well, we need to fight for their taped fist championship and I think Art would be the guy and that’s really the way I got away from Apollo because I told Apollo, hey you can’t tape your feet up, you know (laughter) that we were going with this thing and burn this out. And so we went with the taped fist, knowing that the Bolos were going to come and we could do taped fist matches with the Bolos and not have to take their masks off. But then before it got to that, I think we got one match and it was in Spartanburg and we got to take the masks off. And then we were going to come back, but then Ann Gunkle stopped that and they never did come back.


Chappell:      One thing I remember about you, Johnny, just going to the matches live, and there may have been other babyfaces that got the crowd into it, but you were the one that seemed to play to the crowd and get outside the ring and stomp that foot, you’d do this deal (hand motion with two fingers).


Weaver:         Yeah. I did the thing where you’re out and they raise the hand and you drop the hand, and then (Johnny does the deal with the two fingers)  (laughter)


Chappell:      I mean, was that just a natural thing?  You had the two fingers.


Weaver:         It just come up. It was just something that come up while you’re out there.


Chappell:      I don’t think anybody got a crowd going like you did.


Weaver:         I was telling them coming over here. The whole thing is, and I’ve said it over and over about these guys that sacrificed their body, that was to get the job done and we’d go in there hurt and everything else. Where now, later on, guys get a hangnail and they go, I’m not going in there, you know. I’m sick or I’m hurt. Because everybody sacrificed their body, but it’s in the ear, and you work and listen to what the crowd wants. You’re working for the crowd and you’re out there to build a match that the crowd wants to see and when they go home, they need to be home talking about it. Not saying that it’s this or that, the referee is blind or whatever. You work on their emotions. Their emotions are fear and greed. So, when the heel takes over on you, that’s building heat and the people are getting that fear emotion out. And they’re hollering at them and they’re screaming at them and the referee and all that. It builds to a peak, right? When you make a comeback, it goes off the greed. When they take back over, it blows off the greed for them. Painting a picture, telling a story, which is long forgotten now. 


When the people go home, like there was four of us in a car and he’s the guy that goes to the matches and then goes to work the next day and when one of his co-workers says “How was the matches last night?” “Oh, it was great, man, they did this, they did that, he did this,” and so on. And the other guy says, well, man I missed something. I’d better go next week, right? But if they ask him “How was the matches last night?” and they say, Ah, the referee was blind, it was a bunch of bullshit, you know?”  Then they say, I didn’t miss nothing. I don’t need to go.” The thing is to build it up to get more people in.


Bourne:         Plus, in those days, too, you’re paid strictly on the house, right?


Weaver:         Yep. There was a minimum, and then you were paid up above that. But today they’re on contracts, so when they get their hangnail, they still get paid. When Vince did that, put them on contracts, they sign for “X" amount of dollars for “X" number of years, right? That’s what you’re going to get.  So where is the incentive for them to really go out there? “I ain’t gonna get no more money.”


Chappell:      Johnny, I thought it was amazing how you were able to stay fresh and popular over all those years. Was there ever any thought of your turning heel or doing something to change it up?


Weaver:         No.  No.


Chappell:      Because I remember when Paul Jones went heel in 1978, it was like, my God, the world is coming to an end. I mean, it did have a big effect on his career. It kept Paul fresh for a period of time in a different light.


Weaver:         Yeah, it probably gives you more longevity. But, I mean, who could have been longer than me? I really didn’t need to change. If I had a younger job guy in a match like that and he was a babyface, I would get a little rough with him, but you gotta build the peaks and valleys.  I had a match one time in Niagara Falls, Canada. Tim Horner and Wally Kernodle.  Babyface match. Them people were standing the whole damn match.


Chappell:      Did you ever have any of those, like you with the Scotts or anything?


