Pro Wrestling Books

Wrestling with words

Pro Wrestling Books - Wrestling with words

Release Schedule (31 December)

No major additions this week, but the WWE Attitude Era book has slipped back a couple of weeks, while Nino Wrestles The World’s paperback release has gone back to August; the book was originally published in hardback
in 2013.


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

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

4 March: WWE Ultimate Superstar Guide by Brady Games

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

19 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

25 August: Niño Wrestles the World by Yuyi Morales

15 September: Ultimate Warrior: A Life Lived Forever: The Legend of a WWE Hero

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

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Wrestling Fan’s Book by Sid Feder

federPublished at the tail of the first national TV wrestling boom, this is an excellent memento of the period and is a genuinely informative read rather than just a collectible historical item.

The heart of the book is a series of profiles of around 250 wrestlers, ranging from full-page pieces on the top stars to capsule bios. Naturally it’s entirely in kayfabe, but there’s a fair bit of detail on backgrounds and career histories, most of which appears historically accurate.

Other sections of the book include pieces on women and midget wrestlers, promoter profiles, details of overseas grapplers, and a piece on boxer vs wrestler matches in history. It also has a piece on wrestling rules and how to apply holds.

Perhaps the most striking note is an estimate that 24 million tickets were sold for wrestling shows in the US over the course of the year. To put that into perspective, the respective figure for dominant powerhouse WWE in 2013 was just under two million.

It’s a book worth tracking down if you have cash to spare and fortunately it is relatively readily available on auction sites and through used book sellers. It’s available in both the original 1952 edition (pictured) and an updated 1953 edition. Some sellers also have a version of the latter where the first eight chapters of the book appear twice, though I don’t know how rare this is or whether it makes it significantly more collectable.

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The WWE Championship by Kevin Sullivan

wwechampionshipIf you’re reading this blog, the chances are that reading this book will be reminiscent of a Sean O’Haire promo.

This official WWE release is billed as the story of the men who held the title up till 2010. The acknowledgement section mentions carrying out some fresh interviews, but the majority of the quotes appear to come from the full range of WWE official autobiographies and the feel is very much of a compilation.

While the book is fairly comprehensive, including for example the controversial Antonio Inoki reign, it’s biggest weakness is a confusing attitude to kayfabe. For the most part wrestling is treated as legitimate but also a business; Vince McMahon hires Hulk Hogan because he can draw fans, but Hogan wins the title match on his own merits. While such an approach might have worked had it been kept consistently, it falls apart at stages, for example in the Montreal section where it suddenly appears Bret Hart is somehow at fault for refusing to take a dive. Throw in several quotes at other parts of the book where wrestlers praise their opponent for carrying them to a good match and it becomes more awkward when author Kevin “not that one” Sullivan talks about storyline events.

While the Montreal section is, at best, oversimplified the accuracy of the accounts is generally decent, inevitable tall tales by wrestlers aside. Two sections do stand out as worthy of mention as bogus however. The very first chapter implies Vince McMahon senior was the first promoter to successfully harness the power of television, in 1956 nonetheless. Given an entire boom period had been created by wrestling being among the earliest national TV hits in the late 40s and early 50s, this seems ludicrous.

Meanwhile we get the oft-repeated claim that WrestleMania VII was moved from the LA Coliseum for security reasons after threats against Sgt Slaughter. While this might have been excusable, Sullivan has the cheek to write “WWE didn’t think twice about filling the place, despite urban legends to the contrary.” Given the show was moved to a 16,000 seat building only a few weeks in advance, if the promotion was on course to getting anywhere close to a sellout of the 100,000 seat Coliseum it would have had to find a way to deal with tens of thousands of ticket-holding fans who could no longer be accommodated, something that never happened.

The book does have one particular triumph though: when Sid Eudy talks about his lack of concern in winning titles, he explains that “”If you won the title fourteen times, you lost it fifteen times.”

Most long-time fans who know the basic history and have read a few biographies will get little from this book. That said, it could make a good present for a new fan just getting into the product.

Read on Kindle (Amazon.com)

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Recent Release Roundup

Here are a few books released in recent weeks that didn’t get advance listings and thus weren’t in our weekly release schedule.

