It’s time to herald the news: Solie was the heart and soul of the professional wrestling business

Posted by Andy Durham on August 27, 2009 at 9:39 am under Professional | Comments are off for this article

from the Miami Herald and miamiherald.com:

Solie responsible for wrestling announcing greatness

Since the late 1800s, professional wrestling has developed many high-profile stars, but one of the most well-known personalities ever wasn’t even a wrestler.

He was a commentator, an announcer, a Florida regular named Gordon Solie.

Bob Allyn, with assistance from co-authors Pamela S. Allyn (Gordon Solie’s daughter) and Scott Teal, aims to enrich wrestling fans with the life and times of this legendary broadcaster, who died in 2000 at 71.

Published by Crowbar Press, The Solie Chronicles takes fans on a wild ride behind-the-scenes in the world of professional wrestling.

All sorts of personalities make their way into Allyn’s book about Solie, the voice of Championship Wrestling from Florida. Everyone from Ric Flair and Dusty Rhodes to Hulk Hogan and more graces the pages of this Solie book.

Famous dead-pan style interviews and colorful play-by-play broadcasts of wrestling led to Solie’s induction into the WCW Hall of Fame (Class of 1995), the NWA Hall of Fame (Class of 2006) and the WWE Hall of Fame (Class of 2008).

Bob Allyn said in a release: “The background material for this biography was found in Gordon’s personal files and taken from interviews with the people who knew him the best. It’s written as a testament to a man who made his mark in many endeavors.”

Solie calling a world championship match was like Al Michaels or Bob Costas calling a Super Bowl or a World Series — just a perfect fit.

The majority of the book’s content is drawn from interviews with 65 people from all walks of life who knew Gordon best: family and friends; stock car drivers; professional wrestlers; referees and promoters; journalists; commentators; broadcasters; and photographers.

Born Jonard Frank Labiak on Jan. 26, 1929, Solie began working as a page and errand boy for a Louisiana radio station when he served in the U.S. Air Force. Known to his fellow servicemen as `Gordy,’ he later legally changed his name to Gordon Solie.

In 1950, he worked for WEBK radio in Ybor City, Fla. By starting his own sports radio interview program, Solie made key contacts in professional wrestling and stock car racing.

Subsequently, he set a course and made a major impact on the development of professional wrestling, along with being closely associated with national auto thrill show tours, stock car racing on Florida’s suncoast and ultimately, becoming the host for the highest-rated show on the largest cable network in America.

• Excerpt from The Solie Chronicles:

“Gordon left WCW with a record of good performance, but he did leave an off-the-job situation hanging over his head. While still with WCW, the company changed Gordon’s flights from Delta to Kiwi. He wasn’t happy about the change. Not only did he and Smoky take vacation trips on Gordon’s Delta frequent flyer miles, but a lot of the attendants knew him. He was a regular, and they treated him like one. They would make allowances if he occasionally drank too much, and perhaps even chastise him for lighting a cigarette on a plane.”

NWA legend Harley Race said. “Gordon used to sneak a wet towel into the bathrooms on the airplanes. He used to put the damp towel over the smoke detector and sit in the airplane restroom and smoke cigarettes. Gordon was the reason that the airlines added signs about not tampering with their smoke detectors.”

“When Gordon learned some WCW staff members were still flying Delta, he was doubly ticked off. Chip on his shoulder and all, Gordon got on a Kiwi flight and began belting down some drinks, and then fired up a cigarette. When a flight attendant began to reprimand him, she got a strong dose of verbal abuse from him. When airline personnel complained to WCW about Gordon’s behavior, someone at WCW filed that away in their memory for use at a future date.”

For more information about Gordon Solie’s biography, visit 1wrestlinglegends.com/crowbarpress/solie/index-sr.htm.


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