This interview, which is the one most eagerly anticipated by yours truely, was conducted in late September by telephone. It is of considerable length and so will be broken up into several segments over the next few months. In this segment the conversation starts out talking about interview styles.
Jeremy Hartley: Well, I think too, I've noticed in interviews that not much research seems to go on. There are a lot of people who don't seem too confident about what they're doing in general quite often, they don't try to research, try to look back because, you know everyone's got a history - and some times their hands are tied with the promotion, with the Big Wigs up in the Towers...but quite often they could really learn how to tell stories. The folks being interviewed coud learn how to tell stories - I can remember listening to some folks, Ole Anderson comes to mind, of course Dusty Rhodes, Terry Funk...uh Arn Anderson...great inteviewees, they could tell a story, open a book and basically tell the story as if they were reading it and I think that's something that's lost, and I think that trickles to the announcers as well.
Gordon Solie: Well sure it does. A classic example, and it's not really all the announcer's fault, its one of the reasons I left Turner. I left Turner for a series of reasons, but Dusty and I and Larry (Zbyszco) were doing the Saturday morning show one day, and we had a pay-per-view coming up, so we're rocking along doing the match, and it happened to be a pretty darn good match, the names are unimportant, but it was a good match - so we got into the spirit of the match - a lot of good counters and what have you, and we dutifully mentioned this upcoming PPV once or twice, I think twice during that period. We got through with it and...meaning no disrespect to your age, but this kid about 24 years old who was the "producer" opened the door to our announce booth and said, "Hey guys, great job, we're going to have to do it again..." "So why do we have to do it again?" "Well, you didn't mention the PPV often enough." Not, "...hey you blew this or you blew that..." but "...you didn't mention the PPV enough..." He said, "We gotta talk about the Pay-Per-View."
Jeremy Hartley: As if they haven't heard it already...
Gordon Solie: Yeah, you don't hear something like that during a football game..."Well the Bears will be at this place next week...oh and by the way - there was a touchdown..."
Jeremy Hartley: This brings up a point. This is why I mentioned the fact that it was so important to conduct an interview with you because you are one of three announcers, in my opinion that has the ability to paint the picture of the match while it is going on and to be able to describe the match to someone who cannot see it. (Editor's Note: Jeremy is blind.) Too often in today's Monday programs, I don't know what the heck's going on (laughs). You hear guys spend too much time talking about this gentleman from Mexico's background and then the PPV the following week, then 30 seconds go by and "...don't forget about the Pay-Per-View." and it gets very very frustrating for me, who has followed the sport for many many years and likes to delve into the historical part of it, and who just likes to enjoy a good match - I never know when a good match is going on anymore...(laugh)
Gordon Solie: Well, bless your heart and thank you for the compliment. Let me tell you the history behind that. It was the greatest compliment I ever had in my life in professional wrestling. I'm sure you are familiar with the late legendary Leroy McGurk. As you may know, Leroy suffered from the vision problem as well, and...and talk about great matches, here was one that stands out in my mind forever and that's the match between Danny Hodges and Hiro Matsuda in Tampa at the Tampa Sportatorium, the World Junior Heavyweight Championship on the line. Hodge was the Champion and Matsuda was the challenger. We were putting it on television which was unheard of in those days, absolutely unheard of that you would take this match and put it on TV...you could draw sell-out crowds with a match like that. Matsuda was red-hot, I think he was the greatest ever to come out of Japan. McGurk came down with Hodge to the television show, and here he is with tremendous visual impairment - in fact I think he might have been totally sightless, I'm not entirely sure...but anyway, I threw my heart and soul into that match because I realized how important it was, I also realized that if a guy like Leroy McGurk were coming down here that it had to have added importance. When I got done with the matches and Matsuda won after about 40 some odd minutes, we broke away for commercials...and I guess I'm the one who invented the line, "We're breaking away for a commercial but the cameras will keep rolling so if anything should happen while we're away we'll bring it too you..." Now it's standard - in those days it wasn't. We got through with the matches and came back into the offices and Cowboy, Eddie and Leroy were all there in the office. And McGurk put out his hand and he said "Gordon?" and I said, "Yes..." as I shook hands with him, he said, "I felt like I could see the match." And that rocked me, it really did...and I thought, "Now this is a segment of the audience that I will never forget again..." So, if a guy shoots in for a leg dive I try to explain to people, "He's shooting in for a leg dive..." and you can see that image in your mind...
