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The Johnny Weaver Blog

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Bourne:         Now, as we get on later into the 60’s, you and George Becker teamed for – well, he took you as a partner really until he left the territory in the early 70s, right?


Weaver:         When the thing ran out was when Calhoun and the Bolos which lasted for about eight months. Calhoun never stayed anywhere for eight months, you know.  Then, I went back to Becker. Me and Becker were a tag.  In the meantime, when we were split there, Becker went with whoever was wrestling Bronco Lubich and O’Dell, which really made good for the territory because there were two towns a night and both were packed, you know? That lasted until Becker left in ’71.


Cline:             Becker’s last match in Charlotte was supposedly the night you and Funk finally wrestled.


Bourne:         Tell us about that famous long program, brilliantly booked, an angle that crossed two territories, where Dory Sr. put the bounty on you when you were chasing Dory Jr. for the NWA title….


Weaver:         Well, Funk Jr. had matches with Jack Brisco in Florida and I knew them both and wrestled them both. And by the way, they would be the #1 or #2 people that were the best I ever wrestled. Both of them.



Bourne:         You would put them at the top of your list?


Weaver:        Right.  As far as wrestlers go. If you want to get in there and brawl with men like Hawk and Hansen, Brute Bernard and everything, then they’d go into another category. But the best wrestlers were Brisco and Funk,  that I ever wrestled. Anyway, they had wrestled each other a lot in Florida and so they said no more title matches for Jack and they put a bounty on Jack’s head, put up by Funk, Sr.  So anybody who wrestled Jack was going to collect the bounty, you know, and I had wrestled him here several times, hour draws. And old man Funk said no more matches for Weaver up here (in the Mid-Atlantic territory.) So, I came up with the idea of putting on a mask and flew into Florida where Funk wrestled down there a lot. I put the mask on and went down there and wrestled him on TV and when I went into the ring on the TV match, the little TV crowd there would say, “oh, you’re going to get beat” and “another masked man.” A lot of guys that had jobs down there in Florida would put a mask on and go in as a jobber, you know. And that’s all they were used to seeing, masked guys getting beat, so when they seen another one they didn’t recognize with a mask on… same old story, he’s going to get beat. Well, Dory and I went in there and I beat him non-title, and that was the thing about Funk. He made you look so good. They’d say, “My God, if he looked that good against the world champion, he could beat anybody we got here.” you know, which really helped. So after we had our match then, I brought the tape back here and put it on WRAL and took the mask off and then we used the thing where old man Funk put the bounty on my head here for them guys to get, I’d say, it was the end of August and Funk Jr. and I are going to wrestle for the title soon, and they had Bob Roop and Terry Funk, I know Terry was there, and Boris Malenko.  Yeah, they came into Park Center….


Cline:             …Three straight Monday nights.


Weaver:         Yep – three straight Monday nights after the bounty. That’s what we were doing. And I would go to the YMCA and play racquetball with Bobby Isaac, the race car driver. I played racquetball with him regularly. We were just getting our equipment in and we would go out on what is Independence Blvd. and I’d do my roadwork and people would go by honking. (laughing)


Bourne:         They were filming this for television?


Weaver:         Yeah, me getting ready for Funk. Jackie was taping it. You had to make sure before you started it that Jackie had tape in the camera.  So, then we had, you know, me and Funk had the world title matches. And then I went to Amarillo in October of 1971, once that thing happened with the bounty and all that, in the Infernos were out there with J.C. Dykes, and they were having a feud with the Funks. And my idea was I put the mask back on and then old man Funk added to this. When I got there, I knew I was going to wrestle him, old man Funk. J.C. Dykes got this masked wrestler to come and take care of old man Funk, collecting a bounty Dykes put on him. That wound up being me. So I show up in Amarillo, J.C. picked me up at the airport and we went down there that night and I got the mask on.  And this gets to be a funny story, too, how I used this all back in the Carolinas.  I go out in the ring and I got J. C. Dykes as a manager, right? 



