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Gordon Solie made it look so effortless

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Enjoy Gordon Solie at his best. Here are four clips of Gordon Solie announcing:

Ric Flair wins the NWA title from Harley Race at the first Starrcade.

Terry Funk wins the NWA title from Jack Brisco.

NWA champ Dory Funk Jr. meets Paul Jones in a non-title match.

NWA champ Terry Funk tackles Sonny Rogers.


By Mark Nulty

Gordon Solie made it all appear so effortless.

The ironic  thing about Gordon Solie is that he’s the most popular announcer of all time, but never tried to be.

It’s 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 Chuckle Hut.

So why is Gordon so much more revered than any of them?

Because 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.

They 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.

Because Gordon did such a great job of getting everybody else over, he got himself over more than any announcer ever.

Anybody 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.

He 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.

No matter how illogical or far fetched the angle, wrestler or match; Gordon brought an era of believability and respectability.

And fans that heard the sport ridiculed for years loved Gordon for the credibility he brought to wrestling. 

And if you gave him a great wrestling match to call… nobody ever called a technical wrestling match better than Gordon.

But you don’t appreciate how great Gordon was until you get in the business and somebody gives you your chance behind a microphone.

That’s when you realize all the little things that Gordon did so well.

As 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.

But 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.

Nobody 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.

In a business that is built on being outrageous, Gordon knew the value of being subtle and was the master of it.

Gordon 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 challenged.

Gordon’s 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.

And 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 said it.

The 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 spotlight.”

Gordon 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.

And announcers that follow him will marvel at how effortless he made it all look.

Mark 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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