It’s about that time once again where we catch up with Classy Fredy Blast himself to chat it up about some of his best moments in classic wrestling history so one Saturday afternoon we sat in the lab and fast forwarded through his VHS archives of original airings to find out his top 5 favorite non world title holding champions (i.e. TV Title, Intercontinental and regional titles). What we ultimately ended up with is a top 5 plus an additional 5 of honorable mentions.
Pat Patterson (first Intercontinental champion)
Making his wrestling debut in Canada in 1958 and frequently billed as “Killer” Pat Patterson, he despite speaking no English – emigrated to the United States to pursue his professional wrestling career. He initially worked for Tony Santos’ Big Time Wrestling promotion in Boston, Massachusetts. In 1962, Patterson was recruited by Mad Dog Vachon for Don Owen’s Portland, Oregon-based Pacific Northwest Wrestling promotion. At the encouragement of PNW promoter Harry Elliot, who was aware of Patterson’s homosexuality, Patterson developed the character of “Pretty Boy” Pat Patterson, an effeminate wrestler who wore lipstick, sunglasses, and a beret and carried a cigarette holder. Throughout the years Patterson has wrestled for the NWA, Championship Wrestling (Florida), AWA, New Japan Pro Wrestling, Lutte Internationale and the WWF.
*In September 1979, the WWF would introduce the WWF Intercontinental Championship, a secondary championship for its midcard wrestlers. Patterson was crowned the company’s first Intercontinental Heavyweight Champion after an alleged tournament held in Rio de Janeiro. While Patterson’s tournament “victory” is widely listed in wrestling title and match histories, the tournament itself never actually took place. Patterson’s apocryphal title victory would later become something of an inside joke during Patterson’s on-screen tenure as one of Vince McMahon’s “stooges”.
Ted DiBiase (North American Title)
Ted DiBiase was trained by brothers Dory Funk, Jr. and Terry Funk and made his professional wrestling debut as a referee in June 1974 in the Amarillo territory owned by the Funks. He then went to the Mid-South territory of Bill Watts being promoted as the son of Iron Mike in 1975 where he wrestled for four years. By February 1978, DiBiase would unseat Dick Slater to become Missouri State champion only to lose to Dick Murdoch after a few weeks on television. DiBiase had a short stint with Vince McMahon, Sr.’s World Wrestling Federation (WWF) in 1979, that was in the transition from being called the World Wide Wrestling Federation. He was awarded the short-lived North American Championship, becoming the title’s first champion. Throughout his career he’s wrestled in the NWA, and All Japan Pro Wrestling,
Tully Blanchard (NWA TV Titled Pre world title)
Canadian-born American retired professional wrestler and Blanchard who was trained to wrestle by his father and José Lothario, debuting in 1975 in his father’s promotion, Southwest Championship Wrestling, where he also held a number of backstage production and creative positions. He began his career by tag teaming with his father in a feud against Dory Funk, Jr. and Terry Funk. Best known for his appearances with Jim Crockett Promotions and the World Wrestling Federation in the mid to late 1980s as a member of The Four Horsemen and The Brain Busters. His greatest feuds happened against Dusty Rhodes and Magnum T.A. Throughout his career, Blanchard has held various titles including the NWA World Television Championship, NWA World Tag Team Championship, WWF World Tag Team Championship, and NWA United States Heavyweight Championship.
Dusty Rhodes (Florida Title)
Rhodes got his start in 1967 after seeing an advertisement in the newspaper for Tony Santos’ professional wrestling promotion Big Time Wrestling, based in Boston. He then drove to Boston, and despite not having any wrestling experience, bluffed his way into working for the company by using his real life friendships with Bobby Duncum and the Funk brothers. Billed as Dusty Runnels, one of his first matches was for the BTW World Heavyweight title against champion Frank Scarpa in the Boston Arena. Having little money, Rhodes slept in his car and spent Thanksgiving with Rufus R. Jones in a Boston soup kitchen. Throughout his career, Rhodes has wrestled in the World Class Championship Wrestling, NWA, National Wrestling Federation and the AWA.
Bobo Brazil (U.S. Title)
Born Houston Harris, one of the first internationally known African American wrestlers and credited with breaking down barriers of racial segregation in professional wrestling. Born in Little Rock, Arkansas, but later lived in East St. Louis, Illinois, and Benton Harbor, Michigan, he played Baseball in the Negro Leagues for The House of David, where he was discovered to become a Wrestler at a steel mill. Harris was trained by Joe Savoldi after meeting him at matches at the Naval Armory. Savoldi originally named Harris, BuBu Brasil, “The South American Giant,” but a promoter misprinted his first name as “Bobo” in an advertisement and it stuck. His career would see him in feuds with some of the best during that time including Killer Kowalski, Dick the Bruiser, Johnny Valentine, and The Sheik, who he feuded with over the course of several decades. On October 18, 1962, Brazil made history by becoming the first African American to win the NWA World Heavyweight Championship by defeating “Nature Boy” Buddy Rogers (this distinction is usually given to Ron Simmons, the first recognized African American world champion after winning the WCW World Heavyweight Championship). Brazil served as a mentor to wrestler “Soulman” Rocky Johnson (actor / wrestler The Rock’s father). Brazil’s manager was James Dudley, the first African American to be in charge of a major arena in the United States.
Ricky Steamboat (Mid Atlantic title)
Jerry The King Lawler (Southern Heavyweight title)
Terry Taylor (Mid-South TV title) *Note: the title wasn’t a belt but a medallion.
Rick Rude (World Class Wrestling American title)
Magnificent Muraco (Intercontinental Champion)
*Muraco is my favorite and I would’ve put him in the top 5 but I had to give the nod to Patterson for being the first to hold the Intercontinental belt and it was a big deal at the time when he brought the title to the WWF who only had 2 titles at the time.