Dedicated to Gordon Solie
January 29, 1929 - July 27, 2000
This interview, which is the one most eagerly anticipated by yours truely, was conducted in late September 1998 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.
Too be continued...
The program opens with a memorial to Peter Seligman. Flashbacks of the Goldberg attacks are followed by Vince Russo on the phone being interrupted by Jeff Jarrett. He calms the former Champ somewhat then assures "Scott" on the phone that "it" is going down tonight. The program is live from Wichita, Kansas.
Prime Time Elix Skipper is accompanied to the ring by his mentor, Lance Storm, who joins the broadcast team as Lt. Loco comes down for a match accompanied by General Rection. The crowd goes into a USA chant as the two prepare to lock-up. On paper this has got to be a rout - Skipper has no wrestling skills that I have seen thus far, while Guerrero is a formidible competitor. Sure enough, Storm has to interfere to turn the tables for his protege. He and the General brawl into the crowd as Skipper uses his CFL championship ring to win the match illegally.
Vince Russo comes to the ring in the company of his security troups and launches into his weekly rant. At the mention of his name, Goldberg runs in and scatters the security guys then confronts the boss, who is defiant, telling the monster to back-off or be fired. He makes Goldberg an offer of a release with no strings attached. He hands him the release form and a pen. Goldberg looks it over then tears it up. Russo threatens Goldberg with Jarrett, Nash and Scott Steiner - Goldberg isn't impressed. As Goldberg attacks, Steiner suddenly appears on the big screen and is in front of Goldberg's girlfriend's hotel room door. He breaks in and hauls her to her feet before we lose the camera feed. Goldberg takes off to the rescue. Russo is left alone in the ring, then the World Champion shows up. Booker has a message for Kevin Nash, a threat of bodily harm, actually. Russo claims that he "made" Booker...right...and tells him to "get to steppin". Booker delivers an ax kick as his answer to that.
Goldberg jumps on his motorcycle and roars away as we return from the break. Russo's troups - the former Tag Team Chumps and their allies are hauling him to the back. He grabs Chuck Palumbo and tells him to be ready to wrestle for the World Title tonight if Nash fails to appear.
Next up: Kwiwi/Paisley vs. Cpl. Cajun/Major Gunns. Allen Funk is still wearing those weird "Tutu" type trunks that he used to sport on WCWSN. The "men" go to the outside while the girls continue in the ring. The Corporol then lends his partner a hand to deliver a big splash on Paisley and get the pin. Kwiwi and Paisley attack from behind after the match. In the back, Russo is on the phone with Steiner again, assuring him that everything is going as planned.
Three Count and Talentless Tank are in the ring and ready to debut their new record - written by Abbott (and sung by him as well). It is almost as bad as his wrestling. Fortunately, he cuts it short, accusing his back-up singers of screwing up. He leaves the ring and turns his back on the entryway - a perfect opportunity for Vampiro and Co. (ICP and Muta) to attack and then clear the ring. Vamp holds up a title belt and declares that it is the Juggalo Championship Wrestling World Title (huh..?) His rant turns toward Sting before the Talentless one returns and chases them from the ring. He wants JCW Title match later in the program.
"Above Average" Mike Sanders makes a pointless speech about himself and his cronies Jindrak and O'Hare, Sean Stasiak and Reno. The Natural Born Thrillers - he calls them. The Filthy Animals appear on the platform and Konnan puts them in there place - then we cut to commercial.
The match is in progress as we return and Sean O'Hare is dominating Juventud Guerrera. It't the Thrillers (minus Stasiak) vs the Animals (minus Konnan). This is also a Tag Team Title match - or I guess not, according to Tony. As the match proceeds, Stasiak and Konnan trade barbs at the broadcast table. Stasiak is overmatched... In the ring, Disco Inferno is having a little more luck against Jindrak - but not much more. Disco and Guerrera team up to turn the tables decisively. As Mistero tries to come in, Jindrak knocks him off the top rope and Mike Sanders takes control. They have Misterio in their clutches but can't seem to pin him. O'Hare and Jindrak end up running into each other. Soon they have the rookie team tied in knots - but somehow Sanders wins the match with a reverse hangman. Then they punk Tigress. Meanwhile, Goldberg rolls up to the hotel and jumps off his bike as we cut to commercial.
