Pro Wrestling Books

Wrestling with words

Pro Wrestling Books - Wrestling with words

Release schedule (30 July 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 additions. Titles in italics have changed release date in the past week.

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 

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

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 . (Already available on Kindle.)

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.)

28 October: The Rock by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Joe Layden 

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

1 January 2015: Tag-Teamed #2 (WWE) by Jeff Gottesfeld

1 January: Outrageous Pro Wrestling Rivalries (Sports Rivalries) by Matt Chandler

20 January: The Sweetheart: A Novel by Angelina Mirabella

3 February: Wrestling for My Life: The Legend, the Reality, and the Faith of a WWE Superstar by Shawn Michaels

17 March: Capitol Revolution: The Rise of the McMahon Wrestling Empire by Tim Hornbaker

1 April: Yes!: My Improbable Journey to the Main Event of WrestleMania by Daniel Bryan

5 May: Niño Wrestles the World by Yuyi Morales

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

The Big Daddy Annual 1983

daddy annualAs with most annuals, the chances are few people bought this for themselves. Instead it was more likely a gift from relatives (“Auntie Audrey and Uncle David” were the original buyers of my used copy) who were taking a guess at a youngster’s interests. Let’s hope most of them got it right, because this is a book for people who love Big Daddy, and people who love Big Daddy alone.

It runs to 80 pages and as you might expect, is largely made up of photos, with little accompanying text. Other than a two-page interview, there’s no real detail. Instead, there’s some amazing padding including a photo feature on British wrestlers of the day, a board game, a piece on competitors in sports other than wrestling, and a lot of comic strips.

The strips include an extract from Johnny Cougar, a regular story in the Tiger comic who wrestled his away in and out of scrapes around the world. In this edition he winds up wrestling Daddy, which is a bit like seeing Superman wrestle Hulk Hogan. Neither Daddy nor Cougar were know for losing bouts, so it’s a little frustrating not to discover how this particular clash ended.

The other strips are a combination of the Big Daddy strip from the Buster comic and cartoons created specifically for the annual. They’re generally less sophisticated than a Daddy match and usually follow the pattern “Daddy is very large/this creates or resolves a dilemma/LOL.”

It’s unlikely anyone will discover anything new reading the annual, but for Brits at least it’s available cheaply enough for completists, collectors or Daddy obsessives.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Sportsviewers Guide: Wrestling by Peter Bills

sportsviewerA 1983 British release, this is one of a series of 10 books on popular televised sports of the day, creating the always intriguing sight of pro wrestling being covered in the same format as “legitimate” sports.

It’s made up of sections including history, rules, promoters, stars (13 profiles), championship formats and venues. While the profiles are a fun read (albeit with a few minor errors such as perpetuating the myth that Giant Haystacks’s real name was Luke McMasters), it’s the parts where the unique nature of wrestling clashes with the format that are most noteworthy.

For example, the promotional section details Dale Martin and the Joint Promotions setup, but tries to portray the promoters as having made a deliberate attempt to limit the coverage of wrestling on TV to avoid overexposure. It’s possible that’s true, but if promoters really were getting £15,000 for each televised show with the only additional cost being to bump up the performers’ payoff to £40, it’s hard to imagine them turning down more airtime.

The book also notes confusion at the lack of formal structure in wrestling championships and, while not questioning the legitimacy of match finishes, does have Max Crabtree explaining that a wrestler might get a title shot because he would draw a big crowd, even if he’s not necessarily the “best” contender from a win-loss perspective.

The venues section has some surprising insights that show the book isn’t purely a puff piece. It talks about the decline of some venues, a dramatic fall in the number of shows being run (from around 4,000 to 1,200 a year for Joint), and the way promoters keep prices low to attract regular crowds. While there’s plenty of mention of it being related to an economic downturn, it’s certainly an unusually frank account given the book came out in what was billed as the Big Daddy boom period.

There’s not enough depth to the book to make it a must-read, but given it’s available for a matter of pennies, it’s worth picking up if you have any interest in British wrestling history.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Release schedule (23 July 2014) – new Tim Hornbaker book

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

New addition this week for Tim Hornbaker, author of a meticulously researched book on the NWA, who is now producing a history of the McMahon family’s promoting:

For decades, the Capitol Wrestling Corporation was considered the heart of the professional wrestling world. The Capitol territory — from Boston southward to Washington, D.C. — enjoyed lucrative box office receipts, and New York’s Madison Square Garden was center stage. Three generations of McMahons have controlled wrestling in that storied building and have since created the most powerful wrestling company the world has ever known.

Capitol Revolution: The Rise of the McMahon Wrestling Empire documents the growth and evolution of pro wrestling under the stewardships of the McMahons, highlighting the many trials and tribulations beginning in the early 20th century:  clashes with rival promoters, government inquests, and routine problems with the potent National Wrestling Alliance monopoly. In the ring, superstars such as Buddy Rogers and Bruno Sammartino entertained throngs of fans, and internationally Capitol became well known for its stellar pool of vibrant performers.

