Throwback Thursday: The Soulman Rocky Johnson

Rocky JohnsonYou’ve seen him on WWE television.  If you have WWE Network, you could surf through all of his greatest matches, including his epic WWF World Tag Team Championship victory with Tony Atlas.  But did you know “The Soulman” Rocky Johnson once made Memphis, TN his home?

That’s exactly right.  Not only did The Rock start his professional wrestling career in the Memphis-based USWA, but his father first paved the way by making an impact in Memphis.

In this week’s Throwback Thursday, we rewind back to a 1976 News Channel 13 broadcast where Dave Brown conducts the weather but wrestling made the real headline.  The broadcast cuts to footage of the official weigh-ins for the main event at the Mid-South Coliseum that pit then-boxer Rocky Johnson against The King of Memphis Jerry Lawler.  The match was built as a boxer versus wrestler event with special rules in place to make the contest fair.  Take a look, as both Johnson and Lawler answer questions to build their main event match.

Initially, Rocky Johnson trained to be a boxer and even sparred with greats such as Muhammad Ali and George Foreman.  Johnson was always fascinated by professional wrestling, so he decided to make the transition.  He won numerous Championships in his career, including the CWA (Memphis) Tag Team Titles, Southern Heavyweight Championship and the previously mentioned WWF Tag Team Titles.  Johson was also a top contender in the National Wrestling Alliance and had numerous World Title matches with Harley Race & Terry Funk.

“The Soulman” Rocky Johnson returns to the Mid-South on Saturday night March 15th at Resorts Tunica for Revenge at Resorts II Cool.  Johnson will be available for autographs and photos prior to the event, during the VIP Meet & Greet session.  For ticket information, please call 866.706.7070.  You can also visit Memphis Power Wrestling’s Official Facebook Page for more details.

Fun Facts:  Rocky Johnson made history during his professional wrestling career.  Along with his partner Tony Atlas, Johnson was a part of the first African American tag team to win the WWF World Tag Team Titles.  As if that wasn’t enough, Rocky also defeated Jerry “The King” Lawler to win Lawler’s crown!


“Throwback Thursday” is a weekly Memphis Wrestling post at

Dustin Starr is an active sports entertainer and regular contributor to MemphiSport and MSL. Follow him @DustinStarr.


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