Billy Red Lyons
Lyons as the AWA British Empire Heavyweight Champion
Birth nameWillem Snip
Born(1932-05-17)17 May 1932
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Died22 June 2009(2009-06-22) (aged 77)[1]
FamilyNorma Thomson Snip (wife)
Scott Snip (son)
Elizabeth Snip (Daughter)
Mitchell Snip (son)
Professional wrestling career
Ring name(s)Billy Red Lyons
William Lyons
Willem Snip
Billed height6 ft 2 in (1.88 m)
Billed weight240 lb (110 kg)
Trained byJimmy Simms[2]
Debut1956[citation needed]
Retired1985[citation needed]

Willem Snip (17 May 1932 – 22 June 2009)[1] was a Canadian professional wrestler, who wrestled under the ring name Billy Red Lyons. He was an active wrestler between 1956 and 1985, and won numerous championships throughout his career. He worked for promotions in both Canada and the United States, particularly in Ontario, California, Minneapolis, Texas, Georgia, and Oklahoma.[3]

Lyons won numerous tag team championships throughout his career, including with Dick Beyer, who was his real-life brother-in-law, as well as Fritz Von Erich, Bill Watts, and Ray Gunkel.[citation needed] He also won singles championships, including the NWA Texas Heavyweight Championship.[4] Lyons also wrestled in the World Wrestling Federation (WWF) at various times between 1976 and 1985.

After his retirement from in-ring competition, he would work for Maple Leaf Wrestling in Toronto and the World Wrestling Federation.[3]


Snip made his debut in 1956, under the name Billy Lyons, but soon became known as Billy Red Lyons, due to the colour of his hair.[4] During the first years of his career, he wrestle against future world champions, including Buddy Rogers and Gene Kiniski.[citation needed]

During his career, he held several tag team championships with Dick Beyer, who was his real-life brother-in-law, as well as Fritz Von Erich, Bill Watts, and Ray Gunkel.[citation needed] He won his first championship in February 1958, when he teamed with Ray Gunkel to win the NWA International Tag Team Championship.[4] Three years later, he won the NWA Canadian Open Tag Team Championship with Ilio DiPaolo, by defeating Stan Kowalski and Tiny Mills on January 26, 1961.[4] Lyons and DiPaolo were the last champions, however, as the championships was abandoned and replaced with the Toronto version of the NWA International Tag Team Championship a few months later. Lyons eventually won this championship with Whipper Billy Watson on March 28, 1962, by defeating Chris and John Tolos.[4] They lost the championship to Bulldog Brower and Sweet Daddy Siki five days later on April 2.[5] On March 27, 1965, Lyons teamed with Beyer, who was using the ring name The Destroyer, to win the AWA World Tag Team Championship from Don Manoukian and Ray Stevens.[4] On June 3, 1965, they won the All Asia Tag Team Championship in the Japan Wrestling Association from Giant Baba and Toyonobori.[6] They lost the championship to Baba and Tonobori just over a month later on July 15, 1965.[6] While wrestling in the American Wrestling Association in the 1960s, Lyons was billed as the AWA British Empire Heavyweight Champion.[4]

In 1967, Lyons won his first singles championship, by defeating Duke Keomuka by forfeit in the finals of a tournament in San Antonio, Texas, to win the NWA Texas Heavyweight Championship on November 8.[4][7] He held the championship for nearly six months, eventually losing it to The Spoiler #1 on March 29, 1968, in Houston, Texas.[7] During this time, he won the NWA American Tag Team Championship with Fritz von Erich on January 30, 1968, in Dallas, Texas, by defeating Gary Hart and Spoiler.[4][8]

Lyons won the NWA United States Tag Team Championship (Tri-State version) with Bill Watts in January 1971, by defeating Buddy Roberts and Jerry Brown.[4] They lost the championship to Karl Von Brauner and Waldo Von Erich in March, but Lyons won it back with Tom Jones by defeating The Spoilers (The Spoiler #1 and The Spoiler #2) on May 31.[4] The following year, Lyons again teamed with Jones to win the NWA Mississippi Tag Team Championship in March 1972.[4] Jones later said that Lyons was the "best partner I ever had", and credited Lyons with teaching him the psychology of wrestling.[9] Throughout the late '60s and early '70s, he teamed with Red Bastien as The Flying Redheads, and on July 14, 1974, Lyons and Bastien won the NWA Texas Tag Team Championship by defeating Mike York and Frank Monte.[4][10] They held the championship for three months, but lost it to Chris Colt and Bobby Duncum on October 6, 1972.[10] Bastien later said that he and Lyons "were perfect for each other" as tag team partners.[9] Fellow professional wrestler Blackjack Mulligan said that Bastien and Lyons "were the greatest team of all time", and that watching them wrestle was watching "pure tag team wrestling at its basic".[9]

Following this, he returned to Toronto to compete for Maple Leaf Wrestling. He began teaming with Dewey Robertson in 1974, as the Crusaders, and they won the Toronto version of the NWA International Tag Team Championship on three occasions.[5] They defeated Hartford and Reginald Love for the championship on June 23, 1974, but dropped it to them on September 8.[5] They defeated them for the championship again on December 29, 1974.[5] He also challenged Jack Brisco for the NWA World Heavyweight Championship in a 1974 Maple Leaf Gardens main event.[citation needed] On June 8, 1975, the Crusaders were beaten by the Kelly Twins (Pat and Mike) for the championship, but they won it back two months later on August 24.[5] They were the final champions, however, as the championship was retired in September 1977.[5]

Lyons would make appearances in the WWF in (1976) and have fourteen matches in (1978) followed by only one match in (1979). Lyons returned to the WWF in (1982) and wrestled a few matches a year until his final match in Erie, Pennsylvania on June 20, 1985, against Rene Goulet.

