Gordon Solie

Gordon was known as the ‘Dean of Professional Wrestling’ by almost every pro-wrestling enthusiast who got the chance to hear Gordon call a match, and even by millions and millions of pro-wrestling enthusiasts who were afforded the opportunity to watch old tapes with Gordon calling a match.

There is no doubt that even today’s pro-wrestling product is still heavily influenced by Gordon Solie. And there is no doubt in our hearts Gordon will always be remembered and cherished in this industry for everything that he gave back to us. He truly was the voice which changed the face of pro wrestling forever.

Many look back on the legendary career of Gordon Solie and consider him to be the “Walter Cronkite of professional wrestling” based on how much credibility he had. If Gordon Solie told you the match you were watching was a ‘classic’ it was not simply ‘hype’ to get the show over, it was the actual truth. Gordon did not ever go out on television with the idea to get himself over, or to get any of the wrestler’s over. He did that, but he did it in such a way that he didn’t have to shill for any of the companies he worked for. Solie truly was a fan of every company he worked for, and he truly believed in every wrestler he got to provide ‘play by play’ for during his career.

This is obviously why when Gordon Solie announced something special was going on right in front of us, there was actually something special going on right in front of our very own eyes. There will never be another Gordon Solie in this industry. And when Solie passed away, the wrestling world lost the best play by play man in the history of this industry.

THE EARLY YEARS

Gordon Solie was not a pro-wrestling man to start out, he began his career in the broadcasting world in the 1950’s, after he finished his service in the U.S. Air Force. Solie covered Minor League Sporting event’s such as Stock car racing, Professional Boxing, and yes, Pro-Wrestling. Solie would get all the assignments the more experienced sports broadcaster’s wanted to shy away from.

Solie worked for a small radio station in Ybor City, Florida. And it was during this period he was assigned to interview local pro-wrestler’s and eventually became interested in pro-wrestling.

FIRST WRESTLING JOB

Gordon took a job as a ring announcer for “Cowboy” Lutrell and his Florida Championship Wrestling promotion earning $5.00 a night. Even though he was not earning a considerable amount of money (even for this era), Solie took his ring announcing duties serious. And conducted himself as a professional broadcaster.

It quickly became known Gordon Solie was something special, when after he was assigned by “Cowboy” Lutrell to interview wrestler’s at ringside, the interviews were thought to have been ‘revolutionary’ by wrestling standards. Gordon approached each interview as if it was something new and unique, and took every personality he interviewed seriously.

From 1960 to 1987 Gordon hosted Florida Championship Wrestling. In this time period, FCW did not have the greatest talent roster in the world. But you would never have known that watching the television show. When the FCW company had a lack of talent depth, even the jobbers came across as being special attractions based on Solie’s commentary. When the company had great talent depth, the show seemed just as hot. Gordon had this unique ability to turn a lackluster match in to a must-see contest. But he did not ever compromise his credibility by shilling for lackluster contests and trying to build them up to be ‘classic’ battles. Somehow, Solie was able to tell us the match wasn’t a ‘classic’ but at the same time get over the wrestler’s involved in the contest turning it in to a ‘classic’.

In 1974 Gordon began working for Georgia Championship Wrestling and would travel from Florida to Georgia every week to do the GCW show (which aired on Ch. 17, which would later become Superstation TBS). Gordon kept his job in Florida as well, and hosted both FCW’s TV show and GCW’s TV show.

This relationship with Georgia Championship Wrestling (which later turned in to World Championship Wrestling) lasted until early 1985.

After his stint with the Turner led promotion’s ended in 1985, Solie returned back to exclusively doing Florida Championship Wrestling. Even though over the years, FCW folded, and re-opened (usually with a new front man in charge) Gordon was still “the man” for that group.

