Pro Wrestling Books

Wrestling with words

Pro Wrestling Books - Wrestling with words

New Release: The Stamp Collection by Dennis Stamp

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Fresh off his appearance for Scottish Wrestling Entertainment, Dennis Stamp has released his first book:

Before attaining a cult fan following as a result of his appearance in the documentary film Beyond the Mat, Dennis Stamp was a wrestling star who competed across the globe. In his career, he faced the very best athletes in his profession, and worked in various territories of the National Wrestling Alliance, the American Wrestling Association and across Japan. Stamp shares some of his favorite stories and poems which celebrate an industry filled with moments and characters that are simply larger than life. In these tales, Stamp recounts the intensity of his greatest matches, and provides us with anecdotes from a life on the road with the top stars of his generation. He reveals the inspiration that kept him fighting in his battle to survive cancer and shares the emotion of the many friendships he built with promoters, his fellow wrestlers and the fans.

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

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Release Schedule (26 November)

The following titles are scheduled for release and available for pre-ordering at Amazon. As always, all dates are subject to change.  Main news this week is a new WWE book scheduled for next May with the blurb:

Experience the debauchery, extreme rivalries, and radical antiheroes of The Attitude Era with this no-holds-barred look back at WWE’s edgiest period!

Relive the late ’90s, when Stone Cold Steve Austin, DX, Mankind, The Rock, and an infamous roster of rude and lewd Superstars laid the smackdown on pop culture and audience expectations. Featuring an exclusive Stone Cold Steve Austin bottle opener and packed with exclusive interviews, road stories, firsthand accounts, and gripping photos spanning the entire time frame, WWE®: The Attitude Era is a must-have for fans who remember the years when WWE was for adults-only!

There’s also a new book on Billy Riley:

Billy Riley, born at the end of the 19th century in Lancashire, would grow up to become one of the most famous Lancashire Catch as Catch Can wrestlers in the world. His gym, known as the ‘Snakepit’ throughout the world, but locally as ‘Rileys gym’ produced British, European and World champions.Students such as Karl Gotch,Billy Robinson and Roy Wood had achievements and influence in the spheres of Professional Wrestling,MMA and Freestyle Wrestling. Billy Riley’s legacy continues today with the rebirth of the art of Lancashire Catch as Catch Can wrestling. This book tells the story of the man, his gym and his legacy in the form of the many wrestlers he taught. The book also charts the revival of the Lancashire art in its home, Wigan.


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

25 November: Billy Riley – The Man,The Legacy by Stephen Greenfield

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

1 January 2015: Brock Lesnar (Wrestling’s Tough Guys) by Matt Scheff

1: January 2015: Dolph Ziggler (Wrestling’s Tough Guys) by Matt Scheff

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 February: Booker T: My Rise To Wrestling Royalty

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

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

5 May: Niño Wrestles the World by Yuyi Morales

5 May: WWE: The Attitude Era by Jon Robinson

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

4 August: The Great and Mighty Nikko by Xavier Garza

(30 December 2020/Currently unavailable to pre-order):  The Rock by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Joe Layden 

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Release Schedule (19 November)

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.

18 November: The Dead Wrestler Elegies by W Todd Kaneko  (Pro Wrestling Books review already up)

18 November: The Stamp Collection: A Collection of Short Stories from the worlds most famous unknown Wrestler by Dennis Stamp

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

1 January 2015: Brock Lesnar (Wrestling’s Tough Guys) by Matt Scheff

1: January 2015: Dolph Ziggler (Wrestling’s Tough Guys) by Matt Scheff

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 February: Booker T: My Rise To Wrestling Royalty

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

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

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

4 August: The Great and Mighty Nikko by Xavier Garza

(30 December 2020/Currently unavailable to pre-order):  The Rock by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Joe Layden 

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Lita: A Less Traveled R.O.A.D. – The Reality of Amy Dumas by Amy Dumas

litaLudicrously overblown title aside, this is one of the better WWE-published autobiographies, despite Lita coming along in the post-territorial era. She had an interesting life before and outside wrestling, told in this 2003 publication, written while she was out of action with a neck injury.

Those who sat through her protracted Hall of Fame induction speech may feel they’ve heard many of the stories before, but it still makes for an amazing tale: fascinated by seeing Rey Mysterio and fellow luchadors on Monday Nitro, but with no idea how to get into the business, she simply flew down to Mexico City and began hanging around the lucha venues until she persuaded CMLL staff to give her some basic training.

From there she covers her brief independent career and her time in ECW, where she tells a great story about tapping out Chris Chetti in a hotel room grappling session (albeit once in many attempts) and Chetti being terrified of word getting back to his trainer Taz.

