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Billy Red Lyons

Billy Red Lyons

REAL NAME: William Lyons
6'2", 240 pounds
BORN: Dundas, Ontario

 William Lyons was Billy Red to wrestling fans because of his red hair. He's best known in Texas, Oklahoma, and southern Ontario, where he wrestled in a famous tag team with Dewey Robertson as the Crusaders. After his retirement from the ring, he joined the offices of Frank and Jack Tunney, Toronto's long-time promoters. He did some interviewing, announcing and commentary.

 As a plug-man for Maple Leaf Wrestling, his catch phrase was "Don'tcha dare miss it!"


BILLY RED LYONS LINKS AND STORIES

  • June 25, 2009: Colleagues respected Lyons' skills
  • June 23, 2009: Billy Red Lyons dies
  • June 23, 2009: The fans share Billy Red Lyons memories
  • Mar. 18, 2008: The Billy Red Lyons Q&A session
  • Billy Red Lyons photo gallery
  • Lyons Career Record
  • Feb. 15, 1987: When they were young: Billy Red Lyons

    Memories

    Billy Red Lyons I remember Billy from t.v when I first started watching wrestling in the mid-eighties. He is a lot better than some of the announcers that are around today.
     Margaret Boucher
     I can remember Billy from the late '60's when he wrestled as a single and as a tag team partner with another "Red" namely Red Bastien. I don't even remember which organization he was with but some other famous names were Verne Gagne, Mad Dog and Butcher Vachon, and Larry Hennig teaming with "Handsome" Harley Race.
      Red Lyons was the first one to beat the legendary masked "Dr.X" and unmask him (this was in the days when only one or two wore masks and Dr.X's big thing was that he had to be beaten to unmask and reveal his identity --Billy did it!) His wrestling style (and Bastien's) was very similar to the Harts of today, very sound technically, high risk and skill moves, and very gutsy. He is underrated and should be a hall of famer.
      Johnny Corvette
     Although I never saw Billy wrestle. His interviews on Saturday morning wrestling programs were almost as entertaining as the matches. He was always cheered when along with Rene Goulet and Tony Garea would enter the ring as officials to break up matches. I will end my short blurb the same way Billy ended his interviews, "Dont'ch dare miss it!"
     Luis M
     I remember when I was just a little kid in the early 70's and Billy Red Lyons wrestled as a single and as a double with Flying Red Bastien. (They were called the Flying Red Headheads and were the Texas Heavyweight Tag Team Champs for a time) in Texas. He had a big feud with Boris Malenko who was managed by Bronco Lubich. He also had a HUGE feud with Gary Hart and his stable at the time, The Brute and the Missouri Mauler. He was the American Heavyweight Champion for a time but he lost the belt to Johnny Valentine. I wish I could tell you more but right when I started to become interested in wrestling, he left. He was basically the first wrestler that I ever became a fan of however.
     Huck
     I remember Brutus that Barber Beefcake and those action packed cards!!
     HOWARD ALLDER
      Billy Red Lyons and Red Bastien were one of the best tag teams ever. I saw them wrestle the Vachon Brothers (Mad Dog and Butcher) at the Milwaukee Auditorium on December 19, 1969. The Vachons were AWA World Tag Team Champions and were defending the belts in a two out of three fall match. The referee was former New York Jets lineman Bob Windham (Blackjack Mulligan). Lyons forced Butcher to submit to hiss figure four leg lock to win the first fall in 49:45. He clamped the same hold on Mad Dog 10 minutes later, but the 60-minute time limit expired just as the Dog gave up. Lyons and Bastien won the match but not the titles because they didn't win two falls. One of the most exciting matches I've ever seen.
     Crusher Bolo
     Billy Red was one of the best in the business. He is a true legend in the business. I was fortunate enough to see him wrestle on some old tapes and I realized that not only was he a great announcer but he was also one of the true legends of the squared circle.
     Linda Robinson
      I can't remember much about Billy's matches, but I do recall the interviews he did for Maple Leaf wrestling in the 1980s. What set Billy apart from the other interviewers was his tendency to openly disagree and argue with the wrestlers.
