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Using your Head can be a Bad Idea

By Mark Nulty

When you ask wrestlers of the 70s and 80s who were the toughest wrestlers in the sport, one name that comes up consistently is Wahoo McDaniel.

Wahoo McDanielMcDaniel was one of the stars that defined tough wrestling in that era. His matches with Johnny Valentine in both Texas and the Carolinas are legendary for their brutality. When you saw these two slug it out, you believed in wrestling. As hard as these two hit, you had to believe.

I got a first hand demonstration as to just how tough Wahoo McDaniel is.

In the mid-80s, a San Antonio charity promoted a wrestling card and hired Joe Blanchard and me to put it together. We needed a star for the main event and Joe quickly called Wahoo, who was a legend in south Texas.

The night of the card, McDaniel’s opponent, Manny Fernandez, didn’t show up. Kenny Johnson was doing well locally wrestling as the Spoiler and even got Don Jardine’s blessing to use the Spoiler trademark. Ken Johnson is a tough veteran wrestler in his own right. In fact, Johnny Valentine had trained Johnson. Surviving Johnny Valentine’s training is a testament to Johnson’s toughness all by itself.

I was refereeing the match and the two were trading some serious haymakers. Wahoo, always a professional, wanted to make sure the crowd wasn’t disappointed because of the substitution. He decided he wanted to "get some color." Because he had been bleeding every night, it didn’t take much to open up his forehead.

Wahoo called for Johnson to head-butt him. Johnson whacked him hard. Nothing. Wahoo called for it again, "Harder." Johnson butted him again. Still nothing. Wahoo gritted his teeth and hissed, "Harder!!!" Johnson leaned way back and hammered him. I looked at Wahoo, nothing.

I looked at Johnson. Through his mask I saw Johnson’s eyes roll to the back of his head. Johnson staggered back and started to lose his balance. When I refereed I made it a habit to circle the guys when they were stationary. I picked up my pace a step so I could move behind Johnson and, as non-chalantly as possible, put my hand in the small of his back. Johnson braced against my hand and steadied himself.

Fortunately, Johnson was tough enough that he recovered from momentarily knocking himself silly, shook it off and continued the match.

Mark Nulty is a professional journalist that has been in the professional wrestling industry since the mid-80s as an announcer, referee and promoter.

 

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1998 Wrestling Classics: Frank Dusek, Mark Nulty
1998 Design: Jan Herod
Created: October 1998