Pro Wrestling Books

Wrestling with words

Pro Wrestling Books - Wrestling with words

A note on Blood Red Turns Dollar Green vol 3

I’ll be reviewing Blood Red Turns Dollar Green Volume 3 by Paul O’Brien in Fighting Spirit Magazine (most likely in the issue coming out October 30) and will reproduce the review here once the issue is no longer on the shelves.

In the meantime, just a quick recommendation for anyone who’s read the previous two volumes (and if you haven’t you should.) As with volume 2, there’s a lot of chronological jumping about so you’ll need to pay attention, but otherwise it’s a smooth read. It builds to a great climax and once again has some nods to real wrestling events for hardcore fans, my favourite being a take-off of the WWF Piledriver music video.

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Release Schedule (24 September)

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 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.)

24 October: Blood Red Turns Dollar Green Volume 3 by Paul O’Brien

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

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  (Pro Wrestling Books review already up)

1 January 2015: Tag-Teamed #2 (WWE) by Jeff Gottesfeld (This book is no longer listed)

6 January: The Rock by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Joe Layden 

20 January: The Sweetheart: A Novel by Angelina Mirabella (Pro Wrestling Books review already up)

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

10 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

17 March: Booker T: My Rise To Wrestling Royalty

5 May: Niño Wrestles the World by Yuyi Morales

24 June Pro Wrestling FAQ: All That’s Left to Know About the World’s Most Entertaining Spectacle by Bryan Solomon

28 July: Yes!: My Improbable Journey to the Main Event of WrestleMania by Daniel Bryan (This is currently unavailable for pre-order, suggesting the date may be in question)

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Titan Sinking by James Dixon

titansinkingOf the 25 years I’ve been following WWE, 1995 was undoubtedly the in-ring lowpoint, when I’d have tapes posted to me from home while away at university only to find myself struggling to make time to see the likes of Sid, Mabel and Tatanka in lead villain roles. It was a period of depression in the company’s product, and one that is detailed in-depth in Titan Sinking.

As previously noted here, it’s a major change of pace from Dixon’s previous work on review-based books where snarkiness, humour and opinion where the order of the day. This is a more mature, focused piece of historical writing that not only covers 1995’s tumultuous scenes inside and outside the ring, but brings up details that have previously been little addressed.

The research and resulting writing are both excellent, based on a wide range of sources such as “shoot” interviews along with some original research ranging from lengthy conversations with Jim Cornette, Tom Prichard and even the lawyer for Douglas Griffith, the solider who got into an infamous brawl with Shawn Michaels outside of a nightclub, which is explained at length here with information that both boosts and weakens Michaels’ side of the story.

The focus on a single year allows Dixon to cover the pay-per-view events at length, putting the in-ring action into its backstage context. Examples of this approach include a lengthy look at the roster in the Royal Rumble that shows just how dire the talent pool was, and an explanation of why the Wild Card match at Survivor Series was so politically charged.

Dixon has clearly made every effort to cover specific incidents as broadly as possible, telling all available sides of the story. The main limitation is simply the fact that, compared with some elements of historical research, pro wrestlers can be unreliable witnesses. There are points where it appears the pace of the book is being driven by the availability of information, such as an entire chapter exploring the departure of Randy Savage the previous year. And at times it feels as if the writing takes a little too much literary license by detailing the thoughts of wrestlers and management in a way that appears to be supposition.

But these are minor criticisms and in no way detract from the book as a whole. 1995 is a period that has received little historical attention other than as the context for the Monday Night War, but the bad times and periods of conflict often throw up the most enlightening stories, and that’s certainly the case with Titan Sinking.

(Buy in print from Lulu.com)

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Are We There Yet by Robert Caprio

arewethereyetThis is an official WWE book made up of a collection of road stories from wrestlers on the crew in the mid-2000s. It’s a fun read, albeit with everything showing the wrestlers in a good light.

The stories are all a page or two at most, so it’s perfect for bathroom reading or dipping into. To give an idea of the subject material, a random selection throws up Ivory and Jacqueline staying in the motel from hell; Rico helping subdue a violent passenger on a flight who claimed to be a member of Special Force;  Chris Jericho’s adventures on his first visit to the German tournaments (a shortened version of the account in his first autobiography); the Big Show having to destroy a Japanese bathroom so he could sit on the toilet; and several Divas going on a road trip in the wake of the 9/11 attacks.

