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By Mike Johnson on 2014-06-24 17:35:03

Larry Nelson interviewing Paul Heyman and Adrian Adonis

Former AWA announcer Larry "Nelson" Shipley has passed away, The Cauliflower Alley Club, announced this afternoon. CAC's announcement in Twitter stated that Shipley passed away from a short bout with pancreatic cancer. We are told that he passed away last night.

Shipley, was a Minnesota radio DJ who fell onto professional wrestling after inviting personalities from Verne Gagne's American Wrestling Association as a way to try and help his show's ratings. It helped and in turn, was awesome promotion for the group locally in the 1980s. His first guest was Bobby Heenan, who was accompanied to the show by Ken Resnick.

Shipley and Resnick became fast friends and that opened the door for Shipley to begin working for the promotion doing voiceovers for the promotion and was made the host for an AWA show created exclusively for Canadian TV and began handling ring announcing duties. When announcer Ken Resnick left the promotion, "Larry Nelson" was bumped up to full fledged announcer for AWA TV. He was the face of the promotion in many ways as the AWA struggled with the national expansion Vince McMahon and the WWF brought against them and other wrestling promotions of the era.

On screen, Shipley played a bit of a ham and always played up to the babyfaces and treated the heels as terrible people. He would, from time to time, be physically assaulted, most notably by Stan Hansen.

Nelson was big part of the AWA's own attempt at a national expansion when Verne Gagne signed a deal with ESPN to bring a weekly series as well as live specials. Gagne, not even owning cable TV himself at the time, never seemed to understand the power of cable and while it gave AWA a great outlet, it was never used to the best of AWA's ability.

Nelson worked as one of lead hosts for the AWA's lone PPV, Superclash III in Chicago, IL in December 1989, headlined by Jerry Lawler vs. Kerry Von Erich. That show, in many ways, was the last gasp of the promotion, although it wouldn't officially shut down until 1991.  It was also his only PPV appearance.

Nelson, in a self-published autobiography released in 2000, admitted that he knew the AWA was crumbling against the might of Vince McMahon and also admitted he, like a lot of people in the business during that era, had done his share of drugs. Seeing the end was near and wanting to make a clean break, he made plans to leave and didn't tell anyone as he wanted to make a "clean break".

He intended to work one final day, a day set aside for filming interviews, give notice and leave with his paycheck. When he went in to film interviews, he was given his paycheck and told that interviews were being postponed for the following day. Since he already had a plane ticket to his new home in Florida, he instead took the check and left, never telling the AWA.

The next day at interviews, just as Nelson was tapped to replace Resnick, a new announcer was brought on - one with no experience who Nelson had introduced to Verne Gagne, Eric Bischoff.  It was the first step in the wrestling business, on camera, for Bischoff, who went on to rise in power in WCW as the only promoter to ever put the WWF in danger of going out of business before WCW, like the AWA, eventually went out of business itself.

Shipley never returned to pro wrestling but would return to the DJ world, working at a Florida oldies station. He later relocated to Denver, marrying a woman who was his High School sweetheart and working in radio for different stations and the Jones Network, which handled nationally syndicated radio programs.

Shipley would eventually reunite with old friends from the business with visits to the Cauliflower Alley Club in Las Vegas but never appeared as an announcer again.

In his book, Shipley reflected on his life, writing, "Though I consider the cold Colorado winters and snow a source of great irritation, something a kin to jock itch, I've got love to keep me warm. It's wonderful to go to bed each evening high on nothing but life. I can look in the mirror, despite my wrinkles that attest to more than half a century of hard living, feel comfortable at the face looking back at me. Even the occasional bout of arthritis, is only an inconvenience. I treasure every minute not, and count the blessings I have been given. I finally got a Stranglehold on life, and I'm not letting go." sends our deepest condolences to Larry "Nelson" Shipley's family, friends and fans.

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