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Bourne:         Johnny, we touched earlier on the demise of Jim Crockett Promotions. A lot of people that really don’t know have their own opinions, but you were someone on the inside that was there and just had to watch it happen.  Was it overspending?


Weaver:         Overspending was one thing. Vince…. how should I put this?  Vince got on the satellite and that went everywhere. Like, when we wrestled and when I first went to Charlotte, they couldn’t get it past Spartanburg hardly. That’s why we had to make tapes to go around, but you got the satellite and you show it in New York and they see it in LA, you know. People here didn’t know the guys that were on top in Portland, OR and if you wanted a new guy and you get a seasoned guy, and they never knew who it was unless they were really avid fans and picked up one of the wrestling magazines, you know, where they might have Bruno’s picture on there or something. But they didn’t know who they were. So that satellite TV was what it really was, and Vince got it and of course, he put everybody out of business before he put Crockett out of business. And for three years, I went to the National Wrestling Alliance meeting in Vegas and everybody sat around the tables with their little group that run their territory and run the Atlanta territory and Tennessee territory, and it looked like a bunch of mafia people, you know.  Everybody smoked a big cigar and there they are in their little group and “don’t come into my area and I won’t go into your area” but once they got satellite TV, it was everybody’s area. And of course, what fans  thought was real, as in that’s really wrestling, and this is just local stuff, you know, that type thing.  And whenever they put on a show and they had the whole country, they didn’t have to go back to Spartanburg every week and Lexington every week and work your butt off to get a crowd there. They had a novelty.


Bourne:         I guess the competition between the two created or escalated the spending war, the talent wars and the contacts started?


Weaver:         Well, the spending was coming up anyway, and like I said before, the Crocketts got their own 18 wheeler to go do the TV and all that crew. They had to pay all that. All the guys, they were given big money, too, to come to wrestle and it just got to where you couldn’t afford all that.


Bourne:         They started paying TV stations to carry them, too, rather than the old barter arrangement.


Weaver:         Yes, and another thing:  Jimmy spent money on territories he didn’t need to buy to begin with. When we were on Atlanta TV, which was pretty good, we ran Jacksonville FL, and they sent me to run it. Big auditorium there right by where they have the Gator Bowl. Well, Florida used to run it every Thursday. If they had a $5,000 house they were lucky. We went in there and sold out the first time - $77,000 back then. Then we went to Homestead and had a big house in there. So Jimmy goes down there and buys out Florida. But Vince, right at the same time, runs Miami and has a great house in Miami and he ain’t paid nobody nothing, right?  So then, Jimmy goes to Kansas City and he buys out Kansas City. Why buy it out?  It’s yours. All you had to do is just go in there and run a show. That’s what Vince did.  So, then he goes to New Orleans and buys out Watts down there. Why buy it, man? It’s yours. Go in there. Vince is doing it that way. Vince didn’t pay nobody nothing. He just had his TV tapes on there and they thought that was real wrestling because it was on satellite on their station and that little local stuff was second rate.  Heck, Vince runs all over the world.  These guys go everywhere.  I saw Piper one time after he was up there. I said, “Piper, you go away on all this traveling and how do you pack your bags?”  He said, “If my shirt gets dirty, I’ll buy another one at the airport and go on.” (laughs)



Bourne:         In 1987, you got involved in the ring again as sort of a mentor for Dusty Rhodes in his US title match with Lex Luger at Starrcade, and you taught him the sleeper, but he didn’t call it the sleeper. He called it the Weaverlock. Sort of a tip of the hat to you?


Weaver:         Yeah. They wanted to have that thing with Dillon and Luger and of course Dillon was outside and he wanted to say that I taught Dusty the sleeper and that’s where all that come about. It was just for that run. They brought Matsuda in and in Spartanburg one night, I ran into the ring in my street clothes and then Matsuda got the sleeper on me. Yeah. Then they had me and Matsuda for a while sleeper vs. sleeper and then they had me and Dillon and then I think that’s the last match I ever had was with James J. Dillon.