“I remember watching the new Florida Championship Wrestling show, and their talent roster, well lets face it, sucked. And here was the legend Gordon Solie, who no doubt by this time was over himself as a true personality in pro-wrestling even though he never attempted to get himself over, doing play by play for such nothings like “The Ring Lord’s” (Road Warrior tag team rip off, both weighed about 175 lbs soaking wet) and Richard Slinker. And the amazing thing was, I found myself actually believing these superstars were TOP A talent. It was not a sales job by any means, Solie did not attempt to sell anything to us. What it was, was Gordon Solie being himself and telling us he knew these guys were not TOP A talent, but they were unique to their craft, and they had qualities unique to themselves. Gordon truly was the reason why Florida Championship Wrestling still was able to put on HOT TV. And Solie did it without compromise his legendary status, or shilling a product to us, which we obviously realized wasn’t as good as the past FCW companies had provided to us. Solie never looked down on the talent he was working with, and he always treated them as if they were something special.” — CJDark.

In 1989, Gordon signed a contract with World Championship Wrestling to return back to national play by play duties. Alongside Jim Ross, who was in the position of color man, he was once again calling the action as he saw it for all his fans. This was, with out a doubt, the greatest play by play and color combination in the history of pro wrestling. It was also the most knowledgeable duo in history. No doubt this is when Jim Ross became educated in the proper way to call the action as a play by play man. Without Ross being paired up with Solie in 1989, Ross may not be where he is right now in pro-wrestling.

In 1995 Gordon left WCW again, his agreement with WCW dissolved. Solie seemed to be shunned by the WCW organization who didn’t think he was capable of providing play by play action any longer. Solie had been reduced to doing a “Wrestling News Network” segment on WCW TV, and he eventually quit the company.

WCW had a grand vision of turning Gordon Solie in to “Walter Cronkite” for real, and he was asked to shill news items which were obviously not taken seriously by management. In short, Solie began to see his own credibility erode. The problem with the skits were that the news wasn’t meant to be taken serious, and was written to be light humor. But Solie took everything he did serious, and he came across horribly on the skits. Solie quit the company and was gone from the national wrestling scene.

Gordon for all concerns was done with pro-wrestling. He did return to WCW years later when they inducted him in their short lived Hall of Fame. The Tampa Tribune reported the following; “Oh,” whispered Solie, “A fine thing happened recently when the World Wrestling Federation honored me with a swing through Florida cities and revived in my mind the days of the Briscos, Haystacks Calhoun, Johnny Valentine, Buddy Colt, Hiro Matsuda, Don Curtis and Dusty Rhodes.” He was later honored by the WWF at an In Your House PPV. Jim Ross presented Gordon Solie with a plaque for all his years of service in the wrestling industry.

NWA President Howard T. Brody, wrote “On a personal level, Gordon Solie, who along with Hiro Matsuda, had been one of my mentors in the wrestling business. I am proud to say that he has been a very close friend of mine for the past 18 years and until May 11th, had been my business partner in NWA Florida, working behind the scenes to help our group lay the groundwork to revitalize the Florida territory”.

On July 7, 2000, Gordon Solie passed away at his home in Florida at the age of 71. The wrestling will miss him.

Thomas Russell Haas

Thomas Russell “Russ” Haas, 27, died Saturday, December 15, 2001. He was born March 11, 1974 in Little Rock, AR. He graduated from Edmond Memorial High School, Class of ’93 in Edmond, OK. He attended Seton Hall University in S. Orange, NJ. Russ was a professional wrestler with the WWF with his brother Charlie D. Hass, under the tag team names “Haas Brothers: and “Haas of Pain”. He was preceded in death by his grandparents, Madeline and Hugh Devore. He is survived by his wife, Deedra Haas; parents, Charles and Noreen Haas; brother, Charlie D. Haas; sisters, Cara Marie Haas and her fiance, Rick, Kelly Marie Church and husband, Jason; grandparents, Virginia Haas and Harlan Haas. A Vigil Service will be held at 6:00 p.m., Wednesday, December 19, 2001 in the Memorial Oaks Cemetery Mausoleum Chapel, 13001 Katy Freeway. A Funeral Mass will be held at 10:00 a.m., Thursday, December 20, 2001 at St. Cecilia Catholic Church, 11720 Joan of Arc with Rev. Francis Macatangay as celebrant. Rite of Committal Services will follow in Memorial Oaks Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions are suggested to The Russ Haas memorial fund c/o Bank of America, 777 N. Eldridge Parkway, Houston, Texas 77079 Attn: Jeannie Gray, in Russ’s memory. — Published in the Houston Chronicle on 12/19/2001.

