As some of you may know, I am a huge wrestling fan, and have been for many years. I have a disturbingly large amount of knowledge about the world’s greatest pseudo-sport and have a true appreciation for the men and women who have made pro wrestling the entertaining, fun and silly spectacle that it is. Wrestling can be freakin’ weird at times, too, so beware: this is gonna be a weird post, folks – strap yourselves in!
Francis Jonard Labiak, later known as Jonard Pierre Sjoblom, and best known as Gordon T. Solie (1929-2000), was a professional wrestling announcer. He is widely considered to be among the best wrestling announcers of all time.
Solie, known for his “laconic, intelligent commentary,” is probably the best known announcer from wrestling’s territory days – a time when the wrestling landscape consisted of smaller promotions based in varying regions of the U.S. instead of being dominated by a small number of national organizations. Solie attempted to bring a seriousness to the squared circle action instead of going with a louder, more showmanlike style which was frequently used by his contemporaries.
Among the promotions Solie announced for are Georgia Championship Wrestling, World Championship Wrestling, Championship Wrestling from Florida and Continental Championship Wrestling. He is a member of the World Championship Wrestling Hall of Fame, the WWE Hall of Fame, the NWA Hall of Fame, the Wrestling Observer Newsletter Hall of Fame, and the Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame and Museum, among many other awards. He is quite simply, a legend in professional wrestling.
He also profoundly inspired another legendary announcer, Jim Ross, who inducted him into the WWE Hall of Fame. While Ross doesn’t have a funny name, he has had an interesting career. Despite being quite probably the best wrestling announcer of them all, the barbecue-loving, cowboy-hat-wearing Oklahoman has been treated rather oddly by his superiors over the years. His first appearance with the WWE saw the man they call “Good Ol’ JR” dressed up in a toga as part of the festivities for Wrestlemania IX, a horrible show (more on them later) emanating from Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas. It would get much worse for poor JR. In 2001, Jim Ross would be forced to join the exclusive “Kiss My A–” club – in his home state, no less. The club, which I’m sure you all already know of, is a club that can only be joined by kissing the derriere of WWE head honcho Vince McMahon. It is the only club of its kind that I am aware of, and certainly the only one that involves kissing the rear end of a man who was once a legitimate billionaire. (McMahon’s wealth has since dropped somewhat) Vince also would have become the only founder of such a club to be related to a United States senator had his wife Linda not narrowly lost two Senate elections in Connecticut. (she was the Republican frontrunner in both)
Ross and McMahon’s paths would scatologically cross again in 2005, during a wonderful, Emmy-award winning (wink wink) segment which involved the fictitious physician Dr. Hiney (played by Vince McMahon) performing a proctological exam on poor old JR. The skit involved Dr. Hiney removing all sorts of strange objects out of JR’s hind end, culminating with Dr. Hiney pulling out a replica of JR’s head, adorned in trademark cowboy hat. Yes, sometimes wrestling deserves its bad reputation as a form of lowbrow entertainment. And sadly, I’m not making any of this up.
As if all that weirdness wudn’t enough somewhat Solie-related silliness, Solie’s last announcing job was to be the infamous, horrendous Heroes of Wrestling pay-per-view, but he had to miss the engagement due to failing health. The event might very well be the worst wrestling pay-per-view in history, even worse than the aforementioned Wrestlemania IX and an event classily titled “December to Dismember.”
To illustrate how bad this show was, I’ll share a brief snippet from the event – an interview with Jake “The Snake” Roberts, whose real name is Aurelian Smith. Aurelian was once one of wrestling’s bigger stars, known for his dark charisma, exceptional interviews, and devastating finisher. Sadly, he wasn’t in the best of shape that night, and made some pretty unusual gambling references before his “match” (I use that term very loosely, as it was horrible):
Nah. Not really.
You go Gordon Solie and Good Ol’ JR!