Covering the transition from old-school wrestling, under the WWWF banner, to the pop-cultural juggernaut of the mid- to late-’80s WWF, Tim Hornbaker’s Capitol Revolution is the detailed history of how the McMahons outlasted their opponents and fostered a billion-dollar empire.


Titles in bold are new additions. Titles in italics have changed release date in the past week.

29 July: El Chavo: Locos por la lucha libre / Crazy for Wrestling by Maria Dominguez and Juan Pablo Lombana 

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 

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

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 . (Already available on Kindle.)

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.)

28 October: The Rock by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Joe Layden 

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

1 January 2015: Tag-Teamed #2 (WWE) by Jeff Gottesfeld

1 January: Outrageous Pro Wrestling Rivalries (Sports Rivalries) by Matt Chandler

20 January: The Sweetheart: A Novel by Angelina Mirabella

3 February: Wrestling for My Life: The Legend, the Reality, and the Faith of a WWE Superstar by Shawn Michaels

10 March: Capitol Revolution: The Rise of the McMahon Wrestling Empire by Tim Hornbaker

1 April: Yes!: My Improbable Journey to the Main Event of WrestleMania by Daniel Bryan

5 May: Niño Wrestles the World by Yuyi Morales

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Everybody Down Here Hates Me by Pat Barrett

everybodydownhereThis book is a real two-for-one deal: a great story, and a fun game as a bonus.

The great story comes from Barrett having a true globetrotter career: as well as several US territories including the WWWF, he worked in the UK, continental Europe, Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands. He covers his various exploits in the ring along with plenty of colour about experiencing different locales.

The book doesn’t outright talk about wrestling being worked, but there’s enough detail for those who read between the lines that you shouldn’t find your intelligence insulted.

The fun game comes from the fact that while Barrett uses many real names, he also changes the names of people at the centre of controversies. It’s a curious approach to defamation laws, but it’s entertaining to try to decipher who he is talking about — though not always that challenging.

For example:

“Flamboyant” promoter Tim Bernard = Jim Barnett

Nashville promoter Gulus the Greek = Nick Gulas

Masked man Gregory Nielson = Gordon Nelson

Blind wrestler Morris Shapiro = Mighty Atlas

Jake West = Jay York

The Indian = Wahoo MacDaniel

Ron Peters = Ken Patera

Prankster Joey Hart = Johnny Valentine

Andrew Lane = Adrian Street

There are plenty more to hunt down — add a comment if you spot any you’d like to share!

All in all, it’s a fun recommended read and definitely worth picking up a used copy as it normally goes for a low price.

 

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Banner Days by Penny Banner with Gerry Hostetler

bannerdaysWhether you find this book worthwhile depends on your interest in female wrestling history and your attitude to books that maintain kayfabe.

As a historical recollection, it’s got a lot to offer. In terms of first-hand accounts, Banner is arguably the biggest name female of her era who wasn’t  part of the Fabulous Moolah troupe, so makes for an interesting counter perspective

It’s as much a life story as a wrestling book — there’s some fun accounts of Banner’s romantic liasions with Elvis Presley and some understandably less pleasurable accounts of her tumultuous marriage to a man she curiously refers to as Johnny Spade. It’s not clear if this was an attempt to avoid hurt feelings or legal issues, but her husband was in fact the relatively well-known wrestler Johnny Weaver.

The kayfabe element of the book goes beyond the understandable desire of a wrestler of Banner’s era wanting to protect the business. While claiming her bouts were all legitimate, she dismisses modern female grappler as fakers and even suggests she was surprised to recently discover that men had been working finishes during her career. It’s a shame as it’s not only insulting, but also undermines credibility.

The book is well-illustrated, though it’s made harder to read by the use of a sans-serif font throughout. There’s also a few printing and typography errors, including one chapter that’s cut off mid-paragraph.

Given the book’s lack of availability, it’s only really worth tracking down at inflated prices if you have a particular interest in the topic of territorial era female grappling.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Release schedule (16 July 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 additions. Titles in italics have changed release date in the past week.

29 July: El Chavo: Locos por la lucha libre / Crazy for Wrestling by Maria Dominguez and Juan Pablo Lombana 

1 August: Several WWE profile books by Blake Markegard

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

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 . (Already available on Kindle.)

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.)

