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Greg Valentine

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John Anthony Wisniski Jr. (September 10, 1950) is an American professional wrestler, better known as Greg "The Hammer" Valentine. He is the son of wrestler Johnny Valentine.

Career

Training

Born in Seattle, Washington, Valentine traveled around Texas in his teens with his father. During a summer vacation, he decided to drop out of college and become a wrestler. His father initially tried to deter him, but eventually ceded to his wishes and sent him to Canada in 1970 to train under Stu Hart in Calgary. Wisniski remained in Canada for a year, wrestling his debut match in July 1970 against Angelo "King Kong" Mosca (he lost in around five minutes). Six months later, Wisniski relocated to Detroit to complete his training under The Sheik.

Early years (1970-1976)

Initially reluctant to take his father's ring name, Wisniski wrestled as Baby Face Nelson before becoming Johnny Fargo, one half of The Fargo Brothers with Don Fargo between 1971 and 1974. The Fargo Brothers initially competed in the Buffalo and Cleveland based National Wrestling Federation before moving on to Texas. They split in 1974 and Wisniski went to Florida, where he began performing as Johnny Valentine, Jr., hopeful that he could live up to his father's legacy. He later changed his ring name to Greg "The Hammer" Valentine, and was billed as Johnny Valentine's brother, not his son, because of fears that the elder Valentine would be thought of as too old to be a legitimate threat. Valentine remained in Florida for a year while also working in Los Angeles and in Japan under Antonio Inoki in 1975 and early 1976.

National Wrestling Alliance (1976-1978)

In August 1976, Valentine debuted in Jim Crockett, Jr. and George Scott's Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling, an affiliate of the National Wrestling Alliance based in the Carolinas and Virginias. Valentine was hired to replace his father, who had been forced to retire after he broke his back in a plane crash in 1975. He immediately began feuding with Johnny Weaver, who he "retired" with a top rope elbow drop. Valentine's elbow drop was promoted as a deadly move, with tapes of him breaking wooden boards with his elbow shown to the audiences before his debut.

Valentine then formed a tag team with Ric Flair, with whom he twice won the NWA World Tag Team Championships and held the NWA Mid-Atlantic Tag Team Championship (between June 30 and August 22, 1977). They first defeated Flair's "cousins" Gene and Ole Anderson on December 26, 1976 in Greensboro, injuring Gene so badly that he had to be stretchered out. They held the titles until May 8, 1977, when the Andersons defeated them in a steel cage match in the old Charlotte Coliseum. Flair and Valentine regained the tag titles from the Andersons on October 30, this time leaving Ole unable to leave under his own power. The team split after they were stripped of the titles in April 1978 by NWA president Eddie Graham as a result of their "unprofessional conduct". Flair then set his sights on the NWA World Heavyweight Championship, while Valentine held the NWA World Tag Team Championships once more with Baron Von Raschke in 1978.

At the same time, Valentine feuded with Chief Wahoo McDaniel over the NWA Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight Championship. Wahoo had cost Valentine and Flair their first tag team championships (Wahoo, the then-nemesis of Flair, had been the special referee in the steel cage match), so Valentine was eager for revenge. On June 11, 1977 in Raleigh he defeated Wahoo, breaking his leg in the process. Though Wahoo's legs were too thick for Valentine to apply his signature Figure Four leglock, he managed to break Wahoo's ankle using a Leg/Ankle Suplex. The heel Valentine then began wearing a T-shirt with the slogan "I broke Wahoo's leg" on the front and "No more Wahoo" on the back. Wahoo returned on August 9, 1977 and took back the title. Valentine would hold the title once more, defeating Wahoo again on September 10 and losing to Ken Patera on April 9, 1978.

World Wide Wrestling Federation (1978-1981)

Valentine began working on a casual basis for the World Wide Wrestling Federation, then owned by Vincent J. McMahon, in November 1978. Managed by The Grand Wizard, he was given the gimmick of a methodical wrestler who broke the legs of all his opponents, including Chief Jay Strongbow. In 1979, he faced WWF World Heavyweight Champion Bob Backlund and fought him to a one-hour draw.

