Reported by Adam Martin of WrestleView.com
'Mr. Wrestling II' Johnny Walker Interview: Talks about his early career
On Monday, January 22, 2007 at 5:23 PM EST The following was transcribed by Andy J. of wrestlingweekly.com:
On January 16th, Wrestling Weekly hosts Doc Young and Les Thatcher were joined by Mr Wrestling II, Johnny Walker. Wrestling Weekly airs every Tuesday at 8pm Eastern at www.wrestlingweekly.com.
Les introduces this week’s featured guest by highlighting that they have been good friends since they met back in 1968/1969 in Nashville. Johnny was born in Hawaii and briefly discusses living there as this is where he resides after retiring. Walker first started in the wrestling business in 1956/57 and went to the Army/Marine base to wrestle the officers. Les talks about getting into the business in 1960 and seeing ’Rubberman’ Johnny Walker and his tag team partner wrestle. Texas area promoter Paul Boesch gave him the name ’Rubberman’; as he was so flexible with his body. Les states that Johnny Walker’s high point of his career was as Mr Wrestling II but also worked as The Grappler in Tampa.
Johnny then discusses a very good match he had with Jack Brisco, after which the fans gave them a standing ovation. Les points out the Florida territory was educated to good solid pro-wrestling. Les then talks with Johnny Walker about going to the Atlanta territory as Mr Wrestling II. He was teamed with Tim Brooks and that they always got along together. Les states that Johnny is a big part of wrestling history in Georgia. Walker goes onto mention that he started as Mr Wrestling II in 1970 and stayed until 1989, so his run lasted there for nineteen years. When Tim Brooks went to Charlotte they split as a tag team. During the middle 1970’s the magazines had stories about Mr Wrestling II, the most famous was a picture of Johnny with former US President Jimmy Carter’s mother.
Walker goes onto to discuss Lillian Carter and was told by a promoter in Georgia that she would like to meet him. Johnny states that the meeting took place just before Carter was inaugurated as president. He then goes onto discuss their conversation and Walker was invited to Jimmy Carter’s inauguration. Johnny then tells Doc & Les that he was informed he had to remove his mask, so therefore, he didn’t go. Walker emphasises he took great pride in his character Mr Wrestling II. Doc points out that the former president’s favourite wrestler of all time was Mr Wrestling II. He had a photo taken with former President Carter. Les says this occurred around 1973/74 and he was working in the same territory as Johnny Walker and it was phenomenal.
Les reminisces about when the wrestlers in the territory put $5 in each to cover medical expenses. As the risks were too high, Johnny highlights, they couldn’t get any insurance. If anyone got injured they were covered. Walker then goes onto discuss travelling; driving hundreds of miles and you can’t drive too slow. Les reminds Johnny of a time when he was stock car racing in Nashville and Walker goes on to discuss this briefly. Les talks about Johnny Walkers wife Olivia who made his mask as Mr Wrestling II and made jackets, robes for Ric Flair, Greg Valentine and a blue robe for Lou Thesz too amongst others. Les states that Ric is still wearing some of those robes today. Johnny tells Doc & Les the robes range from $3-5,000 dollars, his wife used the best rhinestones and were very expensive. Each robe was made one at a time, hand crafted and a lot of work was put into them. Walker’s wife also made robes for country and western stars too.
Doc highlights that Mr Wrestling II was inducted into the WCW Hall of Fame, which was in 1993. Walker then talks about the induction ceremony. They then briefly discuss Sputnik Monroe, who passed away a few months ago. Les states that back then they worked six, sometimes seven nights a week. Johnny Walker states he did that for thirty two years as a professional wrestler. Les and Johnny then talks about Walker’s son, who has his own security business. Doc mentions Dog The Bounty Hunter as he lives in Hawaii and both Les & Johnny agree he has a ’hell of a gimmick’. Johnny Walker is now helping out with training people to be pro-wrestlers. He talks about how he trained twenty seven students in the first day and only two showed up the next time, highlighting that wrestlers should have heart. Walker then goes onto discuss the criteria which pro-wresters must have.
Les and Johnny then briefly talked about what it was like for them both getting into the business. Walker states that if you want to get into something, you have to enjoy it and talks about that you have to have the heart and talent to succeed. Doc discusses with Johnny Walker about being head trainer for Hawaii Championship Wrestling and asks how many shows they run. Johnny says they run every Saturday and the shows have been doing very well. Doc and Les thank Johnny Walker for being a guest, Les calls him a class act and HCW have a website at: http://www.808hcw.com/
Next weeks guest will be Jerry Oates of GCW and Lizzy Valentine of the new MTV promotion, Wrestling Society X (WSX). For more future guest information, visit www.myspace.com/docyoung (the official Myspace site of 'Wrestling Weekly').
Wrestling Weekly is part of Audio Wrestling - www.audiowrestling.com. The Wrestling Weekly radio program featuring Doc Young and Les Thatcher can be heard every Tuesday from 8:00-10:00pm EST at wrestlingweekly.com.