|Birth name||Francis Jonard Leunissen|
January 26, 1929|
|Died||July 27, 2000
New Port Richey, Florida
|Professional wrestling career|
|Ring name(s)||Gordon Solie|
|Billed from||Minneapolis, Minnesota|
Gordon T. Solie (born Francis Jonard Labiak, later Jonard Pierre Sjoblom, January 26, 1929 – July 27, 2000), was a Florida-based professional wrestling play-by-play announcer working for World Championship Wrestling. Solie was also the regular announcer for Georgia Championship Wrestling, Championship Wrestling from Florida and Continental Championship Wrestling, among others.
The "Dean" of wrestling announcers
Gordon Solie is possibly the most recognized voice from the days of "classic wrestling" (used here synonymous with the territorial system) and was nicknamed the "Dean" of wrestling announcers, the "Walter Cronkite of wrestling" and the "Howard Cosell of wrestling". During the time when ABC Sports anchor Jim McKay reported during the Israeli Hostage Crisis at the 1972 Munich Olympic, he transcended the run-of-the mill sports coverage and helped elevate the genre to prime time news. Many wrestling fans began comparing Solie's stoic reporting and interviewing skills to McKay; Solie even resembled McKay in the eyes of many. Later in his career he began wearing eyeglasses on camera, giving him a strong resemblance to game show host Bill Cullen.
Known for his laconic, intelligent commentary, Solie imparted a seriousness to ring action that most of his contemporaries shunned for the more bombastic style common among wrestling announcers today. One of his trademarks was his pronunciation of "suplex" as "su-play," a term later used by the AWA's Rod Trongard and wrestler/announcer Terry Taylor and, more recently by Mauro Ranallo, during Pride FC broadcasts.
Other famous Solieisms include:
- "Pier 6 brawl" (or "Pier sixer"): Solie's definition of any match that escalated into a free-for-all. (This was lampooned by Bobby Heenan in his autobiography, when he rhetorically asks why they chose Pier 6 and not any other pier.)
- "His face is becoming a crimson mask"
- "They're going at it hammer and tongs"
- "He's not fast, he's sudden!"
- "[insert wrestler's name] is on the scene!" Typically said during a face run-in to counter previous heel run-ins.
- "He'd fight a buzzsaw and give it the first two rounds!"
- "Five letters, two words: I Quit!"
- "Exit Jerry Stubbs...Enter Mr. Olympia".
- "And that's all she wrote for young [insert wrestler's name]" when a losing wrestler is counted out.
World Championship Wrestling
When the Free Birds arrived at WCW In the early 80's their front man, Michael Hayes, who did most of their talking had a run in with Gordon Solie during a pre-match interview. Hayes' wrestling persona had a flamboyant style and he would spit while talking during the interviews and Solie had warned him several times about it and on one particular interview Hayes began spitting when he talked and Solie became so enraged that he threw down his microphone and went after Hayes. This was not scripted and Hayes looked visibly frightened as Solie attempted to beat him up on air. After they were broken up Solie walked off the set and reportedly quit WCW. Ted Turner himself begged Solie to return, which he did a few weeks later.
Gordon Solie called WCW Pro from March 12, 1994 to July 1, 1995, alongside Dusty Rhodes and Larry Zbyszko.
In 1995, "Macho Man" Randy Savage pushed for World Championship Wrestling to place his father, Angelo Poffo, in its Hall of Fame. Solie opposed this decision, because he felt wrestlers (or in this case, family of wrestlers) should not be asking for spots in the Hall — in this case, especially, since Poffo did not have much of a career in WCW and was not a notable wrestler. Gordon Solie was involved in the selection of the 1993 and 1994 inductees but was not consulted in regard to the 1995 inductee class. Although Solie was also inducted in the 1995 WCW Hall of Fame, he had already given his notice of termination. Poffo's induction went on and Solie left the company shortly after.
Death and memoirs
In 2005, Florida Media, Inc. published a collection of Solie's short stories and poetry in a book entitled Gordon Solie...Something Left Behind.
On March 29, 2008, Jim Ross posthumously inducted Solie into the WWE Hall of Fame in the Class of 2008. Later the same year WWE's WWE Classics on Demand video service began offering The Film Room with Gordon Solie, hosted by Ross, focusing on Solie's announcing and interviewing of a specific wrestler or group of wrestlers involved in a feud.
On August 11, 2009 Solie's biography, The Solie Chronicles was released by Crowbar Press.
Solie's famous CWF send-off- "So long, from the sunshine state", was featured in the closing signature of WWE's former developmental territory- FCW's television program, as a tribute to the legendary Florida-based play-by-play commentator.
Championships and accomplishments
- Other honoree (1996)
- Magee, Bob (2003-10-27). "AS I SEE IT 10/28: Wrestling loses two of its best". WrestleView.com. Retrieved 2012-06-11.
- The Gordon Solie Website
- WWE Hall of Fame profile of Gordon Solie
- GORDON SOLIE: LEGENDARY ANNOUNCER
- Solie's Vintage Wrestling
- Gordon Solie feature from SLAM! Wrestling
- Pick My Brain interview with Bob Allyn, author of "Gordon Solie... Something Left Behind"
- Gordon Solie at Find a Grave