Wednesday, June 8, 2016

JOHNNY & ART BATTLE KANGAROOS



After nearly a decade as the top tag team in JIM CROCKETT PROMOTIONS, GEORGE BECKER and JOHNNY WEAVER were no more. In the early 1970s, Becker left JCP and soon after started his own wrestling organization, going head-to-head with the company he had led for the past twenty years.

During the 1950s and 1960s, George Becker beat The Great Bolo, Bull Ramos, Rip Hawk, Homer O'Dell, Skull Murphy, Bronco Lubich and every other opponent he faced.

But George couldn't beat Jim Crockett, and the Becker wrestling empire never came to be.

Meanwhile, JOHNNY WEAVER remained as Crockett's top babyface, for a while anyway, much to my delight. But he needed a partner to replace Becker.

That partner came as Argentina Apollo. But it didn't last very long, as Apollo wanted to leave the wrestling business to paint (pictures, not kitchens). And he did. He eventually opened an art gallery in my hometown of Statesville, North Carolina.

The Weaver / Apollo team's biggest feud was probably with Rip Hawk and Swede Hanson, who, at the time, were manager by 'Playboy' Gary Hart.

I attended the match in Greensboro in which Hawk and Hansen "injured" Apollo's leg. It was this same night that Weaver's nemesis ART NELSON (Neilson) became Weaver's friend and new tag team partner.

A short time later the man from the Argentine wrestled Rip Hawk on WGHP-TV's CHAMPIONSHIP WRESTLING program. As Wally Dusek made the ring announcements, I thought to myself that this is going to be a great match. Apollo getting "payback" for Hawk's hurting his leg.

Wrong. A total squash match with Rip using the piledriver on Apollo in the middle of the ring, followed by a clean pin.

Then I realized that Apollo was done. The next time I saw him was at his art gallery, when he made it pretty clear he didn't want to talk wrestling. He was an artist, not a grappler.

So now, JOHNNY WEAVER and ART NELSON were tag partners. This didn't last that long either, but during their time together, J&A had some great feuds with the likes of HAWK & HANSON and the return from Georgia of THE ASSASSINS (Jody Hamilton and Tom Renesto) and a new team to CROCKETT territory, THE ROYAL KANGAROOS (Lord Jonathan Boyd and his cousin Norman Frederick Charles III).

These men from "down under" were as mean, rough and nasty as anyone I had ever seen. They went through opponents like, what was it General Patton said, "crap through a goose," and it seemed no one could beat them.

So it was time to send the Roos against Johnny and Art, who had defeated The Bolos for the Brass Knuckles Tag Team Championship.

So I trucked down to Charlotte's Park Center that Monday night to see Johnny and Art put a whoopin' on those big-talking Australians.

I sat in disbelief as The Royal Kangaroos, with the aid of skullduggery and a couple of wooden boomerangs, beat Weaver and Nelson in two STRAIGHT falls. Johnny and Art didn't score a fall.

I thought to myself that this was the end of JOHNNY WEAVER as the King of Crockett Promotions, but it wasn't. Looking back, I now see that this match I saw was just getting the Kangaroos over as a real threat to everyone.

Weaver and Nelson would go on to battle these ruffians for months all over the territory, with the Brass Knucks trophy as the prize.

Eventually, Lord Boyd, cousin Norman and even Art left JCP. But Johnny Weaver remained, so all was still right with the wrestling world.

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