Bourne:         While we’re at that point – Starrcade 87 and the Dusty sleeper thing with Luger – was that about the time you left Crockett Promotions? Was it right after that?


Weaver:         Yeah, it wasn’t too far after that. I still worked behind the scenes. I went to the Sheriff’s Department in April 1989.


Bourne:         Turner bought Crockett in November of 1988 – was that it?


Weaver:         That was the thing. Turner wanted everybody to move to Atlanta. So the ones that did, Sandy Scott included, once they got them down there and they trained one of the Turner  people to do what they were doing, they let everybody go. So there they were stuck in Atlanta. But I didn’t want to go to Atlanta anyway. I drove all over this country, in Mexico, in Canada, even up in the Maritimes and the only place I was ever scared driving was on that beltway around Atlanta. (laughter)


Chappell:      I agree with you.


Weaver:         They had a baseball pitcher one time miss his game because he just kept going around and around. It was a Mexican pitcher. He didn’t know how to get off. (laughter) I know he was scared, boy, when he got off of that belt.


Chappell:      Well, Johnny, during that time period you were doing a lot of announcing as well and I know a lot of younger fans remember you maybe more so as an announcer.  I was actually listening to a tape in ’75 when you went to Japan and you came back to the territory at the end of the year and they brought you back announcing briefly, and that’s the first time I ever heard you on the mike, and you pretty much took it from there.


Weaver:         Yeah. They wanted some help because they didn’t think that the announcer they had was putting enough excitement in it alone…


Chappell:      You were basically full time there for a while, with the World Wide…


Weaver:         Later on, yeah.  Later on in the 80’s.  When I didn’t wrestle anymore and I started taking care of Greenville and Spartanburg, I was doing it with Rich.  Rich Landrum, and then many years with Bob Caudle.


                        Raleigh TV – another Brute story here, okay?  In the early days, they set up two tables, and actually had two different people calling the matches, one for Raleigh, one to go around to the towns.  They had two cameras. One a floor camera and they had built a scaffold up here and they shot off of there. The scaffold was built up in the air and they had two boards like an “X” for support, right?  But in between was all open.  OK, every time that Murphy and Bernard would be on for an interview, Murphy would be with Bob Caudle or Nick Pond doing the interview, right? Brute is going  (Johnny stands up and starts going in circles imitating Brute Bernard) ‘Whoa! Whoa! Whoa! (laughter)  Every time he’d get to that place with open part under the scaffold, he’d stop and look up under that scaffold at that camera. One night someone got the centerfold of a Playboy magazine and taped it up under the scaffold – inside of it. Murphy’s doing his interview, and Brute’s going “Whoa! Whoa! Whoa!” and as he goes by, he looks up there and sees that picture.  He goes emphatically, loudly!) “WHOOOOOAAAAA!” (laughter). If only people on TV knew…


Bourne:         Bob Caudle told us the only time he ever got hurt doing TV was when Brute was doing that circle and howling and apparently one of the desks was on wheels and Brute bumped the desk pretty hard, and the desk went sailing into Bob and when he came back around the second time, Brute whispered, “Sorry Bob,” (laughter) and then kept on circling and howling.




Weaver:         You ain’t going to believe this! (laughs) (Johnny hands me the Charlotte newspaper article on TV wrestling moving to WPCQ in 1981. There is a photo of him in the ring with Jim Nelson. Johnny was appearing with Jim Nelson later that night in Rocky Mount VA.)


Bourne:         Oh – I love it!  You know how I am on the TV stuff.


Weaver:         Yeah, but look who I’ve got the sleeper on.


Bourne:         Jim Nelson!  (all laugh)  In his young career there. This is at that small studio where you had to turn the ring sideways to fit the ring in there.  (laughs) We need to show that to Jim. Yeah, August, 1981 is the year you all moved from WRAL to WPCQ, so that’s probably why they did the article.


Weaver:         That’s Channel 36!



Chappell:      Johnny, I’d like you to give the audience your thoughts on Jim Nelson.


Weaver:         We went through a lot….


Chappell:      You were in the middle of that big match in Greensboro. The thing with Slaughter, Kernodle and Steamboat and Youngblood.  You were in the middle of that. You taught him the sleeper.


