Welcome back to Rotten Ink. As you can see, we are here again at the Rotten Ink Arena and the house is packed! I mean they could not shoe-horn another fan in here as the topic of this “R.I.W Wrestling Legend” update is who brought them all in here. Mr. Wrestling II is a true icon of wrestling and is one of America’s most popular masked grapplers of all time! Yeah, he really is considered one of the best wrestlers in general from the Golden Age of wrestling and this is one update that should be a fun one as I can remember seeing some of his matches as a youngster and I cannot wait to revisit his matches. So if you are ready, grab yourself a soda pop as the matches are about to start.
Mr. Wrestling II was trained by Pat O’Connor and Tony Morelli and started his in-ring career in 1955. He was going under the named Johnny Walker and would travel around the territories and was building a good name for himself as he was a solid worker and promoters took notice of his work,. And because he was so flexible he was even given the nickname “Rubberman” by Texas promoter Paul Boesch who ran Houston Wrestling. In 1964 Johhny Walker would walk away from wrestling and would “retire”. In 1967 Walker would return wearing a mask and going by The Grappler and would work the Indies in Florida until 1972 and was a wrestler that fans took notice of as he was skilled and could work with stars as well as jobbers and get great matches out of both. During his time as Johnny Walker, he had a mixed bag win loss record, same as The Grappler but as both ring names he was booked in some high profile matches. Being semi retired, Johnny Walker would once more be talked into coming back. This time he would go by the name Mr. Wrestling II and would be the tag team partner to Mr. Wrestling, and the two would work both Championship Wrestling From Florida as well as NWA Georgia. The team would fade away and Mr. Wrestling II would continue on and would be a major draw and was one of the most loved wrestlers going at the time and would make promoters so much money when booked on a card as people paid to see him wrestle. During this time he would also take young wrestler Magnum T.A. under his wing, and the pair would work as a tag team and would even have an angle that had Mr. Wrestling II turning on him, due to resentment. The angle was massive and would make both look great in the end. While Mr. Wrestling II was getting up there in age, he still had a few years left in his career as well as a few more federations to wrestle in.
In 1984 Mr. Wrestling II would be hired by Vince McMahon to be part of the WWF as the company was making a big play to expand and take over the world of wrestling and they needed a legend like Mr. Wrestling II for the roster. While working for the WWF he was mostly used on house shows and as enhancement talent putting over younger stars as Mr. Wrestling II was getting up there in age and Vince just wanted him for his name value and to keep him locked up and not working for a competitor. He would end up putting over names like Iron Sheik, Bob Orton Jr., Brutus Beefcake, Chief Jay Strongbow, Jim Neidhart and Randy Savage. Barely seen on TV and too old to be a big star for WWF, his run would come to an end in 1986. Once free from the WWF and with a few more years left in him, he would go into wrestle for Continental Championship Wrestling, Southern Championship Wrestling as well as picking up a few dates working some Indies. And in 1990 he once more stepped away from in-ring action, but would work on final match in 2007 at the age of 73 for Hawai’i Championship Wrestling before fully retiring from the sport. Over his long on and off again career in wrestling, Mr. Wrestling II would capture many titles, build up a massive fan base and would make money for the promoters who booked him. Sadly Mr. Wrestling II passed away on June 10, 2020 at the age of 85 from unknown causes.
Mr. Wrestling II is hands down one of the most popular masked wrestlers of the classic days of wrestling and is a name that almost every wrestling fan knows as he was truly a journeyman wrestler who worked his ass off in the ring to entertain fans. The one thing about Mr. Wrestling II is that while he was a great wrestler, I do feel he stuck around a little too long and ended up getting wins over some younger talent that he should have been putting over. But when you look back at it all, promoters kept booking him and allowing him to win matches because he was still a draw even when older and his name meant something in the sport and more importantly to the fans. I can even remember seeing him on a old WCW event where Mr. Wrestling II was wearing his mask as well as a suit, funny stuff and reminded me of the old days of El Santo when he rocked the mask and suit combination in films and public appearances. The thing that I also remember the most about Mr. Wrestling II is just how basic he looked as his mask was a simple black and white and nothing special and flashy so nothing like most of the Luchadors have in Lucha Libre, but yet his simple look really worked for him. I also find his career very interesting, as he was a wrestler who retired many times and was talked into coming back by promoters…I mean Mr. Wrestling II seems to be the must reluctant legend in wrestling history! I also love that former President Jimmy Carter has said that Mr. Wrestling II was his favorite wrestler and the two became kind of friends and I also love that he would not remove the mask as he tried to keep his identity a secret. When watching his matches as a kid I always found Mr. Wrestling II to be skilled but a little dated and lacked the flash of the then modern wrestlers of that time. A true masked wrestling legend in the sport and one that has left a huge legacy.
We are now at the point of this review were we will be taking a look at the DVD set and review some of the matches on the discs like always between 4 to 8. I want to thank Coliseum Of Wrestling & Boxing for having this set in stock and also want to thank Mr. Wrestling II for his hard work in the world of wrestling. I also want to remind you that I will only be breaking down randomly select matches from this set and will be breaking down the match and will be rating the matches on a 5 Star rating system. I also only choose from Single matches as I want to break down his matches that showcase his style. Here is what the stars mean ½ Means a really terrible match, * Means a bad match, ** Means a below average match, **1/2 Means a good average entertaining match, *** Means a good match, **** Means a great match, ***** Means an epic match. So if you are ready let’s step into the ring with Mr. Wrestling II.
