by Kris Zellner
Johnny "Rubberman" walker began wrestling in 1956 and was pretty much a journeyman heel wrestler around the Southern territories throughout throughout the late 60's and would even get NWA World Heavyweight Title shots against the likes of Lou Thesz but when he donned a mask as The Grappler in Florida in 1971 that would begin a new era of his life. The Grappler gimmick in Florida was successful as he feuded with big names like Ole Anderson, Bobby Duncum, Dick Murdoch, along with getting NWA Heavyweight Title shots against Dory Funk Jr. but there were bigger plans for him in the future. Walker had basically semi-retired in 1972 and was running a gas station outside of Atlanta when Georgia Championship Wrestling promoter Paul Jones came to him with a plan that was set in motion by booker Leo Garibaldi about becoming the new version of Mr. Wrestling with the thought that another Mr. Wrestling would be a huge addition to their roster in their war with Ann Gunkel's All-South Wrestling Alliance since they couldn't get Tim Woods because he was on top in Florida. Walker agreed and his career was reborn at the Atlanta City Auditorium on 2/2/73 where he teamed up with Pat O'Brien & Bob Orton Jr. to face Bengali, Butcher Brannigan, & Jack Evans in the 2nd match on the card but it was only 11 days before he was in a semi-main event teaming with Bob Armstrong to face Butcher Brannigan & Tank Morgan at the Macon City Auditorium and then exactly one month from his debut he defeated Sputnik Monroe to win the Georgia Heavyweight Title at the Atlanta City Auditorium. This would be the first of his 10 reigns as the Georgia Heavyweight champion.
II's first mask match came 2 weeks later also in Atlanta where he defended his title and his mask against The Zodiac who unmasked as Bob Orton Sr. giving him some big momentum that carried him through big matches against the likes of Bobby Shane, Bobby Duncum, & Cowboy Bill Watts who would be the one to give II his first big loss as he took the Georgia title from him on 5/11/73 in Atlanta. II would soon turn his focus to the Georgia Tag Titles and formed a team with Bob Orton Jr. who would take the titles from The Super Infernos on 6/9/73 at WTCG Studios on GCW TV but during this reign he continued to feud with Watts and started teaming with the unmasked Mr. Wrestling Tim Woods in tag matches against Watts & Bobby Duncum. II & Orton would lose their belts back to the Super Infernos on 8/4/73 on GCW TV but the month would end on a high note as he regained the Georgia belt from Watts on 8/31/73 in Atlanta which featured Freddie Blassie as the special referee. II would get his first NWA World Heavyweight Title shot in this gimmick against Jack Brisco on 9/14/73 in Atlanta and teamed with Woods against Dory & Terry Funk on 10/5/73 in Atlanta while II was rolling along as Georgia champ before losing the belt to Watts again on 11/2/73 in Atlanta. II ended 1973 still in the main events teaming with all the top babyfaces of the area and along with Bob Armstrong they became the cornerstones of the reborn promotion but that would soon change in the new year.
II was upset that he wasn't getting the bulk of the NWA World Heavyweight Title shots because Woods was getting them and he said that he knew he was better than him and would win the title with Woods disagreeing so they had their first match on 1/2/74 at the Atlanta City Auditorium with II coming out on top and the feud was born. II would take the Georgia Heavyweight Title back from Ron Fuller 9 days later in Atlanta then a week after that got his shot with Jack Brisco but would get DQed. II continued feuding with Woods and both Robert & Ron Fuller in some heated matches with II in his biggest match to date taking Tim Woods' hair at the brand new Omni in Atlanta on 2/10/74 which would set in motion the return of Woods under the hood as Mr. Wrestling giving this feud a new feel. II would be basically a tweener at this time as he wouldn't really align with heels but had issues with the faces until he had an issue with Jerry Lawler & Art Nelson which saw him align with Robert Fuller & Bob Armstrong even though he was still feuding with Woods along with Jack & Jerry Brisco. II got another shot at Jack Brisco in a No DQ No Time Limit match on 4/26/74 at The Omni which would see him fall to Brisco clean this time. II would get his first shot at the North American Heavyweight Title as his war with Bill Watts reignited in the Spring of 1974 and he would lose his Georgia belt to Watts in a title vs. title match at Atlanta City Auditorium on 5/10/74 but would take it back the next morning on TV at WTCG Studios. After burying the hatchet with Mr. Wrestling on TV and they literally buried a hatchet, II is now back as a full fledged babyface and gets another big main event in the Omni teaming up with a young Andre the Giant who was making his name nationally against Bill Watts & Big Bad John on 5/17/74 then main evented the next week at the Omni against Jack Brisco again for the NWA title that would go to a 60:00 draw. II would continue to feud with Big Bad John and his men throughout the summer and would lose the Georgia strap to Buddy Colt on 7/5/74 at the Atlanta City Auditorium which he would take back on 8/23/74 with his mask on the line at The Omni. II wouldn't have it for long though as he would drop the strap to former NWA World champ Harley Race on 9/13/74 at the Atlanta City Auditorium. II's feud with Race was bitter and would see him forming a bond with Gene & Ole Anderson who would help him out in tag matches before ending 1974 by beating Race with his mask on the line on 12/6/74 at Atlanta City Auditorium. II would vanquish the area of Bearcat Wright and his goons like Race & Buddy Colt as the year would come to an end but II would meet a new rival who would become a life long rival.
