Billy Red Lyons
|Billy Red Lyons|
Lyons as the AWA British Empire Heavyweight Champion
|Ring name(s)||Billy Red Lyons
|Billed height||6 ft 2 in (1.88 m)|
|Billed weight||240 lb (110 kg)|
17 May 1932|
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
|Died||22 June 2009(aged 77)|
|Trained by||Jimmy Simms|
William Snip (17 May 1932 – 22 June 2009) was a Canadian professional wrestler, who used the stage name Billy Red Lyons. He was an active wrestler between 1956 and 1984, and won numerous championship throughout his career. He worked for promotions in both Canada and the United States, particularly in Ontario, California, Minneapolis, Texas, Georgia, and Oklahoma. He won numerous tag team championships throughout his career, including with Dick Beyer, who was his real-life brother-in-law, as well as Fritz Von Erich, Bill Watts, and Ray Gunkel. He also won singles championships, including the NWA Texas Heavyweight Championship.
After his retirement from in-ring competition, he began working for Maple Leaf Wrestling in Toronto. Lyons later became an announcer for the World Wrestling Federation. Lyons died from cancer on June 22, 2009.
Snip made his debut in 1956, under the name Billy Lyons, but soon became known as Billy Red Lyons, due to the colour of his hair. During ths first years of his career, he wrestle against future world champions, including Buddy Rogers and Gene Kiniski.
During his career, he held several tag team championships with Dick Beyer, who was his real-life brother-in-law, as well as Fritz Von Erich, Bill Watts, and Ray Gunkel. He won his first championship in February 1958, when he teamed with Ray Gunkel to win the NWA International Tag Team Championship. Three years later, he won the NWA Canadian Open Tag Team Championship with Ilio DiPaolo, by defeating Stan Kowalski and Tiny Mills on January 26, 1961. Lyons and DiPaolo were the last champions, however, as the championships was abandoned and replaced with the Toronto version of the NWA International Tag Team Championship a few months later. Lyons eventually won this championship with Whipper Billy Watson on March 28, 1962, by defeating Chris and John Tolos. They lost the championship to Bulldog Brower and Sweet Daddy Siki five days later on April 2. On March 27, 1965, Lyons teamed with Beyer, who was using the ring name The Destroyer, to win the AWA World Tag Team Championship from Dan Manoukian and Ray Stevens. On June 3, 1965, they won the All Asia Tag Team Championship in the Japan Wrestling Association from Giant Baba and Toyonobori. They lost the championship back to Baba and Tonobori just over a month later on July 15, 1965. While wrestling in the American Wrestling Association in the 1960s, Lyons was billed as the AWA British Empire Heavyweight Champion.
In 1967, Lyons won his first singles championship, by defeating Duke Keomua by forfeit in the finals of a tournament in San Antonio, Texas to win the NWA Texas Heavyweight Championship on November 8. He held the championship for nearly six months, eventually losing it to The Spoiler #1 on March 29, 1968, in Houston, Texas. During this time, he won the NWA American Tag Team Championship with Fritz von Erich on January 30, 1968, in Dallas, Texas by defeating Gary Hart and Spoiler.
Lyons won the NWA United States Tag Team Championship (Tri-State version) with Bill Watts in January 1971, by defeating Buddy Roberts and Jerry Brown. They lost the championship to Karl Von Brauner and Waldo Von Erich in March, but Lyons won it back with Tom Jones by defeating The Spoilers (The Spoiler #1 and The Spoiler #2) on May 31. The following year, Lyons again teamed with Jones to win the NWA Mississippi Tag Team Championship in March 1972. Jones later said that Lyons was the "best partner I ever had", and credited Lyons with teaching him the psychology of wrestling. Throughout the late '60s and early '70s, he teamed with Red Bastien as The Flying Redheads, and on July 14, 1974, Lyons and Bastien won the NWA Texas Tag Team Championship by defeating Mike York and Frank Monte. They held the championship for three months, but lost it to Chris Colt and Bobby Duncum on October 6, 1972. Bastien later said that he and Lyons "were perfect for each other" as tag team partners. Fellow professional wrestler Blackjack Mulligan said that Bastien and Lyons "were the greatest team of all time", and that watching them wrestle was watching "pure tag team wrestling at its basic".
Following this, he returned to Toronto to compete for Maple Leaf Wrestling. He began teaming with Dewey Robertson in 1974, as the Crusaders, and they won the Toronto version of the NWA International Tag Team Championship on three occasions. They defeated Hartford and Reginald Love for the championship on June 23, 1974, but dropped it back to them on September 8. They defeated them for the championship again on December 29, 1974. He also challenged Jack Brisco for the NWA World Heavyweight Championship in a 1974 Maple Leaf Gardens main event. On June 8, 1975, the Crusaders were beaten by the Kelly Twins (Pat and Mike) for the championship, but they won it back two months later on August 24. They were the final champions, however, as the championship was retired in September 1977.
After his retirement from active competition in 1984, he settled in Toronto and began working as an assistant to promoters Frank and Jack Tunney. He later became a television announcer and interviewer and worked for the World Wrestling Federation up until the mid-1990s. He became famous for his catchphrase, "Don'tcha dare miss it!"
Personal life and death
Snip was the real-life brother-in-law of Dick Beyer, with whom he won the All Asia Tag Team Championship. He was also a talented ice hockey player, before he became a professional wrestler. Greg Oliver, the producer of Canadian Online Explorer's wrestling section, described Snip as having a "sly, cheeky sense of humour", and a man that "never took himself too seriously".
Championships and accomplishments
- Maple Leaf Wrestling
- NWA Big Time Wrestling
- NWA Tri-State
- NWA United States Tag Team Championship (Tri-State version) (2 times) – with Bill Watts (1) and Tom Jones (1)
- Oliver, Greg (2009-06-23). "Billy Red Lyons dies". Slam! Sports. Canadian Online Explorer. Retrieved 2009-06-24.
- "Billy Red Lyons". Slam! Sports. Canadian Online Explorer. Retrieved 2011-09-09.
- Aldren, Mike (2009-06-23). "Daily wrestling news and gossip". The Sun. Retrieved 2009-06-24.
- "Billy Red Lyons passes away at 77". World Wrestling Entertainment. 2008-06-23. Retrieved 2009-06-26.
- "Billy "Red" Lyons". Online World of Wrestling. Retrieved 2009-06-26.
- "International Tag Team Title [Toronto]". Wrestling-Titles. Retrieved 2009-06-26.
- "All Asia Tag Team Title". Wrestling-Titles. Retrieved 2009-06-25.
- "Texas Heavyweight Title". Wrestling-Titles. Retrieved 2009-06-26.
- "N.W.A. United States Tag Team Title". Wrestling-Titles. Retrieved 2009-06-26.
- Oliver, Greg (2009-06-24). "Colleagues respected Lyons' skills". Slam! Sports. Canadian Online Explorer. Retrieved 2009-06-27.
- "Texas Tag Team Title". Wrestling-Titles. Retrieved 2009-06-26.
- Meltzer, Dave (2009-06-23). "Billy "Red" Lyons passes away". Wrestling Observer/Figure Four Online. Retrieved 2009-06-24.