Pro Wrestling Books

Wrestling with words

Pro Wrestling Books - Wrestling with words

Wrestling by Frank Gotch, World’s Champion

gotch2This is definitely one to collect rather than read, but given its age it’s surprisingly attainable (in the US at least.)

Showing the prestige and perception of pro wrestling at the time of its 1913 publication, this is part of a series of sports and fitness books published by Richard K Fox of the National Police Gazette which, despite its title, was the original boxing and sports magazine of its day.

The book starts with a brief bio of Gotch, though oddly it only covers the first Hackenschmidt bout and not the 1911 rematch. There’s then a look at wrestling, bemoaning the fact that some matches appear to be little more than exhibitions, and some training tips.

The rest of the book is made up of 29 photographs showing different holds, posed by Gotch himself and Oscar Samuelson, a name I couldn’t trace other than in references to this book. The selected holds certainly give the impression Gotch’s bouts would have more closely resembled an amateur contest than the slam-bang style of even the 1930s.

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Capitol Revolution: Initial Thoughts

I’m currently reading Capitol Revolution: The Rise of the McMahon Wrestling Empire by Tim Hornbaker for a full review in an upcoming issue of Fighting Spirit Magazine. It’ll then appear on here once the relevant issue is no longer on sale.

It’s the story of wrestling in New York up to and including Vince McMahon’s national expansion. So far I’ve been impressed with two particular elements. Firstly, Hornbaker does a good job of balancing a focus on New York City with enough about the scene across the country to put it into context. Secondly, he manages to keep the same level of depth as in his meticulously researched National Wrestling Alliance: The Untold Story of the Monopoly That Strangled Pro Wrestling, but avoids repeating that book’s problem of including irrelevant and distracting detail.

It doesn’t cover the simplest of topics, but does a reasonably good job of keeping things clear and coherent, so it’s a definite thumbs up for history buffs.

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Fall Guys by Marcus Griffin

fallguysWhile by no means an infallible Bible, this is by far the most important book written about the fascinating period of wrestling between the wars.

It’s an era that saw the culmination of the process of wrestling changing from a fixed event designed to scam gamblers into one where match finishes were designed to build up future bouts for ticket-buying customers. It’s arguably the period when, while the style and pace may differ, professional wrestling as we’d recognise it today really came to the forefront.

Published in 1937, Fall Guys is an insider account which claims to tell the real story of the behind-the-scenes chaos of the 20s and 30s as promoters built and broke allegiances and tried to deal with the dilemma of performance and charisma becoming more important then real grappling skills at the box office, but a ‘shooter’ trying to snatch the world title against the script still a genuine concern.

These promotional battles on several occasions led to those left out in the cold seeking their revenge through the media or the legal system, both of which revealed secrets about what was really happening behind the scenes.

The book is by no means perfect: the sheer complexity of the timeline of double-crosses means you may need a couple of read-throughs to really take it in. There’s also some question over its objectivity, with wrestling historian Steve Yohe theorising that leading promoter Toots Mondt may have been a heavy influence on the content, to his own editorial advantage.

Despite these limitations, it’s still a must read for anyone with an interest in wrestling history and a world that, while almost unrecognisable today, helped shape the wrestling business forever.

Original copies are hard to find and, although it was reprinted by Crowbar Press in the late 1990s, it’s no longer available there. Instead your best bet for now is the Kindle edition:

 

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Release Schedule (13 May)

Only one new book in Amazon’s listing this week and we certainly won’t be adding it to the schedule. It’s titled WWE Network 119 Success Secrets – 119 Most Asked Questions On WWE Network – What You Need To Know and cost $25 on Kindle and $30 in paperback.

There’s an extensive preview of the book in Google Books which makes clear it is simply a bunch of Wikipedia articles put through a computer program to use synonyms (“non-amateur grappling”) to avoid plagiarism detectors. That gives such nonsensical sentences such as one on Owen Hart reading:

A not so large picture accolade is presented beforehand the commence notifying fans that Hart progressed off throughout the first transmit.

Or on Nitro:

The first public appearance of Nitro started the Monday Night Wars, a grades combat amid the WWF and WCW that endured for nearly 6 annums and saw every one corporation refuge to soiled tricks/cutthroat strategies to attempt to contest with the contention.

So yeah, this is one to avoid.


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

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

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

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

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

13 October:Is Wrestling Fixed? I Didn’t Know It Was Broken: From Photo Shoots and Sensational Stories to the WWE Network, Bill Apter’s Incredible Pro Wrestling Journey

13 October: Iron Sheik: Listen Jabroni! by Khosrow “The Iron Sheik” Vaziri and Keith Elliot Greenberg

3 November: Undertaker: 25 Years of Destruction

2 February 2016: Legends of Pro Wrestling: 150 Years of Headlocks, Body Slams, and Piledrivers by Tim Hornbaker

5 April: The Official WWE Rule Book: Every Rule (And How to Break Them)

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

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Who’s Next by Bill Goldberg

goldbergWhile widely viewed and remembered, Bill Goldberg’s wrestling career was extremely brief-lived. It might seem as if there’s not much to say and that certainly seems to be the case with this book.

Released in 2000, when his WCW stint had barely finished, this doesn’t have a great deal of wrestling content. It’s written in a somewhat haphazard order and only around 90 pages (of large type) deal directly with the chonology of his in-ring career. The rest is a hodge-podge of his experiences as a celebrity and his time in college and NFL football.

A lot of the wrestling content is a recap of on-screen events, though there are some surprisingly frank revelations such as Goldberg admitting he frequently gets lost in matches and has little ability at putting a match together. There’s also a wonderful anecdote about a match where he wrestled Ric Flair. These are limited though as a lot of the content includes transcripts of promos plus original quotes from other wrestlers that don’t add much insight.

It would be unfair to call the book a waste of your time as a reader, and with second-hand copies easy and cheap to acquire, it’s certainly recommended for any Goldberg fans. It’s of some interest if you’re curious about the whole experience of a rapid rise to fame, but if you want depth about the wrestling business, look elsewhere.

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Release Schedule (6 May)

Just one new addition this week, a fun-sounding children’s novel, Demolition Dad by Phil Earle:

This is the story of Jake Biggs and his dad, George. George spends all week knocking down buildings …and all weekend knocking down wrestlers. He’s the Demolition Man, and Jake couldn’t be prouder. But when Jake hears about a pro-wrestling competition in the USA, and persuades his beloved dad to apply, things don’t quite turn out the way he expected…This is DANNY THE CHAMPION OF THE WORLD in Spandex, a hilarious, warm-hearted story from a talented writer.

 


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

7 May: Demolition Dad by Phil Earle

 

12 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

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

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

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

13 October:Is Wrestling Fixed? I Didn’t Know It Was Broken: From Photo Shoots and Sensational Stories to the WWE Network, Bill Apter’s Incredible Pro Wrestling Journey

13 October: Iron Sheik: Listen Jabroni! by Khosrow “The Iron Sheik” Vaziri and Keith Elliot Greenberg

3 November: Undertaker: 25 Years of Destruction

2 February 2016: Legends of Pro Wrestling: 150 Years of Headlocks, Body Slams, and Piledrivers by Tim Hornbaker

5 April: The Official WWE Rule Book: Every Rule (And How to Break Them)

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

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