Gordon and Jeremy were talking about how he developed his demeanor in a period when a lot of wrestling commentators poked fun at the wrestlers and their craft, Gordon was told to treat it "...seriously as his paycheck"!
Gordon Solie: I was admonished to do that and that's the way I maintained it ever after...I never found anything particularly humourous about doing this sport, it was very serious business and he was right - I worked for that paycheck every week...
Jeremy Hartley: Right, that's serious business (laughs)
Gordon Solie: Although at that time, the money was not...
Jeremy Hartley: (laughs) right...now you were saying that Cowboy and Eddie Graham were partners for a while, you don't hear a lot about Cowboy, you hear about Eddie Graham - a big mind in the business - but I guess you could say that Graham was Cowboy's protege..? Did he groom Eddie to become the new owner...uh once he "passed" etc., etc.
Gordon Solie: Too a degree, yes, but Eddie was one of the great, great minds in the sport. Eddie brough a sophistication to the sport that had never been seen before. Eddie would tell the wrestlers that when they came into our area the rules and regulations for wrestling in Florida, and one of his admonishments every time was, "...and there's one thing you don't do...you don't touch the announcer. You leave him alone. He's not going to insult you, he's not going to mess with you...so don't mess with him." A lot of these guys were used to being in a territory where they could push the announcer aside or grab the mic out of his hand, you know, and treat them basically like a piece of dirt. These guys obviously didn't respect the announcer, and didn't expect the announcer to respect them. And Eddie would always close it out too by saying, "You know..." If anybody questioned him on it, he'd say, "...do you plan on drawing any money with him?"...and that pretty well put everybody in their place.
Jeremy Hartley: yeah...
Gordon Solie: You put a 270lbs. super hero in wrestling, and he's standing next to a 5 foot eight and a half, 160lbs. announcer. The announcer's having to hold the microphone up over his own head just to get the words from the wrestler - what sort of a contest would that be in the ring...it would be nothing at all. The wrestlers were all told never to touch me - a couple of them did...and I can remember in one case, a guy - he was about 6 foot 7 and he forgot where he was - and all he did was ruffle my hair, just reached down and ruffled my hair. He was gone in two weeks...
Jeremy Hartley: Wow..!
Gordon Solie: Eddie was very adamant about that. Well, it makes sense, you don't see NFL football players jumping on the announcer - you don't see it in any other sport, so why should it happen in wrestling??
Jeremy Hartley: Could you talk about some of your color men, like Roddy Piper, for instance.
Gordon Solie: Oh yeah...he was one of the best. Ole Anderson was another guy...he would come along and talk on the sidelines. Of course Ole and I were on the same wave-length...you know we both wanted to protect the integrity of the sport and to guard the logic of the sport. Buddy Colt was another great one that I had - I guess the greatest I ever had was Coach John Heath because I loved it when he'd come on the show with me. Because I got a virtual education...there was an article in our Tampa Tribune recently where they asked what things are missed most these days and which are missed least in the Tampa, Florida area and Championship Wrestling and myself were mentioned. And I don't remember how they phrased it but they said, "...we miss his vast physicological knowledge..." - but I got all of that from Coach John Heath, because John would sit down with me and we'd start doing a show and he would start talking about the deltoids or the trapezius muscle or the latisimus dorsii - you know and he's the one who got me into the anatomy aspect. And then I begun to do a little study on the anatomy - learning about the quadriceps fimorus muscle and the curciate ligiments and all of this - the places where injuries were most likely to occur and - again is a good thing when you think about it...now, today is pretty commonplace because we are so much better educated now. But, when I was doing it, it was really sort of a pioneering effort - the body builders knew about it, physicians knew about it. I'll never forget I got corrected by a Med student at the University of Georgia. I mentioned one day about the thirty-three vertabre - I guess it was a piledriver or something and mentioned the "effect that could have on all 33 vertabrea..." I got a nice letter from this kid and he said, "I watch your show every week and enjoy it.." and so on. Your knowledge about anatomy and all but I would like to remind you that there are only 26 movable vertabrea, the last 7 of them are fused..." And so I went on the air the next week and commented that I got a letter and I stand corrected that, yes there are 33 vertabrea but 7 of them are fused and immovable from the standpoint of independent action. So that's another point - why not admit my mistake? Not quite like the apology that (President) Clinton gave the other night.
