In the last installment, Gordon and Jeremy were talking about what it was like to announce matches in the confines of a small studio.
Jeremy Hartley: Now when you were doing your announcing did you have the sound being piped through so that eveyone could hear it or were you secluded, so to speak, I mean how was that really done?
Gordon Solie: On the studio stuff I was always basically right there at ringside, I was wide open...
Jeremy Hartley: It's amazing that more people didn't try to get involved...but once again there was a respect for the business and a respect for the announcer. We've been seeing lately the celebrities involving themselves in the wrestling business lately, I remember that there were wrestling matches involving for instance, Jack Dempsey years and years ago, Jerry Lawler and Andy Kaufman, whatever, did you ever see, when you were in Atlanta or in Alabama or any other place that you worked, any memorable celebrities either from other sports or Hollywood try to get involved or was it more of just the wrestling aspect?
Gordon Solie: Well, we had several...you were talking about the Dempsey thing, and the way that all came about was back in the 20's, I don't remember the exact year, but there was a classic boxer vs. wrestler and Cowboy went against Jack Dempsey in Atlanta, I believe it was, and Dempsey shattered Cowboy's jaw, blinded him in one eye. Cowboy remembers nothing from the third round on because Dempsey caught him, you know, going in and that's the secret to a boxer vs. wrestler match - if you can catch the wrestler coming in - whop him good one time and it's over. If you don't and the wrestler gets too you it's over for the boxer. But back to your question, there have always been other sports celebrities involved in one way or another with wrestling, however, now you talk about the Andy Kaufman thing, you talk about the Jay Leno thing...I have no quarrel with a Karl Malone who wants to get into the ring because - #1, he is an outstanding athlete - I have no quarrel with Rodman although I deplore his actions, but he's an athlete. I have no quarrel with a football player who wants to get into wrestling, God knows I've known a bunch of them. You know, Ernie Ladd, Wahoo McDaniel, Verne Gagne - you can go right down the line...great football players who became great wrestlers...
Jeremy Hartley: Comment, if you would, about how corporate America seems to be wanting to run the wrestling business these days.
Gordon Solie: Well now you've hit on a key word. See wrestling used to be run by wrestlers, now it's run by corporate entities, and that's where I finally bailed out. I finally had had enough of the corporate crap and decided to get the hell out of it.
Jeremy Hartley: Now I happened to catch a couple of shows and that was where you started doing some voice overs for I believe it was the Japan show? It was on Euro Sports I believe, Ring Warriors. And of course they had Howard Brody and those folks had a couple of shows streaming audio on the Internet and I was able to listen to those shows, but talk a little bit about, if you don't mind, the wrestling in Japan and Europe.
Gordon Solie: Well, first of all it was a much tighter form of wrestling. When we were doing those shows they were shipped in and edited. I was doing them with Sir Oliver Humperdink at first, then later they brought in Bruno Sammartino and we did several shows together. They would say, "Do you want to see these matches in advance?" and I said, "No, I don't want to see them in advance, I want to be able to call them as I see them..." And the thing that I found so pleasing was, that be not having seen them ahead of time, I could not tell who was going to win. The matches were so close that many times the person that I had picked in my mind as the winner didn't win. I'll never forget one kid that I was watching. I had never seen him before and he really didn't look like a wrestler he didn't have the etched muscles and all of that - he was sort of built like an early Don Curtis, long and rangy - but I was watching him in his match and instinctively I began to go with this kid because he was doing a lot of things naturally that a lot of other guys really had to work at - he just seemes to have it - an lo and behold he ended up winning the Junior Heavyweight Championship over there. The matches over there are...you earn everything you get over there. You didn't see the horrible mismatches, and that really used to get to me, you watch some fine young kid grossly outdistanced by their opponent - there was no contest. For me to sit down and say, "Boy this is going to be a great contest..." I felt like I owed my viewers more honesty then that.
Jeremy Hartley: Right, now do they still do these shows? Or has that since become a thing of the past?
Gordon Solie: Well, they kind have misled us, the people that set up that production on the Internet because they said thay could get it up to 30 frames/minute and they really couldn't get it past about 24 - and that was if you have a real high-speed modem. The most I could get at home, and I had the best modem available, the best I could get was about 19 frames...and so it looked like the old time pictures. The audio would stream farely well but you couldn't get the pictures - so we're on a temporary hiatus now. I don't know what their plans are now, but as Colin Powell said when they asked him to run for President - I really don't have the "fire in my belly" for much of it. I would love to go back and do those matches because I think I could get back to announcing the kind of wrestling that I could enjoy...
