Former wrestler and manager Johnny Valiant / “Luscious” Johnny V (Thomas Sullivan) was killed on Wednesday morning after being struck by a truck.
The accident occurred early in the morning in Ross Township in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania.
News of the accident was reported by WPXI on Wednesday morning, stating that Valiant ran across the middle of McKnight Road around 5 am when it was still dark out and raining. McKnight is said to be a busy road and Valiant opted not to use the crosswalk section.
Valiant came up through the Detroit wrestling scene and was trained by Al Costello of The Fabulous Kangaroos tag team.
His greatest fame as a wrestler came when he was given the Valiant name and teamed with Jimmy Valiant and would later include Jerry Valiant as well. The team of Johnny and Jimmy would win the WWWF version of the tag titles in May 1974 from Tony Gares and Dean Ho in Hamburg, Pennsylvania and held the titles for over a year before dropping them in May 1975. The duo left and won the San Francisco version of the NWA tag titles in December 1976 from The Royal Kangaroos, Jonathan Boyd, and Norman Frederick Charles III and had a brief run before dropping the titles to Pat Patterson and Pepper Gomez, who were legends in the San Francisco territory. After that run, they won the Georgia version of the tag titles in Atlanta in July 1976
Johnny would return to the WWWF with partner Jerry Valiant (John Hill) to win the tag titles in March 1979 from Tony Garea and Larry Zbyszko at a television taping in Allentown, Pennsylvania and drop them for the final time to October 1979 to Ivan Putski and Tito Santana.
Johnny had a pair of runs with the Indianapolis-based WWA promotion, where he won their tag titles on four separate occasions with Johnny Valiant between January 1974 – July 1978. Johnny would also return to the WWA in 1981 and win the promotion’s heavyweight title in April 1981 but dropped the title immediately afterward.
After his in-ring career ended, he served as a manager in both the AWA and the World Wrestling Federation during the latter’s national expansion period.
Valiant managed Hulk Hogan early in Hogan’s career in the AWA and would become the mouthpiece for Brutus Beefcake and Greg Valentine’s Dream Team unit in the WWF. Later in his WWF tenure, he managed an updated version of The Dream Team with Valentine and Dino Bravo. Valiant was also used to introduce Demolition with the company in 1987.
Valiant was also a regular on commentary during his time with the WWF, which lasted until 1988.
Valiant was inducted into the WWE’s Hall of Fame in 1996 and was 71-years of age at the time of his passing.