Pro Wrestling Books

Wrestling with words

Pro Wrestling Books - Wrestling with words

The Story Of The Development Of The NWATNA by Jerry Jarrett

jarrettWhile Bryan Alvarez & RD Reynolds continue to joke about writing a TNA version of The Death of WCW — and such a title remains premature — this is the closest thing to an insight into the promotion, albeit a brief period in its history.

The book covers 2002, the year Jerry and Jeff Jarrett tried to capitalise on the gap left by the demise of WCW and ECW but without the benefit of national television. They attempted to so do by updating the territorial model to the modern era, existing solely as a low-priced weekly two-hour pay-per-view. It’s a ludicrous idea in hindsight and seemed unlikely to many at the time, but this does at least show how those involved might have believed it could work.

The strength of the book is that it is written as a contemporary journal. While it’s certainly possible Jarrett may have edited or even redrafted content, it comes across as his honest feelings at the time of each event rather than an attempt to rewrite history.

Some of the stories are spectacular in hindsight, most notably consultant Jay Haussman telling Jarrett that the first few shows were attracting as many as 85,000 buys — and Jarrett believing him. In fact, for reasons that remain best explained by lawyers, Haussman had forged cable company reports and the real figure was closer to 15,000.

Those who don’t care for the creative philosophies of Vince Russo will particularly enjoy the book as it contains not just Jarrett’s growing irritation with Russo’s wackier and more illogical booking ideas, but also memos between the two in which Jarrett tries to explain why the ideas are counterproductive.

The latter sections of the book are heavier going, concentrating on financial backers Health South pulling the plug and the negotiations for Panda Energy (owned by Dixie Carter’s family) to buy out TNA. It’s hardly a gripping read but does illustrate the sheer complexity and frustratingly lengthy timetables of such deals.

If you’ve any interest in TNA, or simply want an insight into the sheer amount of work, conflict and negotiation that goes into starting and running a wrestling promotion, this is certainly worth tracking down.

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Release Schedule (26 August)

New addition this week is an official WWE John Cena book, albeit looking to be in storyline format:


See John Cena like you’ve never seen him before!

For over a dozen years, John Cena has been the undeniable cornerstone of WWE. Revered by millions of “Cenation” members worldwide, John Cena is known for his tireless work ethic and countless accolades both in and out of the WWE ring. For the first time ever, his entire world is presented in one ultimate compendium. Get the detailed breakdown of all things John Cena – from his quintessential matches, epic rivalries, fascinating character evolutions, signature moves and much more. John Cena’s legacy is unmatched by anyone in WWE’s 50 year history, and now it is packed into over 200 full color pages for his passionate fans to enjoy forever.

Coverage Includes:

• In-depth breakdowns of every key match in John Cena’s career, with profiles of the events and rivalries leading up to each clash.
• The definitive guide to John Cena’s history and character – from his many different outfits, to his catch phrases, wrestling moves, over-the-top entrances, and much more.
• Learn about the values and influences that have shaped The Champ’s career – his insane training regimens, passion for entertaining, and his unwavering commitment to his fans, his job and his code of “Hustle, Loyalty and Respect.”
• Hear from John Cena himself, as well as other Superstars, about the key events that have shaped his legacy.
• Definitive career timeline, stats and breakdowns of his incomparable achievements in WrestleMania, Monday Night Raw, SmackDown, various match types, and so much more.

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

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

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

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

27 October: Undertaker: 25 Years of Destruction

10 December: Andre The Giant: Closer To Heaven by Brandon Easton

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

15 March: Hustle, Loyalty & Respect: The World of John Cena by Steve Pantaleo

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

1 May: WWE: 100 Greatest Matches

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

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Whatever Happened To Gorgeous George by Joe Jares

jaresgeorgeThis 1974 book is one of the better titles by an “outsider”, albeit one with legitimate credentials. Author Joe Jares was a Sports Illustrated Associate Editor who, in the 1960s, wrote two articles on wrestling, one on how his father performed as “The Thing” and the other on the decline of Gorgeous George.

Jares later decided to expand the subject into a book, with the articles making up the first two chapters. He then explored the wrestlers of the day, with chapters on the wackiest characters, women wrestlers, leading villains, promoters, fans and the travel and injuries of life on the road.

