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The Story Of Johnny Graham

Johnny Graham was born into a family that followed wrestling like it was a religion. Graham reflects back to the days of the live Saturday night television shows that were followed throughout the country. Almost as if it were the fuel that caused the world to function. Yes, it was those 8:00pm shows every Saturday night on the local Washington, DC. television station that seemed to this boy was the center to the universe. As Graham got older TV wrestling became pretaped for broadcast at later dates. Although TV wrestling was not near as popular as it is today, the following of the sport was loyal. Of course the "highflying" and "hard-core" action was not near what it is today, still the action was entertaining and exciting to the fans for what it was. Eventually the country was split into three main wrestling territories. The AWA in the Midwest. The WWWF in the Northeast, and the NWA had the rest of the country. Graham was in the WWWF region. He grew up watching stars such as Superstar Billy Graham and the Valiant Brothers. He enjoyed great feuds such as the Spiros Arion turning on Chief Jay Strongbow. Johnny Graham always wanted to become a wrester but was a skinny kid that thought the dream would never come true for him.

In 1978 Graham joined the United States Marine Corps. He traveled to Memphis, Tenn. for Aviation schooling. While there he got the chance to see great stars such as Bill Dundee and Jerry Lawler. Next Graham was stationed in North Carolina. There the NWA Mid Atlantic action was a hotbed of professional wrestling. In 1984 was Johnny Graham got stationed in Honolulu Hawaii. Wrestling was very popular there. There were monthly live wrestling shows, weekly television shows featuring stars of the NWA and World Class Championship Wrestling. Hawaii was a great place to live for the wrestling fan. Finally Graham looked up the number for the local wrestling promotion, World Pacific Wrestling. Arrangements were made for him to meet with them. At the meeting Graham met the president of WPW. Her name was Lia Maivia. She was the grandmother of the well known WWF wrestler of today, The Rock. Although Graham had put on quite a bit of muscle weight since joining the Marine Corps, he still only weighed in at 180lbs. Mrs. Maivia told Graham that when he reached 200lbs to get back in touch with her. Graham knew that his dream could be fulfilled. He hit the gym everyday, he took supplements and ate like there was no tomorrow. Finally one day in March of 1987 Graham stepped on the scale at the base gym and it finally read 200lbs. Johnny Graham wasted no time in calling Mrs. Maivia and the time was set for Graham to start his pro wrestling training.

Johnny Graham reported to the gym at Palama Settlement. Once there he found himself surrounded by at least a half dozen 300lbs Samoans. None of which rushed to greet the new "haley." There were a few young faces that Graham knew were trainees just like himself. Mrs. Maivia came over to the new group of students and introduced them to their new trainers. The first was local fan favorite, 350lb Farmer Boy Ipo. and "Old School" legend Lars Anderson. Graham remembered seeing this man in Georgia Championship Wrestling. He was one of the original members of the Minnesota Wrecking Crew. It was an honor to be trained by him, Graham had thought to himself. The first night of training consisted of three hours of constant Bumping. If the Bumps were not done right the instructors were not at all shy about letting you know. And it only got worse from there. The gym consisted of some weights, punching bags, wrestling mats, and a wrestling ring. The trainees were instructed that they were never to step foot in the ring unless instructed to do so by a trainer. For nearly two months the students trained three days a week on the wrestling mats which were on hardwood floors. they learned moves and countermoves. Finally when they were advanced enough to enter the ring the training got even more intense. After nine months of selling tickets, hanging posters, handing out flyers, and helping to put up and take down the ring at wrestling shows, Graham finally got his big break to wrestle in front of a crowd. It was a TV taping and Johnny Graham had been set to manage his tag team the Hawaiian Dream Warriors, but that night he was needed to substitute for one of the Warriors who had damaged his knee and was going to have surgery. Not only was this Grahams first match but it was also a championship match against the Tag Team Champions, Title Wave. Johnny Graham did well considering that his wrestling talents mainly consisted of his outstanding ability to draw heat from the crowd with his insults and slick talk. Graham was so good verbally that he hosted a local TV wrestling show.

