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 - Vince Fahey

The latest hardback biography from the WWE has hit the stands and this one is a keeper.  Listen, You Pencil Neck Geeks is the story of Classy Freddie Blassie, who along with his co-writer Keith Elliot Greenburg, lead us through the career of one of wrestling's preeminent heels.

 

Most of my exposure to Blassie came during his stint with the WWF during the 80s.  It's only been through older wrestling mags, that I've become aware of his work during the 60's and 70's.  But as I read through the book, one thought continually struck me... I wish I could've seen this guy in action during his prime.

 

Blassie starts his tale early, discussing his upbringing and eventual entry into the pro wrestling ranks.  At first, Blassie considered a possible career move into boxing, but as a long-time wrestling fan, Blassie found the pull of the squared circle too strong and eventually was able to get into the wrestling game in his hometown of St. Louis.

 

He continued to work the various territories (such as they were during this time), working for Tom Packs in St. Louis, the Dusek Brothers in Nebraska, and Tony Stecher in Minnesota.  Then, the attack on Pearl Harbor occurred.

 

Blassie enlisted in the Navy and spent over three years there. During this time, Blassie also got married to his first wife, Nettie.  Once the war was over, Blassie returned to St. Louis and his wrestling career.  St. Louis by this time was a wrestling hot spot and Blassie soon found work as Sailor Fred Blassie. 

 

Blassie continued to work in and around the St. Louis/Midwest area throughout the 40's and into the early 1950's.  Then, in 1952, he received a call that would change his career.  Jules Strongbow, booker for the Los Angeles promotion run by the Lebell family, called Blassie in to work the territory.  Blassie got his first taste of the west coast and loved it.   The book continues on from here detailing Blassie's work and career in Los Angeles, Georgia, and eventually the WWF. 

 

I really enjoyed this book.  Of all the WWE released novels, this one, IMO, rivals Foley's first book.  It discusses a different era than Foley's which is what makes it so interesting.  Having never really had the chance to experience pro wrestling from the '60s or '70s, Blassie really does a nice job of painting a picture of not only what his career was like, but what the landscape of professional wrestling was during this time.  One of the things that I think Blassie does well, is relay various historical facts about wrestling that any devoted old school fan would already know, but for the casual reader, Blassie is able to impart knowledge about the game of wrestling, while still keeping the focus on himself and his story.

 

Another nice touch, that I've only seen elsewhere in the Diamond Dallas Page book, is the use of statements from those who worked with Blassie throughout his career.  Used throughout the book, these statements are interjected into the ongoing text and help to provide yet more backstory to Freddie Blassie.  Statements from Hulk Hogan, Vince McMahon, Jr., Nickolai Volkoff, John Tolos, Killer Khan, and many others make for a nice and interesting diversion from the rest of the story.

 

This book is given a "Legends of Wrestling" pre-heading... I'm not sure what to infer from this.  My hope is that the WWE while looking towards not only publishing books on their current group of wrestlers will also look towards publishing books from the older wrestlers who work for them behind the scenes... folks like Pat Patterson, Gerry Brisco, Sgt. Slaughter and others.

 

Some folks may not pick this book up because they're experience with Freddie Blassie is limited.  That's a mistake.  This book is a gem... funny, fascinating and very interesting... I certainly came away from it with a better appreciation of Freddie Blassie and his career.

 

Highly recommended.

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Listen You Pencil Neck Geeks
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