He concludes with a series of appendices covering topics such as real names, a capsule history, the world title, wrestling footballers, and bouts featuring wrestlers against boxers.

Given his real sports background, Jares doesn’t buy in to kayfabe, but the book isn’t written in a mocking tone. Aside from a fun recap of some of the explanations wrestlers give for why their matches must be real, he largely asks carefully worded questions and gets intelligent answers that don’t insult anyone’s intelligence. Paul Boesch in particular is the source of many comments that protect the business while still giving an intelligent insight.

What really makes the book work, besides Jares’ professional writing, is the sheer range of performers quoted, including lengthy contributions from Mildred Burke and George ‘Zebra Kid’ Zaharias.

While the nature of interviewing wrestlers in the early 70s means this can’t be taken as an authoritative history, it’s a highly readable insight into the business at the time and well worth picking up when used copies appear at a reasonable price.

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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.

Rowdy Roddy Piper by Marlow Jermaine Martin

Born Roderick George Toombs, he made his wrestling debut in Canada at the age of 15, where he made his way to the ring playing bagpipes, and, as a result, was given the nickname “Roddy Piper.” The moniker stuck, and when coupled with his background as an amateur boxer, he quickly developed a reputation as a man not to be messed with – a trait that made him a natural heel. During the 1970s, he’d work as a villain in several territories, including the AWA and NWA, had memorable feuds with the likes of Chavo Guerrero Sr. and Ric Flair and had a tremendous impact on a wrestling fan named Rick Rubin, who’d later credit Piper’s smack-talking bad guy character as a major influence on the Beastie Boys.

(While this was printed before Piper’s death and thus isn’t a cash-in, proceed with extreme caution as it’s listed as being only 28 pages.)

Professional Wrestling (Classic Reprint) by Ed W Smith

Excerpt from Professional Wrestling

Coming right down to the facts, there is one farmer boy in this country, now grown into a man – and what a man! – who maybe was the hero of some of these tales. If he wasn’t he would have been simply an ideal hero for a yarn of that character. He is champion catch-as-catch-can wrestler of the world now, and his name is Frank Albert Gotch, a farmer lad from Humboldt, Ia., perhaps the greatest athlete America has yet produced, certainly the greatest wrestler.

Though a champion and something of a man of the world now, he is still a farmer at heart, for all of his great fortune – and he has accumulated much through thrifty habits contracted down on that old Iowa farm – is invested in lands in the corn State which he calls home.

Back in 1900, when wrestling was not nearly as popular in the Middle West as it is at the present time, and when wrestlers were looked upon with a great deal of suspicion by the average man, the wrestler being qualified along with the crafty second-story man and porch climber, Martin (“Farmer”) Burns, then one of the best heavyweights in the country, began to circulate stories about a wonderful young fellow he had “discovered” out in Iowa and for whom he predicted the most brilliant future. His name was Gotch, and he said he intended to make a champion of the world out of him if it took him the rest of his life.

It didn’t take Burns that long, because on the night of April 3, 1908, Burns saw his ambition realized. That night, or rather at an early hour the following morning, Gotch defeated George Hackenschmidt, the “Russian Lion,” after two hours of a peculiar struggle, and carried off the title from that famous exhibition athlete.

A little over one year later a new Gotch, fully 100 per cent, better than he was when he defeated Hackenschmidt, successfully defended his title against Yussiff Mahmout, the latest “Terrible Turk” to come to this country.

About the Publisher

Forgotten Books publishes hundreds of thousands of rare and classic books. Find more at

This book is a reproduction of an important historical work. Forgotten Books uses state-of-the-art technology to digitally reconstruct the work, preserving the original format whilst repairing imperfections present in the aged copy. In rare cases, an imperfection in the original, such as a blemish or missing page, may be replicated in our edition. We do, however, repair the vast majority of imperfections successfully; any imperfections that remain are intentionally left to preserve the state of such historical works.



