WWE Forgotten Legends 2: Greg "The Hammer" Valentine

The Doctor Chris Mueller@@BR_DoctorFeatured ColumnistMay 12, 2010

After an overwhelming victory in the poll, Greg "The Hammer" Valentine has become the next WWE Forgotten Legend in my series.  So here we go...

John Wisniski Jr. was born to pro wrestler Johnny Valentine on September 20, 1950.

As a teenager John wanted to stop going to college and train to be a wrestler like his father.  His father was at first against this notion, but soon accepted that he had influenced his son, and allowed him to train.

John was sent by his father to Canada to train under the wrestling legend Stu Hart.  After training in the Dungeon, Winiski debuted in Canada as Baby Face Nelson in a losing effort to King Kong Mosca.

Wisniski also trained under The Sheik during his early years before finishing his training under Antonio Inoki in Japan.

Not wanting to use his father's ring name, he began wrestling under the name Johnny Fargo.  He competed in a tag team for three years with Dan Fargo called the Fargo brothers. 

Eventually John warmed up to using his father's name, and began being billed as Johnny Valentine Jr.  This was later changed to Greg "The Hammer" Valentine, and announcers referred to him as Johnny Valentine's brother, not son.

This was mainly done to protect his father's career.  Tragedy would soon strike as his father's back was broken in a plane crash in 1975. 

The Hammer was brought in by Jim Crockett Jr. to fill the void left by his father's absence.  He began in Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling, which was an affiliate of the NWA at the time.

Hammer used a top rope elbow drop as his finisher, and he even retired a few opponents with it.

Soon after beginning with the NWA, Greg became a tag team specialist, going on to win over a dozen tag titles in the various promotions he competed in over the years.

His first taste of tag team gold came when he teamed with Ric Flair to defeat Ole and Greg Anderson.  These two teams had a feud that lasted a few years, and ended when the team was stripped of the titles due to unprofessional conduct.  In reality Ric Flair wanted to focus on the world title instead.

After spending years in the NWA and feuding with the likes of Eddie Graham and Wahoo Mcdaniel, Valentine began wrestling for the WWWF.

He had the gimmick of a wrestler who broke the legs of all his opponents, one of which was Cheif Jay Strongbow. 

Valentine had a publicized feud over the World Title with the Champion Bob Backlund.  Backlund never lost the title to Valentine, but he did fight him to a one hour draw.

After unsuccessfully going for the title, Valentine returned to the NWA.  He wrestled as a heel until reforming his tag team with Ric Flair.  Flair was a babyface at the time and believed Valentine had changed his ways.

He was proved wrong when The Hammer left him to be beaten in a tag match against Jimmy Snuka and The Iron Sheik. He later used a cane to break Ric Flair's nose.  The injury was real, but not intended.

After their team disbanded, Flair and Valentine feuded over the US Title.  Valentine defeated Flair for the belt, and went on to feud with Roddy Piper.  Piper and Valentine exchanged title wins before Valentine quit to go work for WWF.

Valentine supported Vince McMahon's idea of a national wrestling company, and began to work for him under the management of the late great Captain Lou Albano.

Greg Valentine set his focus on the Intercontinental title, which was held at the time by the legendary Tito Santana.  Valentine defeated Tito for the title, and injured Santana's knee in the process.

The WWF was looking to introduce a newly designed IC title, so they set up an angle where Valentine would lose the title to Tito Santana in a steel cage match.  Upset over his loss, Valentine destroyed the belt in the cage, making way for the new design.

Valentine would then go on to form tag teams with Brutus Beefcake and Dino Bravo.  His next few years seemed uneventful at best.  He did not win any titles and even resigned after he was asked to do a kidnapping angle involving the Bulldog Matilda that the British Bulldogs brought to ringside.

After returning Valentine was not used in the same capacity he once was, and after the 1992 Royal Rumble, he went to WCW in hopes of a better push.

He would not find it in WCW however, as after his team with Terry Taylore broke up, he was left without and angle, and eventually left to return to WWF.

Upon returning he wrestled under a mask as one of Jerry Lawler's knights at the Survivor series agsint the Hart Family.

At the 1994 Royal Rumble he returned as himself to wrestle in the Rumble.  After leaving the McMahon owned promotion for a third time he began touring

After 1994 he made occasional appearances all over the world for different promotions, but never quite attained the level of success he had in the 70s and 80s. 

His last major televised appearance was at the retirement ceremony of long time roval/friend/partner Ric Flair.

Valentine was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2004 by former manager Jimmy Hart.  During the next night's event of Wrestlemania XX, he received the loudest pop of all the Hall of Famers when introduced.

To wrestling fans Greg "The Hammer" Valentine was one of those guys who was never quite used properly.  He had the potential to be a World Title holder before the Hulkamania craze took over.

Hammer currently lives with his wife Julie.  He is a speaker on behalf of the Christian church, and occasionally appears with Ted Dibiase to speak to the public about being a born again Christian.

Having held 30 titles in his career Greg "The Hammer" Valentine was arguably one of the best heels of the late 70s and early 80s.  His body of work speaks for itself, and for anyone unfamiliar with him, they should check out some of his matches, because he was truly great.

Related

    Inside Hardaway Jr.'s HGTV Obsession

    Featured logo
    Featured

    Inside Hardaway Jr.'s HGTV Obsession

    Yaron Weitzman
    via Bleacher Report

    Kittle Is Emerging as the Next Great TE

    Featured logo
    Featured

    Kittle Is Emerging as the Next Great TE

    Brent Sobleski
    via Bleacher Report

    Yanks Can Pull Off Rare Double Blockbuster 😮

    Featured logo
    Featured

    Yanks Can Pull Off Rare Double Blockbuster 😮

    Zachary D. Rymer
    via Bleacher Report

    Where Does Melo Stack Up All-Time?

    Featured logo
    Featured

    Where Does Melo Stack Up All-Time?

    Adam Fromal
    via Bleacher Report