After first hearing he would be "The Barber," Brutus Beefcake was none too pleased, but he came to embrace his new nickname.10/26/2016 - 17:15
Where Are They Now? Greg "The Hammer" Valentine
With his golden locks and trademark shin pad wrapped around his boot, Greg "The Hammer" Valentine made an impact in WWE rings for more than a decade. With a career that has spanned more than 30 years, Valentine has seen and done it all in sports-entertainment. In 2004, he was honored for his contributions when he was officially inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame.
As a child, Greg Valentine was constantly surrounded by the business. His father was the legendary Johnny Valentine, who prior to a 1975 plane crash (which also involved Ric Flair) was one of the top stars in all of wrestling. However, until his late teens, Greg had no intentions of following in his father's footsteps. It took an eye-opening road trip with his dad in the summer of 1969 to give the young Hammer the motivation he needed to step into the squared circle.
"I had my sights set on other things," said Valentine. "I never wanted to follow him into the business, until I went on the road with him in '69. The travel was very appealing to me because I was so young," he continued. "Between that, the excitement of the wrestling itself and seeing my father perform to sold-out crowds every night was what inspired me."
Following the road trip, Valentine returned to his home in Seattle where he was supposed to return to school. However, The Hammer soon realized that his heart was no longer in the classroom.
"When I got back to Seattle, I called my dad," recalled the Valentine. "I called him and said that I didn't want to go back to school, and that I wanted to become a wrestler. Soon after, he sent me up to the dungeon in Calgary to train with Stu Hart."
After nearly eight months of zero degree temperatures and intensive "training" from the Hart family patriarch, Valentine returned to the United States where he began the next chapter of his long and storied career. In the decades that would follow, The Hammer won numerous championships, competing with the best in the business along the way. One of his favorite partners and opponents over the years was his good friend, Ric Flair. Valentine jokingly told WWE.com that he still has unfinished business with the Nature Boy.
"Flair was always a good friend, and a friendly enemy," laughed The Hammer. "Of course, I was always better than him at two things, the Figure Four, and falling on my face. In fact, I want to send a personal challenge to Ric for a Retirement Match so I can retire him myself."
Today, Greg Valentine operates out of his home base of 22 years, Clearwater, Fla. No longer committed to wrestling on a weekly basis, Valentine spends as much time as possible working in his garden, talking on the phone, lifting weights in the gym, or relaxing out on his boat. The Hall of Famer was even spotted on a recent episode of the hit VH1 reality show, Hogan Knows Best.
The Hammer still spends a lot of time on the road as well, hosting seminars and getting in the ring with the stars of tomorrow at WWE's developmental territory, Ohio Valley Wrestling. The veteran told WWE.com that contributing to the future of the business is one of the most rewarding experiences of his career, and he hopes to continue doing so as long as he can.
"I'll never be able to do anything else," said Valentine. "I can't teach people how to fly a plane or how to work a computer, my profession is wrestling, and that's what I'm going to teach them. I've learned things in my 35 plus years in the business that you couldn't learn in any school or college, and I want to pass my knowledge on. I'm looking forward to contributing as much as I can."
Aside from working with younger wrestlers, The Hammer is also enjoying the time he spends meeting fans he never got to meet during his many years on the road. Valentine wanted to send a message to those fans.
"I really appreciate their support," said the Hall of Famer. "For a lot of years, I never got to meet my fans because I was so busy. Recently, I've gotten to meet and greet so many of them and it's been great. Everyone has been so nice to me, and it's really been a great compliment. I want to say thank you to everyone."