Jeremy Hartley: You know there was something that was an important milestone, not just in wrestling history but in television history and that was when wrestling was beamed on the satelite, and of course you were right in the thick of it. It must have been very exciting to be being beamed off the Earth and into space - but what did you see happening? What was that like? Did you notice any changes..?
Gordon Solie: Oh yeah, it was amazing. Ted Turner and I would talk about it - before we went on the satelite we could never break a million people, we could never break it. And this was also before the meter, this is back in the days of the old "diary" system for checking audiences. For some reason we had never been able to break a milion - we went to the meter system, we'd been on the satelite just a short time, anyway - we just couldn't break the barrier. I'd see Ted almost every Saturday because he loved wrestling and he's come down and watch the show, or come and watch part of it, what have you, and after the show we'd chat. We went on the metering system and the audience almost doubled the first time around - and the impact still hadn't hit me until my wife and I flew on a vacation out to San Francisco and then up to Seattle. We got up in the Space Needle in Seattle to have lunch, and I was sitting there with my wife and we were kibbutzing back and forth and enjoying the view and all of that. And I said, "Well, this is one nice thing - this far North and West we won't have to worry about anybody interrupting our meal..." and I hadn't said the words, "...interrupt our meal..." when a kid about 15 or 16 came over to the table and said, "Can I have your autograph please Mr. Solie?" And then it began to hit me that it wasn't Atlanta and it wasn't Florida and it wasn't the East coast - this was all over the country. And then I started getting commentary from Japan and from all over.
Jeremy Hartley: Right...
Gordon Solie: Then of course...Turner is a genious, and although I was not working for him at that time I did end up working for him, you know, up until '95 when I retired...I said that before and I said it after - the guy has led the field in the broadcast industry, he's been 5 years ahead of himself all the way down the line. When he first bought a piece of the satelite I heard a lot of people say, "Well, he's nuts..." yeah, well he was "crazy like a fox" - he's set the standard now, you know, MSNBC, FOX and everybody else - they've all emulated him, exactly what he did. And he recognised wrestling then, because I was the lead in for his Atlanta Braves which became the "Nation's team", you know...
Jeremy Hartley: Yeah, that's right. They'd have the Braves games right after that. Now were those shows done live, or did you tape those programs?
Gordon Solie: No, those shows were taped at 10 in the morning and then playe back around 6 in the afternoon.
Jeremy Hartley: And that was in an actual studio at the time?
Gordon Solie: Right...
Jeremy Hartley: And how many people...because I noticed they did this in Memphis as well, those fans were vocal! I mean, they made more noise then quite often the packed houses, I mean they loved their wrestling...
Gordon Solie: Well, they were right on top of it, and they were much easier to control. We didn't have to hold up "applause" signs or "boo" signs or what have you (laughs). These people reacted very normally and naturally and they were in very close quarters, you know we could only put...I don't know, maybe a hundred and fifty would be the most we could get into that little studio.
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
This edition comes from the Anaheim Pnd where the Royal Rumble will take place tonight. Steve Austin arrived in his truck and was denied entrance to the VIP parking area because he didn't have a limo. He cursed the guards and peeled out as he drove away.
The McMahons with stooges in tow approached the ring. Vince makes a speech, first demanding respect then starting to talk about his "reputation as a street fighter" when he is cut off by a commercial.
As we return, Vince is announcing a "tune up" match for Mankind prior to the PPV against a mystery opponent. The crowd chants "a$$hole!" He set a time limit on when Austin had to be in the arena before he is automatically taken out of the Royal Rumble.
The Job Squad (Bob Holly and Scorpio) had a tag team match against (Ambiguously Gay) Too Much and win it only to be assaulted by the Undertaker's thugs after the match. The lights then went out and UT came out to treat us to one of his incredibly silly speeches. In the back, Mankind reponded to Shane McMahon's taunts by saying that it would be the Rock who screams "I quit!".
Sable came out for an interview and was attacked by Luna who injured the Champion's back. After the break there was speculation that she won't be able to perform at the PPV later.