Jeremy Hartley: Right, and that is very important. You should be able to do what you enjoy doing and there is just not a lot of that going on anymore. Unfortunately the Ring Warriors never really made it out here on any Television...
Gordon Solie: It was really never pursued.
Jeremy Hartley: Right. They sell the videos sometimes, every now and again I see them but a lot of people don't know about them. We can only hope that the Internet Technology gets to the point where they can really do it right. With RealAudio now you can get CD quality sound through a 28.8 modem and who knows, maybe they will get the video to work in the coming years...
Gordon Solie: Well they will, its just a question of time. And (does an "old coot" voice) as old as I'm getting sonny...(laughs)
Jeremy Hartley: (laughs) Now, do you get the chance to see some of whats out there on the Internet?
Gordon Solie: Well occasionally. I don't sit down to the computer every day by any stretch. I'll get onto a site occasionally and see what Earl Oliver is putting out. (Editor's Note: GASP!!) I didn't even know that Solie's Vintage Wrestling existed until someone told me about it and I dialed it in. He is so nice about putting that little disclaimer at the bottom that I decided not to disturb him in using my name. He's doing it with respect...
Jeremy Hartley: Absolutely, and he's now on an audio feature on my site - he's doing what we call the "Time Machine" piece where he talks about some wrestling that he witnessed, some matches that he's seen - so he's featured on my site - a straight ahead audio pro-wrestling site where I have interviews with Lou Thesz and Don Curtis and others and features from other historians. Mike Lano and Tom Burke have sent me some things - so there's no real text there, except for the pages themselves - that's where this interview is going to be going - I've had a ball putting it together and, you know, a shameless plug for Earl - he's been a big help, and Scott Teal as well...the "What Ever Happened Too..." man. He's another great person for wrestling history.
Gordon Solie: Well what is yor site?
Jeremy Hartley: My site is at www.uplclosewrestling.com, all of the interviews are there in the RealAudio. It's interesting to listen to - I have about 15 programs up there now. I started back in December and it's amazing how styles change over time. Did you ever go back and listen to some of your old stuff...or could you? Of course now, with video tapes, everything is so at the ready. You pop in a tape and you can watch or hear anything you've done. ere you ever really able to critique some of your own work? Or did you just develop your style gradually?
Gordon Solie: Oh yeah, I used to critique it on a weekly basis. I would see where I had blown something, or if I didn't feel that I had done te opponent or competitor justice... I did it on a weekly basis. I don't go back and look at it now. But for a while there I tried to watch it as a viewer would watch it - to see if I carried the action. Of course my wife used to get a kick out of me because I'd be in the livingroom watching the show and have a little "toddy" - all of a sudden whe'd hear me say, "God Damned dummy!" he'd ask, "What's the matter..?" and I'd say, "Oh, I just goofed..." Then she'd say, "Well don't watch it if it upsets you so!" But that was the only reason I did watch it, to make sure I do get upset if I see myself doing something stupid.
Jeremy Hartley: Sure, there's a lot of folks that are going to see what they want to see, they may not see some of the flaws and the imperfections. But I really believe that that is one of the things that separates the announcers of the past from the announcers of today. The guys from the past really gave a damn, the really classic ones, about what they did. You know I told this to Les (Thatcher) the first time I met him - too often these announcers they talk at you. It's as if they are just silhouettes of themselves and their just going to say what they want to say with no regard for the viewer or the listener. Yourself, Lance Russel, Les Thatcher and even Jim Ross for a time, would talk to you and with you. Red Barber used to do that, even in Pittsburg, Bob Prince - they seemed to talk with you. Did you notice that as an announcer? I know you tried to educate them but did you also try to "get them into your home" so to speak for two hours a week?