There’s a lot of entertainment in the book and it covers a variety of subjects. It’s not entirely WWE-centric as several wrestlers recall stories from working the territories or overseas. It’s also surprising how much the book kills any image you might have of WWE ‘Superstars’ living a glamorous life.

As you’d expect, it’s a family-friendly selection: if you’re looking for tales of encounters with ring rats, drunk driving or pill-popping this isn’t the place. But as long as you approach it with the right mindset, it’s worth your time reading.


Read on Kindle (Amazon.com)

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Release Schedule (17 September 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 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.)

24 October: Blood Red Turns Dollar Green Volume 3 by Paul O’Brien

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

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  (Pro Wrestling Books review already up)

1 January 2015: Tag-Teamed #2 (WWE) by Jeff Gottesfeld (This book is no longer listed)

6 January: The Rock by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Joe Layden 

20 January: The Sweetheart: A Novel by Angelina Mirabella (Pro Wrestling Books review already up)

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

10 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

17 March: Booker T: My Rise To Wrestling Royalty

5 May: Niño Wrestles the World by Yuyi Morales

24 June Pro Wrestling FAQ: All That’s Left to Know About the World’s Most Entertaining Spectacle by Bryan Solomon

28 July: Yes!: My Improbable Journey to the Main Event of WrestleMania by Daniel Bryan

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Gorgeous George by John Capouya

gorgeousgeorgeSimply put this is one of the best biographies written about a professional wrestler.

The basics of the story of Raymond ‘Gorgeous George’ Wagner are well known: with a combination of flamboyance, ring music, an arrogant persona and an elaborate entrance, he became arguably the biggest star of the first TV wrestling boom in the late 1940s and early 1950s. He later faded from glory and died impoverished and with alcohol problems.

Capouya takes the story a step further however: rather than merely cover George’s in-ring antics, he chronicles his life in a way that is detailed but never dry. That’s helped largely by the co-operation of George’s first wife Betty, who was clearly interviewed at life. Unlike many wrestling spouses at the time, she traveled with George and helped develop his trademark image.

The result is an amazing level of detail including entire conversations — or at least Betty’s recollections of such conversations — and insight into George’s thinking and the way he established his box office magic persona.

Unlike many wrestling history books dealing with the vintage era, there’s no filler here: the detail of and references to historical and cultural events are all directly tied in to George’s career and fame.

The book is no fawning celebration either. It covers both George’s personal problems and the times when he failed in the ring, such as unsuccessful attempts to revive the wrestling scene in Madison Square Garden.

In an ideal world, every historical wrestling bio would be like this. Until then, this remains one of the very few genuine must-read wrestling books.

>

Read on Kindle (Amazon.com)

Read on Kindle (Amazon.co.uk)

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Release Schedule (10 September 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.

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.)

24 October: Blood Red Turns Dollar Green Volume 3 by Paul O’Brien

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

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

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

6 January: The Rock by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Joe Layden 

20 January: The Sweetheart: A Novel by Angelina Mirabella

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

10 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

17 March: Booker T: My Rise To Wrestling Royalty

5 May: Niño Wrestles the World by Yuyi Morales

24 June Pro Wrestling FAQ: All That’s Left to Know About the World’s Most Entertaining Spectacle by Bryan Solomon

28 July: Yes!: My Improbable Journey to the Main Event of WrestleMania by Daniel Bryan

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The Sweetheart by Angelina Mirabella

sweetheartWrestling-based novels do not have a great reputation and those involving female characters and an element of romance are normally something for reviewers to fear (particularly in the self-publishing realm.) Thankfully The Sweetheart, professionally published by Simon & Schuster, is a strong exception to that pattern.

It’s the tale of Leonie Putzkammer, better known as 1950s female pro wrestler Gwen Davies. Without giving too much of the plot away, she’s discovered, trained, works as a heel, then makes a key career decision that affects both her professional and personal life.