Austin showed up just under the wire driving a limo style funny car and bashed his way into the arena with it. McMahon waited for him in the ring and then slapped Austin when he arrived. Then he split, of course. Austin declined to chase him, and instead celebrated with the crowd.
Mankind vs. Mabel - Mankind's mystery opponent is obviously Mabel (who I have heard is coming back to the WWF) with a stocking mask over his head. He is dressed all in black. We cut to commercial as Foley makes his entrance.
The match gets underway as we return. Mabel is moving pretty slow as usual and seems to be taking more then he is giving. The fight on the floor then return to the ring where Mabel gains the upper hand. So far Mabel has not been identified to the viewing audience for who he is. Michael Cole mentions that Jim Ross is backstage. In the ring Mankind gets a DDT. He puts Mr. Socko onhis hand then pulls up the mask to apply the Mandible Claw, revealing Mabel's identity. The Rock and Shane run in and Mabel holds off the referee while Maivia beats on Foley. In the back, Mr. McMahon is oiling up with "Man Oil" (as opposed to baby oil). Fade to black.
The usual hype begins the broadcast. The 1999 WWF Royal Rumble is on the air live from the Arrowhead Pond in Anaheim, Califonia.
Road Dog vs. The Big Bossman - Special challenge match (non-Title) - Bossman carries his Tag Team Title belt to the ring. He just shoves his opponent to the ground upon their first exchange. The second exchange gives the Dog a chance to run in ans sting Bossman with a punch to the jaw. Bossman bulls him back into the corner and goes to work on him. Then he whips him to the opposite corner and misses the rush. The Dog mounts the corner and beats on his opponent's head. Bossman comes back and the Dog bails out only to grab his opponent's legs from the outside and rams him into the post. Bossman returns with a back elbow that knocks Jesse James to the floor. He follows him out and tosses James back into the ring. Again he pounds him in the corner. The Dog blocks a punch but is put down again, now in the center of the ring. Bossman bets a two count. On their feet again, Bossman grabs a bearhug. The Road Dog bites his nose to escape but he can't follow up and Bossman asserts himself again. He leaves the Dog slumped in the corner and unties on of the corner buckle pads. He then returns work on the Dog's back. They return to the center where Bossman downs the Dog with a fist to the jaw. Bossman is bleeding a little from where the Dog bit him earlier. The Dog ducks a clothesline and applies a sleeper but Bossman escapes and heads to the top where the Dog catches him and slams him to the mat. They trade fists in the center of the ring then the Dog starts to gain ground. He downs his opponent with a flying forearm but fails to get the pin. Bossman comes back with a sidewalk slam and gets the pin.
Ken Shamrock vs. "Baddass" Billy Gunn - Intercontinental Title match - Billy comes to the ring with an injured ankle which he has insisted will not be a problem. The match starts real fast with a flurry by Billy as Shamrock enters the ring. Shamock turns the tables in the corner and whips Billy for a big clothesline. It appears that the corner pad has been retied. Billy comes right back and downs Shamrock then grabs a reverse chinlock. He releases the hold and gets a standing verticle suplex then flings his opponent into the corner. he takes to much time winding up and misses a rush to the corner. Billy smashes a shoulder against the ring post. It is all Shamrock now as he repeatedly applies kicks to the back and chest of his prone opponent. He goes for a pin and gets a two count. Billy slips away and comes back with a leg the back of Shamrock's neck - driving him face first to the mat. Billy bulls him into the corner and pounds on him from above. Shamrock then ducks a body block and sends Billy to the floor. He follows Billy out and pounds on him before posting him. He rolls in to stop the count then returns to smash his victim against the steps. The referee is counting but Shamrock smashes Billy onto a chair then rolls in to break the count again. He drags Billy onto the apron where Billy elbows him in the ribs then slams his face onto the saftey barrier. He smashes his face on the announce table then returns him to the ring. Back in the ring, Shamrock comes back with a kick to the back of the leg and then starts working on the injured limb. He's setting up for his ankle lock submission hold. He turns to the announce table and shouts, "I smell blood!" He grabs a front chancilry, absorbs some fists to the ribs then applies a knee lift and goes back to the chancilry. Billy counters with a suplex and gets a two count but he is out of it. Shamrock re-asserts his control. Billy tries to come back with a clotheslne which takes out the referee. The two then clotheline each other. All three men are down in the ring. Shamrock recovers but here comes Val Venis! He DDT's Shamrock then splits. Billy goes for a pin but fails. He splashes Shamrock in the corner then scoops him for a slam. He climbs the corner then goes for an ax handle but misses and re-injures his ankle. Shamrock grabs the ankle lock and Billy taps out.
