If you didn’t live in the Memphis area during its wrestling heyday of the 1970s and 80s and weren’t able to catch Championship Wrestling from the Mid-South Colesium, your exposure to Lance Russell probably consists of online clips. Or maybe you caught some of his brief time with WCW in the early 90s, working with a young Jim Ross. Most likely, you’ve heard him in the documentary I’m From Hollywood, or similar productions about the amazing Jerry Lawler/Andy Kaufman feud.
That’s where I first heard the man Lawler nicknamed “Banana Nose” during one of The King’s heel runs through the territory he and Russell were synonymous with. But once you’ve discovered him, it’s easy to get lost in the rabbit hole of YouTube clips of the babyface announcer bickering with Lawler and other heels like Dutch Mantell, bantering with his long-time announce partner Dave Brown or screaming for officials to stop fights which spilled out of the ring.
Lance Russell was the voice of wrestling for a lot of folks who really love wrestling. His death at age 91 after being hospitalized last week with a broken hip which resulted from a fall at his Memphis home means we’ve lost another tie to the form’s past, and a lot of sad family and friends.
On behalf of everyone here at Cageside Seats, we offer our condolences to all those missing Russell today.
Be sure to tell someone not to “start with that smart stuff!” in his honor.