The other nite I just finished reading The Legends of Wrestling: “Classy” Freddie Blassie : Listen, You Pencil Neck Geeks. For those of you who may not know, Freddie Blassie was a professional wrestler. Later, as he got too old to work in the ring anymore, he became a manager and managed people like The Iron Sheik and Nikoli Volkoff. I never got to see Freddie work any matches, by the time I discovered wrestling at the age of 13, he was already managing in the WWF, though tracking down some footage of him wrestling is on my list of things to do (can anyone hook me up with anything?) as I like to go back and study the old wrestling matches.
The book tells his wrestling life story, from how he got his start, and how he worked his first handful of matches actually trying to win, not knowing that wrestling was a work! It wasn’t until a promoter told him he would be going over (ie: winning) in the match that he realized what was up. His stories of the early days were really fascinating, and everyone sounded like they were legit tough guys who could fuck you up in a second were they so inclined. He talked about his travels overseas, working the different territories, etc. I couldn’t put the book down.
Freddie went on to talk about managing Muhammad Ali, his friendship with Andy Kaufman who was a huge fan of wrestling, and then how he transitioned into managing guys and how he used to transfer his heat with the fans onto the people he was managing. Throughout the entire book it really shows thru just how much Freddie loved the business and how it was the biggest thing in his life.
You also get to see a more personal side to the “Hollywood fashion plate” and learn about his failed first marriage, how his life in the business cost him his relationship with most of his children, and how he met his second wife, who stayed with him the rest of his life until his sad passing recently.
I was touched by the epilogue, where they talked about his final appearance on Raw that happened less than 2 weeks before he passed away. All the boys in the back, and Vince McMahon came up to him backstage afterwords and thanked him and payed him homage. It was really touching to read, and it was like a big send off for him before he passed.
Back in the day, I hated Freddie Blassie. That was a good thing, Freddie was a Heel, and you are supposed to hate the heels, that meant Freddie was good at what he did. I may have hated him but I was always entertained by him, and I grew to miss him when he faded from TV. I was sad when I heard that he died, for I knew I’d never get to see the guy who elicited such a response from people, including myself, and I’d never be entertained by him again. I never knew him, but I can tell you that I’m always going to miss seeing him when I watch wrestling.
The book was a wonderful read for a wrestling fan, and would even be of interest to a non-fan. I highly recommend it.