Best Of Mr. Wrestling II
Match 1: Mr. Wrestling II vs. Buzz Sawyer
Buzz tries to get the jump on Mr. Wrestling II before the bell but instead eats a punch to the gut and then Wrestling II delivers a big backdrop to Buzz. But then the Masked Superstar who is in Buzz’s corner grabs Wrestling II’s robe and rips it apart at ringside, and Buzz does his best to make sure that Wrestling II cannot get out of the ring to stop it. Buzz keeps tackling Mr. Wrestling II who is able to get off a few hits and after the robe is destroyed Buzz leaves the ring, and the bell is rings and Mr. Wrestling II wins by DQ. A short and lackluster match when it comes to wrestling as a few punches, takedowns and a backdrop is all you get, but the story telling from Mr. Wrestling II, Masked Superstar and Buzz Sawyer is really good as you can feel the hatred and emotion come from Wrestling II as he cuts a promo on them after the match. Sadly it’s a super low rating for the match but for storytelling I will give it at least one star.
Match 2: Mr. Wrestling II vs. Paul Garner
Mr. Wrestling II starts off the match by locking on a headlock on Paul in the center of the ring and ever after Paul breaks loose for a moment he is quickly placed right back into the hold. Once out of the hold Wrestling II then beats Paul in a test of strength and then starts working on his arm with an arm lock. Paul escapes and lands a few hits onto the chest of Wrestling II and then throws him into the ropes only for Wrestling II to take the lead on the match again dropping Paul with only one clubbing hit to his back. Wrestling II then body slams Paul and as he is getting up Wrestling II hits him with his knee lift finisher and is able to get the three count after splashing on top of him with a weird awkward dive. This match is pretty much a squash match as Paul Garner tries his best and fails to do anything of real value to Mr. Wrestling II who shrugs off every attack and just rest holds his way to victory as the fans cheer for him to win. Not much to say really about this match besides Paul looks like a jobber, Wrestling II looks like a vet who still wants a top spot in the company and what you get is a very lackluster middle of the road match with no storytelling and no real heart.
Match 3: Mr. Wrestling II vs. Larry Higgins
As soon as the bell rings Larry Higgins tries to go on the attack but Mr. Wrestling II is to smart for him and dodges all of his attacks with ease. And then Wrestling II gets Higgins down and starts working on his leg with stomps and after getting him in a leg lock Higgins can only save himself by getting to the ropes. But just as quick Wrestling II takes Higgins down again for a leg lock and is really putting pressure on it, and like before getting to the ropes is the way the hold is broke. And again Wrestling II gets him down and works on that leg, Higgins tries punching Wrestling II in the face in order to break the hold and it works for a second before he is back working the leg until another rope break. Higgins has had enough and after a cheap shot on Wrestling II he starts pounding on the masked man, but the comeback only lasts a few seconds before Wrestling II is once more working over his leg and then hits Higgins with his Knee Lift and gets the pinfall victory. This boring technical rest hold match will at the start make you wonder if you are stuck in that movie Groundhog Day as the loop of Wrestling II’s leg hold and Higgins rope break plays out way to many times and makes for a very bland start of the match. And sadly it never really picks up as Mr. Wrestling II just keeps up with the leg locks and after a brief “explosion” of stomps and punches hits his Knee Lift finisher and gets the win. And by this point while Mr. Wrestling II is a good old school wrestler its clear he is passed his prime and has slowed down in his moves and is working slow paced matches. Larry Higgins looks like a total jobber in the match as he barely gets any moves off and when he does Mr. Wrestling II barely sells for him and just keeps making Higgins look foolish. Not much more to say besides a pretty boring bout that was pretty much a squash match. But again have to say the fans love Mr. Wrestling II and the chat of two rings out after he wins the match.
Match 4: Mr. Wrestling II vs. Mike Bond
Mr. Wrestling II stops all the takedown attempts from Bond from the start, but Bond is able to get an arm bar that is quickly escaped by Wrestling II. Bond then gets a headlock and like the arm bar Wrestling II escapes and he then puts Bond in that hold. And while in the headlock Bond tries his best to break free but Wrestling II keeps the hold on tight, and even after a suplex Mr. Wrestling II will not break the hold. Mr. Wrestling II then suplexes Bond and hits him with the Knee Lift and gets the win via pin. Once more this is a pretty boring match of Mr. Wrestling II holding a headlock on his opponent for most of the match and this time around he even makes himself look like Superman as nothing Bond does can really hurt him or break his holds, and the crowd for this match are pretty much dead and some of their faces show the boredom they have for this mostly one hold show. Mike Bond tries to put up a fight and tries to not look like a total Jobber but Mr. Wrestling II is not having any of that as he does his best to make Bond look like a weak fool. Mr. Wrestling II does a few moves and lots of them are headlocks and the commentators try their best to put him over as one of the best of all time, while I get that he is old school he just comes off so boring and also slightly ego driven in his matches that are just about how skilled and great he is. Over all another boring pretty much squash match that is clearly to put over Mr. Wrestling II, who I wish would allow these guys to do some offense in order to make these matches a little more of a contest and less one sided.
Mr. Wrestling II is a classic wrestler who was super skilled and was a draw from the start and put on some great matches with many now legends of the sport, but I also feel he was very much a product of his time as most of his matches was rest holds and mat work that I feel like modern fans would not be so into today. While I clearly respect Mr. Wrestling II, the four matches I watched at random for this review do not due him justice as most of them are super boring and do not tell a story at all besides that of a legend who wanted to keep is spot in wrestling and would make the younger wrestlers he faced look like jobbers. But as you can see, the matches are over and the Rotten Ink Arena is closing up for the night so I think it’s time he we head out, but before we do I would like to let you friends and readers know that the next update will take us out of the squared circle and into the world of Horror Movies as we take a look at the direct to video release Survive This! So until next time read a comic or three, watch a wrestling match or two and as always support your local wrestlers. Oh and Survive This! is all about ghost pirates.