Mr. Wrestling II

Name: Mr. Wrestling II
Year Inducted: 2014

Mr. Wrestling II

What would have Georgia Championship Wrestling — or the wrestling world in general — been like without Mr. Wrestling No. 2? It might be hard to fathom, considering the masked man’s tremendous impact on one of the most visible territories in the country during the ‘70s but we might have never known had it not been for Jerry Jarrett.

The Tennessee-based promoter, booking the Atlanta office, was looking for a masked man to replace the popular Mr. Wrestling (Tim Woods), who declined to come in to Georgia.

The wrestler Jarrett had in mind was pushing 40 years of age and was considered more of a journeyman for most of his career, showcasing his flexibility as “Rubberman.” He called Johnny Walker, who had semi-retired from the wrestling business and was running a gas station in Knoxville, Tennessee.

“He had these smooth escape moves that really intrigued me, but he was very much an undercard man,” said Jarrett. Still, Jarrett was convinced it could work, age be damned. “They were about the same size, and I believed that Johnny could pick up the Tim Woods mannerisms. It clicked. It worked. It was just one of those things that I was very lucky on.”

His marching orders to Walker, a native of Charleston, South Carolina were clear: “Go out and buy yourself a white outfit and a white mask. You will be Mr. Wrestling 2 in Atlanta.”

And the rest, as they say, was history.

Mr. Wrestling No. 2, simply known as “Two,” initially was introduced as the tag team partner of the original Mr. Wrestling (Woods) but would achieve even greater success than his talented predecessor. Sporting a white mask trimmed in black, Walker would become the top star on the nation’s first Superstation, Channel 17 out of Atlanta, and would be a staple in Georgia for the next decade. With cable TV still in its infancy, No. 2 would become one of the most recognized performers in the wrestling business, garnering national attention in matches aired via satellite on WTBS, popping crowds with his finisher: “the million-dollar kneelift.”

Walker was so popular that police officers would sometimes pull him over just to get an autograph. “I was one of the few guys who could walk into a bank with a mask,” he chuckles. “It was over big time in Atlanta.” Two was even invited to the White House, personally invited to attend President Jimmy Carter’s inauguration in 1977. Walker, though, reluctantly declined a seat with the Carter family when the Secret Service told him he would have to remove his famous mask due to security concerns.

The son of a Marine, Walker lived in Hawaii for years—and still does—and he started pro wrestling there, after a brief foray as a 191-pound sumo wrestler.

The Mr. Wrestling 2 gimmick not only prolonged his run in wrestling for another decade, but also reenergized his career and made him more money than he had ever dreamed about making in the business. “The Rubberman thing was good, but nothing like the mask,” laughed Walker, who held a slew of titles. “I had more belts than you could shake a stick at.”

“I had a fantastic career. I loved every minute of it.”

 

- Mike Mooneyham



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