Freddie Blassie, Lou Albano, and “The Fossil Jostle” Atrocity in ’85

Amid a “Manager of the Year” competition in 1985, frontrunner Lou Albano, now a face, was clocked by Freddie Blassie with a cane to his back. A revved-up Albano swore revenge. The next thing we knew, we had “The Fossil Jostle.” What an eyesore it became…

The “Three Wise Men of the East” - The Grand Wizard of Wrestling Ernie Roth, Captain Lou Albano, and Classy Freddie Blassie
The “Three Wise Men of the East” – The Grand Wizard of Wrestling Ernie Roth, Captain Lou Albano, and Classy Freddie Blassie.

The Fossil Jostle, Featuring Classy Freddie Blassie and Captain Lou Albano

For many a year, the “Three Wise Men of the East,” consisting of Classy Freddie Blassie, Captain Lou Albano, and The Grand Wizard of Wrestling, managed the major heels in the old WWWF. All WWE Hall of Famers, “The Wizard” Ernie Roth suddenly died from a heart attack on October 12th, 1983, and not long after Vince McMahon Jr. went the route of Rock & Wrestling.

Now before I get deeper into this atrocity that came to be known as “The Fossil Jostle,” let me just point out that I was a massive fan of both Lou, “The manager of champions,” and “The Hollywood Fashion Plate” Freddie Blassie. So, when I refer to their eventual meet-up at the Nassau Coliseum on August 23rd, 1985, as “The Fossil Jostle,” this isn’t me being snarky. And I certainly don’t perpetuate ageism, society’s seemingly last acceptable prejudice. “The Fossil Jostle” was precisely how the WWF shamefully promoted their main-event matchup. Yes, two of history’s most charismatic and colorful greats were reduced to a bad joke. Hey, the “over the hill gang” were going to perform — should be quite the dog and pony show!

Only it wasn’t. To be frank, it was kind of pitiful.

Blassie, whose knees were shot, was 67 years at the time; he had not wrestled to my knowledge in a good five years prior for obvious reasons.

Lou, who was never a great worker even in his prime, was best known in his later years for quickie matches. His “repertoire” was limited, to say the least. He’d do an eye rake or two, pull out a foreign object, work over whichever face he was feuding with for a very brief few minutes before his object was turned on him. Pulling out a blade that he was not particularly good at hiding, he’d go to town on his mangled forehead, bleed buckets, and make a hasty retreat to the dressing room, generally losing by count-out. The fans loved it, the heat was off the charts, but high Art it wasn’t. At age 52 and a good 100 pounds overweight, Lou did not belong anywhere near the main event.

But here they were. Far from a sell-out, it was a forgettable, meaningless, slapped together card. A cascade of boos met Freddie Blassie, and Lou Albano was the clear fan favorite. To say this was a meat and potatoes basic would be giving it more credit than it deserves. Blassie, practically immobile, did some famous biting to the forehead. Lou did his patented, exaggerated eye rake. There were some punching and kicking, and Lou’s wild fish out of water semi-comical selling. Dynamite Kid vs. Tiger Mask, this wasn’t.

Nearly slow-motion would be a more appropriate description.

Now you must understand something. Blassie was one of the greatest heels of all-time, and his closed-circuit classic with the Golden Greek, Maniac John Tolos, was the forerunner of WrestleMania. And Albano, for us WWWF old-school fans, was the greatest manager of all time, a tremendous promo guy and heat magnet. Yes, many of us rate him even higher than Bobby Heenan, and fans such as I who appreciated their artistry and loved them with all our hearts were hoping for that one last glimpse at greatness.

But it was not to be.

Simply put, it was lumbering. And yes, sad. The match was the living embodiment of “hanging around too long.” You could even go so far as to say it was memorably bad.

So, of course, WWF, in all their wisdom, set up a rematch.

The promos for the September 30th, 1985 Coliseum show again were snarky before the word even existed. It wasn’t like they promised a great brawl; it was once again more along the lines of “come out and see the old codgers do their thing.” Nudge, nudge, wink, wink.

To be settled in a steel cage no less.

Now, being the eternal optimist, that voice in my head said two brawlers locked “inside the four walls of steel” as they used to dramatically say could have its moments. I bought my ticket and sat there, hoping for the best.

But if there was a title I could have bestowed on this one, it was “Godawful- The Sequel.” When it ended, it was almost merciful.

On the topic of wrestling in his later years, in his highly-recommended book, Listen, You Pencil Neck Geeks, Freddie Blassie had this to say:

“Old wrestlers never really pack their trunks away. You find yourself sitting at ringside thinking, ‘Shit, I can do a better job than these guys.’ Even after I turned sixty, I still believed that I had a couple of good matches left in me. So I made a few brief comebacks and even had a novelty match with Lou Albano — after he turned babyface — at the Nassau Coliseum on Long Island.”

Blassie continued, “I still thought that I was a tough wrestler. And considering my age and injuries, I did a pretty fair job. But I was way past the point where I belonged in the ring.”

Captain Lou Albano went on to much glory with Cyndi Lauper, Super Mario Bros, and the critically acclaimed film Wise Guys with Danny DeVito and Joe Piscopo. He did wonderful charity work throughout the rest of his life. He was a regular on the autograph circuit, quite religious, and beloved in the wrestling community.

Freddie Blassie worked behind the scenes to a ripe old age with the WWE as an ambassador and such. Vince McMahon Jr. clearly had a warm spot for him.

But the fossil jostle was an utter embarrassment; it was traumatic for old school fans who loved both these giants.

Frankly, it is probably best forgotten some 35 years later.

Watch: Freddie Blassie attacks Lou Albano

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Evan Ginzburg
Evan Ginzburg is a contributor for Pro Wrestling Stories. He was an Associate Producer on the movie "The Wrestler" and "350 Days" starring Bret Hart and Superstar Billy Graham. He is a nearly 30-year film, radio, and TV veteran, as well as co-host of the weekly Wrestling & Everything- Coast to Coast radio show with Buddy Sotello. He can be reached on Twitter @evan_ginzburg or by e-mail at [email protected]