Listen, You Pencil Neck Geeks by Fred Blassie

September 3, 2019

This is a great story, told well. It’s a particular treat for those used to official WWE material downplaying a wrestler’s career working elsewhere.

Other than Jerry Lawler’s book, this is one of the few WWE-published autobiographies to give the majority of the book over to pre-WWE content. Indeed, while the book runs 269 pages, it’s not until page 169 that Blassie even makes it to New York aged 53.

There’s plenty to tell beforehand though, from Blassie’s time on the carnival circuit (where he saw a performer with a slender neck biting the heads of animals, inspiring his “pencil neck geek” catchphrase), his work in the early days of wrestling on TV, his matches with Rikidozan, his involvement in the Muhammad Ali-Antonio Inoki bout and, most memorably, his bitter feud with John Tolos that culminated in a match at the LA Coliseum.

Ghosted by Keith Elliot Greenberg, the book no doubt includes some of Blassie’s more colourful recollections of reality, but for the most part it appears accurate, with Greenberg having verified dates and times with historians such as Steve Yohe. Unless you have no interest whatsoever in the territory era and vintage Japan, it’s hard to imagine anyone not enjoying this.

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