Where Wrestling's Regional History Lives!
- John Hitchcock
Valentine was the wrestler that made wrestling real for me. His matches
were stiff and brutal affairs and anyone over 40 who saw one live, never
and I mean NEVER forgot him. The first time I saw him was on cable
television and I think it was in Florida about 1970-71. Valentine appeared
in this territory for about a month. Within this short time frame
Valentine would have some really hard-hitting matches, break somebody's
leg, and then get suspended for life from the territory. I figured this
guy was all business and nobody wanted to wrestle him.
was not far from the truth.
heard that Valentine was going to wrestle in the Mid-Atlantic area and I couldn't
wait to see him. I had to work at the Big Bear grocery store on
Valentine's first night in Greensboro. But I was very curious just what
happened. There was this young girl that worked there who was a check out
girl and somebody told me she went that night. She stopped by the bottle
room to talk and I asked her if she went to the matches.
you see Johnny Valentine?" I asked.
I did! And that man is the devil!"
started joking around with her but she would not change her mind. She was totally
scared of Johnny Valentine. Valentine was in the middle of the card that
night and he was in the main event from then on. I knew from that moment
on, I would never miss a Valentine match.
Valentine was about six-two and about two- fifty. His body was always tanned
and he looked chiseled in stone. He always wore a black robe with a red
lining. And he was the one guy that everybody feared and respected.
started this gimmick with one thousand silver dollars in a fish bowl
reward for anyone who could defeat him in ten minutes. It was a brilliant
idea and made all his matches seem important. Every television match was
interesting and Valentine would methodically run his hands through his
sliver dollars to help kill time on his match. Trust me when I tell you
that was the easy part of any Valentine match. When he got in the ring he
would just crush people physically with his slow methodical style.
Valentine would slowly stalk his opponents in the ring. Then he would grab
them, pull them over the ropes and deliver the most punishing forearm
smash in wrestling history. One television match Valentine was tagging
with Ric Flair versus Johnny Weaver and a big young kid named Tony Atlas
White. White was a body builder from Virginia and Valentine couldn't wait
to teach him a punishing lesson. Valentine bent White over the top rope
and delivered the Hammer-ing forearm and he knocked the air out of him
with one blow. White immediately fell to his knees trying to regain his
breath. Valentine just grabbed him up and did it again. This was totally a
legal move. Simple but devastating and White was pinned soon after.
would have paid big money to see him do that to the Road Warriors.
was a night where his next TV opponent surprised Valentine. Climbing in
the ring to challenge was Tim Woods who was a big name under the mask as
Mr. Wrestling#1. It was a very smartly designed match that took me by
surprise. Valentine sold everything that Tim Woods did during the match.
He even took a monkey flip out of the turnbuckle which made you believe
this Woods guy was the real deal and Valentine was just a bully who was
picking on a bunch of jobbers all this time.
it worked and the crowd was going nuts cheering for Woods.
Valentine bent him over the ropes and delivered the Hammer and all bets were
off. Valentine jerked up Woods and then fell on his leg with an odd
twisting motion and broke Tim Woods leg. Woods was lying towards the far
turnbuckle screaming for help. Valentine just stood over him like a wolf
over prey. Valentine was amazing with his body language. He really looked
hungry and proud that he was sending a brutal message to everyone not to
mess with him.
And then he did his interview telling everyone that this is what you will get if you try to embarrass him in the future. Valentine was yelling during this interview, which was not his normal composed self. Johnny even began to blame Crockett for bringing in a ringer and trying to embarrass him on television, it really worked to perfection.