The Getting Over series aims to detail the psychological rules that the world of pro wrestling has developed over the past 100 years to draw the biggest houses and biggest fan reactions possible.
Rule No. 1 - It's all about the money
Rule No. 2 - Fans will hate a heel more if he can make them respect him
Rule No. 3 - A baby face should be billed as a believable underdog
Rule No. 4 - Always exaggerate, even when the truth is impressive
Rule No. 5 - A heel should have no redeemable qualities
Rule No. 6 - A heel should use flawed logic to justify his actions
Rule No. 7 - A great babyface needs a great heel to truly get over
The fans of Georgia Championship Wrestling were stunned on July 14, 1984 when they tuned in expecting to see the next installment of GCW, but instead saw Freddie Miller welcoming the World Wrestling Federation to WTBS.
This was anathema to the GCW faithful for a number of reasons. They didn't want to change from the gritty and violent southern wrestling to the northern wrestling they saw as too polished and overproduced. These fans also didn't want to move away from the incredibly energetic studio wrestling format to the collection of taped matches that were being featured on the new WWF show. Add that to having to say goodbye to the GCW stars and it was nearly enough to cause these fans to mutiny.
As bad as all of those elements were, what really caused the GCW audience to call this day Black Saturday stems from the next rule in the Getting Over series.
Rule No. 8 - The top job of an announcer is to get the on-air talents over
Getting viewers to suspend their disbelief and buy into larger-than-life characters is arguably the most important factor in the success of a pro wrestling television broadcast. It is difficult for the audience to suspend its disbelief if the announcer doesn't make the matches and segments on the show sound believable. This gives announcers a unique amount of influence in getting talents over and thus makes it imperative for them to use that power as often as possible.
The most direct way a pro wrestling announcer can get fans to emotionally invest in the tales being told is to be as believable as possible.
This is why GCW fans had an incredible affinity for Gordon Solie. When Solie got his start in the business, he was told to treat the job as serious as his paycheck. Solie did this in part with his low-key demeanor and a commitment to never insulting the fans' collective intelligence, but he went a step further by working with promoter/wrestler Eddie Graham and amateur wrestling coach John Heath to find out more about the intricacies of professional wrestling moves. Solie even went so far as to let Heath "stretch" him so that Solie would know the physical impact a particular move would have. This allowed Solie to be able to give fans detailed information about what moves were being used, why they would work and what could be done to counter them.
Solie treated storyline angles with the same level of respect and thus gave them a gravity they would not have had otherwise. A perfect example of this occurred at the beginning of an early 1980s feud between Ernie Ladd and Chief Jay Strongbow.
After Strongbow knocked Ladd out with a sleeper hold, Solie instructed the audience that it was dangerous for Ladd to be left in an unconscious state for any extended length of time. Solid then said Strongbow was required to wake Ladd up with a quick slap to his upper back in order to prevent Ladd from suffering any permanent damage.
This was, of course, a setup for Ladd to sneak attack Strongbow during the rescue effort, but Solie's announcing persona didn't see it that way. It led to an all-time classic moment when Solie saw Ladd stealthily reach down and grab his shoe as a weapon when Strongbow's back was turned. Instead of screaming that an attack was imminent, Solie merely intoned, "Wait a minute" as a warning to fans that something might be amiss. This kept the suspense of the moment alive for as long as possible and thereby got more out of this situation than anyone else in the business would have been able to.
These traits are part of why Jim Ross said that Solie was the best pro wrestling announcer of all time. It also made Solie an icon to the GCW faithful. When those fans expressed their outrage to the WTBS offices about the programming change, the central point of their anger was no longer having Solie as the announcer. These actions eventually led to Solie's triumphant return to the WTBS studio in September 1984 in a new show called Championship Wrestling from Georgia.
Ross was Solie's successor in many ways, as he was incredibly knowledgeable and brought a sporting event's mentality to the broadcasting booth.
As great as Ross was in those areas, what really made him stand out was having an unrivaled ability to apply believable enthusiasm to some of the biggest moments in pro wrestling history.
Who can forget when Ross screamed, "STONE COLD! STONE COLD!" after Steve Austin won the WWE title at WrestleMania XIV? Or when Ross said with utter contempt in his voice that Austin was, "shaking hands with Satan himself" after Austin's heel turn at WrestleMania XVII that ended with him shaking McMahon's hand. Or the obvious pain in Ross' voice when he yelled, "AS GOD IS MY WITNESS, HE IS BROKEN IN HALF!" after The Undertaker threw Mick Foley off the top of the cage and through the announcers' desk at the 1998 Hell In A Cell.
All of these situations had the potential to be iconic on their own merits, but the enthusiasm that Ross had in reacting to them vaulted these moments from memorable to legendary status. In doing so, Ross also displayed the supreme value a great announcer can have in getting talents over.