Pro Wrestling Books

Wrestling with words

Pro Wrestling Books - Wrestling with words

Leaping Lanny: Wrestling With Rhyme by Lanny Poffo

lannyIf this blog’s opinion is one you respect

Get this in print only to collect

Read this once and amuse yourself

But then it will gather dust on your shelf

It’s not autobiography but rather just rhymes

About wrestling, life and other pastimes

It names Rita Marie, Mel Phillips and other folks

But sadly lacks any mention of insider jokes

Though if you have a Kindle, there’s little expense

And it’s probably worth it at ninety nine cents

Read on Kindle (Amazon.com)

Read on Kindle (Amazon.co.uk)

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In The Pit With Piper By Roddy Piper

piperThis book has some fascinating stories. Some of them may even be true.

Having dealt with, and known people who’ve dealt with, Piper professionally, he was a mixed bag. His insight into ring psychology and protecting oneself within an often cutthroat business was always top notch, but his recollection or telling of facts and dates was, to say the least, something you had to keep on top of.

For example, the book includes Piper’s traditional story that his first pro match was a quick loss to Larry Hennig, which was not the case. He also tells of a prank being played upon him in his Madison Square Garden debut that led to him being immediately dropped by Vince McMahon Sr, when in fact he wrestled at the venue twice more that year.

There are also plenty of details which don’t quite stack up, such as him recalling being infuriated during his boxing match with Mr T by the commentary lines of Susan St James, which would have been difficult to hear given the announce position was nowhere near ringside.

Other stories are plausible but difficult to verify. For example, Piper claims he was booked to lose a house show match to the Undertaker by pinfall but protected himself by taking a tombstone on the arena floor, feigning injury and being counted out and removed on a stretcher. The match certainly happened, though it seems a stretch that bookers would even bother to ask Piper to take a pinfall loss on a house show at this point given he was notoriously picky about such finishes.

Still, there’s plenty of engaging content here, particularly for those who only know Piper from his main WWF run: it’s 130 pages before he even arrives in the company so there’s all manner of detail on his Los Angeles, Portland and Carolinas runs.

The best parts, however, are not the what but the why. Piper frequently explains the thinking that led him to become a superstar despite having neither the size nor the appearance of many of his top-line peers. As well as covering how he got over with an audience, he also details how he made himself valuable to promoters while making sure they did not take advantage of him. Even in today’s vastly different world, there’s much to learn here.

Piper was most certainly a unique character and, for better and occasionally for worse, this book is a true reflection of that.

Read on Kindle (Amazon.com)

Read on Kindle (Amazon.co.uk)

 

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pageLong, perhaps overly detailed, and full of twists and turns with an upbeat ending. But enough about how Dallas Page plans his matches: let’s talk about his book.

At 442 pages and not even reaching the end of his WCW career, this book certainly doesn’t miss anything out. If you find Page’s style of confidence to be abrasive, this is going to be a struggle. For most readers however, it will be a treat.

Part of the bulk is down to the production style, with material coming in three ways (marked by different typefaces): Page’s own account; a third-person biographical sections to fill in the chronology by co-writer Larry Genta; and recollections of many of Page’s peers. It gives a more rounded view, but makes the book feel somewhat intense at times.

The length is also caused by what appears to have been a very generous editing process with seemingly nothing left out. Turning to pages at random, you’ll learn about Lex Luger’s luggage packing techniques, the billing process of an early internet service provider and a PR strategy for a nightclub.

This might be annoying in some accounts, but its appropriate for Page’s life story. The seemingly lengthy sections on his time in the club scene helps reinforce the unlikely way in which he was already 35 years old before becoming a full-time pro wrestler (following a brief series of independent matches in the 1970s) and then worked his way to a first world title at 43.

None of this came by accident and the book gives detailed insight into Page’s self-promotion and relentlessly upbeat approach to life and the way he built his in-ring persona. As long as you’re prepared to put in the time reading it, this is a definite thumbs up.

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Release Schedule (20 April)

One new entry this week, WWE Encyclopedia Of Sports Entertainment, 3rd Edition by Steve Pantaleo. No firm details but given Pantaleo has worked on several recent official WWE books, this is most likely an update to the Brian Shields & Kevin Sullivan book.

There’s also a print version of a “Baron Corbin Handbook”, but at 38 pages it appears to be a (perhaps misguided) cash-in attempt so we haven’t linked to it.


