Jeremy Hartley: You know, the art of interviewing is lost and I think part of that is because you no longer have these traveling bands of people coming into the territories. Back in the days of the traveling NWA Champion you had...of course, nobody wanted to be over-exposed in a certain area so they would move on, new people would come in to take their place, and then if they had a good draw they would come back in - and they had to maintain this level. Quite often you couldn't stay around for too long and if you did then they shipped you out. I think now you've got these huge, huge, multi-million dollar contracts in this business, where they pay you this money and if you can't work, if you can't inreview, if you can't wrestle...as you said, Eddie Graham - if he had to deal with those people he'd ship them out. Nowadays you can't do that, you've got a lot of wasted air time and a lot of wasted ring space with people that were really never taught how to give a good interview, how to work a good match and this is one of the important reasons why I have this site up - I talk to folks that train guys - of course Les (Thatcher) trains folks in Ohio now, tries to break guys into the business the right way and it frustrates me as a young fan to sit here and watch an interview that has no bearing, no timing whatsoever...
Gordon Solie: Well, that's because everything is now "bottom line", how much money is this going to draw. The individual is not nearly as important as the size of the gate and they also stretch the imagination now beyond logic - logic is no longer a figure, it's a traveling rock & roll show with the pyrotechincs and the dancing girls - you know, stuff that would make Vince McMahon, Sr. and Eddie Graham and Cowboy Lutrell and Jim Crockett and a few others...they've got to be spinning in their graves. And if you want to "bottom line" it - if they are really interested in is the dollars, then today's guys are extremely successfull. You can't argue with it if that is your entire criteria. But if you're interested in preserving the integrity of the sport, then I think they've lost it entirely - I just think it's gone the opposite direction. And the hell of it is, guys like Cactus Jack and Arn Anderson, Terry Funk and all, are still taking their lumps out there (Editor's Note: this interview took place before Anderson retired) -their still abusing their bodies horribly. So their paying the price for some accountant or book keeper who checks the bottom line and says, "Well, this one is a success" - without any consideration as to how many careers did they shorten this past week...
Jeremy Hartley: Yeah. You know I want to touch a little bit upon the Cauliflower Alley Club which I brought that up with Lou Thesz who, of course, is the President of the club now. I was at my first club function in March (1998) and I flew out to Los Angeles, it was one of the first plane trips I took alone because I had to get out there I had to see what it was about. After talking to Lou he inspired me to go out there, and it was an incredible display of people there - to say that I was in awe would be a vast understatement - men like the Kowalskis, Pat Patterson, Verne Gagne and even people before them...and to just be this young kid just learning, learning, learning... You were honored by the club, I believe it was in '95 or '96, I'm sure you'll set me straight on that. What does the Cauliflower Alley Club mean to you? What does it mean to Gordon Solie?
Gordon Solie: Well, It means an awful lot. I'm a member of the board too. The original concept of the club was great. Mike Mazurki, Art Abrams and several others got together and...it initially started off as just a once a month lunch type gathering, and it gradually grew larger and larger and has become better and better known. Of course now we have a a lot of exciting things going on. There is going to be a Hall of Fame in Iowa, and a lot of guys have jumped in and really put a lot of life into it. Art Abrams did a fantastic job in all the years that he served. Art was a truely dedicated man to the sport and to all of the wrestlers. Lou Thesz has done a beautiful job as President. Red Bastien has been working tirelessly on it, and one of the nicest human beings you'll ever meet, there have been a whole slew of people. Ella Waldech, I'm very proud to say that I nominated her for the board and she was elected. She became the first woman board member. But we're catching up in wrestling as well as everywhere else. It's a fine organization and I am very proud to have been honored by them - they have done a lot of good for kids going into college who have been good young wrestlers and who probably couldn't have gone to college if the Cauliflower Alley Club hadn't slipped them a scholarship. I'm looking forward to being up in Philadelphia, I guess it's in October (1998) for the East Coast meeting.
Jeremy Hartley: Yeah, I guess they have a West Coast and an East Coast gathering every year...
Gordon Solie: Yeah, I've missed the last couple of them out in Los Angeles. My wife was first diagnosed with cancer in March and so I just couldn't go. She then passed away just four month later and last year I just didn't have the will, it was just to close...all I could think of in March is that was when she was diagnosed. But this year I plan on getting up to Philadelphia.
Jeremy Hartley: You know when I was there in Los Angeles, your name came up a couple of times, and there was nothing but respect..."I hope we get to see him next time..." and you know the whole weekend was amazing. The roast of Lou Thesz and the rest of the awards. Of course, Art Abrams had just passed away so they honored him and his widow and his son and that was very powerfull. I plan on attending again this coming year, either going again to the West Coast or maybe even going out to the East Coast to talk to some of these guys - it's really an amazing society of wrestling.