28 October: The Rock by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Joe Layden 

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

1 January 2015: Tag-Teamed #2 (WWE) by Jeff Gottesfeld

1 January: Outrageous Pro Wrestling Rivalries (Sports Rivalries) by Matt Chandler

20 January: The Sweetheart: A Novel by Angelina Mirabella

3 February 2015: Wrestling for My Life: The Legend, the Reality, and the Faith of a WWE Superstar by Shawn Michaels

1 April 2015: Yes!: My Improbable Journey to the Main Event of WrestleMania by Daniel Bryan

5 May 2015: Niño Wrestles the World by Yuyi Morales

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

The Stone Cold Truth by Steve Austin

stonecoldtruthAmong the mid-level of the WWE autobiographies, this title is ghostwritten by former WWF and WCW magazine writer Dennis Brent. It’s a decent recap of Austin’s career, though a little short on detail.

That’s largely because it’s written in an authentic Austin voice and is certainly a no-nonsense title. Perhaps appropriately, Austin picks his spots to shine in the book rather than going all-out throughout.

As a result, some moments in his career get short shrift — for example, there’s little more than a transcript of the King of the Ring 96 promo. However, at other points Austin goes into great detail about his thinking and philosophy behind wrestling. Highlights include a 10-page final chapter about the need for spontaneity and believable characters, as well as a reprint of a memo Chris Adams gave him explaining how to structure a match. There’s also an excellent insight into his emotions and physical problems going into what turned out to be his final match.

It’s certainly not a can’t miss read: the documentary on the DVD of the same name.
covers his career highlights, while Austin’s twice-weekly podcasts have plenty of philosophy for students of the game. However, it’s definitely worth the money and time if you are a fan of Austin and pick the book up.

Read on Kindle (Amazon.com)
Read on Kindle (Amazon.co.uk)

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Sex, Lies and Headlocks by Shaun Assael and Mike Mooneyham

sexliesThe semi-biography of Vince McMahon is a case of a book having value despite numerous flaws.

While Mooneyham is a regular columnist on pro wrestling, Assael is a sportswriter from ESPN and approaches the subject from an outsider perspective. It’s arguably the most perceptive such work from somebody not already involved in or interested by the wrestling business, though that approach brings a risk of errors that is certainly realised.

The book comes across as if there was a little confusion about its intended focus and scope, possibly because as a 2002 publication its writing came at a tumultuous period in the wrestling business. It straddles the line between a biography of McMahon and a history of the WWF’s expansion and the war with WCW.

The big picture story is on the money and for a new fan it certainly makes for a more accurate overview of the Monday Night War than the WWE Network documentary of the same name will provide.

The devil is in the detail however. The book is rife with two distinct types of error. The first is simple factual mistakes, many of which appear to be the result of Assael getting bogus information direct from a wrestler and either being too trusting or simply not having any reason to doubt it. (It’s certainly odd that Mooneyham didn’t correct the errors though.)

Less forgiveable are the numerous occasions where the dates of events have either been misrepresented or outright falsified for the sake of the story flowing in a chronological narrative that makes more sense. While it would make life simpler if every effect in pro wrestling had a clear and direct cause, the world isn’t that simple and the attempts to make reality that little bit smoother simply undermine the book’s credibility for more knowledgeable readers.

Sex, Lies and Headlocks is certainly a worthwhile read, particularly for those unfamiliar with the era that is covered, but in no way should be treated as an authoritative historical source.

(This review is of the original hardcover version. Thanks to David Bixenspan for letting me know that many of the errors appear to have been corrected in the subsequent paperback release. With this is mind, the paperback version is a stronger recommendation.)


Read on Kindle (Amazon.com only)

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Jesse Ventura bio now on Kindle

bodyslamventuraA 1999 biography on Jesse Ventura, Body Slam“>Body Slam by Jake Tapper, has now been re-released on Kindle.

In every arena, Jesse Ventura puts a headlock on the competition–now he’s turning the country on its ear.

How did an outrageous, outspoken, boa-wearing pro wrestler nab the title of Minnesota’s governor in an overwhelming upset? This is the question the nation is asking–and Washington journalist Jake Tapper provides the fascinating answers. From Jesse Ventura’s Navy SEAL days, to his infamous wrestling years, to his stunning political victory, read the story of the Body, a man who truly embodies the American Dream.

Get the real story on:
-His intense training to become an elite Navy SEAL and his experiences overseas during the Vietnam War
-His lengthy career in the pro wrestling field–from flamboyant pro wrestler to colorful commentator–including his feuds with Hulk Hogan and Vince McMahon Jr.
-Ventura’s acting stints, including a part in the film Predator
-How the Body mouthed his way to the top of shock radio
-His rise through the ranks of politics, from mayor to governor–and maybe beyond
-Ventura’s political vision–what he sees for Minnesota and the country
-And Much, much more!

The Body Politic Will Never Be the Same

It doesn’t appear there’s any update from the original, so it’s limited to the story of his shock rise to governor of Minnesota in 1998 rather than reviewing his timer in office. Reviews of the original release were mixed to say the least, with several complaints that it was too much focused on Ventura’s colorful personal life, but it’s worth a look at the free sample.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather