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In Memory of Classy Freddie Blassie 
June 6, 2003

by Denny Burkholder  
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


In pro wrestling, there are certain guys we assume will be around forever. Wrestling is their life. It's in their blood. In many cases, pro wrestling is all they've ever done, and all they ever want to do.

From a fan's perspective, we couldn't imagine pro wrestling without these men. They are synonymous with wrestling. They have been omnipresent for decades. The business loves them, the boys love them, and the fans appreciate their efforts.

Terry Funk. Ric Flair. Dusty Rhodes. Jerry Lawler. Outside of the ring, Paul Heyman, Howard Finkel, or Jim Cornette. Gorilla Monsoon was that way. So was "Classy" Freddie Blassie.

Blassie was in the pro wrestling business for 67 years, with only one small sabbatical. Put that into perspective for a moment: were you alive 67 years ago? Were your parents alive? Fred Blassie started wrestling in 1935. Wars, riots, and generations came and went. Territories rose and fell. Promoters came and went. The business changed many times over. Fred Blassie not only survived during all of this, he was actively involved in pro wrestling during it all. That is truly remarkable.

On Monday, June 2, 2003, the world lost Fred Blassie. Pro wrestling lost possibly the most devoted long-term ambassador it ever had.

There are very few people who can recount Blassie's career in its entirety without relying on second-hand - at least - information and research. He simple wrestled too long, all over the world, for anyone to have seen it all. When he could no longer wrestle, he walked other wrestlers to ringside, as their mouthpiece and manager. When he could no longer walk, he sat down, and kept on talking. As recently as last month, a visibly ill Fred Blassie could be seen on WWE RAW, telling D-Von Dudley to "get the tables," and insulting Eric Bischoff. Remarkable.

I can tell you a whole bunch of stuff you already know: Blassie was one of the biggest drawing cards in Los Angeles during his heyday. Fred Blassie and John Tolos had an incredibly long-term, bloody feud, which routinely sold out the arenas they headlined. Blassie's vicious behavior and taste for ripping opponent's heads open with his teeth earned him the nickname "Vampire" in Japan.

Blassie was one of the elite interviews back when the TV interview first became an important skill for a wrestler to have. He is credited with coining the phrase "pencil-necked geek," which will forever stand as one of pro wrestling's traditional salutes. He was the title character in one of comedian/ wrestling fan Andy Kaufman's most bizarre offerings, the film "My Breakfast with Blassie."

Blassie was by the side of Hulk Hogan when the towering rookie set forth to create his own legend. When Hogan's popularity helped the WWF gain national success, Blassie had reinvented himself as the raspy, grizzled manager of top heels The Iron Sheik and Nikolai Volkoff, whose walking cane doubled as a foreign object in most matches. He passed the managerial torch to Slick in 1986, handing the "Doctor of Style" his stable of wrestlers (now including Butch Reed and Hercules Hernandez). He remained employed by WWE as a goodwill ambassador up until his death.

Like many fans, I can only give first-hand knowledge of Blassie's career from the 1980s onward. But I know one thing: like Funk, Flair, and Rhodes, it seemed to me that Fred Blassie would always be around. Fred Blassie was wrestling. He changed locations, he reinvented himself, but he was always there. Fred Blassie made pro wrestling better for his involvement, and his commitment was second to none.

As a fan, I say thank you, Mr. Blassie, for entertaining me. Sometimes I laughed. Sometimes I marveled or cursed at Fred Blassie on my television, or in my hometown. But I always had a great time, and I always paid attention when you were on camera. We will miss you.

From a Los Angeles TV interview, circa 1955, I give the last word to the Hollywood Fashion Plate:

Announcer: And now, the man who says he is without a doubt the one and only man in rassling today, the greatest of all rasslers, the king of men, and the man that women swoon over every time they see him. Of course, I'm speaking of Mr. Freddie Blassie. The Great Freddie Blassie.

Blassie: That's right, The Great Freddie "Classy" Blassie. I know you said it in a very disrespectful tone...

Announcer: Oh no, not at all. Not at all.

Blassie: But I demand respect at all times because my record speaks for itself. My ability,  knowledge and know-how in the wrestling game. I've made a thorough practice of learning all the holds, and the counterholds for them. For every hold you know in the wrestling profession, there has to be two escapes. Every wrestler knows two escapes. Freddie Blassie knows three or four. That's the reason I say that I am greater than any wrestler that ever stepped into the ring. Besides being the best looking wrestler.

Announcer: I understand your rassling ability. But what about your women? You say that the women...

Blassie: Well, you know, the women may swoon over me, but like I say, it doesn't do them any good. Because the people that I've seen so far, the women around here, the way they dress, I mean, it looks like they're all dressed in potato sacks! The women where I come from, they dress like women. And they want the fellas to appreciate them. And they know how to dress. But the women that I've seen out here, believe me, they're nothing but pigs.

Announcer: Oh, I wouldn't go that far.

Blassie: Well that's YOUR opinion! I'm entitled to mine!

Announcer: You're going to lose some of the women...

Blassie: I DON'T CARE! The ones that I'm going to lose are the ones I said just what they are: PIGS. The beautiful women will still idolize The Great Freddie Blassie!

Announcer: Well then what type of clothes do YOU think they should wear?

Blassie: Well, they should wear form-fitting clothes. Something that, well... (Blassie gestures a voluptuous chest) so the people can see what they look like.

Announcer: Oh, I see.

Blassie: I hate these things when they wear PADDING, and FALSIES, and things like that sort, see? After all, the women, they were made to be admired. And why should they hide 'em in the potato sacks that they are wearing? And these things that they call HATS. I mean, feathers way out here... My god, those things should have been outlawed 50 years ago! And now they're bringing them back in style? They're not STYLISH!

Announcer: Well Freddie, it's certainly been nice having you with us. I wish we had more time to bring out your ideas, but I see that our time is just about up.

Blassie: Well that's the trouble! Every time I get on here, you always say you wish you had 'more time.' Why don't you GIVE ME more time! Keep the rest of these pencil necks off here and get The Great Freddie Blassie more time to express his opinions!


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