After his retirement from active competition in 1985, he settled in Toronto and began working for Maple Leaf Wrestling in Toronto as an assistant to promoters Frank and Jack Tunney.[citation needed] Shortly after he would become affiliated with the World Wrestling Federation when Jack Tunney allied Maple Leaf Wrestling with the American-based wrestling company. Lyons would serve as a WWF television announcer, interviewer and ring announcer. He became famous for his catchphrase, "Don't you dare miss it!"[3] Backstage, he remained Jack Tunney's top assistant. Lyons was released in 1995, along with Tunney, due to budget cuts and dissolution of the WWF/Maple Leaf Wrestling association.

Personal life and death

Snip was the real-life brother-in-law of Dick Beyer, with whom he won the All Asia Tag Team Championship.[4] He was also a talented ice hockey player, before he became a professional wrestler.[4] Greg Oliver, the producer of Canadian Online Explorer's wrestling section, described Snip as having a "sly, cheeky sense of humour", and a man that "never took himself too seriously".[1]

He died on June 22, 2009, aged 77, from cancer, which had spread to his spine.[11]

Championships and accomplishments


  1. ^ a b c Oliver, Greg (2009-06-23). "Billy Red Lyons dies". Slam! Sports. Canadian Online Explorer. Retrieved 2009-06-24.
  2. ^ "Billy Red Lyons". Slam! Sports. Canadian Online Explorer. Archived from the original on July 31, 2012. Retrieved 2011-09-09.((cite web)): CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  3. ^ a b c "Billy Red Lyons passes away at 77". World Wrestling Entertainment. 2008-06-23. Retrieved 2009-06-26.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t "Billy "Red" Lyons". Online World of Wrestling. Retrieved 2009-06-26.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g "International Tag Team Title [Toronto]". Wrestling-Titles. Retrieved 2009-06-26.
  6. ^ a b c "All Asia Tag Team Title". Wrestling-Titles. Retrieved 2009-06-25.
  7. ^ a b c "Texas Heavyweight Title". Wrestling-Titles. Retrieved 2009-06-26.
  8. ^ a b "N.W.A. United States Tag Team Title". Wrestling-Titles. Retrieved 2009-06-26.
  9. ^ a b c Oliver, Greg (2009-06-24). "Colleagues respected Lyons' skills". Slam! Sports. Canadian Online Explorer. Retrieved 2009-06-27.
  10. ^ a b c "Texas Tag Team Title". Wrestling-Titles. Retrieved 2009-06-26.
  11. ^ Meltzer, Dave (2009-06-23). "Billy "Red" Lyons passes away". Wrestling Observer/Figure Four Online. Retrieved 2009-06-24.
  12. ^ "International Tag Team Title (Georgia)". Wrestling Titles. Retrieved 2009-01-12.
  13. ^ Hoops, Brian (March 22, 2020). "Daily pro wrestling history (03/22): Dutch Mantel wins Southern title from Jerry Lawler". Wrestling Observer Newsletter. Retrieved March 22, 2020.
  14. ^ Royal Duncan & Gary Will (2000). "Texas: NWA / World Class American Heavyweight Title [Von Eric]". Wrestling Title Histories. Archeus Communications. pp. 265–266. ISBN 0-9698161-5-4.
  15. ^ "NWA United States Heavyweight Title (1967-1968/05) - American Heavyweight Title (1968/05-1986/02)". Wrestling-Titles. Retrieved December 26, 2019.
  16. ^ Royal Duncan & Gary Will (2006). "(Dallas) Texas: NWA American Tag Team Title [Fritz Von Erich]". Wrestling Title Histories. Archeus Communications. ISBN 978-0-9698161-5-7.
  17. ^ "N.W.A. American Tag Team Title". Retrieved January 19, 2020.
  18. ^ *Will, Gary; Duncan, Royal (2000). "Texas: NWA Texas Heavyweight Title [Von Erich]". Wrestling Title Histories: professional wrestling champions around the world from the 19th century to the present. Pennsylvania: Archeus Communications. pp. 268–269. ISBN 0-9698161-5-4.
  19. ^ "NWA Texas Heavyweight Title". Wrestling-Titles. Retrieved March 30, 2017.
  20. ^ Oliver, Greg (2017-12-07). "Oooooh yeaaahhhh! PWHF announces Class of 2018". Slam! Sports. Canadian Online Explorer. Retrieved 2017-12-07.