BREAKING: “Luscious” Johnny Valiant Dead at Age 71

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Photo: WWE

It was reported today by a local Pittsburgh news affiliate WXPI that a local man hit and killed by a truck this morning has been identified as former wrestling great “Luscious” Johnny Valiant. It appears that Valiant, real name Tommy Sullivan, tried to cross a busy street and was struck by a passing truck. The truck pulled over and the driver was compliant with local law.

Johnny Valiant (on left), manager Cpt. Lou Albano, Jimmy Valiant (Photo: WWE)

Johnny Valiant grew up in Pittsburgh a fan (and soon to become friend) with local wrestling legend Bruno Sammartino. Trained by Al Costello, he started in 1967 working in the Detroit territory of the NWA, working under The Sheik. Alongside his ‘brother’ “Handsome” Jimmy Valiant, they paired as The Valiant Brothers, working in Dick The Bruiser‘s WWA, the AWA, NWA territories and even the WWF. Johnny was a 4x WWA Tag Team Champion, 2x WWF Tag Team Champion, as well as holding multiple regional NWA Tag Team titles. He retired from the ring in 1981.

Photo: WWE

He returned to the WWF in 1984, first as Johnny V, the partner-manager of a pre-Barber Brutus Beefcake. While he would wrestle sporadically, he was successfully transitioned into one of the Rock N’ Wrestling Era’s most hateable managers. He paired Beefcake with Intercontinental Champion Greg “The Hammer” Valentine as The Dream Team (in a partnership with Valentine’s manager, Jimmy “Mouth of the South” Hart), winning the WWF World Tag Team titles. When Valiant and Valentine eventually turned on Beefcake, they replaced him with Dino Bravo in The New Dream Team.

Following the end of the Dream Team, he would be the first manager to introduce the tag team of Demolition to the WWF, before Mr. Fuji assumed managerial position months later. He left the WWF in 1988, returning to the AWA, where he would guide one last team to World Tag Team gold, The Destruction Crew (Wayne Bloom & Mike Enos, the duo would leave for the WWF in 1991 and be repackaged as The Beverly Brothers), before retiring from the industry and becoming a stand up comedian and spoken word performer. He was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame Class of 1996.

Our condolences to the entire Sullivan family and Luscious Johnny’s many fans around the world.

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Jamie Greer is the Managing Editor and lead writer for Last Word on Pro Wrestling. A lifelong wrestling fan who started with the WWF in the early 80's, he now follows everything from the smallest indie to WWE. He's also written for WrestleZone, The Windsor Star, Windsor Independent and other publications. He lives in Windsor, Ontario, Canada, with his wife and son.

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