Russ Haas 6’2 245 lbs 1974-2001.

December 14th, 2001 Russ Haas was found dead. His battle was a battle against heart problems which eventually overtook him and ended his life.

To further explain this story, I present an article which was written for LEWD E-Zine Issue #740.

“RUSS HAAS FOUND DEAD: In a bit of sad news to report, Russ Haas, the WWF Developmental talent was found dead earlier this morning. Russ suffered from a heart attack on 9/24.

The heart problems were caused by an undetected blood clot, which at some point led to a partially blocked artery near his heart. HWA and the WWF were very concerned about the health of Russ Haas and he made several appointments over the past few months to see cardiologists.

Russ was cleared to resume training for his wrestling career after he saw one of these cardiologists, however; the WWF wanted to take the issue to another cardiologist (or two) to get another opinion. Russ had not wrestled since 9/23 but had resumed a light work out schedule since being cleared by a cardiologist.

Russ was scheduled to seek another opinion of a cardiologist on 12/18 to determine if he could resume his wrestling training with Heartland Wrestling Association in Cincinnati under Les Thatcher’s guidance. He was 27 years old at the time of his tragic death. Russ was part of a tag team which his real-life brother Charlie Haas.

Having seen Russ Haas wrestle once in my life (WWF RAW Taping) I sure am not an ‘expert’ on him. But from what I saw at that show, these two guys were certainly headed to the top of this business. It was only a matter of time before these two made it in a big way.

I thought the two could have been the RVD’s of the tag team division, and with the WWF currently not having an abundance of tag teams, the Haas combination would have been a great addition to the division. I am very saddened by this tragic news because Russ Haas just began his pro wrestling career. No official comment has been issued by the WWF on this situation as of press time.

We expect an announcement to be made within the next 24-48 hours, but it could be held off until Monday. We send our best wishes to all of the Haas family members on this tragic day. And we hope they are all doing as best as can be expected.” (Written by LEWD Editor in Chief Mark R).

BEFORE THE HAAS BROTHERS GOT A DEVELOPMENTAL CONTRACT.

Even before the WWF became aware of the intense in ring abilities of Charlie and Russ Haas, these two individuals were wrestling around the country exciting young wrestling fans all across America! The two competed in ECWA (The ECWA is considered one of THE premier independent wrestling promotions in the United States. Established in 1967, East Coast Wrestling has been around for 32 years, with cards running solely on the East Coast http://www.ecwaprowrestling.com/ )

Russ & Charlie Haas dominated ECWA and quickly won the ECWA Tag Team Championship. They wrestled the likes of The Public Enemy & other ECWA Tag Teams during their stay in ECWA.

On Monday, August 7th, 2000 Russ & Charlie Haas were called up to the WWF show in New York (Madison Square Garden) from Jersey All Pro Wrestling for the purpose of getting a WWF Try-Out Match for a WWF Developmental contract.

Typically these matches are known as “Dark Matches” and fans generally crap all over them by chanting “boring” during the contest (even if it is a decent contest). When Russ & Charlie Haas came through the curtain the fans didn’t react kindly to them (as was expected). After all they were completely unknown to 90% of the audience in attendance (certainly 10% of the fans may have heard of them, or even seen them wrestle on a Jersey All Pro Wrestling show in New Jersey, but the majority of the fans had know clue as to who these two actually were).

On this night, a few minutes in to the Haas Brothers match. The crowd began to noticeably cheer for the aerial expertise of Russ and Charlie.

On August 7th, 2000 Russ Haas realized his dream and wrestled before a sell-out crowd at Madison Square Garden, and what is more impressive gained the respect and admiration of every fan in attendance during his untelivised “Dark Match”.

On Tuesday August 8th, 2000 the WWF brought Charlie & Russ Haas to the Meadlowlands Show in New Jersey. Russ & Charlie Haas got a favorable reaction right through the curtains this time (probably because of the tie in to Jersey All Pro Wrestling and many JAPW fans in attendance for the WWF Show, or at least enough in attendance to help the duo get a favorable reaction). A JAPW chant actually broke out during the Haas Brothers match and the crowd was so into the match, it certainly had to make WWF Officials take notice back stage.