Amarillo October 28, 1971

Johnny Weaver. under a mask as "The Crippler" and managed by J.C. Dykes, 

wrestles Dory Funk Sr.


Bourne:         What would the fans in Charlotte have thought about you with J.C. Dykes?


Weaver:         Yeah, you’re not kidding (laughs), me and Dykes together. (laughter)  This is what happens, though.  Here comes old man Funk and he’s got Buck Robley as his manager. So when it comes down to the finish, Robley and Dykes get into it and they roll out of the ring down on the floor where the camera can’t see either one of them, right?  And I got the old man in the sleeper and the people are going crazy because they think he’s going to get beat. Well, here comes Terry from the back, clobbers me and they beat the heck out of me and the old man covered me and Terry counted 1-2-3, put the old man’s hand up and they had to take the mask off, right?  And so then I brought that back here and showed it, but they didn’t see it here – they didn’t see Dykes and Robley was down there. They just saw me with the sleeper on the old man and they know we had that feud going from the bounties in Charlotte, and all that. And so I showed the tape here. And we had a big tag team just before Thanksgiving in Charlotte which always was a good show and Junior didn’t want to wrestle me, so it was Terry and the old man Funk Sr. that wrestled me and Brisco. It all tied together.


"The Crippler not only lost to Dory Funk Sr. but had to unmask. The newcomer

was Johnny Weaver of Charlotte, NC. He was pinned with a press at 11:28."

(from the Amarillo results clipping in the local paper)


So anyway, after the deal with Dory Sr. in Amarillo, the next morning I got an early flight back to Charlotte and I go out to the airport and I’m sitting in the coffee shop, I’m reading the paper and there’s two guys over there and one of them says to the other one, “Man you should have been down there at that rasslin match last night. They took the mask off of that guy. They did this – they did that, and I had to hide! (laughter)  Gotta go get on my plane.  I flew back in for Crockett. I was wrestling that night, me and Art Nelson was up at Elon College in Burlington that same night.



Bourne:         How did George Becker leave? 


Weaver:         I think he was asked due to Jimmy Crockett (Jr.) didn’t like any of us. He was just getting up there where he was starting to put his hands in there. Everything was getting more expensive and they were thinking that they needed a change in the booking office and I don’t know why, I told them, I don’t know why you just……as long as he can still get in the ring and you can put his name on the marquee, I’ll do the rest. His name always drew. But they wanted to move him out and he wouldn’t go for that. Not long after, that’s when the old man (Crockett Sr.) passed. Johnny Ringley (Crockett’s son-in-law, married to Frances Crockett), was far in our corner. But the Crocketts, especially Jimmy, was coming up and the old man died and Jimmy Crockett wanted to be the head man. Old man Crockett told Mrs. Crockett on his death bed, “don’t let Jimmy get the business. Give it to Johnny Ringley."  So that worked. Johnny was there and it went along good for a while and then Johnny got caught messing around and that was that, and we walked in one day and Jimmy’s got all his stuff, and he took the desk and just pushed it all out.


Bourne:         Everything changed.


Weaver:        Everything changed.  They wanted something different. They wanted to go with George Scott and they got a success out of it for the simple reason that they created a second tape. The thing of it was that WBTV was on so long, I’m just using BT in Charlotte as an example, but everyone knew that wrestling was on at 6:00 PM on Saturday, right?  When you hit your audience, you saturate that audience, you can’t get the other people. Now they come up with a 2nd tape at night, and they get a whole new audience – a whole new younger audience. It grows. So, arenas started filling back up. Yep. And that’s what really gave them the success until Jimmy and George fell out. There were a lot of them after that. There was one time that Gene Anderson and I sat in there and counted 13 different bookers. At one time (in the early 80s) they had four at one time! Funk was one of them.