The Sweetheart pulls off that rare task of being an engaging novel in its own right that will appeal to a general audience, but being credible for pro wrestling fans, with the wrestling scenes an integral part of the storyline and themes rather than merely being a backdrop.

Author Angelina Mirabella has clearly researched the subject does a great job of capturing some of the little-known nuances of the real wrestling business such as the genuine physical suffering and the potentially psyche-destroying way in which “opponents” are both working together for the show and competing for promotional positioning.

One particularly impressive element is the way Mirabella includes details of genuine wrestlers, promotions and events of the era to add credibility, but skilfully controls the plot to avoid Davies interacting directly with them.

The only two gripes I had with the book are both a matter of taste, and both became far less problematic as the book rolls on. The first issue, which is very much nitpicking, is that in the earlier chapters the use of cultural references of the time is overdone and feels like an author trying to make the most of research; this is a matter of degree and certainly doesn’t spoil the reading experience.

Secondly, the story includes two matches which are shoots. It would be an exaggeration to say such a thing is impossible (indeed, the second bout is directly linked to the genuine Mildred Burke-June Byers contest) but with the first bout there’s not quite enough detail for my liking about how the in-ring action would dramatically differ from a standard performance, not enough emphasis on how such a match would be a major event to those inside the industry. It also comes across as a little stretched that this is a tag bout, something that seems even more incompatible with a genuine match (although such as thing has happened in more recent years with independent shoot-wrestling promoters.)

Also worthy of note is that the book is written in the second person (meaning both Gwen and in turn the reader are addressed directly as “you”), a rare literary device. I’m not sure if it has the presumably-intended effect of making the reader identify more with the subject of the book, though it’s possible that my being male may be a mental block to this. However, I found it surprising how quickly what could have been a distracting device became something I barely noticed. I’m also unsure if the reader is meant to be aware of exactly who is supposed to be delivering the narrative; for me that point was clarified at the end of the book and came as an intriguing revelation, but other readers may realise what’s happening throughout.

While it might be a stretch to say every wrestling fan needs to read The Sweetheart, anyone who has a keen interest in wrestling and also enjoys reading fiction will certainly find it a worthwhile purchase.

The Sweetheart will be published in January 2015. Thanks to Angelina Mirabella for supplying a review copy.

Pre-order on Kindle (Amazon.com)
Pre-order on Kindle (Amazon.co.uk)

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News: Kamala autobiography gets funding

kamalaspeaks

A planned autobiography of Kamala has successfully attracted a $12,000 funding goal on Kickstarter and will now go ahead.

The money will pay for an initial print run of 1,000 copies of the self-published book. Ghostwriter Kenny Casanova is now trying to raise a further $7,500, which will fund expanding the book from 350 to around 450 pages and using larger images.

Casanova publicises the book as follows:

After finishing it, I now believe Kamala Speaks is one that wrestling fans, people of all walks of life and YOU will really want to read. It is humorous, historical and an inspirational tale of overcoming many obstacles in and out of the ring like:

  • Growing up a sharecropper in a 1950’s segregated Mississippi town
  • Surviving the gruesome murders of his father, sister & niece
  • Traveling on the road with many funny, larger-than-life characters
  • Overcoming racism
  • Living a life unlike any other wrestler you have read about
  • Surviving a battle with diabetes that claimed both his legs
  • Being a former WWE headliner, who is now an amputee with no retirement/pension and no means to earn a living
  • Staying positive and being a humble inspiration to many

LOADS OF STORIES – You will hear the dirt on almost every legend you grew up with, including; Hulk Hogan, Andre The Giant, The Ultimate Warrior, Jake “The Snake” Roberts, Vince McMahon, Jerry “The King” Lawler, The Undertaker and more! You will “laugh your ass off” at the outrageous road stories, ribs and pranks with some of his misfit managers like, Skandor Akbar, Steve Lombardi, Mr. Fuji, Harvey Wippleman,and Curtis Iaukea.

A REAL “TELL-ALL” BOOK – Kamala holds nothing back in this “no holds barred” autobiography. Because it is self-published, he doesn’t have to follow any rules by any promotion. That means, he doesn’t have to pull any punches to make Vince happy. Kamala finally speaks and he says WHATEVER he wants!

 

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