Pro Wrestling Books

Wrestling with words

Pro Wrestling Books - Wrestling with words

Release schedule (30 April 2014)

The following titles are scheduled for release and available for pre-ordering at Amazon. As always, all dates are subject to change.

Titles in bold are new. Titles in italics have changed release date.

1 May: Wrestling with the Devil: The True Story of a World Champion Professional Wrestler – His Reign, Ruin, and Redemption by Lex Luger (paperback) (Already available in hardback.)

6 May: Andre the Giant: Life and Legend by Box Brown

31 May: Rastlin: A Southern Survey by David McClister (photobook)

17 June: WWE Superstars #1: Money In the Bank by Mick Foley (graphic novel)

23 June: Sister Like You by Jade Coles

1 July: The All-American Boy: Lessons and Stories on Life from Wrestling Legend Bob Backlund

1 August: Several WWE profile books by Blake Markegard

8 August: Fighting for Recognition: Identity, Masculinity, and the Act of Violence in Professional Wrestling R. Tyson Smith

15 September: 30 Years of WrestleMania by Brian Shields 

1 October: Time Heels: Cheating, Stealing, Spandex and the Most Villainous Moments in the History of Pro Wrestling by Jon Chattman, Rich Tarantino and Tommy Dreamer 

14 October: The Best in the World: At What I Have No Idea by Chris Jericho

14 October: The Death of WCW: 10th Anniversary Edition of the Bestselling Classic — Revised and Expanded by Bryan Alvarez & RD Reynolds. (This will also be available in hardback for the first time.)

4 November: The Squared Circle: Life, Death, and Professional Wrestling by David Shoemaker (Already available in hardback.)

11 November: The Dead Wrestler Elegies by W Todd Kaneko

16 December: Booker T: My Rise To Wrestling Royalty

20 January 2015: The Sweetheart: A Novel by Angelina Mirabella

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

A quick word about the site

Just wanted to say thanks to everyone who has read and supported the site in its early weeks. The plan is to add at least a couple of reviews each week with the aim of building up the most comprehensive resource for wrestling books online. Don’t forget that as well as looking at individual categories in the list to the right of the page, you can access our complete A-Z list of reviews from the top of the screen. We’ll also be updating the release schedule regularly. (With that in mind, there will likely be no posts next week because of holiday.)

There’s also a few ways you can help keep the site growing. The first is to spread the word by liking our Facebook page and individual posts and following our Twitter account. Doing so will let you know about all our posts as they happen. Please do recommend us to any wrestling-loving friends you have.

If you use an ad blocker on your web browser, it would be much appreciated if you felt able to add this site to your exceptions list. We only carry three ads on each page, all designed to be as unobtrusive as possible.

You can also help by following our affiliate links at the end of each post if you want to buy any of the books we cover through Amazon. You’ll pay the same price and we’ll get a small percentage from Amazon, which helps towards the site’s running costs. Note that some of the affiliate links aren’t displayed if you use an adblocker.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Championship Wrestling by George Napolitano

championshipwrestlingThis is a good example of the type of books that were available before the boom inspired by the success of Have A Nice Day and the growth of self-publishing and eReaders. It’s a 112-page collection of pictures by George Napolitano, arguably tied with Bill Apter for the best-known wrestling photographer of his era.

There is a fair bit of accompanying text, though nothing with any real insight and it’s mainly made up of kayfabe capsule profiles.

The pics themselves are great quality as you’d expect, and include some offbeat shots such as the Ultimate Warrior in shades, Doom in tuxedos, Road Warrior Hawk applying his make-up. Altogether though, it’s really something you’d only want to buy if you wanted to get your hands on every wrestling book going, something that was both achievable and understandable at the time of its 1991 release, but not really necessary or viable for most people today. You can get it second hand for pennies, however, so it may be worth looking out for if you’re a collector or completist.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Preorder: Andre the Giant: Life and Legend

andreScheduled for release on May 6 in the US, this is a graphic novel of Andre’s life:

Andre Roussimoff is known as both the lovable giant in The Princess Bride and a heroic pro-wrestling figure. He was a normal guy who’d been dealt an extraordinary hand in life. At his peak, he weighed 500 pounds and stood nearly seven and a half feet tall. But the huge stature that made his fame also signed his death warrant.
Box Brown brings his great talents as a cartoonist and biographer to this phenomenal new graphic novel. Drawing from historical records about Andre’s life as well as a wealth of anecdotes from his colleagues in the wrestling world, including Hulk Hogan, and his film co-stars (Billy Crystal, Robin Wright, Mandy Patinkin, etc), Brown has created in Andre the Giant,the first substantive biography of one of the twentieth century’s most recognizable figures.