Jeremy Hartley: Right...
Gordon Solie: And then if I say, "...he's going for the back leg..." Rather then the "extended leg' and then you can see that picture in your mind. I might not say "...the right or the left leg" but I can say "...the forward extended leg..." Of course a good wrestler always goes for the back leg, because that's the one that the guy can't move - he cannot retreat - he has to pull the other leg back first - and so consequently you've got that added advantage of him being momentarily motionless. But I really appreciate you're making that comment because I've always prided myself on trying to paint a word picture and that's something that's lost these days...
Jeremy Hartley: Yeah, not only in wrestling or sports, but in TV in general these days...in everything...
Gordon Solie: Of course, all my early heroes were people like Bill Stearn, and Red Barber and others. All they had was radio, and I broke my eye teeth on radio where you had to paint the word picture.
Jeremy Hartley: I remember reading a book that Red Barber authored and he talked about reporting what was going on and not necessarily...and this is something that I noticed about you, you're a reporter in the match. You showed excitement when excitement needed to be shown, you did not overblow anything, you did not try to take sides. I though it was kind of funny, we were litening to a few things that you were doing and someone would say something incredibly outlandish...I'm thinking for some reason right now of Austin Idol - and he would say something outlandish as he always would and you'd dismiss it as "Well, whatever you say sir..." and you could sense it in your voice, but again you didn't express any contempt, you did not get excited, or when you did get excited there was a reason.
Gordon Solie: Yeah , well you know I got that from golf...
Jeremy Hartley: From golf..??
Gordon Solie: I did these sort of things instinctually, I don't ever think I sat down and said "this is what I'm going to do..." but you know you'd watch a golf game on television and the guy is up he's going to tee off... "Alright, he's on the third tee, now this is a par 4 it's 415 yard with a dogleg right..." and these guys are just talking right on. "Now he's down, he's now 12 feet away from the cup, if he makes this one he'll be two under par..." or whatever and suddenly his voice is down because he doesn't want it to carry over and to spoil the concentration of the player. I got to thinking, you know it makes sense, if there is nothing happening in the ring, the guys got a side-headlock and he's holding him there, what have I got to scream about? I mean I could say, "Oh look, he's got a side headlock!!" but yeah, he's got a side headlock and now of course, the man is trying to figure out how do I escape from this and what's the next move and all and I'd go into a chain-wrestling reaction or whatever, then if he breaks out, then you can say, "Oh he broke free..." and you can jump with it a little...
Jeremy Hartley: Right... I just happened to think of this sort of out of order, but as far as wrestling announcers, when you broke in of course there were there were a couple of other folks that were doing other sports, but also seemed to enjoy what they were doing, and a guy who comes to mind, I don't know a whole lot about and I'm wondering if you do, is Jack Brickhouse who just passed away not too long ago. Did you ever hear his work, did you learn from him - or did he perhaps learn from you? Or was there any kind of parallel?
Gordon Solie: He certainly didn't learn from me and I never really heard Jack. I worked with Jack , when we started specializing a show for Chicago - we got on the station in Chicago - they would fly Jack in once a week, and he would do some very personal Chicago wrap-arounds and that was of course in the twilight of his career - we respected each other, he had heard of me and I had heard of him - however I must say this, that I really didn't pattern myself after anyone. I think I took a little bit of my delivery style from Bill Stearns and from Red, from some of the other old play-by-play announcers on radio, but as far as modern day television play-by-play people, no, I never did...I certainly never did take anything from like Nat James or some of those guys who made fun of the business. I'll never forget, and this is a story I've told a million times. When I first was going to do the show, Bagly had done it and Jones had done it and others had done it, so when it was my turn, I went to Cowboy, because I had heard some of his comments about how different announcers had treated the business. So I went to him just to make sure I had things straight, and I asked him, "How do you want me to treat this program." And he said, "What do you mean?" And I said, "Well, how do you want me to treat the show? Do you want it sort of light hearted or how..?" He said, "Gordon, I want you to treat the program the same way you treat your paycheck. Very seriously..." And I never forgot that.