And certainly the WWF Officials backstage did take notice. Both on the Monday debut show and on the Tuesday follow up show, because Russ & Charlie Haas had officially arrived in the world of Sports Entertainment when the World Wrestling Federation offered them Developmental Deals.

BACK TO THE JAPW DAYS.

Saturday August, 19th, 2000. Even though freshly signed by the WWF as the latest crop of Developmental Talent, Russ & Charlie Haas still had some obligations to fulfill. First was the above mentioned show with JAPW in New Jersey at the Sayreville Club Bene building.

The card was as follows: Homicide v Lo-Ki, Haas Brothers v Hit Squad, Jay Lover v Lowlife Louis, Dr Hurtz v Judas Young, Jason Knight v Don Montoya, Nick Burk v Skinhead Ivan, Laython v Ron Zombie, and Blue Dragon v Eddie Martinez.

Russ & Charlie Haas were wrestling for the JAPW Tag Team Championship but put over The Hit Squad in a five star match. It singled the end of the working relationship with the Haas Brothers and “Fat” Frank’s Jersey All Pro Wrestling.

SENT TO MCW; THE START OF THEIR TRAINING UNDER WWF.

Russ & Charlie Haas were sent down to MCW to begin their Developmental training under the World Wrestling Federation’s system.

Wednesday February 21st, 2001 was another chapter in the careers of Russ & Charlie Haas it was another show under their belts. This was a combined show with WWF, MCW (Memphis Championship Wrestling), and PPW (Power Pro Wrestling).

The action took place in the ASU Convocation Center in Jonesboro, Arkansas (A building very familiar to the combatants of PPW and MCW).

The card was as follows for this combined non televised event:

Main Event: WWF Championship Kurt Angle v. Triple H, Jerry “The King” Lawler & The Kat v. Bobby Eaton, Victoria, & Brandon Baxter, MCW/PPW Championship Match Steve Bradley v. William Regal, K Kwik v. Rodrageous, Southern Tag Team Championship Match The Dupps v. The Haas Brothers, and Lance Cade, Joey Abs, & Pete Gas v. Spanky, Shooter Schultz & Dragon.,

WWF PULLS OUT OF MCW & PPW BREAKS AWAY.

The news wasn’t kind to the promoter of Memphis Championship Wrestling as the World Wrestling Federation severed all ties with MCW, and at the same time Power Pro Wrestling opted out of the working agreement with MCW as well. WWF re-located the WWF Developmental talent retained from MCW to two regions.

Jim Cornette’s Ohio Valley Wrestling out of Kentucky, and Les Thatcher’s Heartland Wrestling Association out of Cincinnati. Charlie & Russ Haas were assigned to work for Les Thatcher’s HWA.

HWA

Russ & Charlie Haas quickly made a name for them in the HWA territory battling for the HWA Tag Team Championship against Chet & Dean Jablonski (known as the Hit Squad). Russ & Charlie Haas eventually did win the HWA Tag Team Championship during their HWA stay.

WWF DARK MATCHES GALORE.

We do not have the exact dates on some of these cards listed below, but this is an illustration of what the Haas Brothers were doing after they were signed by the WWF.

Steve Bradley & Scott Vick def. The Haas Brothers. Fans initially did not give either team a favorable reaction. But again, Russ & Charlie won over the audience soon after the match began.

February 5, 2001: The Haas Brothers v. The Island Boys *Dark Match* at a WWF Taping. Island Boys defeated The Haas Brothers on this show but the Haas Brothers won over the crowd during this contest once again (as was becoming a pattern).

February 18, 2001: (Evansville, Indiana) WWF HOUSE SHOW: Haas Brothers def. Steve Bradley & Scott Vick by pinfall. The Indiana Crowd started out with loud chants of “BORING”. But Charlie & Russ Haas eventually got them turned around after dueling split legged-moonsaults on Vick.

February 20, 2001: WWF HEAT TAPINGS (Kansas City, Missouri): Scott Vick & Steve Bradley def. Russ & Charlie Haas. Solid match with the two winning over the crowd again.