Cut to commercial (huh..?) It's for the WWF music album. In the back, Shane McMahon is pumping his dad up for the Rumble.
Gangrel vs. X-Pac - European Title match - so far tonight, DX is 0 for 2. The match starts very fast and X-Pc is in his element. He outmaneuvers his opponent throughout the early going. Then he misses a rush to the corner allowing Gangrel to turn the tables. He elevates the Champ and drops him across the top rope then grabs a reverse chinlock. Waltman escapes but is again overwhelmed by his opponent's superior weight.Gangrel misses a charge and is caught by a spinning heel kick followed by a clothesline. X-Pac gets two. He pounds Gangrel in the corner then rides the bronco. Gangrel comes out of the corner but misses a clothesline - X-Pac gets another round kick. He climbs the corner but is upset there. Back up he goes and gets a splash. He misses the pin but moments later gets the "X-Factor" and the pin.
In the back, members of DX assure us that it will be 'every man (and woman) for him (her) self.
Shane McMahon comes to the ring to introduce Luna, who attacked Sable earlier on Heat. he claims that the Womens' Champ won;t be able to compete tonight and orders Sable to come out and forfeit the Title to Luna. Sable comes out holding her back. She grabs the mic and says, "Ring the Bell!."
Luna vs. Sable - Strap match for the Womens' Title - Sable starts whipping Luna immedieately then, when Luna jumps out of the ring she drags her into the post. Luna returns and continues to get whipped. Sable gets to two corners before Luna recovers. Now Luna turns the tables ad starts working on the Champion's back. Now she gets to two corners before her progress is halted. Sable starts working the challenger over in the corner until Luna overpowers her. She starts making the rounds but doesn't realize that Sable is touching the corners right behind her. As it looks like sable might get to the fourth corner, Shane jumps up on the apron to distract the referee. But a woman comes out of the crowd and jacks Luna's jaw then runs away. Sable gets the fourth corner and retains the title.
In the back, members of the Corporate team are discussing what they need to do to win the Rumble.
The Rock vs. Mankind - "I Quit" match for the WWF World Title - the usual hype precedes the match - why? I don't know - they already have our money. Gives me a chance to go pee...
I had time to go in and visit with my wife for a moment. She's playing with a new scanner I gave her for Christmas - she just got a chance to hook it up today.
Mankind faced the returning Mabel earlier tonight on Heat. We get clips from that incident wherein the Rock came out and interfered. Foley starts fast on the challenger in this one. He pounds Maivia in the corner and tries to get him to say the words. No cigar. He pounds some more and tries again. Maivia is defiant so Foley starts using the mic as a weapon then clotheslines Maivia to the floor. On the outside, the Rock turns the tables and smashes Foley into the steps. He stops to grab a headset and talk some trash, then turns around and gets clotheslined. Mankind uses a chair on himthen tries to get the words again. Maivia tells him to take a hike. Back in the ring, Foley gets the chickenwing DDT then dons Mr. Socko and slaps on the Mandible Claw. Now Maivia is too out of it to say "I Quit". Foley puts the boots too him, promising to split the Corporate eyebrow. He drags the Rock into the stands then turns to celebrate with his fans. he rushes in and gets powerslammed over the barrir and back to the ruingside area. Maivia puts the bell up against his head and hits it with the hammer, twice! The brawl some more at ringside but neither is willing to concede the match. They brawl up the aisleand into the technical equipment area. Maivia gets a DDT on the concrete and shoves the mic in Foley's face. Foley says, "no..." Mavia ducks behind a curtain and returns with a ladder but Foley uses it against him. He tries to drop an elbow as Maivia lies under the ladder but Maivia rolls aside. The Rock sets the ladder up against the wall and starts to climb it into the balcony. Mankind follows and then perch on the edge of the stands pounding at each other. Maivia climbs over the railing then turns back and punches Foley, who falls onto a circut board, taking the lights out with him as he tumbles amid sparks. A spotlight picks up Foley, tangled in electrical cables. Shane is there trying to get the match stopped but Maivia insists on continuing. He drags him back to the aisle and runs him into the railing a couple of times.
