Ring of Honor is presenting “Showdown in the Sun” in Ft. Lauderdale, FL on March 30th and 31st at the War Memorial Auditorium. Fans from all over the world will be flocking to South Florida that weekend and ROH is proud to be a part of it. I will be there calling the action of both events for Pay-Per-View that can be seen anywhere in the world with internet connection. I will also be about 70 miles from where I grew up, a beachside town called Stuart.
Combine the proximity of Ft. Lauderdale to Stuart with the fact that now Ring of Honor Wrestling’s weekly TV show is now seen on both My 15TV and The CW West Palm (WTVX), I feel a great connection with ROH and my hometown.
In 1977, we moved from NYC to Florida, my family making a fresh start with my dad starting a business. The moving truck arrived on Saturday morning and when the TV was unloaded and plugged in, the first voice I heard as the TV picture warmed up was Gordon Solie on WTVX and Championship Wrestling from Florida. I was hooked. Mike Graham was in the ring and won his match with the Figure Four Leglock.
I never wanted to be a wrestler… I wanted to be Gordon Solie. When my friends and I would make wrestling matches with our action figures and record them on a tape recorder, I always did the commentary. Wish I still had those tapes! Could be gold (or blackmail)…
Now, at 44, with a wife and two sons, my career has come full circle. In 1991, having just graduated from Florida State University, I moved back home to Stuart to get started in a career in radio, with distant dreams of “Being Gordon Solie” lingering in the back of my mind. While working at a small AM station, we got a call from a local wrestling promoter, wondering if anyone from the station would be interested in ring announcing his event at the St. Lucie County Fair.
After tackling the girl who took the call, I shouted “I’ll do it!” I met with the promoter, Cliff Anderson and the deal was made. Thank you, Cliff, for giving me the shot… From there, Cliff got me an audition with Eddy Mansfield’s IWF out of Universal Studios Florida. Thank you, Eddy, for giving me my TV start… Billy Gunn got me an audition with the WWF five years later. Thank you, Kip, for helping me and my family!... Thank you to all the boys who helped me along the way as well. So many great people assisted me and without all of YOU, I wouldn’t be where I am today.
We gathered in the TV studio of Fox 45 in Baltimore to shoot local ROH TV promos for upcoming events. As I read the cue card, I got goosebumps. It said “Fans in Tampa, West Palm and all over the Sunshine State, get ready for a Wrestling Fans’ dream weekend LIVE!” I smiled… I was talking to fans in Stuart.
In my mind, as I read the card, I thought back to riding to the old West Palm Beach Auditorium with my dad, to see Harley Race defend the NWA World Heavyweight Championship against Mike Graham. My dad passed away when I was 18, just a freshman in college. He never got to see me fulfill my dreams but I know he’s watching. I was talking to him, while promoting this upcoming event.
People I knew in high school, who never thought of me as equal, I was talking to them as well. Plus, I was talking to a core group of loyal friends, who never turned their back on me.
More importantly, I was also talking to the nine-year-old boy, who just moved to Florida with his family and I was the voice that kid heard. I don’t know if I’ll be an influence to that kid the way Gordon Solie was to me but I’ll sure try.
I am so thankful for what I have. I may hiss and moan from time to time about what wrestling is today but calling matches for ROH takes me back to my childhood and this promotion allows me to do what I wanted to when I dreamed of “Being Gordon Solie”. While ROH is seen in many markets, I am extra proud to be seen and heard on WTVX, the station I grew up watching wrestling.
I’ll see you at “Showdown in the Sun” and I already have my closing line for the end of the second event…
So long from the Sunshine State!
What are your childhood memories of wrestling? Share them with me on Twitter @RealKevinKelly