Miss Paulshock is talking to Chuck Palumbo, who vows to become the World Champ tonight. And that match is next...I guess Nash didn't make it... There doesn't seem to be a referee for the match, until Russo shows up in a striped shirt... Naturally, Booker T dominates the early going. In fact, Palumbo is incapable of doing anything right - but it doesn't matter because the referee is refusing to count on Palumbo - and quick counting on the Champ. Tony is trying desparately to make Palumbo sound like a great wrestler - but it is hopeless since we are all watching the match... As Booker assumes command he is attacked by the Thrillers - but Big Vito runs in and saves the day - then Kevin Nash shows up with a chair and whacks Booker. Vito distracts Russo for a bit, delaying the count, but Russo eventually counts Booker out and declares Palumbo the winner. This brings the Cat to the ring to protest the outcome. He orders a restart, taking the belt from Palumbo and ordering the rest of the thugs to the back. He also orders Russo to the broadcast tables and then removes his outer shirt to reveal a referee's shirt underneath! Booker proceeds to destroy his challenger and takes the pin. The camera switches back to the hotel where Goldberg is approaching his girlfriend's room.
Vampiro returns to the ring with ICP, who commandeer the announce table. This is the JCW Title match against Less-than-talented Tank. ICP mangle Abbott's name at every opportunity as they call the match. At one point Vampiro ducks a punch and the referee is taken out. ICP invade the ring and Tank has them all three on the ropes until Muta sneaks up behind him and turns the tables. The Talentless One is punked. Three Count come to the ring to help their mentor up - but he stalks off. In the back, Steiner hauls Goldberg's lady friend (her name is Beth) in through the back door.
Norman Smiley is determined to not be the Hardcore Champ - he challenges Kronic to a Hardcore handicap match!! Brian Clarke takes the honors as Adams joins the announce team. Smiley is knocked to the floor where he slaps Adams to draw him into the ring. Now he is facing both guys, who have filled the ring with plunder. As Adams rejoins the announcers, the Harris Boyz run in and put Brian Clarke through a table then roll Norman on top for the pin. Poor Norman...
In the back, the Cat is giving Lance Storm a dressing down, then he books a tag team match for the United States Title pitting Storm and a partner of the Cat's choosing against General Rection and Mike Awesome. By the way, he also reveals that Carl Oulette's work visa has been revoked. In the back, Big Vito is interviewed by Pamela Paulshock - he will take on Kevin Nash tonight...in fact, in the next match.
Nash makes his way to the ring to await his smaller opponent. Vito definitely has his game face on as he approaches the battleground. Nash is all over him from the get go but Vito has shown himself to be a very tough customer. As Nash goes for the snake eyes, Vito escapes and gets a big boot to Nash's face and a two count. He hits a big headbutt from the top rope and again gets two. Nash makes a comeback and treats Vito with more respect this time. He executes the snake eys on the second try. But he only gets two. He hits the jack knife powerbomb, then goes for it a second time as Booker T runs in and ends the match on a DQ.
Backstage after the break, Vito refuses medical attention and storms out.
Lance Storm comes to the ring still not knowing who his partner will be. Jeff Jarrett interrupts the playing of "O Canada" and is revealed as Storm's mystery partner. Rection and Awesome hit the ring and the fight is on in a flash. The General comes close to getting a pin right off the bat but Jarrett distracts him to prevent it. Then Storm turns the tables...and Jarrett prevents him from making the pin! Awesome wants in but the General brushes him off...then misses a splash. Awesome is tagged in and Jarrett has to save his partner again. The General gets his moonsault, but the referee is distracted and Elix Skipper saves Storm's butt. Jarrett comes back into the ring with his guitar and takes a shot at Storm...but hits Awesome instead. Storm retains his title.
