Billy "Red" Lyons
Real name: William Snip
From Hamilton. Made his Maple Leaf Gardens debut in 1956. Wrestled future world champions Buddy Rogers and Gene Kiniski in his first four months at the Gardens. Teamed with Whipper Watson to face Tiny Mills & Krusher Kowalski in two Toronto main events in late 1960. Lyons and Ilio DiPaolo won the Canadian tag title from Mills & Kowalski in 1961.
Teamed with brother-in-law Dick Beyer in a 1961 MLG match, which was Beyer's last Toronto appearance for 19 years as he would go west and become The Destroyer. Lyons continued to wrestle in Toronto through 1964 and then he too went west and teamed with The Destroyer to win the San Francisco version of the world tag title in 1965. Lost the belts to the legendary team of Ray Stevens and Pat Patterson. Lyons & Destroyer also won the All-Asian tag title in Japan that year.
Lyons wrestled regularly in Toronto in 1966 and left for Texas, where he won a tournament for the Texas title in 1967 and held the belt for nearly five months, before dropping it to Spoiler #1 (Don Jardine -- the two had wrestled each other in Toronto six years ealier). Lyons and Fritz Von Erich feuded with the Spoilers for the American tag title in early 1968.
While wrestling in the AWA in the late 1960s, Lyons was billed as British Empire champion.
Challenged AWA champion Verne Gagne in 1969.
Formed a memorable tag team with Red Bastein in the late 1960s and early 70s, known as the Flying Redheads. Also teamed with Cowboy Bill Watts to win the U.S. tag title in Oklahoma in 1971. Won the same title with Tom Jones later that year. Returned to Texas and won the American title -- the top belt in the territory -- from the Spoiler in 1972.
Lyons returned to Toronto in 1973 and fought the Sheik late that year. In 1974 he began what would be a four-year run as one of the Crusaders, teaming with Dewey Robertson. They would win the Toronto version of the International tag title three times. Lyons also challenged Jack Brisco for the NWA title in a 1974 Gardens main event.
He retired as a wrestler in 1984 and worked as an assistant to Frank and Jack Tunney in the Toronto office while continuing to appear as part of the TV announcing/interviewing team. Was occasionally seen as one of the WWF's brigade of suits that would come out from the back to try to break up brawls. Worked for the WWF until retiring in the mid-1990s.
"The sensational success of Billy (Red) Lyons of Toronto is still on the tongues of the fans, who saw Lyons jump from preliminary bouts to feature status in a short space of a couple weeks. He surprised everyone, including himself, when he brought to an end the winning streak of Fritz Von Erich. In a rematch he again defeated Von Erich in a pier six brawl which fans will remember for a long time to come. And so, overnight a new star was born."
(From THE RING, April 1960)
"Lyons entered the Minneapolis-Chicago area with considerable reputation. As a recent Texas titleholder, the fans expected an above average wrestler. They were not disappointed. From the first Lyons was a star."
(From WRESTLING REVUE, December 1969)
"Everyone has heard of Billy "Red" Lyons. He is one of the top professional wrestlers in the world today. Lyons, to go back a few years, was a left-handed ice hockey player in school back in Toronto. His dream was to play for the Toronto Maple Leafs. But as he grew older, he tuned his thoughts to wrestling. He's been a professional wrestler for over a decade now and has been everywhere and done everything. His red hair symbolizes a quick temper and quick action. His handsome face makes him the heartthrob of female fans everywhere. The handsome 6'2" redhead weighs in at 240 pounds."
(From WRESTLING, October 1971)
- Canadian Open tag champion (Toronto), with Ilio DiPaolo, 1961
- NWA World tag champion (San Francisco), with The Destroyer, 1965
- Asian tag champion (Japan), with The Destroyer, 1965
- NWA Texas champion, 1967
- NWA American tag champion (Texas), with Fritz Von Erich, 1968
- 2-time U.S. tag champion (Oklahoma), with Bill Watts and Tom Jones, 1971
- NWA American champion (Texas), 1972
- NWA Texas tag champion, with Red Bastein, 1972
- 3-time International tag champion (Toronto), as The Crusaders, 1974-78