Gordon Solie: You know you made an interesting comment there, you see, that's another thing that I look upon in my career - the fact that I was "let into" that society, allowed inside the society has made me very proud and pleased with the fact that a community that was as tightly knit as they were has said, "Hey, here's a guy who is a non-wrestler but he's got our respect so bring him in..." That in itself, you see, is now gone. I mean, hell, you can walk down the street now and the average fan , and I see it all the time...I have a favorite little watering hole. and a fan will come in there and start telling me what's going to happen next week - "...whose got this gimmick going and whose got this gimmick going and next week their going to switch..." and I'm thinking, "Whoah!" That was the secret and the mystique about the sport years ago was that idea was to try and keep the fans guessing. They could try to figure it out, that's fine to try and figure it out - but never let them get there.
Jeremy Hartley: Well, and back then you had people who could weave stories. Having worked in your later career with announcers who more into just putting themselves over...was that one of the reasons why you got out of the business as well?
Gordon Solie: Well...not really. I've known a couple of them who were that way. Let me give you a little example of something. Howard Brody and Hiro Matsuda told me that they were going to get Bruno Sammartino down to be my color man and I was really concerned because here was a guy who was a real legend and I was worried about whether we would have chemistry. I know Bruno and all but not well...we knew of each other. So I sat down with Bruno before our first match and said, "Please understand - you have a free run. I'd like to explain to you my philosophy of how I announce." I said, "I've used this example before, but I am the drum roll to the high wire." I said, "The high wire is just as dangerous to the man up there on the high wire with or without the drum roll. The drum roll can add a little to the suspense but it cannot detract from the danger of what the man up there is doing as he is sixty feet above the ground with no net. That's my attitude. The name on the marquee is 'wrestling' it's not Gordon Solie so that's my philosophy about it Bruno, I just wanted you to know where I am coming from." And he looked at me and said, "Well, we're coming from the same place." That's important. We sat down at the microphone and went in cold with an hour long show We'd never worked together before, and the first match, which was about 15 minutes long, we stepped on each other a little bit, then we fell into a rhythm, into a pattern and the next 45 minutes went like colockwork. When we were done we both said, "Okay, lets redo the first fifteen minutes..." because it was a little rough. And after that we never had to recut a thing. But yeah, I've seen guys...we had a guy who started out as a ring announcer who tried his hand at announcing. And he was deplorable because all he could think of was getting himself over. You know it's so much easier to get over with people if you put what you're doing over. In other words, if I go out there and I'm watching the Bucks play football and I'm calling the game and the quarterback goofs left and right. For me to sit down and start criticizing the quarterback...I can say, "Well, he slipped in trying to back peddle he tripped and fell..." but for me to say, "Well, the guy is so addled he doesn't know his left foot from his right..." is totally wrong. Why should I be the expert? I don't know what's going on in his mind. So, put over the sport, and you'll get over. And that's, I think, what a lot of these guys are forgetting about.
Jeremy Hartley: Yeah...
Gordon Solie: The people aren't tuning in to see or hear a specific commentator. They're tuning in to see the participant in the sport, whatever the sport happens to be. You know, I watch auto racing - I'm an auto racing devotee - and you don't see these guys criticizing race drivers. There not trying to get themselve over, they're trying to get over the guy whose out there in that automobile risking his life.
Jeremy Hartley: You know, now that you mentioned that, because I've listened to some auto racing a time or two and I can't recall ever remembering a time when the commentating overshadowed what was going on.
Gordon Solie: No, of course not.
Jeremy Hartley: That's an interesting point, I've never thought about that but you're absolutely right.
Gordon Solie: It's the "background music" - and hopefully the "background music" will add to the suspense, like the drum roll for the high wire act will add suspense to it, but it doesn't detract from it.
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 replay of the confrontation between Arn Anderson and David Flair from Nitro opens the program. The opening montage is followed by a scene of Arn and Ric talking in the locker room about the situation. Flair explains that he's not going to let David get him down, he has a job to do and that is to be the fourteen time World Champ. Arn tries to get Flair to admit that his demeanor is a "game face" to hide his pain. Flair disputes that pretty convincingly. He's sure that David is going to wake up tomorrow, or next week, or a couple of weeks down the road and realize he made a mistake.
Thunder is live from Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Horsemen country... Tony mentions that we're going to hear from Hacksaw Jim Duggan tonight then throws it to a replay of Flair's statement from Monday night. I notice something that was pointed out to me subsequent to that evening - Flair calls David by his real name (Fliehr) during the rant. Cut to commercial.
Scenes from Monday's tag team match between Buff/BBP vs. Dogface/Goldberg.