Tojo Smith has a serious problem. He is the number one heel for a small wrestling promotion in Texas. He is also an earthbound demon and his mission is to inspire hatred in people. This is his service to the greater evil. But suddenly, the wrestling fans start to cheer for Tojo. He goes from the most hated villain of his promotion to the most cheered antihero. And no matter how loathsome his actions in the ring become, his popularity soars. When Hell notices this imbalance, Tojo is given an ultimatum: get the hate flowing again or be sent down into the fiery pits! Turning Face is a brand new tale from critically-acclaimed author, Terry M. West.

Wrestling and The New World Order by Michael Hur

The hidden world of professional wrestling. Many fans often wonder about the lives of the superstars of professional wrestling. Many fans even wonder why so many deaths occurred with their favorite wrestlers. This book explores the mysteries and scandals of the professional wrestling going all the way back to the 19th century carnivals to the current mainstream wrestling you see today.

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Capitol Revolution by Tim Hornbaker

capitolAmerican wrestling as most Brits know it arguably began on 23 January 1984 when Hulk Hogan beat the Iron Sheik at Madison Square Garden to capture the WWF title and kick off the national expansion era. But New York wrestling has a rich heritage, explored in this book which appropriately enough ends on that very day.

Capitol Revolution begins its tale just after the first world war when the likes of Jack Curley and Tex Rickard battled to revive wrestling after the departure of former national stars Frank Gotch and George Hackenschmidt. It then goes on to tell the complex tale of double-crosses and alliances in the 1920s and 30s when wrestling switched from a faithful simulation of amateur grappling to a wilder performance that would still be recognisable as pro wrestling today.

It also addresses the multi-generational influence of Toots Mondt and the rise of the McMahon family to dominance in New York, along with its often terse relationship with the National Wrestling Alliance. Finally we get details of Vince McMahon’s transition from local promoter and TV commentator to company owner.

Hornbaker’s research skills and dedicated cannot be questioned, which was demonstrated in his previous volume on the NWA’s history. In that case the sheer level of detail proved a negative at times with superfluous information making the rich content something of a dry read.

This time round Hornbaker has refined his approach, keeping the detail in focus with the narrative and telling an often complex story in a more engaging manner. The few occasions where it becomes difficult to follow the chain of events are simply an unavoidable result of the sheer amount of confusion as promoters made and broke alliances.

Another big strength is that Hornbaker finds just the right balance of keeping the book centred on the story of New York while still including enough background on the national picture to put things in their proper context.

Given the subject matter and the fact that it’s a book based largely on documentary research rather than interviews, this may still not be to everyone’s taste. But for those with any interest in what came before Vince McMahon changed the rules of the game, Capitol Revolution comes highly recommended.

(This review originally appeared in issue 121 of Fighting Spirit Magazine.)

Read on Kindle (

Read on Kindle (

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Wrestling’s 101 Strangest Matches by Oliver Hurley

101This is along the lines of similar books on unusual incidents in sports like football, cricket or golf, but being the outlandish world of pro wrestling there’s a lot more barbed wire and hypnotism.

The book is divided into loose sections covering the likes of doublecrosses, unusual locations, crazy stipulations and unpredictable events. Many, from the Funk-Lawler empty arena match to New Jack and Eric Kulas will be familiar to long-time fans, but you’d have to be a pretty dedicated fan to already know about every match covered here.

The pioneers section in particular doesn’t just cover the ‘obvious’ choices like Stecher and Lewis going five hours, but has some lesser-known incidents such as Gorgeous George escaping a ring in a rowing boat.

Pedantic readers might take issue with the occasionally stretched definition of “strange” with entries include Sid Vicious vs Nightstalker (listed solely for being awful) and Tom Magee vs Bret Hart (listed solely for appearing to be good) but these are interesting nonetheless.

In describing each bout in some detail, Hurley achieves a couple of impressive balances: adding levity without descending into snarkiness, and explaining things in a way that would illuminate even a non-wrestling fan without patronising a hardcore devotee.

The book is particularly well produced with creative use of photographs and graphics to brighten up what could otherwise be a repetitive set of one or two-page chapters.

How much you’ll learn form this book may vary, but it should prove entertaining revisiting even those incidents with which you are already familiar.

Disclaimer: I have known the author since the heyday of the British fanzine scene in the mid 1990s.

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