Valentine returned to the WWWF, now known as the World Wrestling Federation, for a year in 1981 and continued to pursue the title. On October 19, he was pinned by Backlund, but then handed the title belt by the dazed referee. The title was held up, and Backlund defeated Valentine cleanly in the November 23 rematch. He also feuded with Pedro Morales, who he "injured" by suplexing him on the floor of the arena.

National Wrestling Alliance (1979-1984)

Valentine returned to the NWA in late 1979 and asked Flair to reform their tag team. Flair, by then a face, declined. Valentine held the NWA World Tag Team Championship once more with Ray Stevens in 1980. Four days after their victory, the promoter, David Crockett told Valentine and Stevens that he possessed film which proved that the illegal man had been pinned in the tag match, nullifying the win. When Crockett threatened to send the film to Bob Geigel (then the NWA President) who would overturn their victory, Stevens and Valentine attacked him and cut the film up with a pocket knife, destroying the evidence.

Valentine later claimed to have "seen the light", and reformed his team with Flair, who believed that Valentine was now a face. In a tag match against Jimmy Snuka and The Iron Sheik, Valentine abandoned Flair, leaving him outnumbered. Flair was beaten, and then Valentine snapped Gene Anderson’s hickory cane over his head, legitimately breaking his nose and splitting his lips. The former partners began feuding over Flair's NWA United States Heavyweight Championship, with Valentine finally defeating Flair for the title on July 26 in Flair's adopted hometown of Charlotte. He held the title until November 24, when he was beaten by Flair; Flair became one of Valentine's main opponents in the Mid-Atlantic territory.

Valentine would hold the United States Championship twice more, renewing his feud with Wahoo in 1982 and defeating him for the title on November 4 with the assistance of his manager, Sir Oliver Humperdink. Roddy Piper began pursuing the title, and, after Piper gave Valentine a cake with a dog collar inside, the two had a series of brutal Dog Collar Matches, most notably at StarrCade 1983, where Piper pinned Valentine in a non-title match after repeatedly whipping him with the steel chain. The feud was intensified by Valentine's propensity to focus on Piper's ear, which had been injured earlier in his career and would bleed easily. Piper would eventually defeat Valentine on April 16, 1983, but Valentine regained the title on April 30 in Greensboro, NC; after the match, where he regained the US Title from Piper, Valentine nailed Piper in the ear with US Title. He dropped the title to Dick Slater on December 14, just before leaving the for the World Wrestling Federation.

World Wrestling Federation (1984-1992)

Valentine went to the WWF in 1984, predicting that Vince McMahon's plan for national expansion would succeed. His first manager was Captain Lou Albano, and he was later managed by Jimmy Hart.

On September 24, 1984 in London, Ontario Valentine defeated Tito Santana for the WWF Intercontinental Championship, focusing on Santana's injured knee throughout the match. Santana initially thought he had the match won, but had in fact only achieved a two-count. As Santana was celebrating, Valentine rolled him up for the pin and the title. Following the win, Valentine put Santana in the figure four leglock, reinjuring him. While Santana was sidelined having leg surgery, Valentine feuded with Junkyard Dog, who he faced in a title match at WrestleMania. Valentine pinned Junkyard Dog after using the ropes, but Santana came to ringside and informed the referee, who restarted the match. Valentine then walked out, losing the match by count-out but saving his title. Santana eventually healed and fought Valentine in many matches (after he returned to the ring at Wrestlemania). He went on to win the title back on July 6, 1985 in a steel cage match in Baltimore, ending Valentine's reign of more than 9 months. Valentine, incensed over losing the belt, destroyed it in the steel cage, forcing the WWF to get a new Intercontinental title belt.

