Luke Graham (wrestler)
|Birth name||James Grady Johnson|
|Born||February 5, 1940|
Union Point, Georgia
|Died||June 23, 2006 (aged 66)|
|Professional wrestling career|
|Ring name(s)||Luke Graham|
James Grady Johnson (February 5, 1940 – June 23, 2006) was an American professional wrestler, better known by his ring name, "Crazy" Luke Graham. As Luke Graham, Johnson was a member of the Graham family, a stable of wrestling brothers.
Professional wrestling career
He began his career as the storyline brother of Dr. Jerry Graham after fellow wrestler Frankie Cain (The Great Mephisto) suggested they resembled each other. They began wrestling together in 1963 in Stampede Wrestling. Later that summer, Johnson wrestled a series of matches against Chief Big Heart.
He wrestled in the World Wide Wrestling Federation (WWWF) with Jerry Graham beginning in 1964. They won the WWWF United States Tag Team Championship from Don McClarity and Argentina Apollo, holding it for eight months, before losing the belts to another heel tagteam, Gene Kiniski and Waldo Von Erich. It was during this time that he became known as "Crazy" Luke Graham. Graham left the Northeast territory after the loss and returned to the WWWF as a singles wrestler from 1966-1969; feuding with Miguel Perez, Antonio Pugliese and Bruno Sammartino.
Graham enjoyed most of his success for the Los Angeles territory in the mid to late 1960s. He held the WWA World Title for that office in 1965. He dropped the belt to Pedro Morales. In the late 1960s, he was a mid card performer for Verne Gagne's American Wrestling Association (AWA) out of Minneapolis.
After leaving the AWA, Luke returned to WWWF and had a brief run with Tarzan Tyler as the first WWWF Tag Team Champions in 1971. One story was that the team allegedly defeated Dick the Bruiser and The Sheik for the belts, however, no record of any match between the two teams has ever been documented. The other story is that they won it from Bepo and Geeto Mongol. Once champions, the team held the belts for six months while feuding with Chief Jay Strongbow, Gorilla Monsoon, and Pedro Morales. Luke again left WWWF in 1972.
He fought in Florida as El Lobo in 1970. In 1974, he was the United States Champion in the Pacific Northeast and that same year he won the NWA Georgia State Wrestling Title in a tournament on April 20. In 1978, Graham return to the WWWF this time being managed by The Grand Wizard. He had epic feuds with Andre the Giant, Dino Bravo, Haystacks Calhoun, Ivan Putski and WWWF champion Bob Backlund. He even teamed with his "brother" Superstar Billy Graham. He retired in the late 1980s. He teamed with his son, Luke, Jr., however, in 2001 and started Galaxy Championship Wrestling, Inc.
The Graham family
Luke Graham's Sr. storyline brothers are "Doctor" Jerry Graham (Jerramiah Martin Mathews), Superstar Billy Graham (Wayne Coleman), former wrestler/promoter Eddie Graham (Eddie Gosset). Other Family members include: Tommy "T.G." Graham (William Pawlak), Troy "The Dream Machine/Warrior" Graham (Troy R. Tompson), Eddie Graham's son Mike Graham (Mike Gosset), and Luke Graham's son, "Crazy" Luke Graham (Donald J. Jolly), Jr. and Nephew, Gerry "Chubby" Graham (M. Gerald Sadler).
Professional wrestling style and persona
Grady Johnson's Luke Graham persona was known for his "craziness". Whenever someone referred to Johnson as "Crazy Luke Graham", as part of his gimmick, he would claim to be sane and cover his ears. He had bleached hair and goatee. One of his signature moves was to stab people with his taped thumb, called The Golden Spike. Most all Graham Family members had the trademark bleach blonde head and facial hair for most of their careers. All the members of the Graham Family are reported to have retired or died.
Johnson died, aged 66, from congestive heart failure on June 23, 2006. He had a pacemaker installed prior to his death. He is survived by his five daughters, and son Scott, fourteen grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren.
Championships and accomplishments
- 50th State Big Time Wrestling
- Central States Wrestling
- Eastern Wrestling Association
- EWA United States Brass Knuckles Championship (1 time)
- Mid-South Sports/Georgia Championship Wrestling
- NWA Georgia Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
- NWA Georgia Television Championship (1 time)
- NWA Macon Tag Team Championship (1 time) – with Moondog Mayne
- NWA Southeastern Heavyweight Championship (Georgia version) (1 time)
- NWA Southeastern Tag Team Championship (Georgia version) (1 time) – with Al Galanto
- NWA Detroit
- NWA Mid-America
- Worldwide Wrestling Associates
- Stampede Wrestling
- Stampede Wrestling International Tag Team Championship (1 time) – with Jim Wright
- World Wrestling Council
- World Wide Wrestling Federation