I will never forget the day that my wife, Pam, received a phone call from Howard Finkel at WWE. He informed Pam that her father, the late Gordon Solie, was going to be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame, Class of 2008. Needless to say, we were both excited about the news.
Time seemed to fly quickly because before we knew it, we were departing an airplane in Orlando, Florida and heading toward the luggage pickup. After gathering our bags, I looked up and saw a chauffeur with a sign that read “Robert Allyn.” I must admit that it felt good because that normally doesn’t happen to me when I leave an airport.
We arrived at the hotel late on a Thursday afternoon, entered through the main doors and immediately noticed two guys standing over by the wall engaged in conversation. It was “Stone Cold” Steve Austin and Triple H. As we entered the registration room, Mark Henry was seated in a chair and was having a good time entertaining his son. The staff gave us a warm greeting including a message from Howard Finkel indicating that we should have fun and remember that we were part of the WWE family.
Pam and I proceeded to a designated elevator to go up to our room and waited for the doors to open. Out walked Dusty Rhodes and his wife. Dusty gave Pam a hug and after exchanging pleasantries, we took the elevator up to our floor. As I was putting the key in the hotel room door, Pam said, “That sure looks like the ‘Big Show.’”
We set our belongings down and walked through the hotel corridor toward a very large man. He was gracious and spoke with us for about fifteen minutes. I also got his autograph for my daughter-in-law, Kendra. The “Big Show” had been her favorite wrestler for a long time. As you might have guessed, I had a list of autograph requests from family members and friends which ended up taking me about three days to fulfill.
After entering our room, we noticed a packet that had been slipped under our door. It was an agenda for events that would be taking place during the Wrestlemania festivities from Friday through Sunday. We settled into our room, looked around the hotel for a bit and couldn’t help but notice WWE’s presence at every turn with displays such as life size murals of the Big Show and boxer Floyd Mayweather adorning the elevator walls.
While lying in bed that night with still two days to go before the much anticipated Hall of Fame ceremony, several thoughts ran through my mind. First, the WWE stars that we had spoken with that day were very respectful and emotional when they spoke about Gordon Solie. Second, I knew that if Gordon was alive, he would have been there in a nano-second. He wouldn’t have passed up an opportunity to visit with the wrestlers and the fans or the opportunity to receive such a distinguished award from his peers. Most important, Gordon would not have passed up an opportunity to grab a microphone and entertain the wrestling world one more time.
I was thankful at the moment that I knew him. He was, after all, the reason that I was there. Next week: the Friday before the Hall of Fame ceremony.
More information about the legendary Gordon Solie is available at www.soliesports.com