So far, Skull Island observes only three holidays: one is March 7th, the day the original King Kong premiered at Radio City Music Hall in 1933; another is March 24th, the birthday of "Gorgeous George" Wagner in Butte, Nebraska, in 1915; and the third is today, January 26th, the birthday of Gordon Solie, the announcer and color commentator at Championship Wrestling from Florida and other promotions, born Jonard Frank Labiak in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in 1929.
Called the "Walter Cronkite of wrestling," Solie was the voice of pro wrestling when I first fell in love with it. Besides this association, it was Solie who brought together a love of words and language with a love of the sport and spectacle of pro wrestling--an imprint that survives, I hope, in this blog ten years and some after his death of throat cancer--an ironic death for any announcer, but maybe especially so for one as purple in his prose as Solie.
His verbal gifts to wrestling include the phrase "crimson mask" to describe a wrestler's face covered in blood during and after an especially torturous match, the coldly clinical euphemism "foreign object" to refer to a weapon a heel sneaks into the ring, and the term "pier six brawl" to designate a wrestling match that has exploded into a savage and chaotic free-for-all. Because of him, for years I thought "suplex" was pronounced "soo-play." In the 1990s, his ringside commentary was translated into six languages via Eurosport.
And no doubt his opinions have colored my own. Disliking WCW and WWF (before they both became WWE), Solie said, with gentlemanly disdain, "You can't argue with their success. What they do, they do very well. It's just not what I call wrestling."
Preach it, Brother Gordon. Preach it.