Solie in 1979
Francis Jonard Labiak
January 26, 1929
Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S.
|Died||July 27, 2000 (aged 71)|
New Port Richey, Florida, U.S.
|Other names||Jonard Pierre Sjoblom|
|Occupation||Professional wrestling announcer|
Gordon Solie (born Francis Jonard Labiak, later Jonard Pierre Sjoblom, January 26, 1929 – July 27, 2000), was an American Florida-based professional wrestling play-by-play announcer working for Georgia Championship Wrestling, Championship Wrestling from Florida, USA Championship Wrestling, Continental Championship Wrestling, and World Championship Wrestling.
He is regarded as one of the greatest and most influential wrestling announcers. Jim Ross cites him as the most significant influence on his career as an announcer.
Professional wrestling career
Originally from Minnesota, Solie moved to Tampa, Florida, in the 1950s after completing military service in the United States Air Force. Solie began his pro wrestling career as a ring announcer, making $5 a night emceeing weekly shows in the Tampa Bay area. He soon began working for Championship Wrestling from Florida, and in 1960, he moved into the broadcast booth to become the lead announcer for CWF's Saturday morning television shows, a spot he would occupy for the next quarter-century. During that time, he commentated on matches featuring some of pro wrestling's biggest legends, including WWE Hall of Famer Dusty Rhodes, The Brisco Brothers and Dory Funk Jr., among numerous others. Solie rose to national prominence when Superstation WTBS began broadcasting pro wrestling, and the exposure helped him branch out, leading to Solie working for promotions in Georgia, Alabama and Puerto Rico.
Much of his fame stems from the gravelly sound of his voice calling the in-ring action and his unique lingo. He sometimes is incorrectly credited for originating the term "Pier-Six Brawl" to describe a wild brawl, and was also notorious for noting when a bloodied superstar was "wearing a crimson mask." His oft-imitated signature call of a suplex as a "su-play." His signature sign-off was: "So long from the Sunshine State," followed by a wink.
In 1987, a board game, Gordon Solie's Championship Wrestling Trivia Game, was released by Sports Entertainment International, Inc.
When CWF finally folded in 1987, Solie returned to Georgia and became one of the lead announcers for the NWA (National Wrestling Alliance) later WCW television programs. Solie also worked for the Continental Wrestling Federation and USA Championship Wrestling based out of Knoxville. It was a natural transition for "The Dean," who had also been Georgia Championship Wrestling's lead announcer before it became a subsidiary of NWA/WCW. He remained there until his eventual retirement in 1995; his last event was 1995 Slamboree. He was diagnosed with cancer soon after his retirement. In the late-1990s, his vocal chords were removed due to throat cancer. In July 2000, he died due to throat cancer at the age of 71.
In 2005, Solie's posthumously released memoir Gordon Solie ... Something Left Behind became a best-seller. On March 29, 2008, Jim Ross posthumously inducted Solie into the WWE Hall of Fame in the Class of 2008; appearing on Solie's behalf were his five children, Pam, Danise, Jonard, Eric and Greg. 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 last announcing job was to be the Heroes of Wrestling pay-per-view in 1999, but he could not attend due to failing health. He died of throat cancer on July 27, 2000. In 2005, Florida Media, Inc. published a collection of Solie's short stories and poetry in Gordon Solie ... Something Left Behind.
Awards and accomplishments
- Cauliflower Alley Club
- Other honoree (1996)
- National Wrestling Alliance
- Pro Wrestling Illustrated
- Pro Wrestling This Week
- Wrestler of the Week (August 9–15, 1987)
- Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame and Museum
- World Championship Wrestling
- World Wrestling Entertainment
- Wrestling Observer Newsletter awards
- Magee, Bob (October 27, 2003). "AS I SEE IT 10/28: Wrestling loses two of its best". WrestleView.com. Retrieved June 11, 2012.
- However, the term appears in print as early as 1933: "Risko is Victor over Levinsky in Ten Rounds". Chicago Tribune. 25 February 1933.
- "Gordon Solie's Championship Wrestling Trivia Game". Board Game Geek. Retrieved March 21, 2017.
- "Gordon Solie". Retrieved 21 June 2017.
- Profile, gordonsolie.com; accessed March 2, 2016.
- Pedicino, Joe; Solie, Gordon (hosts) (August 15, 1987). "Pro Wrestling This Week". Superstars of Wrestling. Atlanta, Georgia. Syndicated. WATL.