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Rocky Johnson

Rocky Johnson

name: Wayde Douglass Bowles
Born: August 24, 1944
Died: January 25, 2020
Billed height: 6’2”
Billed weight: 243 pounds
Spouse was Atta Maivia, daughter of Peter Maivia. Together they are the parents of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson

Major Titles Held

NWA Georgia Heavyweight Championship
NWA Florida Heavyweight Championship
NWA Southern Heavyweight Championship
NWA Americas Heavyweight Championship
NWA United States Championship
NWA Pacific Northwest Championship
WWF Tag Team Championship
NWA World Tag Team Championship (Big Time Wrestling’s version)
NWA World Tag Team Championship (San Francisco version)
NWA Florida Tag Team Championship
WWE Hall of Fame Class of 2008

Canada (1964-1968)

Rocky Johnson began his wrestling career in Canada. In May of 1966, he wrestled for Maple Leaf Wrestling in Canada. In February of 1967, he went to NWA Vancouver and in April, he won the Canadian Tag Team Titles with Don Leo Jonathan by defeating Chris and John Tolos, but lost them back three weeks later. Johnson went to the Atlantic Grand Prix promotion from May-September of 1968.

Big Time Wrestling (1968-1969)

Rocky Johnson next went to The Sheik’s Big Time Wrestling promotion in October of 1968 through December of 1969. While there, he also made appearances for the WWWF, Maple Leaf Wrestling, and NWA Hollywood.

NWA Hollywood (1969-1971)

Rocky Johnson started wrestling mainly with NWA Hollywood in December of 1969. In January of 1970, he defeated The Great Kojika for the NWA Americas Heavyweight Championship. He lost the title in March of 1979 to Fred Blassie, but regained it in May, lost it back to Blassie in June. Johnson left the territory in January of 1971.

Big Time Wrestling (1971-1974)

Rocky Johnson returned to Big Time Wrestling in January of 1971. In September, he teamed with Pepper Gomez to defeat Billy Graham and Pat Patterson for that area’s version of the NWA Tag Team titles. In November, he also won that area's version of the NWA United States Championship. He lost the U.S. title to Pat Patterson in February of 1972. In May of 1972, he and Gomez lost the tag titles to Lars Anderson and Paul DeMarco. In December of 1972, Johnson teamed with Pat Patterson to win them from Anderson and DeMarco. They lost them in April of 1973 to Kinji Shibuya and The Great Mephisto. In September, Johnson and Patterson defeated Shibuya and Mr. Saito for the tag team titles.They lost them in March of 1974 to Kurt and Karl Von Brauner.

Georgia Championship Wrestling (1974-1975)

In October of 1974, Rocky Johnson began wrestling for Georgia Championship Wrestling. In December, he defeated Buddy Colt for the Georgia Heavyweight Championship. In January 1975, he teamed with Jerry Brisco to defeat Buddy Colt and Roger Kirby for the Georgia Tag Team Championship. He lost the Georgia title in February to Abdullah the Butcher. In March, he and Colt lost the tag titles to Assassin #2 and Toru Tanaka.

Florida Championship Wrestling (1975)

In June of 1975, Rocky Johnson began in the NWA Florida promotion. In December, he defeated King Curtis for the Florida Heavyweight Championship.

Houston Wrestling (1976)

He also began wrestling for Paul Boesch in Houston in February of 1976 and won the Texas Heavyweight Championship in March by defeating Stan Hansen. In August, he lost the title to Sigfried Stanke.

Memphis (1976-1977)

On June 26, 1976, Muhammed Ali fought Antonio Inoki. The event was on closed-circuit screens across the country. To take advantage of this, a lot of the promotions had a live card in their territory, followed by the Ali-Inoki fight shown on the big screen. Because there was no internet back then or ways to see other promotions, fans in Memphis did not know who Rocky Johnson was because he never wrestled in that territory. The Memphis promotion took advantage of this by portraying Rocky Johnson as a professional boxer coming in to try and beat Jerry Lawler a few days before the Ali-Inoki event. Johnson was legitimately trying to become a pro boxer in his early career and trained with Ali and George Foreman before becoming a wrestler. Johnson looked the part in training videos leading up to the event, so the angle came off as completely believable. The Johnson-Lawler match in Memphis drew a huge crowd of close to 12,000 fans to see Lawler beat Johnson in a “boxer vs wrestler” match. Johnson returned in November to defeat Lawler for the Southern Heavyweight Championship. In April of 1977, Lawler regained the title.

Florida Championship Wrestling (1977-1980)

Rocky Johnson began wrestling in Florida in July of 1977. In September, he teamed with Pedro Morales to defeat Pat Patterson and Ivan Koloff to win the Florida Tag Team Titles. They lost them in October to Ivan Koloff and Mr. Saito, but won them back in January of 1978. March -November, Johnson also appeared for NWA St. Louis, Houston, Georgia, and Big Time before settling back down in Florida.

Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling (1980-1981)

Rocky Johnson appeared for Mid-Atlantic wrestling in May of 1980 under a mask, billed as Sweet Ebony Diamond. In April 1981, he won the NWA TV Title in a tournament. In May, he lost it to Greg Valentine.

Pacific Northwest (1981-1982)

In November of 1981, Rocky Johnson started for Portland wrestling. He immediately won the Pacific Northwest Tag Team championship with King Parsons by defeating Buddy Rose and Stan Stasiak. They lost them in January of 1982 to Matt Borne and Rip Oliver.

WWF (1982-1985)

Rocky Johnson started for the WWF in June of 1982. He began feuding with Intercontinental Champion Don Muraco in April of 1983. They wrestled all over the territory for the next six months with Johnson unable to capture the title. In November of 1983, Johnson teamed with Tony Atlas to win the WWF Tag Team Championship from The Wild Samoans (Afa and Sika). They lost them to Dick Murdoch and Adrian Adonis in April of 1984. Johnson ended his run in WWF in June of 1985.

PNW/Central States (1986)

Rocky Johnson made some appearances for Pacific Northwest in January and February as well as some shots for Portland in May and June.

Memphis (1987)

Rocky Johnson finished his career in Memphis from April to October.

Post career

Rocky Johnson was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2008

Rocky Johnson is portrayed in the TV show, “Young Rock” whose son, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson serves as one of the executive producers. 

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