      I remember one memorable interview Billy conducted with Roddy Rowdy Piper around 1984. The interview was conducted to promote an upcoming match that Piper had with Salvatore Bolomo. During the interview, Piper announced his intentions to wipe the floor with Bolomo. Billy thought otherwise, repeatedly interrupting Piper to warn him that Bolomo was a formidable opponent and doubting whether or not Piper had what it took to beat him.
      Well, needless to say that didn't sit too well with Piper. After repeatedly warning Billy to keep his mouth shut, Piper abruptly terminated the interview with a sucker punch that sent Billy reeling and knocked his glasses right off his face! It was the best free entertainment you could get on a Saturday afternoon. Good stuff. Heck, great stuff.
      Brian Hyndman, Toronto, ON
     Billy Red was the best! Maple Leaf wrestling was his, he made that show sing. A legend.
     Bryan, Vancouver
     I guess it was in 1968 when the AWA had a TV bout with the lead heel Dr. X and a Canadian newcomer. Well after the heretofore unknown Canadian took the first fall with Dr. X's own finisher, the dreaded figure four leglock, the studio audience went nuts and so did a 8 year old kid in his grandparent's living room. Verne Gagne had successfully elevated an unknown to the area into a top program. They scrubbed the last 2 falls, thereby avoiding the standing stipulation that if Dr. X lost a bout he would unmask. Billy Red Lyons did a typical low-key interview with Marty O'Neill, described his background and mentioned he was the reigning British Empire champ. This led to Dr. X limping out for his interview, and he was a classic talker, vowing to get that belt off the Canadian or unmask. A few months later, Dr. X took the belt and eventually lost it to Black Jack Lanza in June of 1971. (Lanza dropped the strap to Billy Robinson the next year, after Robinson reprised the unknown TV jobber who was really a star angle with TV wins over Kobayashi and Ivan Koloff). Dr. X unmasked and left for two years.
      Billy Red teamed with Pampero Firpo before joining forces with Red Bastein and starting tag programs with Larry Hennig and Lars Anderson, then with the Vachons. In November 1969 the NWA tapes out of Vancouver had an interview with Dutch Savage and Bulldog Brown announcing they were going to defend their Canadian Open Tag title belts in Winnipeg on an AWA card which was totally unheard of in those territorial days. Actually it was a bonus payday for Brown who always came home to Winnipeg for Xmas. In December 1969 in the Winnipeg Auditorium they were defeated 2 straight falls but for some reason never explained, the redheads did not receive the belts. They were by far the most over babyface tag team Verne had for 2 years because of their work rate and athleticism. Lyons left the AWA in 1971 and I next saw him while visiting family in Toronto in 1974, when he was teamed with Dewey Robertson as the Crusaders.
      As a kid Lyons made a big impression on me both for his in ring style, graceful dropkicks and his intelligent interviews. The fact that his program with Dr X (The IS Destroyer, with whom he had worked in Buffalo and other territories before) has stayed in my memory so clearly for so long speaks volumes about how truly skilled and professional he was. In fact I used the figure four as my finisher during my own undistinguished in-ring career as a tribute to my first real wrestling hero.
     Dr. Marty Goldstein
     I have a true-life, non-wrestling memory of Billy Red.
     During the later half of 1996, I had the misfortune of being in the hospital in my home town of Hamilton,Ont., recuperating from surgery. I had been bed-ridden for a couple of weeks, and was a little down in spirits untill my doctor finally told me I was well enough to start venturing out around the wards.
     Well on my first trip out of my room, I was wheeling by a sitting area when a familliar face caught my eye. A white (with a faint hint of red) haired older gentleman was sitting there talking with a woman, whom I would eventually come to know as his wife, Norma.
     I had to give my head a shake, because I couldn't believe my eyes.
     This older man, who was recovering from a minor stroke at the time, was none other than Billy Red Lyons.
     I politely interrupted their chat and asked if he was who I thought he was. His face lit up. He told me that I was one of the first people to recognize him since his arrival there, and that I had just made his day. I told him that, although I was too young to know of his in-ring days, I remember him from his commentary spots in the later days of Maple Leaf Wrestling, before it was swallowed up by the WWF.
