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Blassie, RAW, Spike'd TV, Big Rock Update,
TNA Preview, and More...
June 4, 2003

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


This is a hellish week for me:  Reds vs. Yankees.  My adopted favorite team vs. the team I was trained to cheer for by my parents from as far back as I can remember (in this case, the '81 World Series is easily my earliest baseball memory).  A team that probably will be an also-ran by October vs. a team that could probably use the wins to stay on top of its division.  I'm completely torn.  What am I to do?

Well, for one thing, I'll probably be going to the game tomorrow night, so that'll be pretty cool.  I'll figure out the rest then.  In the meantime, I'll just watch tonight's on TV and cheer for another Good Ol' Good One like last night's.

On with the news:

  • On Monday night, the wrestling world lost a bona fide legend when "Classy" Freddie Blassie passed away.
    I, unfortunately, am not the right guy to deliver a proper eulogy for the self-professed "Hollywood Fashionplate."  A vast majority of my knowledge of Blassie came second hand, spoon-fed from the WWF/E over the course of the past 20 years.  I'm just barely old enough to remember Blassie as a manager, much less have any real grasp on what he was contributing as a full-time worker in decades prior.
    For the most part, I know what you know:  Blassie was a seminal heel, inciting some of the strongest fan reactions of the day.  In this case, "the day" would be the decades of the 40s, 50s, and 60s.  "Gorgeous George" may have been so over-the-top that he became the household name heel of the era, but it was Blassie's cockiness and sharp wit that earned him the most heat.  Afterall, Gorgeous George probably never had to turn back knife-wielding fans just looking for a shred of revenge for something he said or did.  Blassie did have to deal with that, and sometimes, he wasn't completely successful.
    As Blassie's career as a top heel draw around the globe (he criss-crossed the US, but was also marketable in Japan) drew to a close, his quick wit began to take over.  He turned the phrase "pencil neck geek," and at some point in the 60s or 70s, recording a song of the same title.  It was a mild underground hit, and I know it remains a favorite of the "Dr. Demento" crowd (what can I say?  I have family members who collect those records...).  And then, of course, it was on to managing, where Blassie's mouth could do part of the work, and then some other guy's body could take the lumps.
    I'm not sure who Blassie's earliest charges were, but as the footage clearly shows, he was put in charge of Hulk Hogan during Hogan's first WWF run in the 70s.  Hogan was working as a heel and had not yet developed the rap that would make him a star 5 years later.  By the time I started watching wrestling at about age nine or ten, Blassie was just about on his final legs as a manager.
    The Freddie Blassie I remember was the manager of the Iron Sheik and Nikolai Volkoff, and his trademark cane was of frequent aid to them.  In fact, it helped the duo win the WWF Tag Titles at the first WrestleMania.  Additionally, his presence was invaluable in terms of being a mouthpiece for the team, which was pretty much limited to Sheik's two broken English phrases ("Camaraman, Zoom the abs" and "Iran Number One, Russia Number One, USA [hocks up a loogey]").
    Blassie was in charge of Sheik and Volkoff for maybe a little over a year of my early wrestling fandom before health concerns pushed him out of the limelight in 1986.  Blassie couldn't handle the pressure of being out on the road 300 days a year, so he publicly signed over half his contract with Sheik and Volkoff (and by this point, I think, newcomer Butch Reed, too) to a new guy:  the Doctor of Style, Slick.
    Slick handled all the house show appearances, while Blassie and Slick co-managed the men for a while on television.  After a few months of that arrangement, Blassie disappeared, leaving Slick in full control of the stable.
    Though Blassie was a heel when last seen on television, he remained on the WWF payroll, and became a much-beloved "Goodwill Ambassador" for the company in the 90s.  He also provided haunting voiceovers for more than a few WWF/E pay-per-view video packages in the Attitude era.
    At the time of his death, Blassie had just released an autobiography, and had even appeared on RAW in an angle with the Dudley Boys (telling D-Von to "Get the Tables") in support of the book.  However, he was hospitalized shortly after that appearance, and was there for about 10 days before passing away on Monday.  Freddie Blassie was 85 years old.