The Assassin & Rock Hunter entered the area in December 1974 and wanted to feud with II so they had their first match on 1/3/75 at Atlanta City Auditorium which saw the Assassin win giving him instant credibility. II would find his match in the Assassin and Rock Hunter as their series was pretty even before II broke through which forced Hunter to bring in Professor Toru Tanaka who put II out of action for over a month with them having their first match on 4/3/75 at Atlanta City Auditorium in what was billed as the "Revenge Match of the Century" that saw II get DQed. Abdullah the Butcher was also brought in by Rock Hunter so II had to align himself with the likes of Andre the Giant, Dusty Rhodes, & Rocky Johnson but Hunter would counter bringing in Harley Race & The Sheik in the war. August 1975 saw II take a youngster named Rick Martel under his wing and they formed a team to battle the combination of former II partner Bob Orton Jr. & Dick Slater who were becoming one of the best teams in the country at this time. Gary Hart was now the heel manager of the territory and he had a bounty II's head which saw guys like The Sheik, Mr. Fuji, & Tanaka try to take it but they were unsuccessful. II would go back to focusing on singles action and would put his mask on the line yet again to take the Georgia strap from Nikolai Volkoff on 10/3/75 at the Atlanta City Auditorium which would set the table for a feud with Hart's newest charges in Brute Bernard & The Spoiler who would become another one of II's main rivals. Spoiler would get his first big win in the feud as he put his mask on the line on Thanksgiving night at The Omni to take II's Georgia Heavyweight Title. II was now involved in many issues as he was battling Hart's Army, Rock Hunter who was back for a short time, and along with Dick Slater got a shot at the NWA World Tag Titles against former allies Gene & Ole Anderson as 1975 would come to a close.
1976 would see II's star start to grow even brighter as not only was he battling all the heels in Georgia which was now featuring Moondog Mayne, Skandor Akbar, & Stan Stasiak but he would start making appearances in Florida where he would get shots at Billy Robinson and his Southern Heavyweight Title. II's feud with Gary Hart was dominating the year as he would take on guys like Ox Baker, Black Gordman, Goliath, & Greg Valentine along with the usual suspects before Dick Slater would turn heel on him with a feud that heated up the Summer seeing a Taped Fist match on 7/30/76 at Atlanta City Auditorium that II would win but II couldn't take the Georgia title from him but he would eventually send him packing along with Stan Stasiak in a Loser Leaves Town match teaming with Jos LeDuc on 10/8/76 at Atlanta City Auditorium. II would find himself back in the NWA World Title scene as he would get some shots at Terry Funk at the end of the month but the pesky Slater would return to Georgia after a month and would take back the Georgia strap from II on 11/15/76 in Augusta. II's year would end again engaging in battles with the Anderson Brothers this time with Thunderbolt Patterson as his partner along with getting more shots at Funk but falling short.