Bourne:         One for each part of the territory…


Weaver:         Right. Dory Funk Jr. was one of them. Gary Hart, Ernie Ladd. Gary Hart had North Carolina, Ernie Ladd had Virginia, might have been Ole Anderson had South Carolina, but Dory Funk was over all of it.  That didn’t work either. Then they got Dusty and then Jimmy went out of business. (Pauses) Enough said. I mean, they did good for a long time, but when you got your own 18 wheeler and you go out and do your tapes, and you’re paying everybody all of these ungodly salaries and hiring all that staff to run that thing, and when you do have a big show, you’re paying David Allan Coe $10,000 of your money that, you know, money just don’t last too long.


Bourne:         Let’s jump back for just a minute to when you left the Mid-Atlantic territory briefly in late 1974 through fall of 1975. Do you remember the circumstances there? Was that maybe all having to do with the booking change?


Weaver:         Yeah, it had to do with the booking. They said that I had been there for 12 years and that people were tired of seeing me, but people were still coming, but anyway.  I think that’s when I went to Memphis briefly, then Florida, and Canada, and then Japan for a couple of weeks in August of 1975, and then back to Crockett.



Cline:             Is that when Greg Valentine hurt you on TV?


Bourne:         No, that was ’76. That was another short period of time you left the territory, right, in the fall of 1976.


Weaver:         Yeah, that was to go back to Amarillo for a few months. That was to help get Greg Valentine over.


Chappell:      I’m not sure we’ve asked you to comment on Ric Flair. We’ve gotta have that in some way. You saw him in the very beginning.


Weaver:         Yeah, well, he was the man. He was the first one that was able to take it away from me.  But he was. He was the man. The girls and their mamas, they all fell for Flair. (laughs) 


Bourne:         Tell us a little bit about Number One Paul Jones.


Weaver:         Paul was a good friend of mine. He was a good wrestler and when he first came here, we used him a lot in six man matches. And then when Nelson Royal came with the Viking and then they split, then Nelson needed a partner and Jones was the man that was here and had got known by being our third man a lot.


Chappell:      Johnny, why don’t you tell us the story about Brute if we’re going to get into some of the tag teams.


Weaver:         Brute? All right, well. I thought maybe that’d be better suited for this evening, but… (laughter) I don’t know if you can use that on here…


Chappell:      We can clean it up!


Weaver:         Brute was…


Chappell:      He was crazy – it wasn’t an act?


Weaver:         No, well, you make up your own mind after I tell you this. (laughter)  You know Brute was married to Betty Jo Hawkins. That was a girl wrestler. She was in Penny’s era.  But a really good girl, but she had arthritis real bad – her fingers would go that way and she was always hurting from arthritis and all that. And nicest person in the world. But she had married Brute and they had one son and they were living in Charlotte in a duplex. Brute was like a lot of us older ones – we had no regard for our bodies, just sacrifice your body to get the show over, you know, and Brute had both shoulders separated. There were big knots on his shoulders. Brute had only one kidney. He was all beat up because he just gave his body.  Well, anyway, they told him that he had a bad back and they gave him harness to hang in.


Bourne:         Like traction?


Weaver:         Yeah.  To hang in for his back.  Well, back then, they had out here in back of his apartment a “T” pole like this. Two wires go across and you hang your clothes on them to dry. So Brute is looking for a place to hang, right? Brute goes out here and puts the harness on and the pole ain’t tall enough, right?  He’s on the ground. So Brute goes and gets the shovel and digs a hole. (laughter)  I told you you’d make up your mind after I told you this story.  Well, Brute took the harness and steps off in the hole and is fine and it’s good for his back.  And here comes the mailman… (laughter) and he drops the mail off here, goes around, and sees Brute hanging there and goes ahhhhhh!!!  (laughter) 


Bourne:         Brute probably just looked over at him, like, "what’s the problem?"