Gordon Solie: Absolutely. The fact of the matter was that any time I would break a new kid in, a wrestler I mean, I would tell them, "Now, you're going to be standing with me in front of a camera. When that red light goes on, think about that as your very best friend, or your very worst enemy represented by that red light and forget about the camera, just concentrate on the fact that is your best buddy or your worst enemy and that red light sympolizes that for you." Some kids picked up on that real quickly, others, because there was still the jitters to contend with - I had a guy who is a big top draw star now, who walked out on me after about a minute and a half of a three minute interview. He said, "That's it." and walked away. And so I kept talking. The director grabbed him of course and he came back after about thirty seconds and we finished off the three minutes. But he said to me later, "Well, I'd never done a serious interview before..." So you see once again, you get that difference of the guys who figure they've got to go out there and give them all this hype and bullshit. Yet if they would just get out there and talk... That's why Arn Anderson is so good. Because he's believable, he makes sense. Les Thatcher is that way when he does a show, Lance Russel was that way, I know I was. You don't have to do all of that stuff. You don't have to scream for sixty minutes because if you don't have any "lows" then you can't have any "highs".
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
A video review of the Page/Steiner situation opens the program.
Tony tells us that the cards and letters have been pouring to inquire about Kimberly who suffered facial lacerations, bumps and contusions but nothing more severe then that. Cut to the Nitro Grrrrls (sans Kimberly) dancing on the platform then to the back where Arn Anderson is assaulting Disco Inferno. Security guys break it up and subdue AA with handcuffs. Next we see Eric Bischoff who is serving as Ric Flair's limo driver this week. He seems to have something up his sleeve (but then, when doesn't he..?) Cut to commercial.
Nitro is live from Tampa, Florida at the Florida State Fairgrounds. Video review of the US Title situation from last week. Roddy Piper wins the WCW US Championship.
Jerry Flynn vs. Saturn - Saturn wears his striped jersey number tonight. He seems to be reveling in this dress thing. Flynn gains the advantage with his rapid fire kicks but Saturn comes right back with a back kick of his own and turns the tables. He goes to work on the left knee of his opponent applying a standing figure four. Flynn gets to the ropes to escape. He comes back with karate shots but wastes time showboatng. Saturn comes back with a belly-to-back suplex but Flynn has his dander up and regains the initiative almost immediately. Saturn tries to come back but Flynn blocks his attempts and grabs an elbow lock that doesn't quite lock in. Saturn escapes and throws a springboard cross-body block and gets a 2 count. Flynn comes roaring right back with more karate and then a belly-to-belly suplex. He grazes the top of Saturn's head with a round house kick in the corner - not quite enough - Saturn returns fire and retakes the advantage but the referee is distracted by Scott Dickenson on the apron. Chris Jericho sneaks to the top and tries but fails to hit Saturn with a stick - Flynn takes advantage of Saturn's distraction to take a surprise pinfall. Cut to Flair and his guests riding in a stretch limo to the arena. He takes a cell phone call and is informed about the Arn/Disco incident. He orders "Jim" - whoever that is - to go bail Arn out. Cut to commercial.
Video from the main event last week. Hogan throws a bucket of bleach in Mongo's eyes then Flair is punked three on one. Back to the limo. Flair is on the phone again still trying to take care of the AA situation. Bischoff seems to be taking them for a ride... He claims they had to take a "detour" but is on the phone himself setting something up. Cut to commercial.
Video from Bret Hart's appearance on MadTV - the supposed "shoot attack" on Will Sasso is reviewed.
Blitzkreig/Psychosis/Juventud Guerrero vs. Super Calo/El Dandy/Hector Garza - 6 Man Lucha Libre match - this is classic luchadore stuff. Blitzkreig is the smallest man in the match despite Juvey's presence. As usual with these matches, the action is almost too fast to call, let alone write about. Some highlights: Garza throwing a spectacular dive that ends in a whipping armdrag on Psychosis - Dandy and Juvey trading lightning quick moves in furious criss-cross action - all three of his opponents putting the boots to Juvey as his partners distract the referee with their outrage - Garza then ends up in enemy territory and his three opponents payback with triple boots of their own - Garza is trying to recover as we cut to commercial.
Psychosis has Calo in a head scissors on the mat as we return. Juvey comes in but misses a series of elbow drops then takes a drop-kick to the chest from Dandy. He comes back with a slam but thn lisses a splash off the top and is nearly pinned. Things are slowing down as all these guys are trying to ground their high-flying opponents. Juvey seems to being almost all the work on his team. Blitzkreig comes in against Calo and is saavaged in his own corner while his partners stand and watch. Psychosis comes in and traps Calo in a doubleteam flying legdrop move with Juvey. Juvey is all over the ring as he continues to carry his team. He is tumbled to the outside where Dandy is waiting - but then Garza throws a great splash - right onto his partner! In the ring, Blitzkreig is taking Calo's measure. He pulls a twisting moonsault to splash Calo and get the pin.