1977 was status quo to start as II's feud with Slater dominated the early part of the year along with matches with the Andersons this time with Lars Anderson getting involved with various partners such as Bob Armstrong, Tony Atlas, Paul Jones, & Wahoo McDaniel. This era of II is known as his golden era as the battles with the Andersons & Slater were bringing in huge crowds around the state and solidifying II's status as a local icon. II and Atlas would take the NWA World Tag Titles from Gene & Ole on 8/1/77 in Augusta but the decision would be overturned and it was during the month of August that a young kid from Hendersonville, Tennessee would enter the area named Tommy Rich and it was his 2nd night in the area on 8/16/77 that he would team with II for the first time against Sgt. Jacques Goulet & Pak Song in Macon seeing the present legend and future legend get the win. On 8/27/77, II was announced on TV that he would be representing the United States on a big tour of Australia & New Zealand which was built up for weeks but on the day before he was supposed to leave he was being congratulated by the babyfaces and after that Pak Song & Rock Hunter came out which ended up with Hunter breaking a II painting an Song chopping him on the back of the neck a couple of times which Gordon Solie sold to the fans like it was a paralyzing blow. Solie said that II was in the hospital and he might never return. Song went on a tear around the territory even getting a 2 minute win over Jack Brisco at The Omni on 9/23/77 but II would send in taped promos vowing he was coming back and they had their big match on 10/14/77 at The Omni in a sold out building that went crazy for the icon II as he got his revenge on Song but he went overboard and got DQed. II would eventually send Song packing and by the end of the year had reunited with Slater again in a common hatred of the Anderson Brothers & Sgt. Jacques Goulet but it was also at this time that II started feuding with current Georgia champ Stan Hansen which would carry over into 1978.
January & February of 1978 saw II still in battles with the Andersons & Hansen but in March a new foe was coming into the area as AWA World Heavyweight Champion Nick Bockwinkel was going to make some defenses around the horn. Georgia was starting to become a hotbed of wrestling nationally at this time as WTCG was getting into more households so names from around the world were coming in and out for shots and Bock wanted to make his mark there. On 3/11/78, Bockwinkel & Bobby Heenan were at TV and Bock was going to demonstrate his figure-four leglock on Ricky Hood which of course saw him refuse to break the hold. II would come out to break it and as it happened he would accidentally strike Gordon Solie which was a very hot angle at the time. Solie would be taken out although he would return later and blamed Heenan for what happened before II would come out to apologize to Gordon which was accepted. II would get his first crack at Bock the next Friday night at Atlanta City Auditorium where he would fall to Bock and the result was the same in their next matches on 4/16/78 in Macon in the afternoon and Atlanta at night. Meanwhile the feud with Hansen was blazing on as II would put his mask against Hansen's title but the matches would go to a draw and his feud with the Andersons over their $1,000 silver dollars main evented around the horn as well. Rock Hunter & Abdullah the Butcher would eventually turn on Hansen and II now had a new ally in his war with Hunter which prompted some wild heated matches across the Spring and then against Ole Anderson and his new partner Ivan Koloff in the Summer but it was also in the Summer that Hunter brought back in his main charge The Assassin along with The Angel (Frank Morrell), Superstar Billy Graham, & Angelo Mosca but II had friends as well like Rich, Slater, Hansen, and even Rick Martel who came back in for some shots. Sure enough though II would get turned on again this time by Hansen who aligned with Ole & Koloff forming a formidable alliance so II called for Dusty Rhodes & Thunderbolt Patterson to help out. II was still going for singles gold though and had a heated feud with Mosca for his Georgia title as well before the title was held up forcing a tournament to be held on 10/16/78 with II getting a big win over Hansen in the finals to take back the title. II would defend his title against all comers even his friend Rick Martel on TV on 10/28/78 in a match that went to a draw but it was also around this time a new force was coming into the area named the Masked Superstar. II had his first match with Superstar on 11/13/78 in Augusta in a match that went to a draw and the feud was born as Superstar would take the title a few weeks later with II ending the year chasing him around the horn trying to get it back.
1978 was a pivotal year in the career of II as he was solidified as the lynchpin of the area and also had the task of giving a rub to Tommy Rich who they were grooming to be the next major star. II would team with Rich regularly and they had major matches with all the top heels giving Rich the credibility he needed to become a top guy. II also was making some shots for Leroy McGuirk at different times during the year so he was expanding his name across the South even more.
