by David Chappell




When we arrived at the restaurant, Johnny was already there sitting in his car waiting for us. The initial greetings and embrace of Rip and Johnny when they saw each other in the parking lot was a magical moment of all magical moments! Clearly, these two were so happy to see each other. And as a huge fan of both of them, that’s a moment I’ll remember and cherish forever.


Once inside, Rip and Johnny talked about many things and subjects that you’d expect any old friends to talk about who hadn’t seen each other in nearly three decades. Both seemed genuinely interested in how the other had been doing, and what each was up to presently.


As you might imagine, the conversation between Rip and Johnny turned to professional wrestling early and often! Listening to these guys talk about wrestling…it was like listening to two talking wrestling encyclopedias! The time frames discussed ran the gamut of their respective Crockett careers---from when Rip came to the Carolinas in the early 60s to Johnny being Dusty Rhodes’ second to the ring at Starrcade 1987!


Peggy Lathan and David have their photos made with Johnny Weaver and Rip Hawk at a memorable breakfast in Charlotte (11/27/04)



The highlights of these two reminiscing about wrestling for me? The better question is, where do I begin?! I’ll just do a short stream of consciousness! Let’s see…Rip talking about his initially coming to Jim Crockett Promotions, and then almost leaving and going back to St. Louis because business was so bad here! Rip talking about his efforts in bringing Johnny into Jim Crockett Promotions originally. Rip and Johnny’s fond memories of big Swede Hanson. Both talking of how they came to use their signature holds…the Piledriver for Rip and the Sleeper for Johnny. Johnny’s crediting Sonny Meyers for his extensive use of the Sleeper hold, and describing how the Sleeper was utilized by him the most because unlike other holds like the Atomic Drop, you didn’t have to get big guys like George “Two Ton” Harris off of their feet to apply it!


Rip Hawk tries to bridge out as Johnny Weaver applies a top wrist lock in a 1974 encounter in Richmond, VA. (Photo by Bill Janosik)


Speaking of Two Ton Harris, a story about him and one about Rip’s manager Homer O’Dell had me laughing to the point of tears! Great road stories and recollections about a number of the Crockett towns…including my hometown of Richmond, Virginia! It was a thrill to hear Johnny talk about his “Sleeper versus Claw” feud with Baron von Raschke…a favorite late 70s angle of mine. Johnny also talked about his later years in the Mid-Atlantic area when he became a TV commentator with the Gateway’s friend Rich Landrum. When I asked Johnny about singing the line “Turn Out The Lights, The Party’s Over” after matches on the World Wide Wrestling TV show, Johnny said fans would actually send him lyrics to the whole song, wanting him to sing a full rendition! Johnny said he steadfastly drew the line there!


After the check had been paid (thanks Mike!) and the waitress asked us if we needed more coffee for about the sixth time, we started to get the idea that maybe it was time to end this extended breakfast and depart the restaurant. And, of course, Johnny had to get ready for work. But the two legends didn’t seem in any hurry, which was the best part of this get-together. Rip and Johnny truly enjoyed seeing each other, and when parting said it wouldn’t be so long between visits next time.


When I looked across the table that morning and saw old adversaries Rip Hawk and Johnny Weaver sitting side by side after so many years, laughing and smiling, I kept hearing the chorus of a favorite song of mine from the late 70s by Peaches and Herb aptly entitled “Reunited” run through my mind. While that song was obviously not written about professional wrestling or professional wrestlers, the words as I remember them nevertheless seemed to capture the emotions flowing that special morning in Charlotte so perfectly:


Reunited and it feels so good,

Reunited cause we understood,

There’s one perfect fit,

And this one is it,

We both are so excited cause we’re reunited…






Rip Hawk and Gary Hart


Rip Hawk and Paul Jones visit with long time friend

and fan Peggy Lathan.


Mike Cline with Johnny Weaver and Rip Hawk at

the reunion breakfast.


