|Mr. Wrestling II|
|Birth name||John Francis Walker|
|Born||September 10, 1934|
Charleston, South Carolina, United States
|Died||June 10, 2020 (aged 85)|
Honolulu, Hawaii, United States
|Professional wrestling career|
Mr. Wrestling II
|Billed height||6 ft 0 in (1.83 m)|
|Billed weight||247 lb (112 kg)|
|Billed from||Atlanta, Georgia|
|Trained by||Tony Morelli|
John Francis Walker (September 10, 1934 – June 10, 2020), better known by the ring name Mr. Wrestling II, was an American professional wrestler. He is best known for his appearances with Championship Wrestling from Florida and Georgia Championship Wrestling in the 1970s and early 1980s.
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.
Walker retired in 1964.
In 1972, Walker was semi-retired and running a gas station in Tennessee. Georgia promoter Paul Jones and his booker Leo Garibaldi asked him to return to wrestling as the masked Mr. Wrestling II. Introduced 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 that occurred in Atlanta over a dispute with Ray Gunkel's widow Ann Gunkel and her "outlaw promotion" All-South Wrestling Alliance.
Walker as Mr. 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 Mr. Wrestling II, he was considered one of the top five most-popular wrestlers in the United States. He also attracted a high-profile fan in Jimmy Carter, at the time the governor of Georgia.
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 Magnum T.A.. Vignettes aired on television, hosted by either Reisor Bowden or Jim Ross, in which Mr. Wrestling II was shown away from the ring with Magnum 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. Mr. Wrestling II turned his back on Magnum in a tag team match against The Midnight Express, which saw Magnum bloodied. On the following week's program, Mr. Wrestling II threw in the towel to cost Magnum the match while he was participating in the tournament for the promotion's television title, claiming that Magnum was too badly cut to continue. Mr. Wrestling II had previously won the North American Championship from the departing Junkyard Dog, which Magnum won from him in Tulsa, Oklahoma on May 13, 1984.
Walker was later signed by Vince McMahon for the World Wrestling Federation in 1984, as part of McMahon's national expansion. However, as he was in the twilight of his career, Walker was mainly used as enhancement talent and rarely appeared on TV. He spent two years in the WWF before leaving in 1986.
In 1986, Mr. Wrestling II worked for Continental Championship Wrestling feuding with Bob Armstrong. On May 5, he lost a Loser Leaves Town match to Armstrong. He returned to Continental in 1987, feuding with Jerry Stubbs. He later worked for Southern Championship Wrestling in 1988 and defeated Pat Rose on a Five Star Wrestling TV show in 1990.
Mr. Wrestling II was the director of talent relations for Hawai'i Championship Wrestling. On October 13, 2007, he came out of retirement at 73 and won the HCW Kekaulike Heritage Tag Team Championship with Mr. Wrestling 3, II's protégé.
Jimmy Carter, the governor of Georgia and later president of the United States during Mr. Wrestling II's 1970s heyday, considered him his favorite wrestler, as well as his mother's favorite. Walker was invited to Carter's inauguration but declined the invitation. 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. Mr. 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.
Walker had three sons, John Jr., Robert, and Mike, with his wife, Olivia. She 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. Olivia died in October 2000.
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.