II continued his blood feud with the likes of Superstar, Hansen, Ole, & Mosca into 1979 before winning the North American Heavyweight Title from Ernie Ladd on 2/16/79 at The Omni in what would become the beginning of his end in Georgia for a while as Bill Watts had decided to break free from Leroy McGuirk and decided to run opposition to him featuring a guy who he had major matches against and knew who could carry the load for the new Mid-South Wrestling. II had the aura about him and was a top star everywhere he went but Watts knew he had an X-factor from working against him in Georgia as II was a crossover hit among the African-American community who loved their "Rasslin II". Every week on TV you would see the younger fans chant "II upside your head it's II upside your head" in reverance and in waiting for II's signature Million-Dollar Kneelift which was one of the most popular finishing moves of the time. II would enter Mid-South in March and now had fresh opponents to work in a new area such as Ron Bass, Ladd, Gino Hernandez, & Killer Karl Krupp but II was still making shots for Georgia on the big shows against his rival Masked Superstar. II would make his first Superdome appearance in New Orleans on 4/21/79 where he defended his North American title against Krupp and he was now becoming a force in the area. II would see some new opponents in the Summer such as Mike George & Tank Patton but still met old foes such as Ladd on the next Superdome show on 7/21/79. II would start back appearing in Georgia more regularly in September and started feuding with Killer Karl Kox for the Georgia title in October but it was also at this time that a fake Mr. Wrestling II started appearing during the times that II was in Mid-South. The real II was incensed at all of this and on Thanksgiving night at The Omni the II's faced off with the real II coming out on top. The feud would go on for another month until Christmas night at The Omni where in a Steel Cage Match the real II defeated the fake II and he had to unmask revealing Joe Powell. The next Saturday on TV, Powell revealed that it was Masked Superstar that sent him after II and the blood feud reignited even more going into 1980. Also by this time, WTCG had become Superstation WTBS and the GCW TV show was nationwide on cable with stars such II becoming even bigger.
1980 saw the feud with II & Superstar raging but II started feuding with the brash Austin Idol as well who was feuding with Tommy Rich making for some heated tag matches. II would bring in Andre the Giant to also help him out in his battles against The Great Mephisto and his charges such as Killer Khan & Toru Tanaka and on 2/3/80 at The Omni, II would regain the Georgia title from the Superstar in a No DQ No Time Limit match. II would get involved in a hot angle on 2/23/80 on TV as Harley Race had injured Tommy Rich's knee along with Austin Idol thus taking Rich out of his upcoming match with Race the next night at The Omni for the NWA title so II cut an impassioned promo vowing to take his place and on that night II would beat Race by DQ. II avenges Rich by defeating Idol on 3/9/80 at The Omni but Idol would have the last laugh as he would defeat II on TV for the Georgia title on 3/29/80. II was a busy man at this time as he was facing off Koloff, Alexis Smirnoff, & Baron Von Raschke in various matches along with Race who came back in on 4/6/80 in what would become one of the most legendary matches of the era in Georgia as the promotion brought in 3 former NWA champs in Lou Thesz, Dusty Rhodes, & Dory Funk Jr. to judge the match. The match would go to a draw with the judges deadlocked in front of 16,000 strong at The Omni starting a huge controversy as the promotion thought that II won the match and they would award him with the Champion of Champions Cup recognizing that. II would defend the Cup against Dory Jr. at the Omni on 5/4/80 in a match that was one match higher on the card than a Race NWA title defense against Tommy Rich but there was a Lights Out match afterwards between II & Race which saw II get a clean win in front of 9,500 fans. II would defend the Cup again a couple of weeks later against longtime rival Abdullah the Butcher in front of 9,500 again at The Omni and the promotion felt it was time to have the big blowoff match so they put II and his Cup against Race and the NWA title on 6/8/80 in front of a sellout crowd at The Omni with Race coming out on top and winning the war. It was also at this time that The Assassin and a new Assassin #2 had returned to the area and started a war with II. II would use various partners like the new babyface Austin Idol & Tommy Rich in his battles with The Assassins along with side battles against Race and even Masked Superstar on 7/5/80 at The Omni before II teamed with Steve Keirn to win the Georgia Tag Titles from The Assassins in a Steel Cage Match on 7/30/80 in Columbus that they would lose back the next week. II would venture back to Mid-South on 8/2/80 where he would face Ted DiBiase for the North American title in a scientific match in front of 26,000 at the Superdome before going back to GCW and feuding with the Assassins and also the Superstar who was coming in and out from Jim Crockett Promotions culiminating in a Loser Leaves Town Steel Cage Match on 9/5 at The Omni in front of 12,500 fans seeing II come out victorious. The next day on TV saw one of the best angles of the era as Gordon Solie had a point/counterpoint with II & Assassin #1 about why they wore their masks which featured two of the best promo men in the business explain their reasons before it would get heated of course and saw II get railroaded by both Assassins with his mask getting ripped off and bloodied. Mr. Wrestling had returned to the area to help his friend out and they both cut a passionate promo vowing revenge on the heels and they would take their Georgia Tag straps on 9/19/80 at The Omni. The end of September saw a new force coming into the area named Mr. Saito along with three cocky guys known as The Fabulous Freebirds who would take the Georgia straps from the Messirs Wrestling and Assassins in a 3-way match on 10/10/80 at The Omni. The next day on TV, II would face Saito and would get beaten clean and their feud was born but it was also at this time that II was really branching out working for Southwest, Leroy McGuirk, & Southeastern as II had supposedly retired from wrestling on Georgia TV. II would come back though to get revenge on Saito and won $5,000 from him on 12/12/80 at The Omni then beat him in a Judo Jacket match on Christmas night at The Omni.