Weaver:         OK – another story, same place – Betty Jo was feeling bad and she had all that bad arthritis. Brute is going to cook for her, OK?  Brute goes out and gets one of those three legged barbeque things and lights up the coals and squirts the lighter fluid on it and put the steaks on there. Brute is cooking them for Betty Jo. Damn thunderstorm comes up. So Brute picks up the grill and moves it onto his little back stoop here, right? It’s got a little place here with a top.  It’s raining like hell, though. So Brute goes inside the screen door and sits down. Well the rain and wind is blowing out the fire so Brute takes the charcoal lighter and he squirts it through the screen door on top of the meat out there to keep the fire going.  Serves Betty Joe the steaks and she gets food poisoning from all the lighter fluid that got in the steaks! (laughter)


                        Later they moved to the country and they had horses. So the damn horse gate was open. They lived in a trailer and it was open country and the horses would run away.  So somebody told Brute about an electric fence. So Brute has an electric fence put around his property. He gets on a horse and he wants to show the horse what the electric fence is. Well, he rides the horse up towards the fence and the horse senses it and stops. He won’t go no farther, right? But Brute wants the horse to go farther and Brute don’t know the horse has sensed it. He wants the horse to touch it so he will learn. So the horse won’t go so Brute gets off the damn horse, he’s slapping the horse, so finally Brute grabs the bridle with one hand and then…… the fence with the other! (laughter) 


Chappell:      Yep, I think Brute was nuts!


Bourne:         There’s some story about him or maybe Homer O’Dell firing off a pistol in a car or something?


Weaver:         I don’t know that one.


Cline:             You told us about you down at Myrtle Beach and you woke up and Homer O'Dell was down on the beach naked shooting his guns.


Weaver:         Norfolk! The police came out there and we got kicked out of that motel, too. (laughter)  Homer had nothing on but his two guns. Shooting out over the ocean. Then, of course, Brute was playing Russian roulette, they had told them they were dum-dum shells, and I guess he thought they were blanks and he shot himself playing Russian Roulette.


Bourne:         Is that the legit way he died?


Weaver:         Yeah. He didn’t know what dum dum shells was. They’re shells that explode when they hit the vest. 


Cline:             Any Two-Ton Harris stories?


Weaver:         Two Ton?  When I was booker, we were in Roanoke, Starland Arena. They were wrestling somebody, him, Bogni and Lubich. And so they must have had like a riot. And Bunk got stabbed in the rear end.


Bourne:         Goodness!


Weaver:         Bunk calls me about 9:00 in the morning and I had been somewhere a long way out. He said, “hey man, we really had ‘em going last night. We had so much heat.” He said, “I got stabbed in the ass. It went all the way to the bone.”  I said, “Bunk, what’d they use?  A sword?” (laughter)


Cline:             Why did Homer switch from Bogni and Lubich to Mauler and Matsuda?


Weaver:         I think him and Bronco didn’t see eye to eye or Bronco thought he wasn’t doing his part.  He was a manager in Indianapolis, but when he come here, they got Homer.  Of course, Homer was great, though, because he took that microphone. And it was like I was telling Mike on the way up here with the Andersons. When Ole first came in the 1960s, Ole was green as grass, man. He couldn’t do nothing, but you couldn’t tell him. He changed later, but I mean, he’d just throw his body and sacrifice his body to get the show over. But he could talk. Rip Hawk, Ole Anderson, Homer O’Dell….


© Photograph by Bill Janosik


Cline:             The Bolos were great on the mike.


Weaver:         All they needed was the mike. And Ole would get on there and talk and they just hated him and he couldn’t do nothing in the ring then. And he’d throw his body all around and take bumps in and out of the ring. Didn’t know how to go out. You’d throw him out of the ring and he’d grab the second rope and go out. Well, his body was going to come down across that iron metal, you know?  You go through, you grab the rope with one hand and the side of the ring with the other, and hit on your feet. One night I told him, look, Ole, I’m going to show you how to go in and out of the ropes. You go in the ring and push the second rope down and jump both feet through.  When I come, I’m going to do the same thing and run at you and you do the same thing, but go back out. Every time you come back in, I’m going to run at you and you go back out. We did that 5-6 times in a match and finally he learned how to do that. But he had that gift of gab and the people hated him way more than they hated Gene or Lars, which put heat on the team. But we’d go in 6 man matches, so I’d start and I’d wrestle Gene. Gene would tag Lars. I’d wrestle with Lars. Lars would tag Gene. Someone else would come in from my team. They’d tag Lars. Lars would tag Gene. Pretty soon the fans caught on that they ain’t tagging Ole, right? But they don’t care that we kicked the shit out of Gene and Lars. They want us to get Ole.