Maivia has handcuffs and puts them on the Champ after returning him to the ring. He starts to work him over but Foley comes alive again and attacks the "Corporate Jewels" - Maivia still says "no." Maivia gets loose and goes out to get a chair. He lays it on Foley's head then drops his elbow on it. Still Mankind tells Maivia to "go to hell..." Maivia starts hitting him repeatedly with the chair but Foley keeps getting up time after time. He rolls out to the floor where he takes another chair shot, and another, and another but he won't quit. He walks slowly up the aisle as the Rock continues to smash him with the chair. As Mankind lays face down, Maivia thrusts the mic into his face and a disembodied voice that sounds like Foley says "I quit, I quit, I quit..." It was a recorded voice from the earlier interview on Heat but the Rock is awarded the Title anyway.
Afterwards, Foley eschews the stretcher and insists on walking out on his own two feet.
Another long hype fest precedes the Royal Rumble match.
1999 Royal Rumble Match - Howard Finkel introduces the contest then we get the first two competitors. Austin is number one of course. This is his first match in several weeks. Number two is Mr. McMahon - this his first match ever. He comes out all pumped with his body oiled. He is holding his gut in. McMahon goes for a clothesline but misses. Austin stomps him in the corner. back in the center he slams the boss then threatens to stomp his groin...then does it. McMahon wears black jeans and boots. The next entrant is Golga. He pauses near the ring to watch the action for a moment then attacks Austin as McMahon crawls out of the ring. Austin eliminates Golga then leaves the ring to chase McMahon into the stands. They disappear into the concourse as the next entrant comes in. The camera follows Austin and McMahon into the Ladies Room where Austiun is attacked by the Corporate Thugs. We lose the camera feed. Back in the ring, Droz is all by himself. Edge is the next entrant so now we have a match in the ring again. Edge attacks on the fly but Droz uses his power to gain the advantage. They continue to struggle as "Gilberg" comes in as the next entrant. He comes in to his recorded chant and is eliminated immediately. Back in the Ladies' Room, the Thugs have left Austin laying and are leaving the room. Back in the ring Edge has taken the advantage. Droz reverses a whip and tries to eliminate his opponent as the next entrant appears. Steve Blackman runs right to the ring and goes to work on Droz. In the Ladies' Room, Austin is being attended to by officials and EMP's.
The next entrant is Dan Severn. He and Blackman get it on immediately. Now Austin is being stretchered out. Back in the arena, Tiger Ali Singh is approaching the ring. Austin is driven away in an ambulance - he'll be back... Svern fights Droz as the other three battle. Then Droz and Severn gang up on Blackman. Here comes the Blue Meanie. He is attacked by Singh as he enters. It is truely every man for himself as the match continues. So far the Rumble is pretty forgetable except for what happened to Austin. The next entrant fails to appear. In the back we see Mabel attack Mosh and then head for the ring. Now it's getting good. Mabel wears all black these days. He tosses Severn and Blackman, then Singh out right off the bat. Here coems the Road Dog. He runs in as Mabel finishes eliminating everyone but Edge. Edge hits a low blow on Mabel. The lights go out and the Undertaker's music plays. The Acolytes force Mabel up the aisle to where UT waits. These guys are longtime enemies. The Acolytes continue to gang up on Mabel - Road Dog is left alone in the ring. The next entrant is Gangrel so here we go again. No, Road Dog eliminates him almost immediately. He is checking his non-existent watch. Kurrgan is next and it doesn't look good for the Dog.