    Condolences go out to all his family, friends, and fans... and you also have my word that a more fitting and complete tribute to "Classy" Freddie Blassie will be forthcoming, courtesy of "Circa" and Denny Burkholder, in the next couple of days.
  • A memorial for Blassie will be held at the Ballard Durrand Funeral Home in White Plains, NY, tomorrow (Thursday) evening.  A funeral service will follow on Friday in Scarsdale, NY, at the Hitchcock Presbyterian Church.
    I believe Blassie's final resting spot will be in St. Louis, MO.
  • Not a whole lot that I feel like adding about Monday's RAW that I didn't say already...  but in case you didn't read the RAW Recap yesterday, here's the Executive Summary:
    The first hour, hour-and-a-half or so was exceptional TV.  Obviously the Flair/Michaels promo (with, ahem, the Hurricane being inserted as the sixth man to even the sides for a later match... proving once and for all that great minds think alike!) and the Rock/Christian/Jericho Highlight Reel probably count as the best things we saw.  You can bemoan the dearth of actual wrestling, but as long as I'm being entertained, I'll take whatever they want to serve up...  this is, afterall, a far cry from the late 90s non-wrestling, which included Undertaker "crucifying" subjects and "choppy choppy the pee-pee."
    We also got the solid women's match in the first hour or so.  Seeing as how Trish, Ivory, and Molly are probably my favorite divas to watch, I wasn't going to complain if they were all in one match.  Nor if one of them unexpected pinned the champ, Jazz.  Also promising:  the Austin/Kane confrontation.  It does not undo all the damage done to the Kane character since last fall, but it is a start.  Hopefully they don't push too much, too soon like they did with Big Show's unreasonably rapid rehabilitation last winter, and let this build up.  I see it ending with Austin losing control of his monster, and Kane being a potential top heel.  If all the cards are played right, that is.
    Then for the final 30-40 minutes, things fell apart.  The pacing of the show was sloppy, with that one notable two minute break between 4 minute commercial interruptions that included ring entrances and about 30 seconds of the Booker/Goldust vs. Jericho/Christian match as a fine example.  And then the main event just never quite got on track, either.  Probably the most interesting development of the final part of the show was the revelation that Steve Austin is going to call in a special guest extra-crazy sumbitch of a referee for Nash/HHH Hell in the Cell.  The live crowd (and now just about all online fans) fully expect it will be Mick Foley.  Hey, it's possible; he's been on speaking terms with the Fed since earlier this year and he DOES have a book coming out that could use the free pub.  Then again, don't these surprises usually disappoint massively?
    That's about enough from me.  Like I said, full results and opinion are in the RAW Recap.
  • Likely on the strength of the Rock's special appearance, RAW was up in the ratings on Monday, pulling a 3.9 cable rating.  That's a gain of two-tenths from the week before.  We'll see if there's any residual, word-of-mouth bump next week, or if fans are savvy enough to realize the Rock was a one-time thing...
  • Speaking of the Rock, WWE.com has an interview with Rocky that confirms that last night was just a one-time thing, a convergence of lucky scheduling factors.  Rock was in California doing some pre-production work on his new movie, WWE was in California, and so it just made sense to bring him in for the shot.
    Rock also dropped some knowledge on the dot-com crew.  His movie coming out later this summer has changed names again: now it'll be "The Rundown" (is it just me, or are the names actually getting WORSE with each new one?).  Trailers for that movie will be attached to both "Terminator 3" and "The Hulk."
    Also, full-on production for his next movie -- the "Walking Tall" remake -- begins in about a month, and Johnny Knoxville has joined the cast as the Rock's buddy.
  • This is retarded, but it might also be of actual interest to wrestling fans...
    The New TNN is slated to morph into "Spike TV" in just under two weeks.  The idea is to completely rebrand the network as the first cable network dedicated exclusively to "guys."  Judging from the commercials so far, it seems Spike's definition of "guys" is "human males of significantly below average intelligence," but that's neither here nor there.
    Anyway, with less than two weeks to go before the name change, noted Knicks fan Spike Lee has filed a lawsuit seeking to stop the rebranding.  He claims that the name "Spike TV" implies that he, Spike Lee, is somehow affiliated with the network.  Lee went so far as to get a few prominent politicians and businessmen to sign sworn statements saying that when they heard about "Spike TV," they assumed it was something to do with Spike Lee.  So, apparently, in an effort to eliminate marketplace confusion, Spike Lee now owns all rights to the name "Spike" in perpetuity throughout the universe?