June 10, 2001: (Roanoke, Virginia) WWF HOUSE SHOW RESULTS: Kaintai def. Russ & Charlie Haas. By this time the word was out. The Haas tag team was no “secret” and fans were starting to warm up to the duo even before they began wrestling. Charlie & Russ would get decent pops as their entrance music bleared over the sound system heading out to the ring. On this night, Kaintai v. Russ & Charlie Haas was the best match on the entire show.

THE CULMINATION OF A SHORT CAREER FOR RUSS HAAS.

Russ Haas did something numerous pro wrestles wish they could accomplish on this night. He wrestled on a show with the top attractions in the United States and held his own. In fact, some argue Russ & Charlie on this night had the best match of all of the superstars appearing on the show. Something which the duo was credited with having accomplished on dozens and dozens of shows before.

In those cases, the show was usually in some out of the way gymnasium or dirty run down bingo hall in some out of the way town nobody in the rest of the modern United States has ever heard of, let alone visited.

On this night, Russ & Charlie Haas wrestled on the Brian Pillman Show.

Nigel def. Machine, Ron Waterman def. Conway, Chad Collyer def. Morgan, Island Boys def. Lance Cade & Cody Hawk, Randy Orton def. Prototype, Haas Brothers def. Brolin, Damaja def. Chett Jablonski, Matt Stryker def. Chad Collyer, Pepper Parks & Shark Boy, Nick Dinsmore def. Race Steele, Terry Taylor Def. Bobby Eaton, Steve Corino def. David Flair, Lita def. Victoria, Evan Karagias def. Chris Candido, Perry Saturn & Dean Malenko def. Raven & Justin Credible, Mark Henry def. Hugh Morrus, Hardy Boys def. Edge & Christian and Diamond Dallas Page & Kanyon in a triple threat match for the tag team championship.

THE END WASN’T KIND; BUT HIS MEMORY WILL LIVE ON.

The end wasn’t kind for Russ Haas. But his brother Charlie will continue to bring us the legacy of the Haas family. If for no other reason, All of us should hope Charlie Haas makes it to the World Wrestling Federation to allow all the masses to remember his fallen brother Russ.

Russ Haas fulfilled his dream of becoming a WWF Superstar. Even though he wasn’t profiled on WWF Television during his career, he was one of the most promising young WWF Superstars ever to be signed by the company. WWF will certainly miss his talent greatly. At a current time when the WWF needs new tag team talent, The death of Russ Haas will be greatly felt by the Federation.

The only other sports-related tragedy I can equate this with to put it in to some real life perspective is when the Boston Celtics drafted Len Bias. Bias was going to be an “impact player” for the Celtics and make up for the departing Kevin McHale & Larry Bird. The Celtics drafted Len as their overall #1 pick and expected him to fill the front court and take on the work load for the next decade.

The Celtics heavily relied upon the acquisition of Bias through the draft to keep the great legacy of the Boston Celtics alive. Bias never played a game in the NBA as he died from heart failure. The end result was the Boston Celtics dynasty collapsed minus the one body who could have kept the legacy alive and well. Whereas; the World Wrestling Federation is not going to collapse simply because one man passed away. The point I am attempting to make is Russ Haas would have been a solid performer in the World Wrestling Federation for at least a decade.

He had the ability, size, look, charisma, and potential to one day become a main event top teir megastar in the WWF. He could have been the next CRAZE in pro wrestling with the correct marketing approach put behind him. But even though he will never materialize in to a box office megastar in the World Wrestling Federation due to his untimely death, he will forever be remembered in my eyes as being of the great WWF Superstars of all time.

So often people neglect to admonish the guys who actually make this business keep moving forward. The unknown rookie talent which debuts and sets the business on fire and brings in new fans. Let us always cherish Russ Haas for providing us with great moments never before seen on television. And with great moments forever recorded in our memories, and which we will replay for the rest of time. LEWD would like to send out our best wishes to the entire Haas Family and would like to dedicate this corner of INLEWD.COM to Russ Haas and his living memory.

Russ Haas 6’2 245 pounds Edmond, OK
Charlie Haas 6’2 265 pounds Edmond, OK

JEROME YOUNG UPDATE

At a recent IWA show in Highland, Indiana it was announced by Newjack that he has signed a WWE contract. According to Dave Meltzer this was not the case and it is not known whether or not Newjack signed the contract recently or was making up the story. It appeared he was intoxicated during the promo. He mentioned he might not last 2 weeks in WWE.