Weaver:         One tough kid. He did really well for me in Canada. Lots of shows and made lots of money up there for awhile.


Bourne:         Now, tell us a little bit about Canada. You actually went up and booked Canada, right?


Weaver:         Booked Toronto. Crockett had Toronto and that was one of Jimmy Crockett’s biggest mistakes he ever made. We had our television show on a Buffalo station. And when we went to run Toronto, it was down to nothing. The Sheik had killed it, the one from Detroit. We got it up in the $90,000 range and Jimmy gave the television to New York. I never did get an answer why. He gives the station to New York and then that’s all they wanted to see was the New York people, right? But, you know, our guys got established on there, like us and Piper and of course, Jim Nelson and Kernodle and the cage. Boogie, Piper and Flair and everybody else was made off of that Buffalo TV because we would stay and do a Canadian TV in Bradford every Monday night after the show on Sunday. Hayes and me and Jim and Don, Tony Parisi, you know, that’s all they saw. And so, eventually, once they switched the tape, they kind of forgot about Piper and Flair and Valiant and them and they gave it to New York. Why? I don’t know. 


Weaver:         You know how I knew time was passing me by? I was always fan friendly and I would get dressed and go out and talk to the people all the time during all of the matches up until it was time for me to go on.  I did that for years and years and years.  The girls would all run up and hug me.  And then finally, they started running up to me, the girls, and they’d throw their arms around me, about a 100 of them, and they’d whisper in my ear, “Go get Ricky Steamboat.” (laughter)  And then I knew I was over the hill.


Bourne:         That’s a great story.


Weaver:        Things pass you by.   Another funny story, I was in Richmond in a motel. I had five girls in the room, and Jimmy Garvin walks by.  All the time we used to go we used to stop and get a fifth of whiskey before we’d go, right? And that’s what we had. This night, I had 5 girls in my room and my fifth of whiskey and the door was wide open and Jimmy Garvin comes in, says hello  and all that and says, “Hey girls, I got a joint down in my room.” Next thing I know, me and whiskey were all that was left. (laughter).  I said well, I think time has passed as both by, me and the whiskey. (laughs) A joint – I thought that was a bad bar that you went to, you know. (laughter) It’s kind of like that email Peggy sent me. Coke used to be in a bottle we got out of a drink machine.


Bourne:         Johnny, you’re still with the Sheriff’s Department?


Weaver:         Yeah, I got a year and a half to go. Hope I’ll make it.


Bourne:         Brad Anderson was telling me that his Dad (Gene Anderson) was forever indebted to you, that you got Gene his job with the Sheriff’s Department.


Weaver:       Yes, I did.


Chappell:      He wasn’t there long before he died, was he?


Weaver:         Right. He didn’t even get through BLET and you’ve got to do that within six months.  Al Mandell went down to the Sheriff Department and talked the Sheriff into letting Gene work, right? So, Al Mandell kept talking and drove them guys crazy and talked Gene right out of the job! (laughs) So, I went down there and got him the job and then the sheriff pulled up his driving record…. (laughs)  But Gene died taking that class….


Bourne:         Yeah, Brad said he also died of a broken heart. He didn’t want to leave wrestling.


Weaver:         No, he sure didn’t.


Chappell:      Any thoughts and comments on Mid-Atlantic towns? We all have our own memories from watching you, but any towns that were good or bad over your years?


Weaver:         Spartanburg was one of the best and easiest. I mean, the building wasn’t that big, but it was in the basement, it was a low ceiling and the acoustics was wonderful. In fact, they got Terry Kay and Bobby was there one night and they had Merle Haggard upstairs. After the show, we went up the back and we were behind the curtains up there with them, you know. They introduced us to them and Merle Haggard said, “Oh, you are the guys making all that noise!” (laughter)  But the acoustics was great for that. 


A really hard town was Raleigh and they always said it was because it was a college town. I don’t know. I mean, we’ve had big, big crowds in the Dorton Arena, but it was really hard and if you got something going and you went to Raleigh and you did good in Raleigh, then you knew you were you’re going to do good with it everywhere. Raleigh was a barometer town.


Chappell:      When we did our interview with Blackjack, he certainly had a lot of good things to say about you. That’s something I wouldn’t have necessarily figured because Blackjack was on top then…


Bourne:         Yeah, Blackjack has a soft spot for you.


Weaver:         I thanked him for it, too, because he has emailed me and said, you’ve never gotten the recognition you should have got. In fact, I told him to come up here (western Virginia) when him and Flair bought Knoxville. They sent me over there to run it. God, I was going from Charlotte to Knoxville to Toronto…..(laughter)      I’d ride over there because I was going to fly out to Toronto with Don (Kernodle) in “Old Silver” (Don Kernodle's silver Cadillac.)  We used to go down 85, take Hwy. 11 over through Chesnee and come out on 26 and go up to Asheville. As soon as we got on 26, we had a flat.  We’re going to TV. And no spare. I said, “God, Don, why did you come on the road with no spare?”  Somehow we got through that. Well, the next morning I’ve gotta fly to Toronto.  I’ve got to fly from Knoxville to Nashville to go up to Toronto. So, I go to the gate and the guy said such-and-such gate, and I go out and there might have been 6-7 people and here’s the plane sitting out there and it’s got a wheel off the back, off the ground about that far in the back. Only got about 12 seats on the whole durn plane.  So, they board us and we sit down in there and, man, it’s hot as hell. Man, here comes this good looking blonde and I thought, well, at least we’re going to have a good looking stewardess. And by God, she was the damn pilot. (laughs) 


I had just come back here from Japan right  around the time of the Wilmington plane crash. I was also in Florida, had just came back from Miami. There was three private airplanes. Anyway, I went home, went to bed, turned the radio on the next morning and the first thing I heard was rescue squad had fished out the body of wrestler Bobby Shane out of Tampa Bay. They had come in behind us. It was foggy as hell.


Bourne:         Buddy Colt was on that plane.


Weaver:         Yeah. Buddy Colt and Gary Hart. Buddy was the pilot. He told me that he swam until he couldn’t swim no more and he had a messed up ankle and just said this is it, and when he did, his feet went down and his feet touched land and he walked out or crawled out or whatever.




Bourne:         Johnny, whenever we’ve posted our other interviews, many with some of biggest names in the business, whether it was Rip Hawk, or Ric, or Blackjack, Mid-Atlantic fans would always write and say, “That was great, but why haven’t you done Johnny Weaver?”


Weaver:         Well, that’s nice to know, Dick, I told Mike and Peggy riding up here, and I told Jim Nelson on the e-mail, hell, all my fans are dead! (laughs)


Everyone:     No! Not true!!


Weaver:         Well, Jim wrote back (laughing) and said “Oh, no, we still get a few of them up here!” (laughing)


Bourne:         You wouldn’t believe how happy we were when you agreed to do this.


Weaver:         You wouldn’t believe how many times Peggy asked me to do it….she asked me so many times, but I don’t know…….


Chappell:      Any parting words for fans out there who will be reading this?


Weaver:         Well…..I think if they stay with wrestling, I don’t know the answer myself, but I think someday it’s got to go back to the way we did it. I see small groups here and there that do it, but it’s hard. It’s like this: With Vince, and I always hated Vince’s wrestling, but when Flair went up there, this was back several years ago, there was one that knew what he was doing. And he did what needed to be done there….like when I was wrestling, I could take the lowest guy on the card and make him look good, and that is Flair, he makes everyone else around him look good, and they need more of that up there, more guys that give themselves. But Flair can get the crap kicked out of him the whole damn match, and the people are still roaring, because he’s over. He’s shown them fans all them years what he can do and he’s still doing it. We need more like that. A lot of guys today don’t give the other guys nothing, they just eat ‘em up, and that ain’t a show. You got to have them peaks and valleys.


Bourne:         Johnny, thanks so much for spending time with us this afternoon, for sharing your scrapbook, and your memories.


Weaver:         Boys, I have enjoyed it.





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