Valentine would then form a tag team with Brutus Beefcake known as The Dream Team, managed by Johnny V. On August 24, 1985 the Dream Team defeated the U.S. Express (Barry Windham and Mike Rotunda) for the WWF World Tag Team Championship. They held the titles until April 7, 1986 when they were defeated at WrestleMania 2 by the British Bulldogs. At WrestleMania III, the Dream Team defeated Jacques Rougeau and Raymond Rougeau as a result of interference by Johnny V and Dino Bravo. Upset because of a missed move by Beefcake during the match, Valentine left with Bravo and abandoned Beefcake, resulting in Brutus turning face later on in the night.

Replacing Beefcake with Dino Bravo, Valentine formed The New Dream Team. Valentine was unhappy about teaming with Bravo, who he felt he had little chemistry with. After the WWF asked him to "kidnap" Matilda, the bulldog mascot of the British Bulldogs, Valentine resigned. He was brought back soon after, with Jimmy Hart as his new manager, but was used in a much diminished role between 1987 and 1990.

In 1988, Valentine feuded with newly turned face Don "The Rock" Muraco, after Valentine viciously attacked Muraco's manager, former WWF World Heavyweight Champion "Superstar" Billy Graham. Graham, walking with a cane, tried to intervene when Valentine held the figure-four leglock on jobber Ricky Ataki, after already winning the match. Valentine then put the figure-four on Graham, who had a plastic hip.

Valentine was entered in the World Heavyweight Championship tournament at WrestleMania IV, where he defeated Ricky Steamboat before losing to Randy Savage, the eventual winner of the tournament. In April 1989 he began feuding with "Rugged" Ronnie Garvin. Two weeks after WrestleMania V, he defeated Garvin in a retirement match on Superstars of Wrestling by reversing a small package and holding on to the ropes. Garvin became a referee until Valentine and Hart managed to have him fired. Garvin then became a ring announcer, and began aggravating Valentine. At SummerSlam 1989 he announced Valentine as being "thirty pounds overweight" as he approached the ring for his match with Hercules, and then announced Hercules as the winner when Valentine cheated to win. Valentine eventually demanded that Garvin be reinstated so that they could fight in the ring.

For some time Valentine had been wearing a shin guard, which he would rotate (so it covered his calf, not his shin) in order to increase the pressure exerted by the Figure Four Leglock. He referred to the shin guard as the "Heartbreaker". Valentine would also (illegally) attach the shin guard to his arm in order to accentuate his elbow drops. In the course of the feud, Garvin countered with a rotated shin guard of his own, which he dubbed "the Hammer Jammer". The feud culminated in a submission match at the 1990 Royal Rumble. Garvin utilized the "Hammer Jammer" during the match, using it to "counter" Valentine's Figure Four Leglock when Valentine applied it on Garvin during the match. Valentine managed to remove the "Hammer Jammer" from Garvin's leg with help from his manager Jimmy Hart after which Valentine systematically wore down Garvin's leg, but eventually lost after Garvin hit him with the Heartbreaker and applied a sharpshooter, forcing Valentine to submit.

Shortly after, Valentine dyed his hair black and formed a tag team with The Honky Tonk Man known as Rhythm and Blues that was managed by Jimmy Hart. Rhythm and Blues feuded with The Bushwhackers and The Hart Foundation, but were overshadowed by the Legion Of Doom, who were by then dominating the tag division.

Valentine turned on Honky Tonk Man and became a face in December 1990. On January 19, 1991 Valentine participated in the fourth annual Royal Rumble match, where he lasted forty four minutes. He was to feud with his former partner, the Honky Tonk Man, but Honky left the WWF before the feud could begin. Valentine lost to Earthquake at WrestleMania VII, and was defeated again at SummerSlam 1991 by Irwin R. Schyster. He participated in the 1992 Royal Rumble, where he attacked his old rival Ric Flair before being eliminated by Repo Man.

World Championship Wrestling (1992)

Conscious of his diminishing status, Valentine left the WWF and signed with World Championship Wrestling in 1992. He formed a tag team with Terry Taylor for six months and the duo went on to win the WCW United States Tag Team Championship. After Taylor was fired, Valentine was left without an angle, and eventually resigned in late 1992 when he was asked to lose to Sting.