1981 opened up with II getting his first shot at the National Heavyweight Title and Don Carson's Mongolian Stomper on 1/1/81 at The Omni where he would win by DQ. By now II had attained Babyface Emeritus status and even though he wasn't the main babyface he was always in the mix with all the top heels plus he was traveling to Florida more now as The Assassins were down there now running wild. II would rekindle his feud with Gene & Ole Anderson in April 1981 and actually saw II asking his enemy Masked Superstar to team with him and they took on the Andersons on 4/12/81 at The Omni in a match that went to a no contest. II would enter Jim Crockett Promotions regularly in May 1981 and saw II in an interesting spot as he wasn't a main event guy there but more of a high mid-carder and even worked 2nd matches on the card on occasion. II was able though to start feuds with Koloff, Iron Sheik, & Fuji which moved him higher on the card but still the signs were there that his days as the top guy were coming to an end. II came back to Georgia in August 1981 and teamed up with Kevin Von Erich quite a bit which was to get him over but this was a different II here as he was starting to work guys like Bryan St. John & David Sierra although he was still strong and actually got the first NWA title match against Ric Flair at The Omni on 9/27/81. II would feud with The Great Mephisto's charges Ray Stevens & Tor Kamata along with the Masked Superstar who was back full-time but II got called back to Florida in late November. This time II got a bigger push in Florida as he was getting NWA title shots against Flair and feuding with The Spoiler over the Florida title.
1982 saw II split his time between Florida & Georgia where he was still mixing it up with all the major heels as well as holding the Florida Heavyweight Title along with getting shot at Dory Funk Jr.'s International Heavyweight Title and going back to his Rubberman roots and facing Les Thornton for the NWA World Jr. Heavyweight Title. II would eventually lose his Florida title to J.J. Dillon in a cheap fashion in late March but he would get it back in April and defended against the likes of Derek Draper (Ed Wiskowski) & David Von Erich before losing the title to Jimmy Garvin on 5/3/82 in West Palm Beach. II would return to GCW full-time in June and was reinserted back into the top tier feuding with the likes of the Superstar, Super Destroyer, Buzz Sawyer, The Wild Samoans, & Magnificent Muraco before II would go back to Mid-South in August. II would start feuding with Ted DiBiase for the North American title and aligned with Junkyard Dog & Mr. Olympia in their battle against The Rat Pack (DiBiase, Matt Borne, & Hacksaw Duggan.) II also started a side feud with The Grappler (Len Denton) as II pretty much had to feud with any masked heel but it was also at this time that II was finding his gear vandalized and there was a mystery on who was doing it before it was revealed that Mr. Olympia was doing it and a new feud was born with their first match taking place at the Superdome on Thanksgiving night in front of 15,000 fans.
1983 would see II align with a new masked man in Stagger Lee (Junkyard Dog under a mask) in the Rat Pack feud but II would also have the misfortune of being one of Kamala's main opponents as well. II also formed a team with Tiger Conway Jr. in March and they would become a dominant team as they won the Mid-South Tag Titles from Borne & DiBiase on 3/11/83 in Houston but they would lose the titles back to DiBiase and the returning Mr. Olympia in April. II would continue to work on top throughout May but he wanted to go home and returned to Georgia in June where he would start a feud with Larry Zbyszko for the National Heavyweight Title. This was a weirdly booked feud that saw Killer Brooks involved, II putting up his mask against $25,000 on TV in a tag elimination match with Pistol Pez Whatley against Zbyszko & Tully Blanchard, and II winning the National title on 7/3/83 from Larry in a match with Brooks & Mr. Wrestling as the referees in front of 4,000 fans but the title was held up. II was still doing shots for Mid-South at the time as well so he was traveling quite a bit between the Northern tours for GCW, Georgia, and the Mid-South shows. Later in July there was a new Mr. Wrestling that debuted for GCW which was Jesse Barr under a mask which prompted a natural feud for II which saw II eventually take his mask in October. Also at this time II was one of the many babyfaces that were being sacrificed to the Road Warriors and he looked especially old against guys like this which wasn't flattering for him. Like I wrote earlier, II was still working Mid-South throughout this time and became a regular again in November where he formed a team with Magnum T.A. as he was playing his mentor. II & Magnum became a force and they would become Mid-South Tag champs on Christmas night as they defeated Jim Neidhart & Butch Reed in a Steel Cage match in one of the better matches of this era of Mid-South. II was flying high at the end of 1983 even getting a shot at his old rival Nick Bockwinkel's AWA World Heavyweight Title in Houston on 12/30/83 where he would get DQed but II was in a George Blanda circa 1970 mode here which would carry over into 1984.
