He discussed how he first got into wrestling when he joined The Wrestling Inc Daily.
“I was a big fan in Los Angeles in the old territorial days and then became a big fan again during Hogan’s era. I remember watching TV then on a Saturday morning and laying in bed with some chick that I just met and having this idea spark,” recalled Bassman.
“This is gonna sound blasphemous as I respect guys like Windham and Rotunda and Duggan, but they are the ones representing America heroes in pro wrestling. Back then it was all about divisive and conflict and my thought process were that these guys didn’t look like American heroes to me.”
He thought it would be cool to find a group of jacked up guys that you could make look like big American heroes. He wanted them to be multi-ethnic and look like figures in comic books.
“My biggest fault in life was not being good at sticking to one thing and seeing it through. So, I dove into my pro wrestling concept and found the four guys. My idea was to find a black guy, a blonde-haired blue-eyed All-American boy, an Italian-American and an American Indian,” said Bassman. “In 1985 they did not grow Latinos or Asians that big back then. That’s why I chose that multi-ethnic group.”
He found the four guys and got them a trainer but the entire concept was poorly conceived because he had no idea how the pro wrestling business worked back then. Bassman didn’t realize that you can’t just take four green guys and put them up at the top of a promotion.
The group eventually faded out but there were two replacements who would go on to form a team called The Blade Runners.
“Steve Borden [Sting] was a replacement for the All-American guy and Jim Hellwig [Warrior] was a replacement for the American Indian,” stated Bassman who then talked more about working with Sting.
“He’s a really nice guy and we were probably on the phone for an hour-and-a-half today. We reconnected recently and have been talking about a bunch of different things. He’s a good dude and is mellow. We met because he was the day manager at the gym in California where my wrestling group was working out.
“I asked him [to be in the group] and he had zero interest in pro wrestling, none whatsoever. I worked on him for months before he said he’ll give it a try and the rest is history. But he’s always been a good dude.”
Many say Bassman has a life similar to the dad in Big Fish as he has all of these amazing stories from his life. He talked about that comparison and what’s different between him and the character.
“I’ve used that many, many times and there’s an analogy between me and the character in that movie,” stated Bassman. “The son in the movie thinks that the father is either fibbing or lying and it comes full circle at the end… Here’s the one thing I’d like to say about exaggeration or fibbing, for almost every thing that I’ve claimed or written about in my book, I have absolutely, irrefutable photographic evidence of. So, there you go.”
Back in the 1980s, Bassman created the first video that pulled back the curtain on pro wrestling and exposed the business. He discussed how that all came about.
“I had my school and promotion in California called Ultimate University and we had 33 men and women come through that went and signed with WWE. Being that we’re in LA, every time Access Hollywood wanted to do something pro wrestling related, they would come to us. So, we were always in the public eye for entertainment and wrestling combined,” said Bassman.
“I got a phone call one day from Tom Beers who is one of the top guys in the reality space and he was doing a series for Discovery at the time called On The Inside. So, on the inside of fishing or whatever and he wanted me to do an hour episode on the inside of a pro wrestling school.
“So, he came to me, found us through an internet search, and he realized quickly that I understood the entertainment and TV world as well. So, he made me an executive producer on the show. We did a one-hour special about what happens in a pro wrestling school for a small promotion. That was the first exposure that John Cena ever had because John was brand new for me at that time.”
Rick’s new podcast, Talking Tough, debuts March 15th on all podcast platforms. You can also follow him on Twitter @rick_bassman.
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