Lance Russell

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Lance Russell
Born March 18, 1926
Tennessee, U.S.
Died October 3, 2017(2017-10-03) (aged 91)
Memphis, Tennessee, U.S.
Occupation Professional wrestling announcer and commentator
Years active 1959–1997[1]
Spouse(s) Audrey (m. 1947; d. 2014)[2]
Children 3

Lance Russell (March 18, 1926 – October 3, 2017) was an American sports broadcaster, primarily serving as a professional wrestling announcer and commentator in the Memphis region from 1959 to 1997. In NWA Mid-America and its descendant, the Continental Wrestling Association Russell's primary announcing partner was Dave Brown. He is included in the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA)'s Hall of Fame and Hall of Heroes. In addition, he is in the United States Wrestling Association (USWA)'s Memphis Wrestling Hall of Fame and Wrestling Observer Newsletter's Hall of Fame.

Professional wrestling career

Memphis (1959–1988)

Russell's career began at a television station in Jackson, Tennessee.[2] He was asked to work as an announcer for a match promoted by Nick Gulas and Roy Welch.[2][3] He had previous experience calling other sports such as basketball, boxing, football, and baseball.[4]

He worked as an announcer in Memphis beginning in 1959. He called matches primarily for NWA Mid-America and its descendant promotion, the Continental Wrestling Association. His long-term announcing partner was Dave Brown; their partnership began in 1967.[4][3] They gave a young Jerry Lawler some of his first exposure by showing his wrestling cartoons on their Saturday morning broadcast.[3][1]

Russell also announced Monday night matches at the Mid-South Coliseum.[5] In addition, he live-announced taped house show matches from Tupelo, Mississippi during the late 1970s. He called the "Tupelo Concession Stand Brawl" between The Blonde Bombers (Wayne Ferris and Larry Latham) and Jerry Lawler and Bill Dundee.[6] He also called the 1981 "Empty Arena match" between Lawler and Terry Funk.[1]

An episode from 1981 found Russell being physically attacked by the Dream Machine and footage of the angle was included in the 2011 documentary Memphis Heat.[6] He was also involved in angles where Jimmy Hart dumped flour on his head and was physically attacked by The Road Warriors.[3] He also called the match where Jerry Lawler won the AWA World Heavyweight Championship from Curt Hennig.[3]

Later career (1989–1992)

Russell made his debut in World Championship Wrestling (WCW) on the March 11, 1989 edition of NWA World Wide Wrestling alongside Jim Ross. It was his first national broadcast.[2] In WCW, he also worked with announcers Bob Caudle and Gordon Solie.[3] He left WCW in 1993, but still occasionally called matches for the company.[3] He returned to Memphis Wrestling, paired once again with Brown and/or Corey Maclin. During the 1990s, he was also the director of programming for RKO General, the owner of WHBQ-TV.[6]

He also worked as an announcer for Smoky Mountain Wrestling toward the end of their existence. He went into semi-retirement in 1997.[5]

Legacy and style

He has been called "one of the greatest wrestling announcers of all time" by SLAM Wrestling and "integral" to Memphis Wrestling.[6] Steve Bowden, a professional wrestling manager, said of Russell, "In my heart, he's the announcer equivalent of [former world champ] Lou Thesz."[3] Jim Ross included Russell in his top 10 list of favorite wrestling announcers and commentators, calling him a "class act" and "southern legend".[7] Mike Mooneyham, a professional wrestling journalist, has called him "the voice of Memphis wrestling".[1]

His style and delivery has been described as earnest and smooth.[6] He was known for his euphemisms such as "Sam Hill" and "Don't start with the smart stuff."[4][1]

Other media

Russell's work in Memphis Wrestling is shown in the 1989 documentary, I'm from Hollywood. He is also interviewed in regards to the film's primary subject, Andy Kaufman.[8] Russell appears in the 1999 Kaufman biographical film Man on the Moon as the Memphis ring announcer.[9] Russell's original commentary of the Lawler/Kaufman match can be found on the WWE Home Video DVD release Greatest Wrestling Stars of the 80's, as part of the profile of Lawler.[10]

Personal life

Russell was married for 67 years to his wife Audrey until her death in 2014.[2][1] They met in high school.[1] They had three children: William, Valerie, and Shane.[2]

On October 3, 2017, Russell died in Memphis of complications from a broken hip sustained after a fall, at the age of 91, just days after his daughter Valerie passed away from cancer on September 29.[2][11]

Awards and accomplishments

References

  1. ^ a b c d e f g Mooneyham, Mike (September 26, 2015). "Lance Russell, legendary 'voice of Memphis wrestling,' finding his way back home". The Post and Courier. Retrieved October 4, 2017. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Oliver, Greg (October 3, 2017). "Legendary announcer Lance Russell dies". SLAM Wrestling. Retrieved October 3, 2017. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h Johnson, Steven (August 4, 2009). "Lance Russell: A voice for the ages". SLAM Wrestling. Retrieved October 3, 2017. 
  4. ^ a b c d Ward, Marshall (March 16, 2016). "Lance Russell Q&A Part 1: Happy 90th birthday!". SLAM Wrestling. Retrieved October 3, 2017. 
  5. ^ a b Clapp, John (October 3, 2017). "Legendary announcer Lance Russell passes away". WWE. Retrieved October 4, 2017. 
  6. ^ a b c d e Ward, Marshall (March 12, 2016). "Lance Russell Q&A Part 2: Brawls, empty arenas, impact". SLAM Wrestling. Retrieved October 3, 2017. 
  7. ^ Ross, Jim (2003). J. R.'s Cookbook: True Ringside Tales, BBQ, and Down-Home Recipes. Simon and Schuster. p. 274. ISBN 0743465040. 
  8. ^ Margulies, Lynne and Joe Orr (1989). I'm from Hollywood (film). 
  9. ^ Forman, Miloš (1999). Man on the Moon (film). Universal Pictures. 
  10. ^ WWE (2005). Greatest Wrestling Stars of the 80's (box set). WWE Home Video. 
  11. ^ Maxey, Ron (October 3, 2017). "Lance Russell, legendary Memphis wrestling announcer, dies at 91". The Commercial Appeal. Memphis, Tenn. Retrieved October 7, 2017. 
  12. ^ "ARN ANDERSON, PAUL ORNDORFF, TRISH STRATUS AND MORE TO BE HONORED BY CAULIFLOWER ALLEY CLUB - PWInsider.com". www.pwinsider.com. 
  13. ^ "Memphis Hall of Fame". Wrestling-Titles.com. Puroresu Dojo. 2003. Retrieved April 15, 2012. 
  14. ^ "Lance Russell awards". Cagematch. Retrieved October 5, 2017. 

External links

  • Memphis Wrestling History
  • Lance Russell on Facebook
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