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Wednesday, 25 April 2007
Remembering Gordon Solie by Roy Harbin
Topic: Gordon Solie/Wrestling

This is a contribution I wrote for Eric Solies site:

I have re-edited it for form and a few spelling corrections but it's the same as what's posted in his 'contributions' page.

If you're a fan,,go check it out and leave a guestbook entry to let Eric (his son) know.


  Admittedly,Gordon Solie belongs in the world of what's commonly considered fake professional wrestling.Yet,,he and it,was a real part of my world growing up in Vero Beach,Florida.

  I don't know about other people in other places but the part such things as pro wrestling on broadcast tv had to play in our lives back then had influences on me that helped shape me into the person I am.

  I was born in 64 so I am sure I was hearing wrestling matches in the womb. My father was responsible for that I suppose.Being born in '24 he was a wrestling fan from way,way back,,he used to tell me stories of going to those old style 'prize or purse matches' that would take place in warehouses and stables or other places suitably secluded and large enough for a crowd and a ring for a couple of battling men.He even had been to many of the well knnown venues that hosted other sports events such as Madison Square Gardens and others through his life.

  So as wrestling eventually gained some greater form of popularity,, even if not much respectability,as a crowd drawing sport event,he was pleased so can you imagine how him and all those old fans felt when they started getting to watch it on a regular basis on broadcast t.v.?Well,he was one of those folks,,and then out of West Palm on Channel 5 comes Championship Wrestling from Florida.Yes,the studios were in Tampa,,but we got the signal from the station south of us.

  My earliest clear memories are of the t.v. screen,,looming large in my sight.It was black and white of course but we soon got a color set so my general recollections are of these fellows in short tight weird looking 'trunks' with high laces boots grappling on the screen narrated by a smooth talking eloquent commentator who seemed to have an uncanny ability to not only identify a move one of the wrestlers was using on his opponent but also to state the name of it along with a modifying word or phrase so quick that it almost seemed scripted.

  No matter if the action was a singles competition,a tag team or even the old time lumberjack and battleroyal matches he called the shots on the money.He could keep track of what was going on,and talk about it,better than I could track the action on the screen.He amazed me.Even if ones eyes weren't on the screen you could count on knowing what the action was thanks to his radio style narrative.One could easily identify his professional roots.

  But he left an impression on me in more ways than simply through his mic skills.Along with the well executed descriptions of the physical events occuring in the ring his obviously large vocabulary enabled the descriptions to include words and phrases that carried 'emotional intent' and 'moral declarations' that not only enhanced the dramatic elements but also made it quite clear as to who was heel.

  This helped shape my impressions of bullies and bad guys,,believe it or not.The wrestling world was way different back then.The bad guys were bad,, and the good guys were good.

  As far a I am concerned the way things are presented in todays V-Mac dominated wresting world are poorly defined and lacking in the solidity that those by gone grapplers had thanks in large part to Gordons Solies influence on the sport genre.The fare that is accepted as professional wrestling today has about as much solidity and character integrity as tapioca pudding.No,,NOT the physical skills,,the production skills in the writing of plots,swerves,gimmmicks, character development and portrayal.The wrestlers themselves are an amazing group of athletes and I stand in awe of them constantly.

  But even considering it is aimed at the 9 to 14 year old male market,,the backstage management seems exceptionally juvenile and I regret to be the one to point it out,,often amateurish.But yes,,I still watch what I get on my broadcast t.v.,,every Friday night,,8 to 10.And I thank ol'Vinnie Mac,his dad and granddad for their part in the history of it and for keeping it going.

  The thing is,,back in the day,,Gordon and others like him generally had NO idea what was part of the show and what wasn't so their reactions to the action had a much more realistic flavor than todays common fare.The way Gordon would react with feeling that was definitely unfeigned carried an impact that you don't feel in todays shows.

  His commentary included statements such as villainous,dastardly, horrific and others that I often doubt the guys I see every Friday night could work in to a script with a pencil let alone on the fly like Gordon.But they were pivotal to the tapestry he wove with his words.The way he had of working the television show with the verbal skills of a play by play radio sports announcer just seemed to bring the show alive in a way that you didn't get with other shows,not even other sports shows with play by play comments.

  Now to me,,that's just an illustration of his skills being far superior to the 'radio pros' of that time and especially so when compared to those working wrestling and radio now.

  But don't get me wrong,,I have respect for the current commentaters,, such as I see on Friday Night Smackdown and I thank them for their parts and contributions to the industry.You guys know who you are.

  Yet they don't carry the impact nor make the impressions that Gordon was able to.There are obviously many differences in style and in the personas that make a giant difference.For one thing,Gordons wasn't staged.Well,to be honest,I did miss his later appearences with V.Mac's productions so maybe he had a different take on things then.I do hope he didn't seem too different to his old fans who caught those shows.

  The way he came off when he liked a wrestler,or didn't,was allways genuine seeming and I rarely doubted his opinions of the characters or events he talked about.The fact that his opinions allmost allways coincided with mine and my fathers naturally affected this sentiment greatly. I can't credit Gordon Solie directly with fostering in me what I like to call a 'bully fighting mentality' but I can say that his comments and stated opinions did influence my young mind regarding how to identify a bully like act.As to a direct fostering influence,,I can identify my older brothers and sisters as a major one.But that's a different story alltogether,,well,maybe not entirely. The way Gordon called the action became the 'typical way' to call action for us kids.His was the pattern and cadence we would emulate,,or try poorly to that is.While we would be playfighting or even releasing the common frustrations and or aggressive tendencies for real,,which we we thought nothing of back then,we would be doing our own verbal play by play calls while imitating him.Yep,,not one of the famous sports anouncers who you might catch on the majors sports events,,Gordon Solie the guy on Championship Wrestling from Florida.

  Every Saturday after the morning cartoon line up that was the call for me and my father to watch wrestling.After him and my mom divorced and her and my siblings moved out this became a 'thing' for us.Right around noon it seems,we would put one of those frozen solid store bought pizzas in the oven.Grab some Ruffles or Wise potato chips,Freetos and soda,,Mr.Pibb,for me and Busch beer for dad and settle in for the show.

   I can't really recall the variations in the line up that we watched but sometimes there were more than one wrestling show and that allways made for a better Saturday.But mostly I remember that they would roll old chop-saki's,spaghetti westerns or monster movies,,mainly the japanese genre and old b flick black and whites after the wrestling was over.And that was the rest of my Saturday viewing regime.Any number of other things began after that.

  To this day,,when I think of or look at a picture of Gordon Solie I can't help but recall my own father.It's not so much that they look a bit like each other.Yes,both had the receeding hair line,wore glasses and had a common look forged in a common era.It was more of an attitude I think,,or maybe just a way in which things were a bit plainer for them to state in terms of good and bad.I suppose it could be called part of that generations flavor though.And one that I am glad I got a taste of before it got drowned out by what is sprinkled around so much today.

  So I have to tip my hat to Gordon Solie and thank him very greatfully for the part he played in the history of professional wrestling as well as the very treasured part he played in my childhood and continues to play in my memories.I personally wish that some of todays 'commentaters' in the industry would apply some of what he used to their work.But that's up to Vinnie Mac,I suppose.

reference links (for some who may not know of Gordon Solie,,or maybe wrestling in general.:


Posted by Roy L.H.:That DANG DInGIE American at 12:16 AM EDT
Updated: Saturday, 12 May 2007 2:49 AM EDT
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