Mr. Wrestling II
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Mr. Wrestling II
Mr. Wrestling II
Mr Wrestling II - Wrestling Yearbook Magazine - Summer 1977.jpg
Birth nameJohn Francis Walker[1][2]
Born(1934-09-10)September 10, 1934[3]
Charleston, South Carolina, United States[3]
DiedJune 10, 2020(2020-06-10) (aged 85)
Honolulu, Hawaii, United States[2]
Professional wrestling career
The Grappler[1]
Johnny Walker
Mr. Wrestling
Mr. Wrestling II[1]
Billed height6 ft 0 in (1.83 m)[4]
Billed weight247 lb (112 kg)[4]
Billed fromAtlanta, Georgia
Trained byTony Morelli
Pat O'Connor
Debut1955[4]
Retired2007

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.[2][4]

Professional wrestling career

Early career (1955-1964)

Walker was trained by Tony Morelli and Pat O'Connor. He debuted in 1955 under the ring name Johnny Walker.[4]

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.[2]

Walker retired in 1964.[3]

The Grappler (1967-1972)

Walker came out of retirement in 1967. In the early 1970s, Walker wrestled on the independent circuit in Florida under a mask as the Grappler.[1]

Mr. Wrestling II (1972-1984)

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.[2] 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.[5] 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.

World Wrestling Federation (1984-1986)

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.

Later career (1986-1990)

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.

Hawai'i Championship Wrestling (2007)

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.

Legacy

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.[6] 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.[2]

Personal life

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.

Death

On June 10, 2020, Bill Apter reported that Walker had died.[7]

Championships and accomplishments

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.[19]

References

  1. ^ a b c d Terry Funk; Scott E. Williams; Mick Foley (2006). Terry Funk: More Than Just Hardcore. Sports Publishing LLC. p. 80. ISBN 978-1-59670-159-5.
  2. ^ 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, South Carolina: Evening Post Industries. Retrieved 2013.
  3. ^ a b c John Grasso (6 March 2014). Historical Dictionary of Wrestling. Scarecrow Press. p. 319. ISBN 978-0-8108-7926-3.
  4. ^ a b c d e Harris M. Lentz III (1 January 2003). Biographical Dictionary of Professional Wrestling, 2d ed. McFarland. pp. 238-. ISBN 978-0-7864-1754-4.
  5. ^ "Masked in USA - Mr Wrestling II". WrestleHistory.com. Archived from the original on 2011-11-11.
  6. ^ Martin, Adam (2007-01-22). "'Mr. Wrestling II' Johnny Walker Interview: Talks about his early career". WrestleView.com. Retrieved .
  7. ^ Brian Joyce (10 June 2020). "'Mr. Wrestling II' Johnny Walker Has Passed Away". WrestleTalk. Retrieved 2020.
  8. ^ a b c Royal Duncan & Gary Will (2000). Wrestling Title Histories (4th ed.). Archeus Communications. ISBN 0-9698161-5-4.
  9. ^ Hoops, Brian (January 17, 2019). "Pro wrestling history (01/17): Vader wins IWGP heavyweight title". Wrestling Observer Figure Four Online. Retrieved 2019.
  10. ^ 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 .
  11. ^ Will, Gary; Duncan, Royal (2000). "Texas: NWA Texas Tag Team Title [Von Erich]". Wrestling Title Histories: professional wrestling champions around the world from the 19th century to the present. Pennsylvania: Archeus Communications. pp. 275-276. ISBN 0-9698161-5-4.
  12. ^ "NWA Texas Tag Team Title [E. Texas]". wrestling-titles.com. Retrieved 2019.
  13. ^ Hoops, Brian (January 19, 2019). "Pro wrestling history (01/19): Ric Flair wins WWF title in 1992 Royal Rumble". Wrestling Observer Figure Four Online. Retrieved 2019.
  14. ^ Duncan, Royal; Will, Gary (2006) [2000.]. "(Memphis, Nashville) Tennessee: Southern Tag Team Title [Roy Welsch & Nick Gulas, Jerry Jarrett from 1977]". Wrestling title histories: professional wrestling champions around the world from the 19th century to the present. Waterloo, Ontario: Archeus Communications. pp. 185-189. ISBN 0-9698161-5-4.
  15. ^ "Southern Tag Team Title". Wrestling-Titles. Retrieved 2020.
  16. ^ Royal Duncan and Gary Will (2000). "Tennessee: U.S. Tag Team Title". Wrestling Title Histories. Archeus Communications. p. 194. ISBN 0-9698161-5-4.
  17. ^ "NWA United States Tag Team Title (Mid-America)". wrestling-titles.com. Retrieved 2015.
  18. ^ Caldwell, James (2013-11-26). "News: Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame announces 2014 HOF class". Pro Wrestling Torch. Retrieved .
  19. ^ Mid-Atlantic Title History

External links


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