Our mysterious blonde is in a towel, ordering her companion (the cameraman I guess) to order some food up.
The wayward limo is arriving somewhere and seems to be surrounded by black HumVee's. Hogan, dressed in black and a ski mask (looking like a refuge from "Fa Femme Nikita"), orders Flair's companions out of the car. He brings Flair out and attacks him but Flair wins the encounter and goes on to face the next attacker. He is assaulted from two sides and punked in a field. The entire nWo beat on him with ax handles (real ones...not the wrestling move) and other sticks. A helicopter hovers overhead and provides light for the attack. Hogan hurts his hand punching Flair in the face so they take turns holding him up and hitting him. Hogan apes Flairs "whoo" and his strut then uses his weight belt on Flair's bare back. They leave him lying face down and unconscious as they drive away. Cut to commercial.
Nitro Grrrrrls dance in the ring...
Tony goes right into a promo without mentioning what we just saw before the break then cuts to a video about the Tag Team Tournament.
Fit Finley/Dave Taylor vs. Chris Benoit/Dean Malenko - Tag Team Title Tournament match - the winner of this team will face Enos and Riggs later this evening. Benoit faces Finley to start the match. Finley is downright vicious, and well he should be against this opponent. He manages to dominate Benoit by dint of not allowing him a moment to recover. Benoit manages to tag in Malenko and Finley sends Taylor in to face him. Now the announcers are talking about Flair and the Horsemen but still have nothing to say about the attack in the field - obviously that was meant to be something that we know about but not the personnel in the arena. Strange concept... Benoit has tagged in and is on the outside now being roughed up by Taylor before he is rolled back in. This serves to fire him up and he immediately turns the tables on Finley. He tags in Malenko who continues the assault as we cut to commercial.
Taylor has Malenko under control as we return - he and Finley have the Iceman isolated and are demonstrating there long association as tag partners. Taylor distracts the referee while Finley drags Malenko out to the floor to dole out some more punishment. Back in the ring, Malenko gets a surprise sunset flip on Finley but can't hold him down. Now Benoit is doing his partner no good as he distracts the referee. Finley rams himself into the post and Malenko gets a tag. Benoit comes in a house afire and goes for a succession of pinfall attempts. Finley comes back with a Tombstone attempt but Malenko scrapes past the referee to plant a drop-kick on his back and break that up. Malenko is tagged in and immediately doubleteamed again. He manages to eject Finley and then tries to get Taylor in th Texas Cloverleaf. Benoit throws a flying headbutt to take the fight out of Taylor and Malenko completes the maneuver to get the submission victory. Cut to commercial.
Replay of the Steiner/Page incident with the car including some previously unseen footage that took place during the commercial. We see Kimberly being braced and lifted onto the stretcher. Cut to commercial.
Some of the Nitro Grrrrls surround the broadcast team as we return. Spice and Whisper comment on what has gone down. Whisper especially does a great job of exhibiting emotion regarding the situation.
Replay of Ric Flair telling Bret Hart he has to face Roddy Piper for the US Title then footage from the match itself. Yet another commercial.
Bret Hart vs. Will Sasso (w/Debra Wilson) - this is, bar none, the stupidest idea I have yet to see from either fed lately. The MadTV comedian needs to cut down on the burgers. He is overwhelmed immediately by his opponent - as if anything else could have been expected. Sasso is rolled to the floor and takes a pretty hefty bump. Obviously he is a physical comedian who knows how to take a pratfall. Hart wraps him up in a TV cable then tries to use a chair but it is grabbed away by Debra...who then uses the chair on him herself! Hart drags his carcass back into the ring and slaps on the Sharshooter to take the win. He embraces his surprise ally after the match. Cut to commercial.
Hogan and his cronies arrive via HumVee as we return. They disembark and strut into the arena from the side opposite the announcers. Tony comments on the ski mask that Hogan still wears over his face. They go to the ring and Hogan sends the B-Team away to a party while he and Hall enter the ring to make a statement. He finally uncovers his face to start his rant. He proposes that, rather then waiting for SuperBrawl, he wants to face Flair in his "own home town". He's saying that he will give Flair his chance at the World Title tonight. He's trying to convince us that Flair is in the back somewhere as he counts to ten. Of course Flair is still laying out in the field. Roddy Piper answers the call in Flair's place. He apparently knows what happened to Flair - he orders Hogan to wrestle him tonight in his capacity as Commissioner.