Bourne:         Because of that mouth.


Weaver:         Because Ole has riled them with that mouth. (laughter) So they catch on to it and they would start a chant, “We want Ole.  We want Ole.”  And we’d go back to the corner and say, “God, don’t tag Ole!” (laughter)  But in about six months, he was top man.  He was a top man. He lost his mind down the road, way farther down the road.


Cline:             Tell us about the Missouri Mauler.


Weaver:         Mauler was a wild person in the ring.  Lots of punches, lots of kicking. Yeah, he was like the old school.  He’d sacrifice his body to get that show over. That was all that was on his mind was getting the show over.  Well, that’s about it.  You know, he was good.  We kept him good with not only Firpo, but Malenko and had him good for years.


Cline:             Matsuda.


Weaver:         Yeah. Matsuda.  They were there for years. He and Brute came to my defense one time.


Hall:                I was going to speak in general about Aldo Bogni and Bronco Lubich. 1965 was a big year with you and Becker working with them and you won the Southern tag team championship from them. And later on, you know, you worked with these other teams and everything, but changed to the Atlantic Coast tag team belts in 1969 and you held both titles there for a while after ya’ll beat …


Weaver:         Yeah. They let the Southern tag belts go. They thought the other ones were bigger. Don’t know why, but I think because we got them there when we were working them a lot and exchanging people with Florida and also Florida had gotten their tape on a TV station in New Bern, NC, which we couldn’t do for some reason. Joe Murnick couldn’t get our tape on there, but they got the Florida show with Solie on there. They left a 5 minute gap in the middle of the thing that showed all their wrestlers when they come up here like Jack Brisco, Funk and others that people knew. They left a 5 minute hole in there.


Bourne:         For Crockett to promote his show?


Weaver:        Yeah. We could promote Raleigh and we would do a tape at WRAL, a 5 minute interview, and put it in that tape and send it to whatever station it was in New Bern.


Cline:             When Channel 36 in Charlotte started running Florida shows on Saturday nights at about 8:30 in 1966 or 1967, they had a spot in there where you guys would go over there and promote Park Center’s Monday night show and sometimes you shot the things out in the parking lot.


Weaver:        Yeah.


Cline:             A guy named Gene, I think it was.


Weaver:        Gene Gordon.


Bourne:         The photographer?


Cline:             Wore the world’s ugliest sport coat.


Weaver:        Yeah, that was Gene Gordon. (laughs)


Cline:             We had just gotten our first color TV and I thought, well is the color right on this thing, or is that an orange coat?


Bourne:         Well, Johnny, why back in those days when all the promoters of course worked together within their respective territorial lines, why was the Florida show on here (in the Mid-Atlantic territory)? Was that a problem?


Weaver:         Some stations really wanted wrestling, but didn’t want ours because it was too much like what was out of Raleigh. So they got the Florida show and ran it but we ran our shows off it too, we had their guys up here occasionally that our people knew here. Plus when guys came here, they were already stars and draws from their TV.


You know, that’s how Becker and Bolo got here. Because WBTV ran the LA show, the wrestling from Los Angeles in the 50s. That’s how they got here. And they were already stars. Bolo, which was Al Lovelock there and not ours, but when Tom Renesto come here, they wanted him so they just put it on and said it was Bolo, right?  The one they had saw for years in Los Angeles.


Bourne:         So the L.A. show was on here before Crockett started taping live shows at WBTV?


Weaver:        Before Crockett ever had his own live show. And that’s how the Beckers got known here. And the Smiths was on there, too. John and Al Smith?  And Lovelock. They were the big guys out there. A little Italian guy, he was big, too. At one time he had the biggest crowd in Los Angeles ever with Lou Thesz. I forgot his name, though.  He was part of that, too.








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