     From that moment, until the end of my hospital stay we would spend hours talking and laughing about what we did, and didn't like about current pro wrestling. Since then, I've often thought about Bill (Billy Red Lyons) Snipp and his family.
     I'd like to thank him for bringing a little happiness into an unhappy situation.
     Amanda Robertson
      When I was attending high school and university in the late 1970's and 1980's, there were a few traditions: homework, essays, beer and watching Billy Red Lyons on a Saturday afternoon!
      "Red" is the greatest wrestling interviewer and Canadian wrestling personality that this country has produced! It was always great hearing him doing the commentary on Maple Leaf Wrestling(NWA) from 1979 to 1984. He was always insightful, knowledgeable and highly entertaining. His interviews between bouts were always classic too. He would always deliver it in the same manner:
      "Like to remind all of our fans in the Brantford area that this coming Monday, Maple Leaf Wrestling will return to the Brantford Civic Centre and you will see all the stars. But tomorrow night in Toronto's Maple Gardens, promoter Jack Tunney has done it again ... he's come up with another super card. You will be seeing, yours truly, Billy Red Lyons going against Bobby Bass, Leo Burke....and this man King Kong Mosca will face Gene Kiniski."
      When the NWA closed up shop in July 1984, it was refreshing to see that the WWF kept Billy on as a roving reporter and occasional colour commentator. He continued to deliver stellar interviews and I enjoyed it when he disagreed with one of his guests by putting his head down and shaking his head or by jerking his head back in astonishment if the interviewee made a controversial point or a slamming remark.
      "Red" always appeared to enjoy his work in front of the camera and looked like he had a good time. I remember almost falling off my chair with laughter when Red announced a Sunday matinee card at the Gardens. He remarked, "The card takes place at 1:30 in the afternoon, plenty of time to get the kids home for bed." Good to see that Billy gave a rats ass about the kids!
      Finally, I must mention that Billy was also a terrific wrestler! I really enjoyed watching him compete in singles bouts and in tag team action as one half of the Crusaders (with Dewey Robertson). "Red" was a super scientific wrestler who used the sleeper hold as his finisher.
      I met "Red" in 1976 at the old Dewey Robertson's Athletic Club in Burlington. The Athletic Centre used to hold Friday night cards and featured all the top regional stars from the Golden Horseshoe. "Red" and Dewey signed their autographs on the back of a souvenir photo that I bought at the show. I still have it today and I treasure it greatly!
      Thanks "Red" for all the great Memories!
      Robert B.
     I have to concur with Dr. Goldstein's assessment of Billy Red Lyons. Anyone who was a wrestling fan in Minnesota during the late '60s will undoubtedly point to the Dr X - Billy Red Lyons TV match as one of the biggest mark-out moments in AWA history. I was nine years old at the time, and was watching the Saturday evening broadcast with four of my friends. Billy Red Lyons was introduced as "a newcomer to the AWA", and of course, Dr. X was the "mystery man of wrestling", and one of wrestling's most dastardly heels at that time. We paid little attention to the match initially, expecting any time for Dr X to apply his figure-four leglock on his young opponent and end the match. Twice he tried, and both times Billy kicked out of the hold before the Doctor could lock it in. This was highly unusual, and it aroused our anticipation that for the first time, the Doc might be in trouble. Sure enough, after a stunning drop kick to the Dr's chin, Red Lyons spun him into the figure-four as the TV audience and five nine-year-olds went absolutely nuts. I still remember the announcer screaming into the microphone, "He's beating him with his own hold!! He's beating the Dr with his own hold!!" Dr X submitted, and bedlam ensued. Promoter Wally Karbo ran to the ring, Dr. X painfully crawled to the edge of the mat, grabbed the mike off the broadcast table, and heatedly accused Karbo of being part of the conspiracy that led to his defeat. He then took a swing at Karbo, missed by three feet, but Karbo reacted as if he'd just been clocked by Gentle Ben, while at the same time the audience screamed itself hoarse. What a memory.
     Pat Carter