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.
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.
Yeah. You won the TV title then
as part of that.
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.
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
Yeah. I used it in Toronto, too.
That’s right. It was during that
time you booked Toronto.
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.
He was picking at you for a
number of weeks, I remember.
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…
I remember that! You turning
around and saying, “I can’t hear
Right! So finally I guess I
heard the tape back and
confronted him and it set up
matches with his team.
Johnny, do you remember when you
took the, this was in 1984, when
you took the mask off of Jody
And you became the Ultimate
Assassin? You actually wore the
Yeah, then they got this guy
Hernandez to come in, you know,
as the other Assassin.
Actually for a while, that was
your deal. You wore his mask.
And I just couldn’t imagine–
Johnny Weaver wearing the
Had a lot of fun with that.
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.
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…
Well, that has been said, yes.
…when Roddy Piper came in, they
put Piper with you first, they
put Tully Blanchard with you
For them to get over.
And the Super Destroyer, Don
Yeah, God, I wrestled him an
hour draw and had to go back and
do it 90 minutes.
Photo by Bill Janosik
One of Johnny Valentine’s
biggest first programs, too.
When you tricked him into
fighting Bearcat Wright on
Channel 3 (laughter)
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
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
He dropped an elbow off the top.
That’s right, that’s right.
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)
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.
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
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
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)
I mean, was that just a natural
thing? You had the two fingers.
It just come up. It was just
something that come up while
you’re out there.
I don’t think anybody got a
crowd going like you did.
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
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.
Plus, in those days, too, you’re
paid strictly on the house,
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.”
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?
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.
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.
Did you ever have any of those,
like you with the Scotts or
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
Who did you travel with mainly?
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
Behaving yourselves. That’s
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