World Wrestling Federation (1993-1994)

He reappeared in the WWE at the 1993 Survivor Series under a mask as The Blue Knight in an elimination match pitting Shawn Michaels (who was substituting for Jerry Lawler) and his three "knights" (who also included Barry Horowitz as the Red Knight and Jeff Gaylord as the Black Knight) against the Hart Family. He would return again, as Greg Valentine, at the 1994 Royal Rumble.

Independent circuit (1994-present)

Valentine went on to tour the independent circuit, wrestling in Japan, with the Hamilton based International Championship Wrestling promotion and with the American Wrestling Federation. Starting in the summer of 1996, Valentine made several appearances with WCW over the course of the next two years. He was used on a pay-per-appearance basis, but was rarely utilized and was allowed to continue wrestling on the independent circuit. On October 10, 1999 he appeared on the infamous Heroes of Wrestling pay per view, pinning George "The Animal" Steele with the assistance of Sherri Martel. He wrestled on the 2000 tour of the United Kingdom in which Yokozuna died. He was also involved with the short-lived X Wrestling Federation as an investor and as an in-ring performer. In the 2000s, he began reducing his independent dates in order to pursue a career in real estate.

On January 29, 2005 at WrestleReunion, Valentine won a seventeen-man battle royal to become the IWA Heavyweight Champion. He lost the title to Tito Santana at WrestleReunion #2 on August 27 of that year. Valentine also wrestled for several independent promotions, including AWA Superstars of Wrestling, which toured New England. In AWA Superstars of Wrestling, Valentine regularly wrestled Tony Atlas.

In Late 2007 Greg Valentine made an appearance in JCW or Juggalo Championship Wrestling reforming the Dream Team with Brutus Beefcake. in an 8 team elimination match for the then vacant JCW Tag-Team Titles. Where they were the first team to be eliminated after a slightly botched sunset flip from Necro Butcher.

World Wrestling Entertainment (2004-2008)

On March 13, 2004, Valentine was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame by his former manager Jimmy Hart. The following night, at WrestleMania XX at Madison Square Garden, Valentine received loud applause when the class of 2004 was introduced. Shortly after being inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame, Valentine dedicated the plaque he received to his late father by saying: "This one's for you pop, Johnny Valentine". On October 3, 2005, Valentine made an appearance at WWE Homecoming, and on October 23 he was defeated by Rob Conway (then using a gimmick similar to that of Randy Orton's gimmick of "the legend killer") on an episode of WWE Heat after Eugene interfered on his behalf, causing the referee to award a victory via disqualification to Conway. He was present at the Retirement Ceremony of his long-time friend, Ric Flair, on the March 31, 2008 episode of WWE Raw.

Pro Wrestling Ohio (2009-present)

Currently, Valentine makes appearances and wrestles for the Independent promotion Pro Wrestling Ohio, based out of Cleveland, Ohio. He is a former PWO Tag Team Champion with Jim "The Anvil" Neidhart. On the November 8, 2009 episode of PWO on SportsTime Ohio, Valentine reunited the Dream Team with Brutus "The Barber" Beefcake. Valentine recently wrestled at a Midsouth show in Chackbay Louisiana in a benefit show.

Personal life

Greg married Julie on February 14, 1995. He has 2 daughters, Vanessa and Romayne, from a previous marriage to his first wife, who once appeared on WWF TV in 1984 to give Valentine a back rub, which he claimed was the secret of his success. Vanessa began training with the Hart Brothers in the late 1990s. He is a born again Christian, and occasionally speaks at high schools and colleges with Ted DiBiase. He is also a part of Christian wrestling organization, World Impact Wrestling. He is the brother-in-law to wrestler Brian Knobbs.

Valentine once appeared on an episode of Hogan Knows Best as one of Hulk's party guests.

In wrestling

  • Nicknames
    • "The Hammer"
    • "Boxcar" Greg Valentine

Championships and accomplishments

  • Pro Wrestling Ohio
  • Pro Wrestling Revolution
    • PWR Heavyweight Championship (1 time)

1Valentine actually won the title three times, but WWE only recognizes him as a two time champion.

See also

External links

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