Her initial WWE run is well-covered as well, but there’s just as much about her non-wrestling activities, be they getting breast enhancement surgery, taking part in gameshows including Fear Factor, volunteering with animal centers, and undergoing neck surgery.

It’s well judged and appropriate to the book as Lita’s wrestling career was larglt on the grand stage and is well known; there’s little insider gossip or surprises here. Instead, the book does one of the best jobs of a WWE autobiography into giving an insight into the person behind the character.

As with Edge’s book, there’s the obvious limitation that it came too early to cover her real life affair with Adam Copeland, the awkward prospect of working with former partner Matt Hardy, or the experience of being a particularly vilified heel. But what you do get is so deep that this is less of a painful omission.

Read on Kindle (Amazon.com)

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Wrestlers Are Like Seagulls by JJ Dillon

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This is another on my list of undersung wrestling books. It’s big strength is the sheer diversity of Dillon’s career and thus the wide range of topics for which he offers an insider perspective.

Though best known as the manager of the Four Horsemen, that only covered a couple of years of his career. He also worked as a WWWF referee; spent more than a decade on the territory circuit including Mid Atlantic, Florida and Amarillo; toured Japan; spent time as a booker; was one of Vince McMahon’s right-hand men for several years; and worked in WCW during the Monday Night Wars era.

All of this is well covered in the 350 page book which, as is typical with those ghost-written by Scott Teal through his Crowbar Press publishing, manages to tell a coherent, flowing story while still staying true to the voice of the subject.

Whatever your particular interest in wrestling, you’ll find something of interest here, whether it’s the process of breaking in and being gradually smartened up, or the lavish lifestyle that came from the Horsemen living their gimmick.

For me, who became a fan through late 80s and early 90s WWF, the section on the creative process during this period is the most interesting. Far from today’s practice of a couple of dozen professional TV writers sitting in a room frantically rewriting promos on the day of the show, the booking system at that point largely consisted of Dillon and Pat Patterson sitting with Vince McMahon in his house, coming up with ideas for the next WrestleMania and working their way back from there.

Dillon also details how he and Patterson would put together house show lineups, with McMahon only asking to approve the main events. There’s also a great insight into the logistics of organising house show loops to minimise flight costs for the company (and with increased sanity for wrestlers a welcome, if optional, bonus.)

It’s hard to imagine many readers who won’t learn something about the wrestling business from reading this book, and event he few who fall into that category will surely appreciate it as entertaining nostalgia.

While it’s a bit of a stretch to say the out-of-print hardcopy is worth the $300 or so it’s now on offer for, it’s a must for Kindle readers. (EDIT: It’s also available in print directly from the publishers at: http://www.crowbarpress.com/cbp-books/02-jj.html)

Read on Kindle (Amazon.com)

Read on Kindle (Amazon.co.uk)

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Release Schedule (12 November)

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.

18 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)

1 January 2015: Brock Lesnar (Wrestling’s Tough Guys) by Matt Scheff

1: January 2015: Dolph Ziggler (Wrestling’s Tough Guys) by Matt Scheff

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 February: Booker T: My Rise To Wrestling Royalty

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

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

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

4 August: The Great and Mighty Nikko by Xavier Garza

(30 December 2020/Currently unavailable to pre-order):  The Rock by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Joe Layden 

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The Official Insider’s Story of WrestleMania by Basil Devito

insidermania

While the story of WrestleMania is well-told, both through independent accounts, compilation sets and even the WWE’s “True” story documentary, this is a different beast and one well worth exploring.

DeVito joined WWF shortly before the first WrestleMania and was in charge of marketing for all of the 16 events covered in this book. As such, there’s plenty of genuine behind-the-scenes insight. It’s not backstage gossip about finishes and match politics, but rather stories about the challenges and strategies of promoting the event. While company employees are exempt from explicit criticism, DeVito doesn’t shy away from naming and shaming business partners and celebrities who proved unhelpful or obstructive.

While  the key matches are recapped, the focus is on new details such as the recruitment and handling of celebrities, the logistics of running the split-sites of WrestleMania 2 and the Pontiac Silverdome for III, and the hassles involved in transferring from the Los Angeles Coliseum to the LA Sports Arena, including having sold more front row seats than were available in the new site.

The book is copiously illustrated, not just with event photos but memorabilia such as ticket stubs, access passes and promotional material. If you’re lucky, you may pick up a copy that still has its original bonus DVD, which is a four hour compilation of match footage from, and stories about, the first 15 WrestleManias. It’s condensed from the eight-hour “All Day Long” pay-per-view that aired before WrestleMania 2000, a two-hour version of which is included in that event’s DVD release.

For a real novelty, seek out the UK release which has a front cover based on a Wrestlemania 2000 cover featuring Big Show, Rock, HHH and Chris Jericho, taken from posters for that event made before Jericho was replaced with Mick Foley.

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