In the backstage area we see Scott Steiner dragging Beth toward the ring. We are told that Goldberg is on his way back to the arena. Steiner challenges Goldberg to save his girlfriend, which brings the monster out - only to be back attacked by Jarrett with a chair. Goldberg ends up in the ring being pummeled as Beth cowers in the corner. Booker runs out to help, which brings Nash out to put things back in the other direction. Goldberg recovers and it looks like his side is ahead - but then Rick Steiner runs in with his steel pipe and starts swinging. Goldberg is knocked out and handcuffed. Booker is also cuffed. Then Scott gets his hands on Beth again and puts her into the recliner as Goldberg struggles to escape the shackles. Beth is left laying in the ring as the bad guys go back to work on Goldberg and Booker and the program ends.
RAW is live from the Cajun Dome in Lafayette, LA. Jerry Lawler is missing as the program gets underway. The Rock comes to the ring and wants to challenge HHH and Kurt Angle but Commissioner Foley shows up and nixes that idea - he gives Maivia the night off in order to keep him from getting hurt before the big show on Sunday. Shane McMahon and Kurt Angle interrupt to say that Angle has now made friends with HHH - who showed up with Stephanie to agree. HHH wants a title shot against the Rock, but Foley has other ideas. He sets a match for HHH and Angle against the Acolytes, reminds Stephanie that she has a title defense against Lita tonight - and makes Rocky Maivia the referee for that match!!! This all wastes about 20 minutes...
In the backstage area, Jerry Lawler attacks Tazz and then allows himself to be restrained. The King then retired to the announce table wearing his wrestling gear, only to be told that Foley has ordered Tazz out of the arena for the rest of the evening.
The Hardey Boyz took on the Dudleys in a real knock-down-drag-out fight while Edge and Christian providing sniping commentary from the announce table. The Dudleys are attempting to bring a table out from under the ring but they are bombed from the inside by Jeff Hardey and fails to secure the weapons. Back in the ring, the Dudleys take control of things and Matt has to rescue his brother to prevent a pin. Now the Tag Champs are getting discreetly involved (meaning they are not letting the referee see them). They manage to cause the Hardeys to win.
Val Venis insists that Trish work with him in a mixed tag match tonight to get some experience for their match against Chyna and Eddie G at the PPV. Their opponents ar Crash Holly and Ivory. Backstage, Chyna wants to go out and get involved but Eddie G convinces her to stay out of it. In the ring, the men are doing all the work until Ivory gets the tag and drags her opponent into the ring. Venis stays in the ring and powerbombs Ivory to give his partner the pin. Backstage, Chyna heads for the ring and ends up taking on Val! She then drags Trish in but Venis returns and breaks it up. Eddie runs in and chases Val away.
Backstage, Chyna wants to take on Trish tonight, but Foley proposes that they wait until the PPV and he will put the IC Title on the line in their mixed tag match.
Rikishi comes to the ring to face Kane in a battle of the beheamoths. This is pretty evenly fought by these two bruisers until Kane gets hold of a chair and ends the match with a DQ. He delivers three of the chair shots and then Too Cool run in - but the Right to Censor attack them from behind and they also get taken out by Kane's chair. Kane leaves and the RTC deal out some more punshiment on the vanquished trio.
In their match against Kurt Angle and HHH, the Acolytes show their superior teamwork to good advantage but their opponents are also a surprisingly effective team. At one point, Faarooq came close to pinning Angle but the referee actually seemed to break it up when HHH was late making the save. Shortly thereafter, Angle and HHH managed to use a little teamwork of their own and win the match - but the Acolytes were up in a thrice and beating on the victors. HHH abandons his partner to his fate and we cut to commercial.
In the backstage area, Angle is out of sorts over what just happened but HHH tells him to focus on Stephanie's coming title match.