Jeremy Hartley is a longtime friend of Solie's and a regular contributer to the newsletter. His "EYE on Wrestling" columns can be found in the "Articles" section of the web site. His previous interviews with Bob Blackburn, Lou Thesz, Bob Ryder and Buddy Landel are currently to be found in the "Interviews" section. You can also hear any of these interviews in RealAudio by visiting Jeremy's web site, Up Close Wrestling
We are treated to scenes fom last weeks program showing Shane McMahon's hubris. He undoes himsef in the process of course, tsk, tsk. Then Kane shows up as the "Holiday Bonus" and devestates DX. The McMahon's are shown approaching the arena. The old man is lecturing his son about the ring time to fire people - they go looking for Mick Foley in the boiler room. He finally attacks from out of hiding and is thoroughly trounced with a snow shovel among other things. Once he is subdued, Vince leans into Mankind's face and tells he will get a Hardcore Title shot tonight. Cut to the arena where Road Dog is doing his schtick in preparation for...
Val Venis vs. The Road Dog - Hardcore Title match - if anyone deserves the title "Hardcore Champ" it is Venis, I suppose. Jesse James has a huge experience advantage here but Val is hard not to like, I must confess - he is a solid wrestler - it matters not, before anything gets started - Test steps in and starts beating on both of them. No decision. Vince appears on the platform to tell the Dog that he has to face Foley later, he gives Waltman a dressing down for his shenanegans and ends a rather manic rant with a promise to "drag" Shawn Michaels to the ring and fire him for not defending Shane last week. In the back, Al Snow is raging and covered in blood...cut to commercial.
Vince is instructing Kane to bring him (Vince) a trophy - a member of DX.
Al Snow (w/Head) vs. Edge - Snow appears to be still covered with blood from the "bloodbath" he took last week! Maybe he can "out-scarey" the Scarey Brothers Lite. This match goes immediately to the floor where Snow dominates his young opponent. Edge can't seem to gather enough energy to knock Snow down. Snow leaves the ring and returns with a chair. He displays it in the corner and gets caught with his pants down. Edge drops him but Snow is not affected. Snow pounds him into the corner then retrieves Head and starts bashing Edge with her. He is disqualified as the Brood arrives followed by the Job Squad - melee ensues. Cut to commercial.
Dennis Knight and X-Pac are discussing something but the announcers won't let us hear what they are saying - then Sable's music plays.
Sable vs Spider Lady (Fabulous Moolah) - Ladies Title match - Moolah just destroys Sable first with a slam then whipping her with the Title belt. The mask comes off and it isn't Moolah...it's Luna! The Oddities show up, subdue Luna, and start questioning her...she shouts, "...it's about me!"
In the back the Oddities are comforting Sable - George Steele pets her arm and drools...
X-Pac vs. The Big Bossman - European Title match - Traylor is gigantic next to Waltman and he is deceptively swift as well. He uses his bulk to crush the smaller man and then snatches up a bearhug. X-Pac gets free but he bounces like a flea of the Bossman. He launches himself right into Bossman's arms for a back breaker across his knee. Bossman stupidly breaks off his excellent attack to climb the corner and miss a splash. Waltman knocks him down with back kicks twice then climbs on hium in the corner. Bossman slumps and gets Bronco ridden then the Corporate Thugs show up. Val Venis decides to get involved as well and so chaos reigns.
Cut to Shane training his Dad for the big Royal Rummble match coming up - Vince screams "I hate Austin!" as he works the weights. He chugs a glass with three raw eggs in it after a lot of pep talk... cut to commercial.
We are looking at the door where Shawn Michaels is likely to appear at any moment.
Goldust/Steve Blackman vs. Owen Hart/Jeff Jarrett (w/Debra) - Jeff Jarrett wins the first exchange over Goldust but then loses the initiative. Goldust sets up a Shattered Dream but then is distracted and surprised. Owen is tagged in followed quickly by Blackman. Blackman just can't find a way to out maneuver his opponent. Owen takes control and...here comes Dan Severn! He still wears the neck brace and confronts Owen and distracts him so that he ends up backing around the outside of the ring trying to explain himself to Severn. Jarrett shoves Debra into the "Beast's" path to distract him while Owen slips back into the ring. He is then so preoccupied that he lets Blackman come from behind and roll him up. Cut to commercial.
In the parking lot the Acolytes are piling Dennis Knight into a car trunk - they get in and drive away then we see replay of them car jacking Knight's own car!
DX makes an entrance in full force - the only way to travel nowadays.