Rip Hawk and Paul Jones at Fanfest

Christmas at Thanksgiving

  by Mike Cline

As I write this, Christmas Day is three weeks away. However, there will be something a little different this Holiday Season for me personally. You see, MY "Christmas morning" was celebrated November 27th, smack-dab (NOT Smackdown) in the middle of the Mid-Atlantic Fanfest in Charlotte. And as much as I enjoyed the FANFEST at Charlotte's University Hilton, the highlight of my weekend occurred a few blocks away at a Bob Evans Restaurant.

Two professional wrestlers that I always enjoyed watching were getting together for the first time in nearly thirty years. Long-time babyface Johnny Weaver and long-time heel Rip "The Profile" Hawk were having breakfast together, and I was going to be there with them.

First, I would like to point out that if this was to be my "Christmas morning", then Santa Claus was in the guises of two wonderful people...Peggy Lathan and David Chappell. They made it possible, not only for Johnny and Rip to get together, but also for permitting me to tag (team) along. I shall always be grateful to the two of them.

Actually, how I became involved was by dropping a few eaves on Friday evening, when I overheard David talking about the possibility of the event happening. Since I am not usually accused of being shy, I asked David if there was ANY way I could go along---if it happened. David said yes---if it happened. But it might be a spur-of-the-moment thing. Peggy was still trying to line it up with Johnny. Since I commuted to-and-from the convention for three days (I live exactly 42 miles from the hotel), I gave David my phone number and said to call ANYTIME during the night if something developed.

Well, I hit the pillow at about one a.m. without hearing from David. I recall looking at the clock at around six a.m. and thinking it wasn't going to happen. Then---7:02 a.m.---the phone rang. I got it on the first ring.




"I know it may be difficult for you, but if you can make it, we're meeting in the hotel lobby at eight o'clock to meet Johnny at a local restaurant."

That's all I heard. I jumped out of the bed. The time--7:04 a.m. No time to shave. I just brushed my teeth and took a 45-second shower. Threw my clothes on as I ran to the car. The time--about 7:10 a.m. Now a 42-mile drive to the hotel. The longest part of the trip (time-wise) is getting to the Interstate highway from my house, taking side and back roads (about fifteen minutes usually). The time---7:25 a.m. I hit I-85 South to Charlotte. I may be exaggerating a bit here, but I took the I-85 signs pretty literally. It's I-85, so I would go 85 mph. Fortunately, it was a Saturday morning and traffic was virtually nil. Had it been a weekday, traffic would have made the trip impossible.

As I breezed down the road, I thought to myself the many, many times I had chosen to drive to Charlotte (as well as Greensboro, Winston-Salem, etc.) in the past to watch Rip Hawk and/or Johnny Weaver work in the ring. Now, many years later, I am making that drive one more time.

It seemed like every second I would glance at the clock, watching the time frame I was alloted growing smaller. But, before I knew it, I was pulling into the University Hilton parking lot. The time---7:50 a.m. (you do the math)

I walked (at a fast pace) into the lobby to find David, Peggy, and "The Ripper". Time to go meet Johnny.

The drive was short, and we soon pulled into the Bob Evans lot. "There's Johnny," said Peggy. David parked the car. Everyone got out. We three fans sort of stepped back for a moment, to give the guys some space. "Ripper---you son-of-a-gun!" They embraced, and I nearly bawled.

Once inside, we were seated, and the conversations began. Rip and Johnny journeyed through memory land, and at a point where it felt right, Peggy, David, and I tossed out questions for the guys.

I will point out that one has to actually see Johnny Weaver's impersonation of Jim "Brute" Bernard to appreciate it. Others in the restaurant seemed interested in the strange noises coming from our table when Johnny did his "Brute" growl.

Homer O'Dell was a subject of some very interesting stories. And of course, Johnny and Rip spoke at length about Robert "Swede" Hanson. "How I miss that man," said Rip, of his long-time tag team partner.

If I had my way, eight days later as I write this, I would STILL be sitting in the restaurant with the guys. But after about an hour-and-a-half, it was time to get back to the hotel and for Johnny to get ready for his work.

But even though the actual gathering ended, the memories of it will stay will me the rest of my days. To Rip and to Johnny---if you happen to read this...Thank you both so much for the moment. I can honestly say that neither Johnny Weaver or Rip Hawk ever disappointed me when they were in the ring. Now I can say they didn't disappoint me out of the ring either.