Tuesday, February 22, 2022

Johnny Weaver debuts as co-host of World Wide Wrestling (1979)

by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

One of Mid-Atlantic Wrestling's most beloved color commentators in the 1980s was the "Dean of Professional Wrestling" Johnny Weaver.

Johnny Weaver and Rich Landrum
World Wide Wreslting at WRAL
(Photo courtesy of Wendi Weaver)

Weaver first became the co-host of World Wide Wrestling in late 1979 alongside show host Rich Landrum. The two formed a very popular duo for the next few years. Landrum left the show in 1982 and Weaver continued co-hosting World Wide with new host David Crockett until 1984 when Tony Schiavone stepped in as co-host with Crockett. Weaver then moved over to Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling with longtime host Bob Caudle, and the two continued as a team on into the late 1980s, as the show transitioned to the new name of NWA Pro Wrestling

Weaver's first show as Landrum's sidekick was on the November 25, 1979 episode of World Wide Wrestling, the first weekend after Thanksgiving. The audio of his introduction can be heard below. Weaver was still active as a wrestler at that point, and would tell Landrum on air that he might not be there every week, but would try to be there most weeks. As it worked out, he was indeed there most weeks and gelled right away with Landrum. 

Weaver even developed his own shtick, paying homage to "Dandy" Don Meridith's bit of singing "Turn Out the Lights, the Party's Over"on Monday Night Football during that era. Usually once a week, Weaver would sing the opening lines of the song just as a popular babyface wrestler was getting the pinfall on World Wide.

"Turn out the lights, the party's over. They say that all good things must end."

Indeed all good things did come to an end, and when the Crockett family sold the company to Ted Turner in late 1988, Weaver was not retained, and one of wrestling's most popular color commentators was heard no more. Wrestling was never as much fun after that.

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Listen to this vintage audio recording of Rich Landrum introducing Johnny Weaver as his co-host on Wide World Wrestling, airing first on November 25, 1979. (Audio from the collection of Gary Wray.)