Front Row Section D by John Hitchcock

You’ll love this action-packed, lavishly illustrated look back at the Golden Age of Professional Wrestling—the greatest stars of the mighty Mid-Atlantic, the WCW and WWE. John Hitchcock shares his vivid memories attending live matches and television broadcasts from Greensboro during the 1960s on through the 1990s. You’ll read about wrestlers on their way up and on the way down: Ric Flair, Dusty Rhodes, Arn Anderson, Johnny Valentine, Wahoo McDaniel, Rip Hawk, Terry Funk, Ernie Ladd, Johnny Weaver, the Four Horsemen, Klondike Bill, even the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling!

70 Years at Ringside: A History of Wrestling in New Zealand by Dave Cameron

New Zealand’s premier wrestling historian Dave Cameron presents the first part of his brief history of professional wrestling in New Zealand. In this personal memoir Dave tells of his 70 years as a fan and historian of the sport that is most dear to his heart. He tells of his meetings and correspondence with the legends of the mat world including George Hackenschmidt, Ed “Strangler” Lewis, Paul Boesch, Chief Little Wolf, Ken Kenneth, Bill Kuusisto, Jack Claybourne and, of course, New Zealand’s own Lofty Blomfield. This volume covers the sport’s first four decades of the 20th Century and contains many rare photographs.

Death Match: A Spar Battersea Wrestling Thriller (Volume 1) by Jason Ridler

A friend’s death at a pro wrestling show sends gutter journalist and punk rock hasbeen Spar Battersea back to the underground of the city to find the killer. Along the way he rams into a washed up grappler deadlier than a snake bite, a dominatrix who dresses like June Cleaver, and the freak of nature who may be the killer, the mime known as Johnny Silent. To get to the truth, Spar will have to contend with each and then survive his very own . . . Death Match!

El Luchador by Ponk Vonsydow

Little Mexican boy Dante Pena dreams of growing up to be big and strong enough to serve as a famous champion El Luchador. His hero is the Luchador, El Toro. Dante ends up meeting the man who was the original El Toro and learns the old Luchador runs a wrestling school. Dante goes to Mexico City to attend this school at age twelve where he spends the eight years learning the ropes literally. After entering the league Dante must pay his dues for some five years working as a heel, but Dante Pena has aspirations and talents well beyond playing the part of a heel the rest of his career. Follow his story as he becomes a world champion wrestler of El Luchador.

Holy Ground: 50 Years of WWE at Madison Square Garden (The History of Professional Wrestling) by Graham Cawthon

For the first time ever, the entire history of the WWE at Madison Square Garden is compiled into one single publication! Including some of the top names in the industry as they speak about their experiences at “The World’s Most Famous Arena” including “The Living Legend” Bruno Sammartino, “The Innovator of Violence” Tommy Dreamer, “The Mountie” Jacques Rougeau, Matt Striker, George “The Animal” Steele, Bill Apter, “The Genius” Lanny Poffo, Kevin Kelly, “The Boogie Woogie Man” Jimmy Valiant, Dr. Tom Prichard, PWInsider.com’s Mike Johnson, “The Russian Bear” Ivan Koloff, Drew McIntyre, J.J. Dillon, and many more! Since 2002, The HistoryofWWE.com has served as the premiere online resource for the in- and out-of-the-ring histories of multiple wrestling companies. Now, for the first time in print, you have access to the thousands of dates, cities and ring results that comprise pro wrestling’s past. You can now find the hidden gems, the main events that drew thousands and the ones that only drew flies.

Eat Sleep Wrestle by John Cosper

Their signs hang in the windows of convenience stores, gas stations, and restaurants. They work out of high school gyms, warehouses, and roller rinks. They are professional wrestlers, and they want you to experience live wrestling this weekend. The old territories are long gone, replaced by the monolithic WWE, but indie wrestling continues to thrill fans who know that nothing can replace the live experience. This is the story of the men and women who make up today’s independent wrestling scene. They are top prospects like Jamin Olivencia and Adam Cole; deadly beauties like Crazy Mary Dobson and LuFisto; entrepreneurs like Colt Cabana; and battle-hardened veterans like Mad Man Pondo. Eat Sleep Wrestle takes you on the road and inside the ring for a peek into the lives of today’s dreamers and tomorrow’s superstars. From their humble beginnings, to life on the road, to their moments at the top, these stories will inspire you in the pursuit your own dreams and make you look twice the next time you see a flier in the window for some rasslin’.

