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The Night Johnny Valentine Taught Me
to Throw the Big Hammer

By Frank Dusek

Johnny Valentine was always known as one tough son-of-a-gun in & out of the ring. Everything he did was stiff, but of all the weapons in his arsenal, the one move fans love the most ... and the wrestlers hated the most ... was his "big hammer".

Valentine would back his opponent up into the ropes. He would drape them across the top rope exposing their chest. Then he'd come down with a crashing flat handed punch, not a slap or chop, called the "big hammer." It was every bit a loud as one of Ric Flair's chops but, like I said, this was a legal, flat palmed punch.

I was wrestling in Texas in the summer of 1979. One night in Dallas, Johnny came into the dressing room. He remembered me from the Carolinas & it wasn't long before he had me in a corner, giving me advice. Even though he was paralyzed from the waist down & on crutches, this man had forgotten more about ring psychology than most in the sport would ever know! I was like a sponge.

IAfter a few minutes I asked him about the "big hammer." A grin came across John's face and I swear the hairs on his arms bristled with "goose bumps." He stood me up, bent me over and, in the course of his explanation, let me have several. My chest was blood red. I was bruised for weeks afterwards!

But to his credit Valentine took as many as he gave. We stood there in the dressing room trading "hammers" for the better part of twenty minutes. The old timers just chuckled about "JV finding another sucker to play with" while most of the young boys, not wanting to get drawn into our "slugfest," tried to stay out of sight.

Finally it was time for me to go to the ring. The fans gave me a ton of crap in the ring about my chest. Like I said, it was very obvious that I had been involved in something where I probably hadn't come out on top.

I don't remember who I worked with that night but to paraphrase Mr. T, "I pity d' fool".

Frank Dusek is a second-generation wrestler from one of the most famous wrestling families ever. He had a solid career as a wrestler and later managed several wrestlers to major titles. He also spent time as a broadcaster, promoter and matchmaker. His first memories of the wrestling business are selling programs for his father when he was 4 years old.

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1999 Content: Frank Dusek, Mark Nulty
1999 Design: Jan Herod
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