    I think not, Li'l Penny.
    While equally as dumb as the World Wildlife Fund lawsuit that necessitated the WWF's name change to WWE, I have much faith that the US legal system will summarily dismiss Lee's claims.  I have to have that faith.  Otherwise I'd probably just sit in my basement, drink whiskey all day, and wait for the none-too-soon end of the world.
    Note that this is the second time that rebranding of this particular network has been put in jeopardy due to legal maneuverings.  When the original hillbilly TNN decided to become the New TNN, they were putting all their eggs into the then-WWF basket.  RAW was going to be the flagship program of the new TNN, but USA Network went to court to block the move.  The courts finally ruled, only one week before the planned rebranding, that RAW could jump networks, leaving TNN little time to properly hype the re-invention of the network.
  • If you don't know the whole story with why Chris Jericho and Bill Goldberg is a match about five years in the making, you ought to check out a new WWE.com interview with Jericho.  He pretty well outlines the key elements of the Goldberg/Jericho feud that never really happened back in WCW.
    Lord knows I'll probably just keep making vague references to it for the next week or so, assuming you know the story already.  So go do your homework, Junior.
  • When the RAW brand heads over to the UK for the Fed's second European tour in the last month, they'll also be doing one of the company's bi-annual Euro-only PPVs, Insurrextion (did I misspell that correctly?).
    The currently planned main event to the PPV is Kevin Nash and Goldberg vs. Triple H and Chris Jericho.  Also, the fans in Newcastle, England will get a preview of the worldwide Bad Blood PPV IC Title match, Christian vs. Booker T.  Other matches:  RVD/Kane vs. 3MW vs. Dudleys for the Tag Titles, Hurricane vs. Test, Jazz vs. Trish vs. Victoria for the women's title, and Val Venis vs. Lance Storm.
    I would, however, suggest that this card is even more subject to change than most.  There have been plenty of mixed signals in terms of who's been advertised and who is actually expected to be on the tour.  Goldberg and both GMs Austin and Bischoff are the biggest question marks.
  • In case you've somehow missed them, WWE TV Spoilers are right here.  I know you just can't wait to find out why Chris Nowinski and Rodney Mack are working together on Heat!  
    Um, I mean I know you just can't wait to find out if Kurt Angle comes back as a heel or babyface on SmackDown!  That's what I MEANT to say...
  • Last thing for today is a bit of TNA talk...  looks like TNA is hitting another peak-then-restart show in their little cycle.  
    It won't quite be Raven vs. Jeff Jarrett, but tonight's NWA Title match has been brewing for about four weeks, and Glen Gilberti will finally get his shot at Jarrett's strap.  With Jarrett's recent heel leanings, there are tons of possibilities here.  Some involve a flat-out good wrestling match, others involved convoluted chicanery in the name of Russo-tainment.
    Meanwhile, AJ Styles and D'Lo Brown will face each other in a match to determine the next #1 Contender to face Jarrett (or Gilberti... *cough*).  The two had formed a tag team of convenience over the last month, but neither man wanted to be locked in when each had such upside as a singles wrestler.  So they broke up last week, and now have been pitted against each other with a title shot on the line.  If you ask me, this match is the reason to buy tonight's TNA PPV.
    There will also be an X-Division 6-man tag featuring some of the division's lesser-knowns/newcomers, another Hard 10 gimmick match (which, per my comments from last week, are starting to look like they will all suck, instead of being kind of cool and interesting), and a pair of matches in the Asylum Alliance tag tourney (C.Harris/Storm vs. James/Konnan, and Killings/D.Harris vs. Young/Tracy).
    Check out the show.  Or come on back on Friday for Damian Gonzalez's full report.
  • Till Friday, suckers....


Rick Scaia is a wrestling fan from Dayton, OH.  He's been doing this since 1995, but enjoyed it best when the suckers from SportsLine were actually PAYING him to be a fan.

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RAW RECAP: Brock's a Jerk
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Back with a Bang
RAW RECAP: Yes! Yes! Yes!
PPV RECAP: WWE WrestleMania 28




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