Thursday, 22 March 2012 10:26
Joe Blanchard, who performed virtually every role possible in the wrestling industry during a 30 plus year career, passed away this morning at the age of 84.
Blanchard was a college football and wrestling star who went on to play Canadian Football with the Edmonton Eskimos alongside future wrestling greats Gene Kiniski and Wilbur Snyder.
He then became a solid pro wrestling star, working all over the world, a name talent but below superstar level before finally settling as a regular in Texas during the 60s. He ended up promoting wrestling in San Antonio and other cities in the area during the early 70s Texas wrestling heyday, to great success behind the likes of top draws Jose Lothario and Wahoo McDaniel, as well as regular guest appearances of major stars like Mil Mascaras.
Besides promoting, had runs as a booker, and for years, was also the popular television announcer and a very well liked personality in cities like San Antonio, Corpus Christi and Harlingen, all traditionally strong wrestling markets. His shows, taped every Wednesday night from the arena, featured many of the biggest names in wrestling and was among the best television shows in the country during the 70s.
Eventually, Blanchard broke away from the Southwest Sports Booking Office headed by Jack Adkisson (Fritz Von Erich) and formed his own promotion, Southwest Championship Wrestling, They had good success early based on the top heel tag team, the Dynamic Duo of Gino Hernandez & Joe's son Tully Blanchard.
But his product was coming out on the short end of a Texas promotional war with Southwest Sports, then known as World Class Championship Wrestling, particularly during the height of the Freebirds vs. Von Erichs feud in 1983.
Blanchard got a weekly television show on the USA Network and attempted to go national with his own world champion. But they didn't have the horses to get it done, and fell deepy into debt and behind on paying the network, and lost their TV spot to Vince McMahon's World Wrestling Federation.
Blanchard sold the promotion shortly thereafter.