Despite the book having not been released yet, it already has 17 reviews on Amazon through the Vine program, with the response largely positive.  The reviews suggest it covers some of the more obscure stories about Andre’s career (such as his bus confrontation with Bad News Allen in Japan), but also repeats some of the exaggerations and myths such as the ever-ludicrous tale of drinking 119 beers in one sitting.

It’s the third book to cover Andre’s life in detail. Andre the Giant: A Legendary Life
is a WWE-published biography spoiled by most of the content simply being descriptions of matches and angles with none of the usual behind-the-scenes insight. Andre is also featured in Tributes, a collection of detailed obituaries from the Wrestling Observer Newsletter.

Pre-order Andre the Giant: Life and Legend on Kindle (US)

Pre-order Andre the Giant: Life and Legend on Kindle (UK)

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Release schedule (24 April 2014)

The following titles are scheduled for release and available for pre-ordering at Amazon. As always, all dates are subject to change.

Titles in bold are new. Titles in italics have changed release date.

1 May: Wrestling with the Devil: The True Story of a World Champion Professional Wrestler – His Reign, Ruin, and Redemption by Lex Luger (paperback) (Already available in hardback.)

6 May: Andre the Giant: Life and Legend by Box Brown

31 May: Rastlin: A Southern Survey by David McClister (photobook)

17 June: WWE Superstars #1: Money In the Bank by Mick Foley (graphic novel)

23 June: Sister Like You by Jade Coles

1 July: The All-American Boy: Lessons and Stories on Life from Wrestling Legend Bob Backlund

1 August: Several WWE profile books by Blake Markegard

8 August: Fighting for Recognition: Identity, Masculinity, and the Act of Violence in Professional Wrestling R. Tyson Smith

15 September: 30 Years of WrestleMania by Brian Shields 

1 October: Time Heels: Cheating, Stealing, Spandex and the Most Villainous Moments in the History of Pro Wrestling by Jon Chattman, Rich Tarantino and Tommy Dreamer 

14 October: The Best in the World: At What I Have No Idea by Chris Jericho

14 October: The Death of WCW: 10th Anniversary Edition of the Bestselling Classic — Revised and Expanded by Bryan Alvarez & RD Reynolds

4 November: The Squared Circle: Life, Death, and Professional Wrestling by David Shoemaker (Already available in hardback.)

11 November: The Dead Wrestler Elegies by W Todd Kaneko

16 December: Booker T: My Rise To Wrestling Royalty

20 January 2015: The Sweetheart: A Novel by Angelina Mirabella

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Exquisite Mayhem: The Spectacular and Erotic World of Wrestling by Cameron Jamie

exquistemayhemThis will likely be the strangest book we review at Pro Wrestling Books. It’s an absolutely enormous 480-page coffee-table book (listed at 14.6 x 11.7 x 1.6 inches and nine pounds) made up of three types of material.

Of most interest to readers here will be the extensive collection of wrestling photographs by Theo Ehtret who spent many years as a photographer in the Los Angeles territory, specifically shooting at the famed Olympic Auditorium. There are posed and action shots of most of the stars from the 1970s including some truly beautiful double-page spreads of the Auditorium and other local venues.

However, the books contain just as much from Ehtret’s other photography role, producing shots of apartment wrestling in which women appear to have decided to resolve their differences by fighting in their home wearing little or no clothing.

While it’s likely that a high proportion of those interested in pro wrestling will have no objection to looking at such images, the big problem is that the two are interspersed seemingly at random rather than in distinct sections. Pick any random spread and you stand a good chance of seeing a juxtaposition that puts one in mind of the 2000 US Presidential face-off.

