By Mark Nulty
Solie made it all appear so effortless.
ironic thing about Gordon Solie is that he’s the
most popular announcer of all time, but never tried to be.
a foreign concept in a day when a lot of
announcers worry far too much about getting themselves over
and not nearly enough about how to get the matches over.
“Hell with the match, how do I get my catch phrase
in?” Far too many announcers sound like they’re
auditioning to go on second at Open Mike night at the
why is Gordon so much more revered than any of them?
Gordon knew the secret. Gordon understood that wrestling
fans don’t tune in to hear one-liners on television or buy
a ticket to see an announcer.
tune in and pay money to see wrestlers. The better job you
do at making the wrestlers stars and getting the matches
over, the more successful the promotion will be.
Gordon had trademark expressions, but his were used
to build the stars and the matches.
Gordon did such a great job of getting everybody else over,
he got himself over more than any announcer ever.
that listened to Gordon Solie believed in wrestling. They
may not have believed it was a contest, but Gordon made them
believe what was happening was important and the guys doing it were special.
was often called the Walter Cronkite of professional
wrestling. Cronkite is considered the most credible and most
trusted newscaster of all time. Solie brought the same level
of credibility to wrestling, no matter how incredible his
assignment might be at the time.
matter how illogical or far fetched the angle, wrestler or
match; Gordon brought an era of believability and
fans that heard the sport ridiculed for years loved Gordon
for the credibility he brought to wrestling.
if you gave him a great wrestling match to call… nobody
ever called a technical wrestling match better than Gordon.
you don’t appreciate how great Gordon was until you get in
the business and somebody gives you your chance behind a
when you realize all the little things that Gordon did so
an announcer, it’s a lot easier to call a great match.
Anybody can be eloquent about the Brisco Brothers or
the Funk Brothers or Lou Thesz or Ric Flair.
a lot of times a promoter will try to make a main eventer out
of someone that shouldn’t be. He may even push a wrestler
that shouldn’t be pushed at all. And it’s the
announcer’s job to try and get the guy over. If you shill
for a guy like he’s the second coming of Flair, you’re
dead. The fans know when they’re being lied to. You’ll
have no credibility for when you try to get somebody over
that does deserve the hyperbole. But it’s a business and
it’s your job to try and get the promoter’s guy over
even if he shouldn’t be pushed.
walked that precarious line better than Gordon. He could
find something legitimately special about anybody he needed
to. He would find something to focus on that protected his
credibility. Gordon even got Otis Sistrunk over on
national television without looking foolish.
a business that is built on being outrageous, Gordon knew
the value of being subtle and was the master of it.
knew how to accentuate a heel without ever stealing their
spotlight. Gordon always knew what question to ask to let
the heel tell his story. Gordon might ask a follow-up
question about something the heel said, but Gordon never
commentary and interview style provided the perfect contrast
to allow the wrestler’s personality shine. Gordon might
flash a small smile as Dusty did one of his classic
American Dream monologues. Because Gordon was so dead panned
and serious, it made Kevin Sullivan look even more
bizarre. Because Gordon would try to speak rationally with
Sullivan, it made Sullivan look even more maniacal. Gordon
didn’t have to tell you that Sullivan was insane; he just
asked a straight question and the response made it obvious.
no one ever set the stage for a major title match the way
Gordon did. Because Gordon was so knowledgeable and so
credible, if he told you that Dory Funk Jr. vs. Jack
Brisco was going to be a classic, you went out and
bought a ticket. Because you believed Gordon when he
more Gordon tried to avoid the spotlight on him, the
brighter it shined. He never wanted to be the focal point
and hoped we noticed the wrestlers and not him. Lou Thesz
told a great story. “I
will never forget the first Hall of Fame WCW did (at a 1993
Pay-Per-View in Atlanta). The fans gave Gordon a standing
ovation as he came out to introduce the ‘stars.’
Obviously the fans were aware of the quality of the man
before them. After a long ovation, he just politely and
quietly said, ‘May I proceed, please.’ He never tried to
overshadow the boys and by doing so created his own
may not have wanted the fans to know how talented he was,
but we knew. The fans knew, the promoters knew and the
wrestlers knew. Everybody knew how special Gordon was and
how important he was.
announcers that follow him will marvel at how effortless he
made it all look.
Nulty is a professional
journalist that has been in the professional wrestling industry
since the mid-80s as an announcer, referee and promoter.
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