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

10 May: Maximilian and the Lucha Libre Club: A Bilingual Lucha Libre Thriller (Max’s Lucha Libre Adventures) by Xavier Garza

10 May: WWE: 100 Greatest Matches

1 June: Thud in Trouble (Wrestling Trolls) by Jim Eldridge

1 July: Superstars of Wwe (Pro Sports Superstars) by Todd Kortemeier (Listed as currently unavailable)

12 July: Champion of the World by Chad Dundas

24 July: Performance and Pro Wrestling by Broderick Chow & Laine Eero

1 August: The Final Showdown (Wrestling Trolls) by Jim Eldridge

9 August: Accepted: How the First Gay Superstar Changed WWE by Pat Patterson

31 August: Lucha (Spanish Edition) by Paola Gonzalez

4 October: Rowdy: The Roddy Piper Story

18 October: Rudas: Niño’s Horrendous Hermanitas! by Yuyi Morales

24 October: WWE Encyclopedia Of Sports Entertainment, 3rd Edition by Steve Pantaleo 

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Recent Release Round-up

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


The Greatest Champions Of The WrestleMania Era by Chad Matthews

Take a closer look inside the rankings of the Top 90 wrestlers of all-time, as described in “The WrestleMania Era: The Book of Sports Entertainment.” Tangible accolades are a hallmark of any sport or entertainment avenue. The NBA has the Larry O’Brien trophy, the MVP, and the Defensive Player of the Year. Hollywood has the Oscar, the Golden Globe, and the Screen Actors Guild award. Professional wrestling has championship belts. Using a detailed formula, “The Greatest Champions of The WrestleMania Era” shapes the historical context around championship success from Starrcade ’83 to Summerslam ’15.


101 WWE Matches To See Before You Die by Samuel Plan

Professional wrestling is not what it once was. Kayfabe is dead; the internet is in full swing; old habits die hard. The time has come to reassess the industry’s identity. 101 WWE Matches To See Before You Die hopes to do just that, challenging orthodox preconceptions of the world’s greatest performance art. The methodology is simple: select 101 matches from WWE history that highlight the most important issues permeating professional wrestling today. But don’t call them match reviews. These are moral, historical, philosophical must-read muses of must-see art that will enrich your experience as a follower of WWE; question your responsibilities as a fan; ponder your right to be a critic; present a new, different way to watch professional wrestling; and, ultimately, challenge your existing ideas of what professional wrestling can be at its very core.


Pandemonium Wrestling – The Pro Wrestling RPG by CL Bedell

Pandemonium Wrestling – The Pro-Wrestling Role Playing Game! If you’ve seen it happen on t.v, you can do it in the game! Steel Chairs, Cage Matches, Ladder Matches, Tag-Teams. . . Its all here! Dirty tricks, sneaky managers, and crowd interaction make this the most realistic wrestling game available. Over 100 Moves to choose from! Rules for fighting outside the ring! Dozens of specialty matches! No two matches will ever be the same!


Shocking Wrestling Plans You Won’t Believe Almost Happened by Whatculture.com and James Dixon

Featuring a foreword by wrestling legend Jim Cornette, and exclusive stories from former WWE writers. What if The Undertaker had hatched out of a giant egg? What if Daniel Bryan hadn’t got his WrestleMania XXX push? What if ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin had been named Chilly McFreeze? All of this nearly happened.

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The Pro Wrestling Hall Of Fame: The Canadians by Greg Oliver

canadiansDon’t let a minor controversy detract from one of the better wrestling history books out there.

The first of Oliver’s Hall of Fame series (as much a way of tying the books together as an attempt to compete with the likes of the WWE and Wrestling Observer halls), this attracted some attention from a disgruntled Bret Hart, outraged at being ranked only 14th in the book’s opening section of the top 20 Canadian wrestlers. While Oliver makes a great case for the likes of Whipper Watson, Yvon Robert and Killer Kowalksi taking the top spots, Hart being ranked below Sky Low Low and Little Beaver certainly does look odd.

Still, concentrating on the rankings misses the point of the book, which is an excellent set of profiles of Canadian grapplers. From his work at the SLAM site, Oliver has developed the skills and contact lists to get insight from wrestlers across the generations and that pays off here. No matter how knowledgeable you are about wrestling history, you’ll likely learn something new or get a fresh perspective in every profile.

The most notable aspect of the book is realising just how many major names in wrestling originated in Canada. The likes of Abdullah the Butcher, the Tolos Brothers, Rick Martel, Paul ‘Kato’ Diamond, Ron Garvin, Rocky Johnson, Ivan Koloff, Buddy Roberts, Jerry Valiant, Stan Stasiak, Steve Corino, Test and Val Venis all get their due coverage here.

It’s hard to imagine anyone not being both entertained and informed by this, making it a strong recommendation.

Read on Kindle (Amazon.com)

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