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Release Schedule (17 December)

Biggest new this week is that WWE is planning to release a book on the Ultimate Warrior next September:

With signature moves like the Warrior Splash, epic battles against Hulk Hogan, Sgt. Slaughter, Macho Man Randy Savage, and The Undertaker, and impassioned speeches that struck fear into his opponents and inspired warriors across the nation, the late Ultimate Warrior became one of the most revered figures in WWE history. Here, for the first time, the complete legend of The Ultimate Warrior is told in full, from his humble beginnings as a self-proclaimed “small, insecure kid who wasn’t into any sports” to his rise to WWE fame as the most powerful force in the universe.

Through both action and candid photographs, personal ephemera, including original Warrior art and detailed journal entries, insider stories and exclusive interviews with WWE legends, and intimate accounts from the Warrior family, this unique biography brings the legacy of The Ultimate Warrior to life like never before. Relive the Warrior’s most intense matches and rivalries, and get to know the man behind the face paint in this one-of-a-kind volume. Filled with intense action and little-known details, Ultimate Warrior: A Life Lived Forever is a celebration of the Superstar who left an inimitable mark on WWE and redefined sports entertainment for generations.

(Thanks to Lavie Margolin for letting us know about this one.)


 

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

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

4 March: WWE Ultimate Superstar Guide by Brady Games

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

15 September: Ultimate Warrior: A Life Lived Forever: The Legend of a WWE Hero

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

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Stu Hart by Marsha Erb

stuhartThis isn’t a book that gets a lot of talk, but it’s certainly one of the better wrestler biographies out there. Although a lawyer by trade, Erb was formerly a journalist and approached the project from that perspective rather than primarily as a wrestling fan.

While there’s no shortage of wrestling material here, it’s far more of an individual life story than the territorial history of the also-excellent Pain and Passion by Heath McCoy.

And what a life story that is. While most fans know the tales of Hart’s sprawling family in their Hart house and the infamous dungeon, many reading this will be shocked to learn of his impoverished childhood, at one stage living with his family in a tent during winters of -20C or below. There’s also plenty about his wrestling career before turning to promoting.

Erb pulls off an impressive balancing act of including Hart’s recollections though first-hand quotes from interviewing him, but still keeping the book as an objective, independent account.

It’s important to note that the book is predominately about Stu’s life and only contains brief mention of his many offspring’s time in wrestling, particularly outside of Stampede. That makes for a more focused book, but could disappoint some expecting it to be more a family biography.

If you have any interest in the territorial era, or simply in one of the more distinctive personalities to be involved in the wrestling business, this is a strong recommendation.

Read on Kindle (Amazon.com)

Read on Kindle (Amazon.co.uk)

 

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Sailor White by Dave Elliott

sailorwhiteWhile the title may not be familiar to many readers, some may know the subject best as Moondog King, a short-lived WWWF tag team champion in 1981.

That title run and its unfortunate conclusion is addressed from the outset of the book and later highlighted as the turning point of Edward White’s life. After working for several Canadian territories, he won the WWWF titles with Moondog Rex.

Only a couple of months into the reign he attempted to return to the US after an unscheduled trip home to Montreal but was refused entry by border guards. It’s not entirely clear from the book whether this was because he had no working visa, had a criminal record that came to light, or both.

Either way, that was the end of his WWWF run and he was replaced in the team. The rest of his career was split between overseas dates and a decline into drug addiction and even trafficking.

While White’s was certainly an eventful life, abbnd the book is well-written, it’s main drawback is that no one aspect of the book really stands out in depth. There’s some insight into his wrestling career and his personal life is covered but neither is compelling enough to make the book a must-read in itself.

While it’s certainly worth your time reading if you spot it at a bargain price, it’s not something that could possibly justify the exorbitant prices at which its currently listed on Amazon.

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Release Schedule (10 December)

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 is the WWE Ultimate Superstar Guide by Brady Games, due for release on 4 March:

WWE Superstars like you’ve never seen them before! The Ultimate Superstar Guide is an illustrated collection of all the biggest Superstars to ever grace the WWE ring. Experience iconic Hall of Famers, promising young stars, and everything in between. Including over 200 never-before-seen illustrations with facts, stats, and more!


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

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

4 March: WWE Ultimate Superstar Guide by Brady Games

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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