Pro Wrestling Books

Wrestling with words

Pro Wrestling Books - Wrestling with words

WWF 1997 Book Coming Next Week

James Dixon, author of the Titan Sinking and Titan Shattered books that covered WWF in depth for 1995 and 1996 respectively, has now finished a third volume to be released next week.

James Dixon, author of Titan Sinking and Titan Shattered, two detailed chronicles of the World Wrestling Federation’s stories and backstage dealings in 1995 and 1996 respectively, pairs up with Justin Henry (Fighting Spirit Magazine, WrestleCrap) in compiling the third book of the series, Titan Screwed: Lost Smiles, Stunners, and Screwjobs.

Continuing through the timeline of WWF history, Titan Screwed provides a comprehensive look at the World Wrestling Federation from January 1997 all the way through WrestleMania XIV in March 1998, covering every major element of the WWF’s evolution into the vaunted and historic Attitude Era.

Stories extensively detailed include the rise of Stone Cold Steve Austin, Shawn Michaels losing his smile, the heel turn of Bret Hart, WWF vs. ECW with Jerry Lawler pulling the strings, the death of Brian Pillman, Austin vs. Tyson, the seedy story elements that overtook WWF programming, the birth of the nefarious Mr. McMahon, and of course, Montreal: the build-up, the secret plotting, the match, the moment, and the aftermath in all of its incredible details.

Exclusive author-conducted interviews for Titan Screwed include Ken Shamrock, Rob Van Dam, Jim Cornette, “The Patriot” Del Wilkes, Dr. Tom Prichard, Danny Doring, former ECW owner Tod Gordon, and more.

It’s available to pre-order in print directly from What Culture or on Kindle in the US and UK.

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Release Schedule (25 May)

One new entry this week, The Official WWE Book of Rules: (And How to Break Them):

WWE has a tremendous cult following. They recentlyceased publication of their magazine, leaving a great opportunity to provide fans with the content they so love. Do you know the difference between a Hollywood Backlot Brawl and a Brooklyn Street Fight? What happens at the end of an Iron Man match if there’s no clear victor? Which move is off-limits inside a WWE ring? With The Official WWE Rule Book, you’ll no longer need to ask. This complete guide to every single style of WWE match-stipulation or otherwise, lays out all of WWE’s rules (many published for the first time) and also calls out Superstars who have no problem breaking them. With insight and commentary from WWE’s brightest Superstars as well as veteran referees, it’s the ultimate companion to anyone who believes rules were made to be broken.

Unless this is written completely tongue-in-cheek, look for this to be cited many times by fans pissed off when wrestlers, road agents and creative teams go on to contradict the entries…


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

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

21 June: Ali vs. Inoki: The Forgotten Fight That Inspired Mixed Martial Arts and Launched Sports Entertainment by Josh Gross

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 

17 January 2017: The Official WWE Book of Rules: (And How to Break Them)

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The Encylopedia Of Professional Wrestling (2nd Edition) by Kristian Pope & Ray Whebbe Jr

Tencylopedia2his is by no means a lazy cash-in, but in 2016 it’s more one for collecting than reading.

The first 60% of this bulky book are made up of chapters interspersing wrestling history (vintage, 70s, 80s, Monday Night Wars) and logical subject groupings such as championships, babyfaces and heels, tag teams and women wrestlers. It’s designed more for readability than comprehensiveness and chapters will often wander off into a dedicated section of several pages on, for example, the Hart family of Paul Heyman.

The final 40% is where the “encyclopedia” lives up to its name with a series of 1,500 or so capsule bios. Each is only a matter of a few sentences so there’s no real depth but they are generally a fair summary in the available space. In a few cases the content seems a little suspect, such as the entry on Big Daddy which claims his persona was a take-off of Burl Ives (in reality, he simply took the name of Ive’s character in the film of Cat On A Hot Tin Roof) and that he had “almost a cult following overseas” which will be news to many.

The book’s strongest point, particularly in the early chapters, is the huge number of historical photos by Norman Keitzer.

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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.