The text of the book is limited to a brief interview with Ehtret and a reproduction of Roland Barthes’s essay on wrestling from his book Mythologies. It’s the best known academic commentary on pro wrestling’s portrayal of the dramatic battle between good and evil and frequently cited in later studies, though like so much in its field seems to completely miss the point that wrestling bouts are predominately staged in order to make a profit.

The book certainly falls into the category of collectable rather than must-read. It generally goes for $50 or more, though if you do spot it at a bargain price online (or be tempted to offload your own copy), be aware the postage costs are likely to be substantial.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Release schedule (16 April 2014)

The following titles are scheduled for release and available for pre-ordering at Amazon. As always, all dates are subject to change.

Titles in bold are new. Titles in italics have changed release date.

1 May: Wrestling with the Devil: The True Story of a World Champion Professional Wrestler – His Reign, Ruin, and Redemption by Lex Luger (paperback) (Already available in hardback.)

31 May: Rastlin: A Southern Survey by David McClister (photobook)

17 June: WWE Superstars #1: Money In the Bank by Mick Foley (graphic novel)

1 July: The All-American Boy: Lessons and Stories on Life from Wrestling Legend Bob Backlund

1 August: Several WWE profile books by Blake Markegard

8 August: Fighting for Recognition: Identity, Masculinity, and the Act of Violence in Professional Wrestling R. Tyson Smith

15 September: 30 Years of WrestleMania by Brian Shields 

1 October: Time Heels: Cheating, Stealing, Spandex and the Most Villainous Moments in the History of Pro Wrestling by Jon Chattman, Rich Tarantino and Tommy Dreamer 

14 October: The Best in the World: At What I Have No Idea by Chris Jericho

14 October: The Death of WCW: 10th Anniversary Edition of the Bestselling Classic — Revised and Expanded by Bryan Alvarez & RD Reynolds

4 November: The Squared Circle: Life, Death, and Professional Wrestling by David Shoemaker (Already available in hardback.)

11 November: The Dead Wrestler Elegies by W Todd Kaneko

16 December: Booker T: My Rise To Wrestling Royalty

20 January 2015: The Sweetheart: A Novel by Angelina Mirabella

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Wrestling’s Ring Side Seat by Johnny Kincaid

kincaidThis is the self-published story of the former European heavyweight champion best known for his ‘Caribbean Sunshine Boys’ team with Dave ‘Butcher’ Bond.

The most striking initial impression is that the book, apparently by design if the foreword is anything to go by, has not been professionally edited. The punctuation is patchy at best, and many of the sentences run on far beyond their natural length. While this is initially distracting, once you adjust to the style (which quite possibly mirrors Kincaid’s natural speech) it doesn’t harm the story-telling.

Fortunately this unconventional formatting is strongest during the early portion of the book, which deals with Kincaid’s upbringing in care homes and a spell in a juvenile detention facility. For wrestling fans, the interest level picks up when he first attends a show and is driven home with Earl Maynard, accompanied by a gorgeous woman, though at this stage Kincaid is discouraged from entering the business.

Instead he finds work assembling rides at a travelling fairground (equivalent to a US carnival) before taking work on the boxing booth where his wages would be docked if a challenger from the audience ever lasted three rounds. Eventually he doubles-up as a wrestler on the booth (leading to confusion when he tries his hand at an amateur gym where his new-found submission abilities are not appreciated) and turns pro.

After a tour of Greece, he gets taken on full-time by Dale Martin promotions, facing TV legend Jackie Pallo in his first match, leading to a valuable lesson where Pallo tells him to slow down in the ring so that the crowd can see what he’s doing. (Kincaid never specifically addresses the issue of match finishes being pre-determined, but he’s relatively open about ‘opponents’ working together to make the match.)

The highlight of the book is the lengthy section about Kincaid’s numerous overseas tours, which took him across Europe, Africa and Asia. It’s an amazing collection of stories, from the apartheid of South Africa, to topless female ring seconds in Sweden, an aggrieved Indian chef lacing dishes with rat poison, a wrestler with a taste for urinating on opponents in the shower, a bizarre meeting with the King of Nepal, and a member of 70s pop band Marmalade giving an ill-advised impression of Adolf Hitler in a Berlin ring.