Rick Steiner vs. Hugh Morrus (w/Jimmy Hart) - Morrus bulls Syener into the corner and plants some knee lifts but Steiner comes right back and punches him out of the ring. Returning to the ring, Morrus uses the referee for distraction to turn the tables but is again knocked down. Jimmy Hart then provides distraction so Morrus can gain the upper hand for a few minutes until he is caught in a belly-to-belly suplex. Hart is being especially helpful on the outside as he holds Steiner's leg so that Morrus can get a splash in the corner then a second. He goes up for a moonsault but is caught there and downed. Now Steiner climbs the corner (after dispatching Hart off the apron) and gets his flying bulldog for the pin. Cut to commercial.
Mean Gene invites Dean Malenko and Chris Benoit to the ring for an interview as we return. Benoit congratulates Windham and Hennig on their victory but doesn't like the way they won the Titles. Malenko pays tribute to his partner's feats during the cage match then reveals that there is a stip for the Tag Title match at Uncensored. There will be 8 lumberjacks with belts to keep the action in the ring. Cut to commercial.
Ernest Miller/Sonny Oono vs. Al Green - handicap match - wha...? This supposed to be a "warm-up match" for their handicap match coming up against Jerry Flynn at the PPV. Basically, Miller beats up on Green and throws it to Oono when the opponent is done in (yawn...) This match makes as much sense as the one at Uncensored. In fact Oono never really manages to get fully involved. Cut to commercial. ...oh yeah, Miller wins.
Mean Gene interviews Saturn who is wearing his dress around his waist and also wearing a dog collar and chain. He wants to have a dog collar match at Uncensored with Chris Jericho. Jericho interrupts Saturn's rant to accept the stipulation. Cut to commercial.
Bam Bam Bigalow vs. Prince Iaukea - the Prince has almost no chance against this veteran who is about twice his size.His offensive flurries are minimal and ineffective. He flies right into Bigalow's clutches so that the latter can put on his "Greetings from Asbury Park". Cut to commercial.
Horace/Vince vs. Barry Windham/Curt Hennig - non-Title match - this match barely gets underway when Malenko and Benoit show up to chase the Champs out of the ring with belts. Cut to commercial.
Hacksaw Jim Duggan comes to the ring and does what he promised he would do if he ever was able climb back in the ring - he offers a prayer of thanks for his recover. He goes on to thank the fans, his doctor and WCW for their support during his ordeal. He says that the people he met with cancer showed him the true meaning of courage. He and his family haven't decided yet whether he will return to competition but he promises that if he does, he will not change and that he will have a bigger impact in the next few years then he had in the 20 before because he has looked into his own heart and he knows what's there. God bless you Hacksaw... Cut to commercial.
Chavo Guerrero vs. Kidman - Cruiserweight Title match - Chavo is showing off his mildly heelish personna tonight - meanwhile, Kidman is showing off his great talent. But then so is Guerrero. The match progresses at a furious pace from the get-go. Chavo turns an inverted surfboard into a pancake slam in one of the more interesting moments of this match. In fact he seems to be brimming of little improvised maneuvers tonight and keeps Kidman on the defensive through much of the match. The fight goes out to the floor where Chavo solidifies his advantage by sidestepping a rush to the railing. Back in the ring, Chavo takes a couple more shots than slaps on a reverse chinlock. Kidman escapes then drops out of the way so that Chavo sprawls onto the floor. Back in the ring he gets a great combination of a reverse atomic drop which runs Chavo's head into the corner then follows up with a bulldog on the rebound. Chavo almost gets a pin - the referee actually counts to three but notices that Guerrero's foot is on the rope and restarts the match. Kidman gets his Shooting Star press moments later to win the match. Great match. Cut to commercial.
Hollywood Hogan appears on video and offers Ric Flair permanent control of WCW if he can win the match at Uncensored. Cut to commercial.
Buff Bagwell vs. Booker T - this is Bagwell's first singles match since his injury. He starts with an insult to the crowd then transfers his disdain to his opponent. Booker bulls him into the corner to start then lets him out. They lock up and trade wrist locks then Bagwell tackles his opponent to the mat. Back into the corner on the next lockup and Bagwell takes the initiative with a series of punches but they then return to the center of the ring and Booker gets a big slam and a clothesline that knocks Bagwell out to the floor. He takes his time returning to the ring. Once back inside he quickly takes the advantage and maintains it with cheapshots when necessary. Booker comes back with a spin wheel kick then grabs an armbar and straddles his opponent. He releases the hold to deliver another spin kick but then Bagwell rebounds with an eye gouge and a swinging neck breaker. He dumps Booker to the floor and follows him out (despite the Brain's advice). Booker is crashed into the ring apron thn rolled back into the ring. Bagwell keeps using the eye rake to come back from Booker's attacks then Booker gets a scissor kick and a side kick...on the referee! He throws Buff to the floor then follows him out - but Scott Steiner runs in and clobbers him with a chair. Back in the ring, Buff gets his Block Buster move (a reverse DDT off the top rope) and then pin as the referee recovers. Fade to black.
I'll be back on Monday. 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