Weaver:         No, not very often. I did with Jerry Brisco. He was getting ready to go for the NWA title. He was our champion, the Eastern Heavyweight champion,  and he was going to go wrestle Funk Jr.  In fact, another one, a babyface match, and I tried to get them to go everywhere and it was in July or August, hotter than hell. Anderson, South Carolina. Hot as hell. Town was doing nothing. They put me and Steamboat in there. The place was packed. I went to the ring. In fact, what happened was the heel dressing room was here, the babyface dressing room was here on the stage. And I’m in a chair by myself in the middle of the stage, right? Well, there’s about 5 cops took me to the ring and Steamboat came out the other side, right? Well he had about 150 kids over there to get autographs, and I had about 5 and the only reason I had 5 was they couldn’t get close over there to Ricky. (laughter)  That was another one I was hearing – “go get Ricky Steamboat.” (laughter)  So, Steamboat and I wrestled 45 minutes in that hot building and did everything, man. People were going crazy the whole time. When those cops walked me back, I heard one of them say to the other, “Now that’s earning your money.


But, to get back to that, if I had a younger job guy who was a babyface, I’d rough him up a little bit because it started in the style that Funk, Jr. used. He wasn’t really an out and out heel. He’d might use his elbow or something like that, or jump out of the ring on you making a rally on you, but it was still to build that peak and build that valley.  If it was just on a level plane and we were in there wrestling, people would be going to get a hot dog and everything else. I tried to give them action in the show, even though the guy could beat him with one hand tied behind his back.


Bourne:         Well, you were doing the same thing that you talk about Dory doing and that’s give them credibility, too, by having that kind of match.


Weaver:         Right, right. Because that’s the bad thing. Some guys get in there and just eat the other guy up, and they don’t give the other guy nothing and it just quiets the crowd. The whole match they just sit there and don’t say a word because they are just beating them up. You know, they ain’t wrestling. They’re just beating them up. So, there ain’t nothing like the peaks and the valleys, you know.


Hall:                Johnny, tell us some more about working with the Masked Red Demons, and with Two Ton Harris as their manager. The Hines Brothers. Now, that was a really good program there.


Weaver:         Yeah. That was a really good program there. The Hines came from Tennessee and everybody that ever came from over there could wrestle. You know you could tell them to do anything that they could do it. So, it was good.  It was good. Two Ton. On High Point TV, we tore that red suit off of him and he’s standing there on High Point TV in boxer shorts with big red hearts over them.  Luther Lindsey lived over here in Gibsonville and he said that’s all those farmers were talking about. (laughs)  Two Ton Harris in his boxer shorts.  Weaver and Becker tore that red suit off of him.


Chappell:      Johnny, we always ask, I mean, a lot of the guys always tell us how brutal the travel was across the territory.  I guess can you kind of comment on that? I’m sure there’s some road stories. Everybody likes to hear about a good road story or two.


Weaver:         Thank the Lord, I didn’t have any trouble or accidents or the like. I just got a new, blue 1978 Ford LTD and we were in Charleston and coming back from Charleston to Columbia, the interstate was just open or just started opening and they had seeded the grass and there was a lot of deer.  But anyway, Kernodle wanted to drive my car so I let him drive. I was in the back seat, I don’t know what I was doing. Anyway, all of a sudden I hear the brakes go on, he starts screaming, “This guy’s on the wrong side of the interstate coming right at us.”  He didn’t hit him.


Chappell:      Who did you travel with mainly?


Weaver:         Becker. Becker and Martinelli and later with Fargo and Boogie and Tommy Young. Tommy Young drove us miles and miles. Me and Boogie sat in the back playing cribbage.  (laughs)


Chappell:      Behaving yourselves. That’s good.


Weaver:         We were always playing cribbage in the back seat. We pulled into a taping match in Anderson, SC and we went in the back and parked back there by the fence. So Tommy Young got there and me and Boogie are playing right here, and I used a beer bottle for a spit cup. And it was brown like a beer bottle, right? And these kids come up to the car and wanted an autograph and we’re playing the game and I had the beer bottle there and one kid said, “Hey – look – beer! Give me a drink of that beer.”  I said, “Sure, kid.” He took that bottle and took a drink of that… (laughs)






© 2007 Mid-Atlantic Gateway