Mid-South Wrestling was starting to become a radically different promotion in January 1984 as Bill Dundee had taken over as the booker and new talent such as The Rock n Roll Express, Terry Taylor, & The Midnight Express had entered the area taking it by storm but II & Magnum were still ruling the roost as tag champs. They would start a grueling feud with the Midnights over the titles but it was at this time that Magnum had struck up a friendship with Lanny Poffo which II was very angry about because Poffo was from an evil family in his mind and would corrupt Magnum. The hostilities would rise up during February as Magnum would take 10 lashes after matches for II but II was still angry and on 2/28/84 they would lose the titles to the MX in Alexandria, Louisiana. II would also start having issues with Junkyard Dog and challenged him to a shot at the North American title for 3/12/84 which II would win by taping something to his knee on the Million-Dollar Kneelift which cemented his heel turn. It had been 10 years since II's last heel turn but this time he was perfectly ready to play the crusty old man who did what it took to win and he would find a new student to train in Ray Hernandez which he would name Mr. Wrestling II as he would now become the new Mr. Wrestling. Magnum & II had their first singles match on 3/23/84 in Houston and a blood feud was born with them selling out around the horn along with the Watts/JYD vs. MX feud as Mid-South was the hottest promotion in the country. Magnum would finally take the North American title from his mentor on 5/13/84 in Tulsa after the interference from the new Wrestling II backfired. II and his student would have a falling out with Hernandez taking off the mask becoming Hercules Hernandez and they feuded for a bit before II left the area in late July.
II basically disappeared for the next 3 months until he appeared for the World Wrestling Federation of all places taking on old rival Rene Goulet on 10/5/84 at The Omni and spent the rest of 1984 working WWF shows in the areas that he was known in like the South and the old spots GCW used to go on Northern tours. II would start working everywhere for WWF in 1985 and was used in opening matches only. The highlight of this year for II was probably his match against Terry Funk at Madison Square Garden which was his first match in the legendary building on 11/25/85 in a match he lost but he was at MSG.
II would leave the WWF in February 1986 and came back to the South making his debut for Continental on 2/17/86 in Birmingham where he became a member of Ron Fuller's Stud Stable and started a feud with The Bullet (his old friend Bob Armstrong under the mask.) II vowed to take off the Bullet's mask but he would fail and eventually lost a Loser Leaves Town match on 5/5/86 in Birmingham. II spent the rest of the year working Georgia independents before returning to Continental in February 1987 but this time as a babyface where he would feud with the likes of Rip Rogers & Jerry Stubbs before taking the Alabama title from Mike Golden on 4/27/87 in Birmingham in the last major run of his career before losing the title back to Golden on 6/14/87 in Marietta, Georgia at the Cobb County Civic Center. II would bounce around Continental for the rest of 1987 and Georgia independents throughout 1988 and even had a match with Nick Bockwinkel in Chattanooga on 6/14/88 along with even having matches against Tommy Rich in his heel run in late 1988 for Southern Championship Wrestling. 1989 saw II become a mentor yet again this time for Ranger Ross as they formed a solid team for SCW before Ross was ready to join the NWA in the Spring and by the end of the year II was done as an active competitor.
If you were a fan of Georgia Championship Wrestling in the 70's and 80's or were raised by fans of that era, "Rasslin II" was one of those legends that lives on in the folklore as you can bring up wrestling to people who aren't fans but they know who he was and it's a testament that 30 years after he was in his prime, he still lives on in the memories of the people that saw him compete. II's biggest fan status wise was former Georgia governor and President Jimmy Carter's mother, Miss Lillian Carter who invited II to the White House but he had to decline because the Secret Service would force him to unmask. She understood his decision but that showed the dedication to his gimmick that he would decline such an offer to protect the business. This man was a credit to the business, a true legend, and should be in the Wrestling Observer Hall of Fame.