The Night Johnny Valentine Taught Me
to Throw the Big Hammer
By Frank Dusek
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".
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
don't remember who I worked with that night but to paraphrase
Mr. T, "I pity d' fool".
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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