WCW: The Alternate Timeline: Saving WCW in 1999 by Craig W Atkinson

In October 1999 former WWF writer Vince Russo signed with WCW. Within months WCW was in a death spiral that it never recovered from. To this day people argue that when Russo took over WCW it was recoverable. But was it? In this book we will look into the most commonly put forward ideas people give to see if these ideas would have worked in the real world, within the corporate structure of Time Warner and with those in power in WCW at the time.


Gotch vs. Hackenschmidt: The Matches That Made and Destroyed Legitimate American Professional Wrestling by Ken Zimmerman Jr

“Don’t break my leg!” As the two muscular men struggled in the center of the ring, the man on top continued to work on the downed man’s legs. Again, the man on bottom yelled, “Please don’t break my leg!” Frank Gotch looked over at his rival George Hackenschmidt, who was writhing in obvious pain. Despite a severe knee injury, Hackenschmidt went through with the rematch on Labor Day Weekend 1911. Gotch snarled, “What?” Hackenschmidt repeated, “Please don’t break my leg.” Gotch said plainly, “There’ll have to be a fall.” Hackenschmidt hesitated for a minute before laying back for the second and deciding fall, an anti-climactic ending to the second of the most anticipated wrestling matches in the legitimate wrestling era. The match was the second meeting between the men. On April 3, 1908, current World Heavyweight Wrestling Champion George Hackenschmidt met American Heavyweight Wrestling Champion Frank Gotch in pro wrestling’s version of The Match of the Century. Anticipated since 1905, the combatants finally settled on a location and date for the match in early 1908. George Hackenschmidt won the World Greco-Roman Heavyweight Wrestling Championship in 1901. He spent the next seven years touring the world defending his championship. Originally a weightlifter and holder of several world weightlifting records, “The Russian Lion” was one of the most powerful men in wrestling history. Standing only 5’09” tall, “Hack” weighed between 209 and 218 pounds in his prime. As he approached the match with Gotch, wrestling observers believed Hackenschmidt to be nearly unbeatable. The most serious previous challenge to his reign came from “The Terrible Turk”, Ahmed Madrali. Hackenschmidt pinned Madrali in 41 seconds after dislocating his arm with a hammerlock. Gotch started wrestling in the late 1890s about the same time as Hackenschmidt, when he came to the attention of Martin “Farmer” Burns. Going into the first match, the only knock on Gotch was a lack of international experience. Hackenschmidt had been touring the world for seven years. Gotch did all of his wrestling in the United States including a brief stint in the Klondike during 1901. However, the years of touring may have damaged “Hack” more than it helped him. Hackenschmidt had not been defeated in a ring for seven years. He beat every credible challenger not named Frank Gotch. Frank Gotch had lost in 1901 to St. Louis Champion Oscar Wasem, in 1905 to Tom Jenkins and in 1906 to Fred Beell but otherwise maintained an equally impressive record. The anticipation built into the greatest legitimate wrestling match ever held in the United States. After building interest in the sport with the first match, the second match brought back all the doubts about legitimacy and spending hard earned money on wrestling bouts. If the first bout built the sport, the second bout wrecked it.


Memphis Wrestling History Presents: 1992-93 Programs & Booking Sheets by Mark James

Memphis Wrestling History has documented the 1950s, 60s, 70s & 80s. This book features MWH’s first trip into the 1990s! With programs from the entire USWA territory from 1992-1993 along with weekly booking sheets for the same time frame. Take a trip back in time to when professional wrestling was still real.


Vince McMahon: Ruthless Aggression: The King Of Pro Wrestling – The Unofficial No Holds Barred Biography by AC Coren

“From a personal standpoint, the old expression of what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger is somewhat true.” WWE Chairman & CEO Vince McMahon

You don’t have to be a pro wrestling fan to appreciate the story of a man who evolved from a trailer park troublemaker into a revolutionary billionaire (though he never quite shook off his tendency for trouble-making!). The life of Vincent Kennedy McMahon is not all about spandex and muscular heroes conquering even more muscular bad guys in the squared circle; The Ruthless Aggression era, the attitude era, his rise to prominence and acquisition of unprecedented wealth as a professional wrestling promoter is a story that encompasses enough ups and downs to fill a dozen lifetimes, let alone one.