In late 1988 Graham moved to the Pacific northwest, where there were many talented wrestlers. Johnny Graham learned from many of the local greats that included Colonel Debeers, Moondog Moretti, Buddy Wayne, Sandy Barr, and the list goes on and on. The talent roster was thick for the area. Moondog Moretti was able to help get Graham booked as a color commentator for the televised Pacific Coast Championship Wrestling. After PCCW, Graham worked with other promotions in that area and Canada. In 1991 Graham came into Sandy Barr's Vancouver Wrestling USA. There Graham refereed and trained with Sandy Barr. This was the first time that Graham met John Rambo. Although the two never traveled together, Rambo would later in Graham's career show what the love and respect for the business is all about. In 1990 Graham became Tag Team partners with Playboy Buddy Rose. Graham ballooned up to 253lbs. Looking like a smaller version of Buddy Rose, promoters put the two together and called them the Rose Brothers. Johnny Graham's last run in the Pacific northwest was with Dave Dobashi's Universal Independent Wrestling. After the tour with Buddy Rose, Graham lost 59lbs. and was in great shape. Upon Graham's last show in Seattle before leaving for the East coast, Buddy Rose came in and made the save when Johnny Graham was attacked and double teamed by Tommy Justice and Moondog Moretti. The fans in attendance gave Graham and Rose a standing ovation as Graham and Rose shook hands to say goodbye.

It was 1993 in the Northeast and Graham had to start from scratch again, but was quick to find promotions that would use his talent. Johnny Graham teamed with Rob Noxious and won several Tag Team Championships. In 1995, eight years after he started training to be a wrestler, Graham was wrestling with several well respected groups. Groups such as American Commonwealth Wrestling, Pennsylvania Championship Wrestling, and though he never actually wrestled for ECW, Graham did a lot of behind the scenes work for the group. Johnny Graham was really starting to be able to showcase his wrestling ability. International Championship Wrestling out of NJ, brought in Graham to wrestle such stars as Tony Atlas, Greg Valentine, and Hugh Morrus. Johnny Graham had formed a Tag Team with Johnny Gunn. Graham's biggest break came when New England Wrestling Tag Teamed Johnny Graham and Corporal Punishment against the Sultan and Rakishi Phatu. Pro Wrestling Illustrated covered the match as a special feature. Graham was asked to work with some wrestlers on their tryouts for the WWF. In 1998 graham wrestled Max Crimson with Jim Cornett to see if Crimson had what it took to make it to the Big Show. In 1999 Graham began working some shows out of Maryland for a promoter that he had met in the Pacific northwest, John Rambo. Rambo ran free shows every Thursday night out of a wrestling school that they call the House of Pain. Rambo's students needed experienced wrestlers to work against and he respectfully used Johnny Graham to help his students get that experience.

In 2000 Graham started training female wrestler Tiffani Monroe. Currently it is hard to get a break in the business for wrestlers and managers everywhere. Johnny Graham got Tiffani Monroe booked with Lethal Wrestling Federation in Lebanon, Pennsylvania, but it was with John Rambo and The HoPWF where Tiffani was really able to gain experience to further her career. Johnny Graham still continues to train Tiffani Monroe now in wrestling. In 2001 Graham started working for World Star Wrestling. He has wrestled stars, such as King Kong Bundy and Tito Santana for several of the WSW television main events. On March 17th 2004 Johnny Graham will begin his 18th year in the professional wrestling business. It has probably taken half of those years to come of age, but he has learned a lot. Graham was asked to give a final thought to leave you with. "It is not all glory. Most promoters will treat you great. You learn as you go. Injuries may slow you down for a while, but you keep on going. To all of the promoters that respect the boys and the business, and to the workers that respect each other and the business, I say God bless you."