Hollywood Hogan vs Roddy Piper - WCW Heavyweight Title match - Piper seems to have the upper hand here because (theoretically) the nWo have all left the immediate area at Hogan's invitation. He knocks Hogan to the floor then tosses him back into the ring. It is all Piper until Hogan rolls out to the floor again then reaches back in a drags Piper out. He uses his shirt to choke the US Champ then hits him with a chair on the hip. Piper is limping but still in the fight. Back in the ring, Hogan has the advantage and is using his weight belt as a whip then chokes Piper again. Piper takes it for a while then manages to wrest the belt away and uses it himself. He then slaps on a sleeper...but here comes Scott Hall with his shock stick to break it up. That's all she wrote as the rest of the thugs arrive to lend a hand. Hogan turns to the camera and says he's going to go find Flair and drag him out to the ring. Hall dons the Rowdy one's kilt and gestures with the crotch chops, then he curties for the camera to taunt Piper.
Out in the field a farmer (or whatever) pulls up in a truck and carries Flair to his cab saying he is going to get him some help. Flair tells him "Fairgrounds" to indicate where he wants to be taken. Cut to commercial.
We return to a promo for the US Title match as SuperBrawl.
Mike Enos/Scott Riggs vs. Dean Malenko/Chris Benoit - Tag Team Title Tournament match - Riggs is subbing for Bobby Duncum, Jr. who is missing for "personal reasons". Malenko faces Riggs to start and takes the early advantage but then is derailed by one of Riggs superb drop-kicks. Riggs dominates the next several eschanges then both tag out. Enos dominates Benoit via pure power but then he turns his back on the Wolverine and pays for his mistake. Benoit tosses him to the outside and roughs him up before throwing him back inside. Enos and Riggs are functioning very well together as the match progresses. Enos drps a headbutt onto Malenko's lower rib cage as Tony says it was between the shoulderblades (anatomy Tony, anatomy...) Malenko turns the tables and gets some help from Benoit on Riggs as we cut to the farmer at a gas station (called the "Neon Cowboy") putting water in his radiator. Flair attempts to leave the truck but collapses on the concrete. The farmer helps him back into the truck and they drive away. Cut to commercial.
Benoit has Riggs in trouble as we return. He and Malenko are functioning better now, focusing on Riggs left leg. Riggs escapes a leg scissors by getting to the ropes. He moves out to the apron but Malenko drapes his neck over the top rope and snaps it. Benoit and Malenko have Riggs thoroughly isolated until Riggs reverses a whip and sends Malenko into range of Enos' knee to the back. Enos gets a cover but walks away. Riggs rolls Malenko up but now it's too late. Enos runs around and drags Benoit off the apron which distracts the refree just when Riggs needs him to count the fall. He whips Malenko who holds the ropes to avoid rebounding into a drop-kick. Riggs lands on his head and now all four are in the ring. Malenko and Enos brawl to the outside while Benoit drops Riggs to the mat and applies the Crippler Crossface to get the win. Out on the highway we see the farmer still driving, apparently now toward the arena. Cut to commercial.
The blonde babe is still talking to the camera. She has a champaign bottle and is tangles up in bedsheets. She talks about whoever it is having to "go talk to those people" but says they can have more fun after the meeting. Then she says "Come here - we have a few minutes. Cut to commercial.
Michael Buffer introduces the main event. The nWo shows up en masse and chases Buffer out of the ring. Hogan claims that Flair has run and hidden to avoid a confrontation. He proposes to give Flair a 20 count to show up. In the back the farmer drives up and Flair falls out of the truck. He stumbles over and retrieves an ax handle from the back of the truck. He is stumbling as getting up as he heads into the arena. His face is battered and bruised - which the announcers are noticing and saying that he must have gotten beaten up somewhere... In the ring, Hogan is saying "I smell cow patties..." Flair stumbles to the ring, crawling in places. He crawls into the ring and faces Stevie Ray with the ax handle. He manages to disable SDtevie and also gets a shot on Hall then Malenko and Benoit hit the ring but they are outnumbered. Flair is dragged to the floor and the ax handle is used on him. The scene swtches to the backstage area where Hall hands the shock stick to someone out of camera range and says, "Now you see how it's done? Don't mess it up." Fade to black...
I'll be back on Thursday with the Thunder Edition. 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