From overcoming abuse in his youth and careering off the rails several times before finding his calling, Vince McMahon has mastered the art of getting back up after being knocked down. Love him or hate him, his life story is one hell of a ride that works equally well as either a warning shot against hubris or an inspiration for anyone who dreams of overcoming a hard start in life to find success. Enjoy the tale of a man who, much like many of his wrestling character creations never knows when he is beaten.


Both Sides Now by John Reinhard Dixon

Both Sides Now is a witty, provocative romantic comedy providing an incisive view into the world of professional wrestling set against the backdrop of 1960’s New York City. Dr. Lucien Triskellion, arriving from West Germany to accept a position at New York University, is solicited by International Wrestling Association manager Jim Dandy. He learns of Lucien’s amateur prowess and phenomenal powerlifting ability and matches his NYU salary for his moonlighting services. Lucien comes into increasing conflict in trying to balance his budding romance with Anneliese Krieger, his teaching career at NYU, and his alternative lifestyle as an IWA star. His daily interaction with students reconciling their own scholastic regimens with the rapidly-changing sociocultural scene and political events impacting their lives resonates with the themes of change, adaptation and development throughout the novel. The story is as much a tribute to the wrestling stars of the era, virtually unheralded as compared to those of the 21st century enjoying the benefits of electronic social media. Lucien is engulfed in promotional strategies designed to compete in a pop culture overwhelmed by revolutionary concepts in music, TV, movies and the arts. The public is fascinated by a University professor working with Jim Dandy, leader of the most notorious bad-guy clique in the wrestling world. He becomes an item of interest throughout the media, attracting undue attention to himself and Anna as well as making him an icon at the University. Yet he finds himself serving as a lightning rod for the IWA as he is constantly questioned over the nefarious deeds of Team Dandy as well as those of other wrestling villains. The plot takes a dark turn as Anneliese’s elderly father is misidentified as a war criminal and incarcerated pending an extradition hearing. Lucien’s ring persona is such that Manfred Krieger’s defense team requests that he no longer attend the proceedings. It puts great stress on Lucien, coupled by the fact that the IWA is going through troubled times and placing greater demands on their roster. Lucien and Anna’s relationship undergoes enormous strain but it is their love for one another that keeps them going. The life and times of a college professor at NYU during the turbulent Sixties also provides a fascinating introspective in a multi-layered, entertaining yet analytical novel. For wrestling fans, Sixties buffs, romance and comedy/drama audiences alike, Both Sides Now is one not to be forgotten.

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My Favorite Match by Jon Robinson

myfavmatchA brisk read, this has its moments but won’t call for repeat readings.

Robinson has previously worked on a compilation of WWE road stories and this is of a similar style and format. As the name suggests, its made up of 20 chapters where a WWE star recalls their favorite match and explains why. All but two (Rey Mysterio vs Eddie Guerrero at Hallowe’en Havoc ’97 and Alberto Del Rio’s pro debut in Japan) are WWE bouts, most at major pay-per-views.

It’s very much a mixed bag. Highlights include Cody Rhodes and Dolph Ziggler talking with surprising candour about wrestling politics and Ricky Steamboat revisiting his WrestleMania III classic with Randy Savage which, for many years, he though of as nothing particularly special.

Several entries are less informative and merely detail the on-screen events, in particular Sgt Slaughter barely mentioning his chosen bout (the Alley Fight with Pat Patterson) and instead recapping his entire career, to the point that it feels as if this was excerpted from an interview for a different project.

While the book is smoothly written, Robinson falls short of giving every wrestler their individual voice, meaning it feels a little corporate at times with similar phrasing and cadence throughout.

Read on Kindle (Amazon.com)

Read on Kindle (Amazon.co.uk)

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Wrestling with the Truth by Bruno Lauer

lauerDowntown Bruno, aka Harvey Whippleman, was a gruff, angry, vociferous little so and so. And his book is not much different.

While a manager (and occasional referee) rather than grappler, Lauer had an interesting career path that lends itself to an autobiography with wide appeal, covering the smallest independents, the territorial era and the WWE in both peaks and troughs.

