Sunday, September 28, 2014

A Promoter’s Dream

In Meltzer’s Tributes II, Freddie Blassie becomes known to me as any promoter’s dream in his ability to get a crowd going, creating heat and selling tickets. Blassie did this by inventing new ways to antagonize the fans so that they would come to the matches. In short, he had tremendous drawing power. For example, Freddie dove over a table to attack Dick Beyer, a face who was being interviewed at half-time, on a widely televised football game. The next day, the arena was sold out.  According to the reading, Blassie had a following of several prominent fans including Elvis, Andy Kaufman and Muhammad Ali. Fans loved to hate him.

Conversely, although Blassie maintained major beefs with the fans, having been stabbed several times over the years, he was well liked by his fellow wrestlers such as his archrival John Tolos. Blassie is also credited with forging and enhancing the careers of several wrestlers, most notably Pedro Morales. Morales stated that they sold out wherever they went, and that the “Spanish boys” loved him. Freddie also started the career of Ernie Ladd who came over from the NFL, and became very popular.

Blassie’s most famous move was that he bit his opponents and he was hyped as “The Vampire” before going to Tokyo. According to Meltzer, once Freddie landed in Japan, he began to file his teeth. This new stratagem was powerful enough to make him the hottest foreign star in Japan, surpassing Lou Thesz.

Later in his career, Blassie became a manager, even though he was still one of wrestling’s biggest stars. He mainly managed foreign stars, such as the Iron Sheik, and overseas in Japan, Freddie was the manager for Adrian Adonis and later Hulk Hogan, which I found interesting. Freddie really taught these two the wrestling culture of Japan—how to act as a star.

So we have a TV interviewer’s nightmare, a heel who is probably best remembered as the most “vicious biter” in the business, which is a complete and flagrant disregard of the rules, who could pack in houses on a whim for any promoter. In addition, fans hated him to the point of stabbing him, yet wrestlers loved and respected him. Sounds like the main event of wrestling culture to me.


michael richardson said...

Blassie's reputation as a biter was hilarious to me. He seems on par with the Sheikh as far as stretching the limits of the audience's suspension of disbelief. Here's this fellow flagrantly flouting the rules, even blatantly filing his teeth because he is planning on biting more people, it's a part of his strategy, and no one ever questions why he keeps getting invited back to wrestle. No wonder he drew so much heat.

Timothy S. Rich said...

Blassie is a great example of character development and blurring the line between character and the person himself. In part this he is a product of his time, where acknowledging a distinction would be career suicide. That said, his promos during his wrestling days appeared very natural, not unlike the braggart at the end of the bar. It's little surprise he could get over.

Sam Ford said...

Fred Blassie is quite the man (just ask him). In all seriousness, he probably embodies pro wrestling more than few others...You can't help but be somewhat attracted to his personality and also think he comes off as an authentic jerk, but in a way that slightly endears you to him nonetheless. And then you dislike yourself a tad for liking him. What I like about Fred is that he makes his heel-ness seem natural, even as it's outlandish and over the top.