The Right to Censor comes to the ring as Jim Ross tells the crew to turn off their mics. In the ring, Steven Richards launches into his standard rant, saying then will fight anyone who offends morality. He refers to Rikishi's looks and actions as "inapporpriate" to justify their actions earlier - then shows footage of the incident. This brings the Commissioner back out to put in his two cents. He says they are interrupting his shrimp dinner! He calls them on the carpet for trying to censor everything. He books a match at Summerslam - Bull/The Goodfather against Rikishi and Too Cool - then throws Richards himself into the mix to even the odds. Backstage, Shane is goading the Posse into fighting his battles for him. He sends them in to attack Steve Blackman, who creams both of them and then takes out after Shane.
Angle is checking out when Stephanie catches up with him and says she needs his support in her match against Lita. He relents amd stays.
Chris Jericho makes his entrance next. He has a match against Saturn for the European Title. The fight starts as a simple slugfest and never rises above that level to any great degree. Saturn hangs Jericho up in the classic tree of woe - but then fails to follow up. Jericho makes a comeback but Chris Benoit runs out and cause the DQ. Saturn walks away with his title while the latter two mix it up in the ring until numerous referees intervene to separate them. The struggle is titanic and they have to be repeatedly dragged away from each other. Backstage, Shane encounters Trish Stratus and asked her to step out of camera range for a conference.
Meanwhile, Angle and HHH are arguing over Stephanie's training. Stephanie talks her husband into backing off and letting Kurt work with her. Somewhere else in the building, Test suddenly attacks Steve Blackman as he is headed for the ring. I guess this is the result of Shane's meeting with Trish. Test drags the Champ to the ring then starts delivering shots with a trash can lid. Blackman retreats to the ring followed by Test with a trash can. After some byplay, Blackman makes a comeback and turns the tables. Now Test is on the receiving end...so Albert runs out to help his partner. All of this is legal, of course, because this is hardcore style. Test tries to use a fire extinguisher, but Blackman comes back again and Albert gets the extiguisher in the face. Now the Tag Champs run in and they attack Blackman. But he recovers again and has them all on the ropes until Shane runs in a whacks him with a kendo stick. Shane takes the pin and the title. Backstage, Commissioner Foley proposes a rematch at SummerSlam for Blackman. Shane lays down right there and wants Edge or Christian to pin him! Foley seems to encourage them - but then says no - he'll keep the rematch at SummerSlam.
Angle is still working with Steph when HHH returns and says "That's enough." At WWF New York, Terri runs out and attacks the Kat then lays the Stinkface on her!!
Edge and Christian come to the ring to face the NewNew Age Outlaws with the Tag Title at stake. The Tag Champs show their superior team work throughout the match as JR announces that X-Pac and Road Dogg will face each other one-on-one at the PPV. About five minutes into the match, the DX members get into an argument - then the Dudleys run in and chase off the Champions! DX continue to argue then X-Pac accidently on purpose knocks the Dogg off the apron and through a table!
The main event is a crock tonight. Stephanie's title defense against Lita with the Rock as the referee. Stephanie arrives with her two companions - Lita is alone in the ring. Of course, there's the Rock to contend with. Maivia eschews the striped shirt but takes charge of things and makes HHH and Angle leave the ring. Lita, the wrestler - is all over Stephanie, the non-wrestler, until HHH gets involved. But then the Hardeys run out to even the odds. Meanwhile, Stephanie has taken charge in the ring, thanks to HHH's interference. She gets a DDT and a two count. After a couple of more exchanges, Lita regains the advantage. Stephanie is doing better then we expected, but not good enough. Angle upsets Lita's balance on the top corner then tries to give the title belt to Steph - but the referee drags him into the ring and starts pounding on him! HHH tries to intervene but he is creamed as well. Lita hits a moonsault off the top corner and takes the pin and the title!
I'll be back on Saturday. 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 memory of the Dean of Wrestling announcers, Gordon Solie.
Copyright 2000 - Jump City Productions