Pro Wrestling Books

Wrestling with words

Pro Wrestling Books - Wrestling with words

Can You Take The Heat? The WWF Is Cooking: By Jim Ross

This concoction has a nasty aftertaste of cash-in.

It’s doubtful whether it’s possible to produce a good wrestling-themed cookbook, but this certainly isn’t one. It’s nothing more than a bunch of very basic, unappetising recipes which appear to have been randomly assigned to wrestlers with little pretense the superstar in question either cooks or eats the meal.

The unlucky buyer will learn how to make Stone Cold’s Cinnamon Ice Cream, Mideon’s Minestone Soup and Dean Malenko’s Beef Stroganoff among others. Less than half a dozen seem to be in anyway connected to the character and — Big Bossman’s Pepper Steak aside — most of those are nothing but references to genitalia.

The culinary advice isn’t much better. You’ll learn such sophisticated recipes as making Kahlua coffee by adding Kahlua to coffee. You’ll also encounter perhaps the vilest sounding meal of all times, Scotty Too Hotty’s Too Cool Orange salad, a mix of cottage cheese, pineapple, whipped cream and  powdered gelatine.

To drive home how lazy and cheap the book is, the only pictures of food are to be found on the front cover and instead you’ll find around half the page count to be made up of low-resolution black and white wrestling.

And it that wasn’t enough, there’s even a recipe for Steve Regal’s Fish and Chips that consists solely of a battered cod without a potato in sight.

It’s $0.01 on Amazon and in this case, a penny saved is a penny earned.

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Release Schedule (14 September)

One new entry, Cauliflower Heart: Wrestling With Life by Diana Hart. It’s a novel rather than an autobiography:

In the blink of an eye, the idyllic world that Claudine Bellamy knew, brutally turns upside down. While her family struggles with tragedy and permanent loss, their professional wrestling business is publicly exposed. Acutely vulnerable, is Claudine resilient enough to resist being exploited by corrupt vultures of the celebrity world and protect her precious family?


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

4 October: Rowdy: The Roddy Piper Story

7 October:  Cauliflower Heart: Wrestling With Life by Diana Hart

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

25 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)

7 February: Superstars of Wwe (Pro Sports Superstars) by Todd Kortemeier 

7 March: WWE: WrestleMania: The Poster Collection

7 March: Looking at the Lights: My Path from a Nobody to a Wrestling Heel by Pete Gas

4 April: Crazy Is My Superpower: How I Triumphed by Breaking Bones, Breaking Hearts, and Breaking the Rules by AJ Mendez Brooks

11 April: NXT: The Future Is Now by Jon Robinson (official WWE release)

11 April: Sisterhood of the Squared Circle: The History and Rise of Womens Wrestling by Pat Laprade & Dan Murphy

Currently unavailable: UNREAL: Growing Up In the Crazy, Fun Show Business World of WWE by Stephanie McMahon

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I Am A Korean by Li Ho In

You’ll sometimes see a WWE authorised book dismissed as “propaganda.” But this North Korean biography of Rikidozan really is propaganda.

The story of Rikidozan is well known: he was the first star when pro wrestling caught on in a big way in Japan, he was among the first major TV stars in the country from any walk of life, he was a genuine cultural icon, and if you see a ranking of famous or historically significant wrestlers and he’s not in the top 10, you can safely dismiss it as a joke.

What’s less well-known is that he was born in Korea and was adopted by a Japanese family in 1940: when he became a sumo star, he changed his name to Mitsuhiro Momota and posed as a Japanese native to avoid xenophobic attitudes in the country.

While the country was still united when he left, Rikidozan’s birth place was in what’s now North Korea, hence the inspiration for this 1989 biography that, while rare in the West, is widely available in bookshops in the country, particularly those aimed at tourists.

As you might expect from North Korea, it goes far beyond the historically correction of explaining Rikidozan’s true origins and recasts his motives as a struggle for the Korean people against the hostile Japanese and Americans. The book is incredibly detailed on his career and matches, though of course it portrays them as genuine contests.

While most of the historical detail appears accurate, it’s hard to imagine the details of behind-the-scenes conversations are anything but fiction. The match reports are, to say the least, slanted, and naturally there’s no acknowledgement of Rikidozan double-crossing Masahiko Kimura in the match that really made his name.

The book is a translation (including some mangled names such as Rue Thez and carries the flowery, elaborate style you’d expect from an authoritarian country. The reported quotes from conversations are particularly unnatural, almost entertainingly so.

While this may not be a historically reliable source, it’s certainly an entertaining enough read that’s intriguing not only for its story but for its ultra-patriotic style.

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Steve Rickard’s Life On The Mat by John Mancer

The tale of the star of a lesser-covered story, this is a fun combination of story and history.

Steve Rickard was a wrestler and long-time promoter in New Zealand best known for running the TV show On The Mat. As well as his homeland he made several trips (as both wrestler and promoter) to countries across Asia which provide some of the more entertaining stories here, including some truly memorable train journeys.

The book doesn’t break kayfabe but is written by a professional sports journalist so, as well as being a smooth read, doesn’t insult a modern reader’s intelligence.

It’s very much a profile of Rickard’s personality and life, with an admittedly relentlessly positive tone, but rather than being a straight chronology it has chapters on specific associated topics such as the TV show, New Zealand’s amateur wrestling,  Lofty Blomfield (the biggest ever star in New Zealand wrestling) and Andre the Giant. The fact that Andre’s impressive drinking capacity is listed as six large beers without breaking sweat rather than the usually implausible 119 bottles in a sitting adds some credibility to the rest of the stories here.

It’s not a comprehensive overview, but there’s certainly plenty here to interest anyone who wants to find out more about the New Zealand territory.

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Dusty: Reflections of an American Dream by Dusty Rhodes with Howard Brody

It’s perhaps unfair to compare this to what might of been, but sadly this isn’t as good as you might imagine.

Rhodes’s death last year led to many reflecting on his stardom and career and how it far outweighed the lowpoints when he overpromoted himself in the dying days of the Crockett territory. He lived a hell of a life, but this book doesn’t really capture it.

The upside of NWA promoter Howard Brody ghostwriting the book is that the factual details of the wrestling content are generally accurate and credible. However, he appears to have been unwilling or unable to capture Rhodes’s unique voice. While that may have been a task beyond any writer — and wouldn’t necessarily have made for a coherent read — there’s a definite disconnect because it’s hard to imagine Rhodes speaking the words out loud as he tells his story.

The other main limitation was also perhaps inevitable, with Rhodes straddling the line between confidence and ego: in this book, nothing ever bad happened that was his fault and he even argues Crockett was mistaken to sell the territory in 1988 and that he could have turned things around.

The book has an unusual format, jumping from topic to topic rather than telling Rhodes’ life story chronologically. There’s also a series of contributions from other characters in the wrestling business, though the vast majority give little insight and simply put him over.

That’s not to say there aren’t many wildly entertaining stories in the book, particularly if you switch off the more skeptical part of your brain. The sections on his family and the effects of being on the road are also of interest. On the whole though, this is one that’s only really picking up at a bargain price and going into with low expectations.

Read on Kindle (Amazon.com)

Read on Kindle (Amazon.co.uk)

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