Mr. Wrestling II Passes Away

Bill Apter reported early this morning that Mr. Wrestling II (Johnny Walker) died today at home in Hawaii. He was 85. Apter received a phone call from Robert, Johnny’s son, informing him of the news.
Johnny Walker wrestled for several years, and even retired, before being convinced to come back to pro wrestling under the famous “Mr. Wrestling II” masked gimmick in 1972. He previously worked under a mask using “The Grappler” name.
As Mr. Wrestling II, he was a hugely popular star in Georgia. He won the Georgia Heavyweight Title ten different times from 1973 to 1980. He was friends with then Governor Jimmy Carter and stayed in contact with the Carter family when Jimmy became President of the United States.
Mr. Wrestling II was also a favorite of WTBS owner Ted Turner. As cable television began to expand throughout the U.S. in the 1970s, Georgia Championship Wrestling was a highly rated show for the basic cable network and Walker was a prominent regular.
Mr. Wrestling II had a famous angle and heel turn in Bill Watts’ Mid-South Wrestling in 1983 and 1984. He became a mentor and tag team partner of Magnum T.A. They won the Mid-South Tag Team Titles from Butch Reed and Jim Neidhart on Christmas 1983. In the weeks and months that followed, II started turning heel over T.A.’s increasing popularity and North American Title chances.

It all boiled over in March 1984 in Louisiana. On March 12, II defeated Junkyard Dog to win the North American Title by using a “loaded knee pad” to give his famous knee lift finisher and knock JYD out for the pin after a few legal knee lifts couldn’t get the win during the match. The next night, II and T.A. defended the tag team titles against Jim Cornette’s Midnight Express (Dennis Condrey and Bobby Eaton). The stipulation was No Disqualification with the losers getting ten lashes with a belt. Condrey and Eaton won the titles after II turned on T.A. and left him alone in the match. T.A. would take five brutal hits afterwards which made him bloody. Terry Taylor then ran in to take the other five lashes as a replacement for II so T.A. wouldn’t have to take all ten shots. T.A. would get revenge in May 1984 by defeating II for the North American Title with the belly to belly suplex in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
The WWF signed Walker in 1984 thinking it would be a good move as they took over the WTBS time spot with their “WWF Georgia Championship Wrestling” program. He was used as a preliminary wrestler and “aging veteran”. He left in 1986.

In the late 1980s, he wrestled for Continental Wrestling and Southern Championship Wrestling then retired in 1990.

He came out of retirement for one last match in October 2007 in Hawaii, teaming with Mr. Wrestling 3 (Steve Corino) to win the HCW Tag Team Titles from Ativalu and Ete. He would be replaced in the team by Kaimana a few months later just before the group folded in February 2008.