John "Johnny" Francis Walker (September 10, 1934 – June 10, 2020) was an American professional wrestler and registered sex offender , better known by the ring name Mr. Wrestling II. He is best known for his appearances with Championship Wrestling from Florida and Georgia Championship Wrestling in the 1970s and early 1980s.
1 Professional wrestling career
1.1 Early career (1955–1964)
1.2 The Grappler (1967–1972)
1.3 Mr. Wrestling II (1972–1984)
1.4 World Wrestling Federation (1984–1986)
1.5 Later Career (1986–1990)
1.6 Hawai'i Championship Wrestling (2007)
3 Personal life
5 Championships and accomplishments
7 External links
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.
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.
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".
Mr. Wrestling II (1972–1984)
In 1972, Walker was semi-retired and running a gas station in Tennessee. The Georgia promoter, Paul Jones, and his booker Leo Garibaldi asked for him to return to wrestling as the masked Mr. Wrestling II. Introduced originally 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 which occurred in Atlanta over a dispute with Ray Gunkel's widow Ann Gunkel and her "outlaw promotion" All-South Wrestling Alliance.
Walker as 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 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. (see below)
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 Terry Allen. Vignettes aired on television, hosted by either Reisor Bowden or Jim Ross, in which Wrestling II was shown away from the ring with T.A. 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. Wrestling II turned his back on T.A. in a tag team match against The Midnight Express, which saw T.A. bloodied. On the following week's program, Wrestling II threw in the towel to cost T.A. the match while he was participating in the tournament for the promotion's television title, claiming that T.A. was too badly cut to continue. Wrestling II had previously won the North American Championship from the departing Junkyard Dog, which T.A. 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 ever appeared on TV, only appearing a handful of times. 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, 1986 he lost a Loser Leaves Town match to Armstrong. Mr. Wreslting II was inactive for a later. He returned to Continental in 1987 feuding with Jerry Stubbs. He later worked for Southern Championship Wrestling and the independent circuit until he retired 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.
Jimmy Carter, the governor of Georgia and later president of the United States during Wrestling II's 1970s heyday, considered him to be his favorite wrestler, as well as his mother's favorite. Walker was invited to Carter's inauguration, but in the end 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. 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 3 Sons with his wife, Olivia. John Jr. Robert and Mike. 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.. Walker was a registered sex offender , having been charged in the 1952 gang rape of a 15 year old girl.
On the morning of June 10, 2020 Bill Apter reported that Johnny Walker had passed away.
Championships and accomplishments
Big Time Promotions
Big Time Television Championship (2 times)
Championship Wrestling from Florida
NWA Florida Heavyweight Championship (2 times)
NWA Florida Tag Team Championship (2 times) – with Boris Malenko (1), Big Bad John (1)
NWA Southern Heavyweight Championship (Florida version) (1 time)
Continental Championship Wrestling
NWA Alabama Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
Deep South Wrestling
DSW American Championship (1 time)
Deep South Heavyweight Championship (1 times)
Hawai'i Championship Wrestling
HCW Kekaulike Heritage Tag Team Championship (1 time) – with Mr. Wrestling III
Mid-South Sports / Georgia Championship Wrestling
NWA Georgia Heavyweight Championship (10 times)
NWA Macon Heavyweight Championship (4 times)
NWA Georgia Tag Team Championship (5 times) – with Bob Orton, Jr. (1), Mr. Wrestling I (3), and Tony Atlas (1)
NWA Macon Tag Team Championship (3 times) – with Mr. Wrestling I (2), and Jerry Lawler (1)
NWA Southeastern Tag Team Championship (Georgia version) (1 time) – with Bill Dromo
National Wrestling Alliance
NWA Hall of Fame (Class of 2012)
NWA Tri-State / Mid-South Wrestling Association
Mid-South Mississippi Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
Mid-South North American Championship (1 time)
Mid-South Tag Team Championship (2 times) – with Tiger Conway Jr. (1), and Magnum T.A. (1)
NWA North American Heavyweight Championship (Tri-State version) (1 time)
NWA Big Time Wrestling
NWA Texas Tag Team Championship (1 time) - with Amazing Zuma
NWA Southern Tag Team Championship (Mid-America version) (9 times) – with Ken Lucas (2), Bob Ramstead (1), Sundown Kid (1), Dennis Hall (3), Tojo Yamamoto (1), and Bearcat Brown (1)
NWA United States Junior Heavyweight Championship (4 times)
NWA United States Tag Team Championship (Mid-America version) (1 time) – with Oni Maivia
NWA World Tag Team Championship (Mid-America version) (4 times) – with Len Rossi (2) and Bearcat Brown (2)
North American Wrestling Alliance
NAWA Television Championship (1 time)
Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame
Class of 2014
Pro Wrestling Illustrated
PWI Wrestler of the Year (1975)
PWI Most Popular Wrestler of the Year (1980)
Southern Championship Wrestling (Georgia)
SCW Tag Team Championship (1 time) - with Ranger Ross
World Championship Wrestling
WCW Hall of Fame (Class of 1993)
Wrestling Observer Newsletter
Most Overrated (1980)
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.
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