The final section of the book deals with Kincaid’s heel turn and formation of the team with Bond (which he describes as a calculated attempt to take over the mantle of top villains from Mick McManus and Steve Logan) and the legal issues that followed the resulting crowd heat. He winds up winning two out of three cases stemming from fights with fans, but is also (against all usual wrestling protocol) prosecuted for punching Adrian Street in a locker room.

Perhaps the most surprising aspect of the book is that Kincaid never complains about racial abuse. While there are countless references to his skin colour by the characters involved, they are all dismissed either as friendly banter or racial hatred which can be exploited for heel heat. It’s interesting to read about somebody whose skin colour has been a constant factor (at one stage a European promoter specifically asks for a black wrestler) but doesn’t appear to have any complaints.

Despite the rocky start, the book is extremely entertaining, largely for the globetrotting stories which take readers back to an era that barely longer exists in the days of cultural homogenisation and the WWE’s global domination.

(If you’re interested in this book, you may also like to read my interview/profile of Johnny from issue 89 of Fighting Spirit Magazine.)

Read on Kindle (Amazon.com)

Read on Kindle (Amazon.co.uk)

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Superstar Series: The Ultimate Warrior by James Dixon

ultimatewarriorWith the tragic death of Jim Helwig/Warrior this week, I thought I’d mention this title from the “History of Wrestling” series. Following on from titles dedicated to WWF video releases, Monday Night Raw and the Hart Foundation
, it’s a complete set of reviews of every Warrior match available on tape (around 150 in total), transcripts of more than 100 promos, and a comprehensive look at the Self Destruction of the Ultimate Warrior DVD and a shoot interview. According to the writers:

While Warrior may not hit as highly on the star rating scale as some of the subjects covered in other editions of our Superstar Series line of books, his has been one of the most fun to compile.

Unusually for the series, this covers matches in Memphis, World Class, Mid-South and WCW as well as the WWF days.

I’ve only had the opportunity to read the free sample on Kindle, but it looks to be good stuff if the concept of such a book appeals to you. Early releases in the series were annoyingly smarky in places and seemed to try too hard to carry off Scott Keith-like gimmicks, but this seems much better, with some genuinely useful historical background and analysis.

Read on Kindle (Amazon.com)

Read on Kindle (Amazon.co.uk)

If you’re searching for Warrior books you may come across The Ultimate Warrior: The first most electrifying man of sport entertainment by Marlow Martin but it appears to be a cheap cash-in that’s little more than an extended rehash of Warrior’s Wikipedia entry.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Release schedule (9 April 2014)

The following titles are scheduled for release and available for pre-ordering at Amazon. As always, all dates are subject to change.

15 April: The Road Warriors: Danger, Death and the Rush of Wrestling by Joe Laurinaitis (paperback) (Already available in hardback.)

1 May: Wrestling with the Devil: The True Story of a World Champion Professional Wrestler – His Reign, Ruin, and Redemption by Lex Luger (paperback) (Already available in hardback.)

31 May: Rastlin: A Southern Survey by David McClister (photobook)

17 June: WWE Superstars #1: Money In the Bank by Mick Foley (graphic novel)

1 July: The All-American Boy: Lessons and Stories on Life from Wrestling Legend Bob Backlund

1 August: Several WWE profile books by Blake Markegard

8 August: Fighting for Recognition: Identity, Masculinity, and the Act of Violence in Professional Wrestling R. Tyson Smith

15 September: 30 Years of WrestleMania by Brian Shields

1 October: Time Heels: Cheating, Stealing, Spandex and the Most Villainous Moments in the History of Pro Wrestling by Jon Chattman, Rich Tarantino and Tommy Dreamer

14 October: The Best in the World: At What I Have No Idea by Chris Jericho

14 October: The Death of WCW: 10th Anniversary Edition of the Bestselling Classic — Revised and Expanded by Bryan Alvarez & RD Reynolds

4 November: The Squared Circle: Life, Death, and Professional Wrestling by David Shoemaker (Already available in hardback.)

11 November: The Dead Wrestler Elegies by W Todd Kaneko

16 December: Booker T: My Rise To Wrestling Royalty

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather