Mr. Wrestling II

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Mr. Wrestling II
Birth name John Francis Walker[1]
Ring name(s) Johnny "Rubberman" Walker
The Grappler
Mr. Wrestling II
Mr. Wrestling[2]
Billed height 5 ft 11 in (1.80 m)
Billed weight 240 lb (110 kg)
Born (1934-09-10) September 10, 1934 (age 79)
Charleston, South Carolina
Resides Mililani, Hawaii[1]
Billed from Atlanta, Georgia
Trained by Tony Morelli
Pat O'Connor
Debut 1956
Retired 1989[1]

John Francis "Johnny" Walker (born September 10, 1934 in Charleston, South Carolina), better known as Mr. Wrestling II (or at times Mr. Wrestling No. 2), is a retired American professional wrestler. As Mr. Wrestling II, Walker was one of the most popular wrestlers in the Florida and Georgia areas in the 1970s and early 1980s.

Some of Walker's most notable feuds involved The Assassin, The Spoiler, The Masked Superstar, Cowboy Bill Watts, Jack Brisco, Buddy Colt, Magnum T.A., Jimmy Garvin, Tim Woods, The Minnesota Wrecking Crew, Larry Zbyszko and The Road Warriors. Mr. Wrestling II, later in his career, was known to use his "running knee lift" to great effect.

Walker's wife, Olivia, was a seamstress and costume maker. Many of her clients were country music performers including Porter Wagoner. During an interview, Ric Flair stated that many of his robes were made by her.

Early career[edit]

After debuting as a wrestler, Walker spent a good portion of his early career (approximately from the late 1950s to the 1960s) as journeyman wrestler Johnny "Rubberman" Walker, a mainstay of Houston promoter Paul Boesch. Boesch gave him the nickname due to his flexibility.[1]

Career as Mr. Wrestling II[edit]

Georgia Championship Wrestling[edit]

In 1972, Walker was semi-retired and running a gas station in Tennessee. The Georgia promoter, Paul Jones, and his booker Leo Garibaldi asked for him to return to wrestling as the masked Mr. Wrestling II.[1] Introduced originally as the partner of the original Mr. Wrestling (Tim Woods), Walker would take his place in many instances. Eddie Graham, the owner of the NWA Florida promotion, was also a part owner of the Georgia promotion. Graham was sending talent back and forth between the two promotions, due to the promotional war which occurred in Atlanta over a dispute with Ray Gunkel's widow Ann Gunkel and her "outlaw promotion" All-South Wrestling Alliance.

Walker as Wrestling II became an immediate top draw and legend for the territory, leading to ten reigns as the Georgia Heavyweight Champion. During Walker's time in Georgia as Wrestling II, he was considered one of the top five most popular wrestlers in the United States.[3] He also attracted a high-profile fan in Jimmy Carter, at the time the governor of Georgia (see below)

Mid-South Wrestling[edit]

While most of his career during the 1970s and 1980s was focused on the southeastern corner of the United States, he also made a prominent appearance in Mid-South Wrestling during 1983 and 1984 as the coach and mentor of a young wrestler named Terry Allen. Vignettes aired on television, hosted by either Reisor Bowden or Jim Ross, in which Wrestling II was shown away from the ring with T.A. discussing his philosophy in taking on a rising young star in the role of a "coach" or showing training sessions with the two. As a tag team, they also won the promotion's tag team title from Butch Reed and Jim Neidhart on December 25, 1983.

Subtle seeds of resentment were planted along the way, which led to the pair splitting and feuding. Wrestling II turned his back on T.A. in a tag team match against The Midnight Express, which saw T.A. bloodied. On the following week's program, Wrestling II threw in the towel to cost T.A. the match while he was participating in the tournament for the promotion's television title, claiming that T.A. was too badly cut to continue. Wrestling II had previously won the North American Championship from the departing Junkyard Dog, which T.A. won from him in Tulsa, Oklahoma on May 13, 1984.

Legacy[edit]

Jimmy Carter, the governor of Georgia and later president of the United States during Wrestling II's 1970s heyday, considered him to be his favorite wrestler, as well as his mother's favorite. Walker was invited to Carter's inauguration, but in the end declined the invitation.[4] The United States Secret Service insisted that Walker appear unmasked for security reasons. Due to his popularity at the time under the mask, he couldn't justify the possible ramifications of his identity being exposed. Wrestling II did, however, on several occasions enjoy a private audience with Lillian Carter. He faced scrutiny from the Secret Service on these occasions as well, but they went off without incident.[1]

Hawai'i Championship Wrestling[edit]

Mr. Wrestling II was the director of talent relations for Hawai'i Championship Wrestling. On October 13, 2007, he came out of retirement and won the HCW Kekaulike Heritage Tag Team Championship with Mr. Wrestling 3, II's protégé.

In wrestling[edit]

Championships and accomplishments[edit]

He and Tony Atlas did win the NWA World Tag Team Championship (Mid-Atlantic version) at one time. However, the reign and win aren't official nor are they recognized.[8]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f Mooneyham, Mike (July 24, 2011). "Mr. Wrestling 2 was No. 1 in hearts of fans". The Post and Courier (Charleston: Evening Post Industries). Retrieved November 19, 2013. 
  2. ^ "Mr Wrestling II vs Bob Owens Mid-South Wrestling". YouTube. Retrieved January 28, 2014. 
  3. ^ "Masked in USA - Mr Wrestling II". WrestleHistory.com. 
  4. ^ Martin, Adam (2007-01-22). "'Mr. Wrestling II' Johnny Walker Interview: Talks about his early career". WrestleView.com. Retrieved 2008-09-16. 
  5. ^ Meltzer, Dave (2012-11-17). "Sat. update: Great TV show, WWE multiple releases, Austin talks WWE Hall of Fame, Best night for Bellator, PPV predictions, NWA Hall of Fame, James Storm headlines benefit show, Devitt takes another title". Wrestling Observer Newsletter. Retrieved 2012-11-17. 
  6. ^ Caldwell, James (2013-11-26). "News: Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame announces 2014 HOF class". Pro Wrestling Torch. Retrieved 2013-11-26. 
  7. ^ Royal Duncan & Gary Will (2000). Wrestling Title Histories (4th ed.). Archeus Communications. ISBN 0-9698161-5-4. 
  8. ^ Mid-Atlantic Title History

External links[edit]