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Missy Hyatt remembers Lance Russell

By Missy Hyatt for F4WOnline.com

Six years ago, I moved back from New York to Tallahassee. A mutual friend told Lance Russell that I lived two hours away from him and Lance wanted me to visit him if I was ever near him. Unfortunately, I never took the invite since I would had loved to listen to him discuss his experiences in World War II and wrestling. I was very depressed that I should had visited him since he was one of the best people that I ever worked off of as a heel in CWA in 1988.

At that time, I had less than three years in the wrestling business. I had my persona down, but the verbal exchanges I had with Lance would allow me to have spontaneous reactions based on him chastising me for being disrespectful. There is a simple reason why Lance Russel was great -- he was not produced.

Lance didn’t need anybody to feed him lines that didn’t fit his persona. He didn’t use phrases that seemed forced and fed. He had something that almost any modern wrestling announcer lacks and that’s credibility with their audience. When Lance seemed outraged by the antics of Jimmy Hart or would tell a heel that they got what they deserved, you believed it.

Lance had the connection with the Memphis audience of being almost like an uncle/grandparent/neighbor that was calling wrestling, a dynamic that even legendary announcers like Gordon Solie and Jim Ross never had.

One of my favorite moments in my career was when Lance was pitching a trivia contest on live television. I would literally grab the contest question out of Lance’s hand. Eddie Gilbert would whisper the answer in my ear and I would accidently blurt out the answer. The sound of Lance taking the mic and hitting the desk and screaming at me was real and my bratty response was real. Lance felt the product that he was calling, which made the audience feel it too.

Lance was so important in steering the live WMC wrestling show on the air in being the producer, lead announcer, and conducting the interviews. He saved so many wrestlers on the mic when they froze on live television by creating banter or by asking them a question to steer them back to the topic. Lance even had to maintain some sort of credibility when Memphis wrestling at times would go off the rails with Frankenstein, Batman, and other comic book characters that came into the region.

I want to thank Lance for making me look so great in 1988 when Eddie and I were so over the top in messing with him on the live television. Lance even admitted to me once that he never knew when we were really messing with him or just being in character. He made the product feel real me in being disgusted by my antics and it allowed me to play off him, which hopefully entertained the audience at the time.

This is a short list of my favorite Lance Russell moments:

Jimmy Hart Throwing Flour On Lance

- Dream Machine Goes Nuts On Lance

- The Tupelo Concession Stand Brawl with the greatest line ever: “Mustard Everywhere!”

I believe with videos like this available, there will always be a new audience that will discover the greatness of Lance and it will always remind us on why he was great for being himself. If there was ever a Mount Rushmore for "Memphis Rasslin", Lance would be on it with his banana nose.