Large parts of the story here are about the rough and ready nature of the territory scene with hustle and BS as important as performance in making sure you always had somewhere to work. Territories as diverse as Hawaii, Memphis and the Continental area are all covered here, along with Lauer’s journey from total mark to teacher.

It’s an understatement to say Lauer is direct and to the point here (ghostwriter Scott Teal has done an excellent job of capturing his unique voice.) Those he feels deserve praise get it, while those he did not take to get their criticism with unrelenting force, often to a shocking degree, though always with Lauer’s personal justification for his views. The peak of this comes in a couple of incidents where he shows no interest in the maxim of not speaking ill of the dead.

In a few cases the plain speaking may be too much for some tastes with a self-confessed disdain for political correctness and the occasional tangential rant that has little to do with wrestling.

Still, there are some extremely entertaining and informative stories here, from the psychology of protecting a character as you build it up to the most unfortunate gimmick name to call out in a tension-filled airport, making it a strong recommendation.

Read on Kindle (Amazon.com)

Read on Kindle (Amazon.co.uk)

Buy in print from Crowbar Press (please let them know we sent you!)

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Andre Book Becomes Movie; Chavo Guerrero Book Coming

Lion Forge Comics, the company behind the graphic novel Andre the Giant: Closer to Heaven have announced a deal to turn the book into a biographical film. As you may remember from our review, the book appeared to be largely historically accurate while still a strong narrative, so this may be one to watch. Andre’s daughter Robin Christensen-Rousimoff will act as consultant on the film.

LF_BEA16_ChavoAshcan

The same company is also planning to release a graphic novel based on Chavo Guerrero (apparently Junior rather than senior) in November, though in this case it’s a fiction based on the character rather than any form of biography:

Chavo Guerrero’s legend in the ring is matched only by his family heritage; a line of champions that have left a mark on wrestling history for generations. But within days of retiring from the family business, Chavo uncovers a deep family secret. While his family grappled opponents in the squared circle, they secretly kept up another far more dangerous line of work: a decades-long battle with a criminal cartel known as La Junta del Jaguar. When the bad guys come to collect their debt, Chavo’s shock and rage unleashes a superhuman strength he never knew he had. As he learns to control a growing array of cat-like superpowers, Chavo has to join the fight one last time, for his legacy . . . and the world.

 

 

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Release Schedule (5 May)

One new entry this week, Monkeys & Midgets by Mike Gagnon:

monkeymidget

Together for the first time, the wonderful graphic novel tale of a bankrupt midget wrestling league that battles apes in the ring to cash in on the publicity, along with the original script and character notes created by the author.

1!,,,2!,,,3!,,, It’s over!

That’s the last thing that any wrestler wants
to hear, but the most exciting part for the fans.

But wait, this is no ordinary wrestling graphic novel, no not at all;

When the empire wrestling league falls upon hard
times, the crooked management team decides that
the only way to keep from going out of business is to force their luchadores to battle untrainable apes
in the ring.

All out chaos and hilarity ensue. When the primates get out of control, the masked wrestlers are frazzled to their last nerve. The greedy owners make one last play that may just push the wrestlers over the edge!

A great read for wrestling fans, monkey fans, or those who just like to laugh!

We also now have a cover and description for Performance and Pro Wrestling by Broderick Chow & Laine Eero:

performance

Performance and Professional Wrestling is the first edited volume to consider professional wrestling explicitly from the vantage point of theatre and performance studies. Moving beyond simply noting its performative qualities or reading it via other performance genres, this collection of essays offers a complete critical reassessment of the popular sport.

Topics such as the suspension of disbelief, simulation, silence and speech, physical culture, and the performance of pain within the squared circle are explored in relation to professional wrestling, with work by both scholars and practitioners grouped into seven short sections:

  • Audience
  • Circulation
  • Lucha
  • Gender
  • Queerness
  • Bodies
  • Race

A significant re-reading of wrestling as a performing art, Performance and Professional Wrestling makes essential reading for scholars and students intrigued by this uniquely theatrical sport.

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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