Of course Young met with WWE officials recently and suggested they bring him in to the company with Carlito Caribbean Cool to work a program against John Cena. Obviously NewJack believes his background would add credibility to the storyline that Cena had been stabbed in a nightclub. If he did sign a contract with WWE and is brought in to the company in that capacity the only person in WWE that probably has any chance of getting his style over is Paul Heyman. But Heyman is not with WWE in a creative capacity any longer so it is likely he would not have any say in how the company produces/promotes Young if he does debut for them. It would easily be the biggest push of Young’s career if he was put in to a feud with John Cena for the U.S. Heavyweight Title. The problem Young would give WWE is his personality

RAW RESULTS (1/16 with a TITLE CHANGE LIKELY TO AIR ON TELEVISION, Winnipeg, Canada) Rob Conway & Sly Grenier beat William Regal & Coach to win the tag titles, Chris Jericho beat Muhammed Hassan to qualify for the Rumble, Chris Benoit beat Edge, Shelton Benjamin beat Maven to retain the IC Title, Kane beat Gene Snitsky in a hardcore match, Christian & Tyson Tomko beat Hurricane & Rosey, Victoria beat Molly Holly and Randy Orton & Shawn Michaels beat Batista & Ric Flair.

Notes: They did a title switch with La Resistance going over for the titles again and using the “screwed” babyface routine where Regal was forced to team with the heel Coach (which does not make much sense since Bischoff is neutral now, but I guess they’ll claim he still has hatred for his injured nephew and anyone who befriended him in the storyline) and Coach never tagged in the match. So it was basically a handicap match with Regal jobbing out to give the belts back to the only other regular team the RAW brand has right now. I assume they’ll use this on television to hype the house show market and claim that title changes do happen at the non televised events. They have been telling house show audiences that all the shows are video taped in case they want to use the footage down the road. Generally speaking it has been a no-no to use hand helf video footage on WWE TV because it is way below the regular WWE production qualities, but at this point in time with zero competition it is strange that WWE has not used more hand held footage to hype the house show market and to do last minute tv angles that wouldn’t leak out in time before the pre-taped tv product leaks out, etc. If they don’t use this footage on tv then they would just re-do it on RAW and likely upset the market where the fake change happened. At this point it is probably best they just use the title switch at the house show to explain the title change and just mention it on tv and show some highlights of the pinfall to back it up.

In the Flair & Batista v. Orton & Michaels match the Canadian crowd turned on HBK and began the “You screwed Bret!” chants at him and this helped Flair turn on the fans and side with HBK and tell them to give it up already. Flair said if they don’t let it go that WWE would just stop returning to Canada. Reports are Flair was legit upset at the fact that the fans were turning on the babyfaces and he tried to turn them on him but it didn’t work. Flair then ripped on Bret Hart and that got him some legit heat from the crowd and probably from Bret Hart as well.

TNA “FINAL RESOLUTION” RESULTS (1/16 Orlando, Florida) Pre-Game: The Naturals beat Sonny Siaki & Johnny B. Badd, Chris Candido beat Cassidy Reily, Ron Killings & Bg James & Konnan beat Chris Daniels & Michael Shane & Kazarian, Elix Skipper beat Sonjay Dutt, Dustin Rhodes beat Kid Kash, Erik Watts beat Raven, Jeff Hardy beat Scott Hall, Chris Harris & James Storm beat Team Canada to win the tag titles, Aj Styles beat Petey Williams & Chris Sabin to win the X Title and Jeff Jarrett beat Monty Brown to retain the World Title.

Notes: I didn’t order the show. Those are the results. I found it quite sleazy on TNA’s behalf to allow Watts to wrestle considering he almost killed himself eight days ago. Reports are most of the matches were good with the Ultimate X being incredible. Jarrett retained of course, because there is no creativity left on RAW or in TNA these days. Guys that need to go over never do and when they do they are quickly buried.

RAW TONIGHT AT 9PM ON UPN. Chris Jericho v. Chris Benoit and Kane v. Gene Snitksy have been announced for the RAW show tonight from Canada.