There have been some great names that have called professional wrestling matches over the years, some of which have earned the title of legends. In WWE and WCW, names like Jim Ross, Gorilla Monsoon, Bobby “The Barin” Heenan, and Gordon Solie remain beloved as the best the business has ever seen. Around the same time, Solie was in his prime and Jim Ross was still developing, another name that sits at the top is Lance Russell from Memphis wrestling.
Lance Russell And Memphis Wrestling
In the ’80s, there were commentators that were almost as identifiable as wrestlers when it came to the territories. In the Mis South region, it was Jim Ross. In World Class, it was David Manning. In Georgia Championship Wrestling, it was Gordon Solie. In Memphis, it was Lance Russell.
When asked about his contributions to Memphis Wrestling, the biggest star to ever compete in that promotion admitted that he wouldn’t have been anything if it wasn’t for Lance Russell and the dynamic the King of Memphis had with the Voice of Memphis.
In a tweet to pay tribute to Lance Russell following his passing, Lawler called Russell the “greatest wrestling commentator ever” and said he “would never have been without him.”
Lance Russell worked in the professional wrestling business from 1959 until 1997. In those years, he called matches for Memphis wrestling for almost his entire 38-year career. His announcing style was one of a fan favorite who showed disgust whenever a heel did anything wrong, using sarcastic wit instead of outright anger. It made him hugely entertaining to listen to.
From 1989 until 1992, Lance Russell moved to WCW when the territories started to die off. With the WWE and WCW becoming the biggest names in town, Lance got three years to shine to a national audience on NWA World Wide Wrestling with Jim Ross. He also worked with Jim Cornette in Smokey Mountain Wrestling before retiring.
Wrestlers Pay Tribute To Lance Russell
Jerry “The King” Lawler wasn’t the only star to pay tribute to Lance Russell after the legendary announcer’s death. Paul Heyman, who started his career in the Memphis area as Paul E. Dangerously, also paid his respects to the man.
Dave Brown, a Memphis meteorologist, also worked for years with Lance Russell on the Memphis wrestling broadcasts as his color commentator and broadcast partner. Brown took to Twitter to leave a photo of the two men together and to pay honor to his old friend.
Lance Russell was 91-years-old at the time of his death. He lived in Pensacola, Florida, but was in Memphis visiting his daughter, Valerie, who herself died last Friday after a battle with cancer. Reports indicate that Russell fell and broke his hip before dying early Tuesday morning.
“These two tragedies for the family right together is just so sad,” Lawler told the Commercial Appeal.
[Featured Image by en:Mshake3 / Wikimedia Commons – CC BY 3.0]