HHH (w/DX) vs. Ken Shamrock (w/Corporate Thugs) - Intercontinental Title match - the ringside area bristles with animosity. Shamrock takes the early advantage then they end up trading punches in the center of the ring. Shamrock gets Atomic Dropped then put into a neckbreaker. He rolls out to regain his composure. He wanders around ringside until HHH grabs him by the hair and drags him into the ring. They struggle for position and HHH keeps his advantage but then chooses to throw a shot at Test who his minding his own business ringside. The result is a distraction that Shamrock exploits. He starts working on the left leg of HHH who is only partially conscious. He snaps awake as Shamrock starts stomping his leg. He gets to his feet and turns the tables - he delivers his high knee but then comes down on his injured leg. Shamrock trips him and grabs the ankle lock sumission hold. HHH creeps to the ropes for the escape but Shamrock is in "the Zone" and won't let him loose. He is DQ'd as Corporate and DX types flood the ring. Kane joins the crowd and DX scatters. Cut to commercial.
Billy Gunn is upset about his falure to win the IC Title last week. Shamrock appears and they have a shouting match before Shamrock turns away and retreats.
Mark Henry (w/D-Lo Brown) vs. - Henry says he has to apologise to his "girlfiend" Chyna for his carryings on with the Pretty Mean Sisters (PMS) the other night. Jacquie and Terri show up and start a rant only to be interrupted by Chyuna who points to Henry and says "Stay away from my man!" She manhandles Jacqueline after Terri skitters out of the ring. She tells Mark, "I'll see you later..." and splits. In the back the Corporate Types are at some develish business as we cut to commercial.
As we return the Thugs are tearing up the scenery looking for someone. Cut to a 1998 Year in Review video. A very nice montage hitting the highlights.
In the back the Thugs are beating up on the Godfather while his garden tools scream. Cut to commercial.
Billy Gunn vs. Corporate Kane (w/stooges) - Billy stumbles over his rant at Ken Shamrock but gets his signature line out with no problems. He was supposed to face the Godfather so now we know... Billy starts fast but gets overrun after a moment. The Big Red Machine in all over the BA man. Kane finally lowers his head too soon and gets smashed to the mat but he just pops right up. Billy is knocked to the floor and struggle to reach the apron - suddenly he is attacked from behind by Shamrock who applies the ankle lock on the floor. Shamrock splits and Kane picks Billy up and transfers him to the ring. He is about to continue his assault when members of DX invade the ring and drag the senseless Billy away. Cut to commercial.
The Rock comes down to join the broadcast team for the main event.
Road Dog vs. Mankind - Hardcore Title match - the Rock keeps up a steady stream of smack and has trouble keeping a straight face when the camera lingers on him for a moment. Shawn Michaels has arrived backstage. Cut to commercial.
The match is underway when we return and Jesse James is doing surprisingly well. Not well enough however - Foley is clearly in charge. He takes the Dog out to the floor and starts bashing him into the ramp. He takes him up to the platform and hits a verticle suplex. Mankind disappears then brings out a fold-up table abd drops it on the Dog. James reels then comes right back - he wrests control of the table - backdrops Mankind and then hits him with the table. He gets a tray of some sort and bashes him with it again and again. Back in the ring he hits Foley with a chair then Russian leg sweeps him onto it. Foley comes right back with a piledriver. Both guys are down. Foley fails at the pin attempt, gets up and repositions the chair then piledrives the Dog again on the chair this time. The fight goes up into the crowd and they end up in a remote booth where Mankind tries to brain the Dog with a TV monitor but misses. They fight some more then Mankind dons socko and grabs the Mandible Claw. Dog is down and out and stuck on a table. Foley climbs to a higher perch then drops an elbow - the table breaks. The Rock leaves the broadcast position to attack Foley with a Rock Bottom on the concrete. The Dog wearily places an arm over Foley and gets the count. Afterward he is digusted when he hears what actually happened.
Mr. McMahon comes to the ring alone and orders HBK to the ring as well. Vince orders the music stopped and then runs tape of Michaels telling McMahon off in the ring last March followed by tape of Michaels holding back the Corporate types while Mankind beat up on Shane last week. He fires Michaels and takes a bar of sweet chin music for his trouble. HBK's music blairs out and he starts stripping until the Thugs swarm out and chase him away. Fade to black...
That's it...no Thunder this week. I will be watching the Nitro special tonight but I figure I've already reported on that stuff so until next Monday -
At least that's the way I see it...
Editor, Solie's Wrestling Newsletter
This page is a personal tribute and is in no way connected to any of the wrestling promotions mentioned on it. It is dedicated to the Dean of Wrestling announcers, Gordon Solie. Copyright 1998 - Jump City Productions