They continue the match, then Al Snow (w/o Head) is next. Dog and Snow double team Kurrgan and try to eliminate him. Then Road Dog switches tactics and tosses Snow out to the floor. Goldust is next. He attacks the Dog as Kurrgan stands aside to recover. Then Kurrgan attacks Goldust and the Dog looks on for a bit. Kurrgan has lost his hat. The Dog sets Goldust up for the Shattered Dream but Kurrgan breaks that up. The Godfather brings to of his garden tools with him to the ring, taking his time to get there. He sends the girls away and enters the match to even things up. The next entrant is Kane, and the lights go out yet again. Kane eliminates Road Dog, Kurrgan, Godfather and then Goldust in quich succession. The Orderlies come to take him away and he flattens them then steps over the top and eliminates himself. Now Mr. McMahon re-enters the ring as Shamrock comes out as the next entrant. McMahon (wearing a sweat shirt) climbs back out through the ropes and joins the broadcast team! Shamrock is in the ring alone while McMahon gloats about what has happened to Austin. Billy Gunn is the next entrant. He is wearing one shoe, the injured ankle is swathed in bandages. He fights pretty good for a cripple and almost eliminates Shamrock, but the latter catches himself on the ropes. Test is next. backstage, the Acolytes and Midion are stuffing Mabel into a hearse. Here comes the ambulance back - Austin is driving!!!
In the ring, Test and Shamrock are arguing about something. Austin arrives and McMahon hides. Bossman is the next entrant and attacks Austin. Shamrock has disappeared in the meantime. HHH comes out as the next entrant and attacks Test. Billy attacks Austin. Bossman comes back and tries to put Austin out but HHH rescues him. Val Venis enters next. There ar six men left in the ring (seven, counting McMahon still outside). Billy is eliminated by Austin. McMahon is ranting at ringside, looking for someone to take his $100,000 for eliminating Austin. X-Pac is the next entrant and we are back up to six men in the ring. Bossman is trying to push HHH out. Austin and X-Pac are fighting as Mark Henry makes his entrance. Bossman holds Austin while Henry attacks him but hits Bossman instead. Jeff Jarrett is the next entrant. He comes into the arena with Debra thn leaves her in the aisle. Venis and Jarrett doubleteam on Austin but then DX goes after Jarrett. Jarret tries to push Austin out but X-Pac breaks it up. When you think about it the bounty on his head cuyts both ways... D-Lo Brown comes into the arena accompanied by PMS.
Test and then X-Pac are eliminated next. Bossman and Jarrett fail to eject Austin. HHH and Austin team up to eliminate Jarrett. Owen Hart is next. he teams with D-Lo to attack Austin. They fail to eliminate him as well. Austin climbs to the floor and grabs a pitcher of water off the announce table. He guzzles some then tosses the remainder in McMahon's face. Finally Chyna enters as the 30th contestant. She attacks Mark Henry and eliminates him in seconds! Then Austin dumps her out! Mcmahon is looking a little peaked at ringside... HHH tries to get Austin out but Val Venis breaks it up and tries himself - he is eliminatd instead! Austuin clotheslines HHH out over the top and there are four left in the ring...p[lus McMahon. A confused D-Lo is trying to pin Bossman. Bossman, Owen, D-Lo and Austin remain in the ring. Owen tries to eliminate Bossman as D-Lo works on Austin in the opposite corner. Owen lifts Bossman on his shoulders but D-Lo attacks him. Owen gets the insuguri on Austin who comes right back and eliminates him! D-Lo gets a frog splash on Austin but is eliminated by the Bossman. Austin gets a stunner on Bossman and eliminates him! He comes out to attack McMahon at the announce table. They brawl into the stands then back to ringside. McMahon is on the receiving end then gets hit by a chair and is leveled! Austin talks trash at him then rolls him back into the ring. He rolls in himself but isn't ready to end it yet. He stands over McMahon who delivers a low blow. Austin is up and McMahon misses another clothesline and gets a Stunner in return. Austin drops a forearm to his chest then climbs up to the second rope again. The Rock comes out and starts jawing at Austin. Maivia jumps on the apron and Austin rushes him. McMahon comes from behind and levers Austin over to the floor. McMahon has won the Rumble!!!
Austin chases the Rock up the aisle as Shane and the Stooges help Mr. McMahon to his feet. He calls for some beers and they crack open some Steveweisers in the ring. McMahon guzzles one ala Austin.
I'll be back with the Nitro Report tomorrow night. Until then...
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