Pro Wrestling Books

Wrestling with words

Pro Wrestling Books - Wrestling with words

Shake, Wrestle ‘n’ Roll by Adrian Street

streetAs a collectable item this is as quirky as ever. As a novel, it’s now a victim of the fact that truth is stranger than fiction.

We’ve previously covered Street’s comprehensive series of autobiographies which are full of some genuinely amazing tales of life in and out of the ring. This forerunner was published back in 1987 and is instead a semi-autobiographical work of fiction produced as part of Street’s barrage of merchandising with music videos, albums and other paraphernalia during his US run. Appropriately enough the book is printed on pink paper.

Most of the story is based on the Street character bridging the worlds of wrestling and music with themes that will be familiar to those who’ve seen the movies Body Slam or Grunt. Indeed, the back cover notes Street had a screenplay of the same title, as well as releasing an album that’s still available to download.

However, while it’s largely fiction, readers of Street’s autobiographies will recognise a few elements of reality such as the story of his entry into the business in England which is not far removed from reality. There are also a few nice touches such as an undercard wrestler performing as Tarzan Boy Jonathan, which was Street’s original ring name in “real life” and an amusing incident with a jalepeno pepper which just so happens to match a story often told among British wrestlers and generally credited to Steve Logan.

If you’re looking for an account of Street’s career, this is now somewhat redundant, but it’s certainly worth tracking down if you’re into unusual titles.

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Spandex Ballet by Lee Kyle

Some wrestling autobiographies amaze with their tales of reaching the heights of fame and success with international promotions. This is not one of those autobiographies, but it’s all the better for it.

Kyle — now a stand-up comedian — was what can generously be called a low-level indy wrestler in the Northeast of England in the early and mid 2000s. The book tells the story of his early years as a fan and then his time in the ring during periods of both unemployment and menial jobs.

The book is genuinely laugh-out-loud funny throughout thanks to Kyle’s dry humour and unconventionally conversational writing style, though more of the laughs come in the fan section, with lines such as:

…it was CLEARLY real, I mean, sure, sometimes I was confused by things, like occasionally you’d see people talking to each other in the ring but I just assumed they were saying stuff like “I’m going to bloody deck you in a minute” or “I’m class at wrestling compared to you.”

There’s also the incredible tale of the the top 40 wall, something I will leave as a a treat for those who buythe book.

While the wrestling section also has its share of laughs — not least at some of the outlandish characters in the promotion such as Harry Pain, the hardest kid in school — it has a surprising amount of insight. Perhaps because he has since left the “business” Kyle is able to look back on his time in wrestling and pick out not only the benefits it brought to his life as a creative outlet and a way of enriching the local community, but also the less savoury elements such as homophobia and unjustified egotism.

It makes for one of the more rounded looks at the culture of professional wrestling in the absence of either fame or money and to me is one of the surprise hits of 2016.

Read on Kindle (Amazon.com)

Read on Kindle (Amazon.co.uk)

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One new entry this week: No Is a Four-Letter Word: How I Failed Spelling But Succeeded in Life by Chris Jericho:

Chris Jericho is a six-time pro-wrestling champion, international touring musician, three-time bestselling author, award-winning actor and popular podcaster.

How did he make it to the top of so many fields? He explains the secrets of his success in this humorous and inspirational book. NO IS A FOUR LETTER WORD displays Chris’s trademark writing style, jam-packed with ridiculous stories and hilarious pop culture references. He shows how a small-town Canadian kid followed his seemingly impossible dreams and against all odds made them all come true.

The book is organised around 22 principles on what it takes to make it to the top of your field and the legends that influenced each principle. Whether it’s learning how to make any situation work (like when he bargained with his boss Vince McMahon for the chance to meet Keith Richards), spending money to make money (like when he doled out tens of thousands of dollars on his trademark light-up jackets because that’s what KISS would do), learning from his NHL legend father Ted to always sell himself, or learning how to let go of the crushing loss of the possible gig of a lifetime, Jericho takes you with him on his journey up success’s ladder one step at a time! And shows readers how they can apply these principles to their own lives.

We also have a couple of cover images now available:


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

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

7 February 2017: Superstars of Wwe (Pro Sports Superstars) by Todd Kortemeier 

28 February: The Official WWE Book of Rules: (And How to Break Them)

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

21 March: WWE: WrestleMania: The Poster Collection

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

2 May: WWE Book Of Top 10s by DK

1 August: Wrestling’s New Golden Age: How Independent Promotions Have Revolutionized One of America’s Favorite Sports by Ronald Snyder

10 August: No Is a Four-Letter Word: How I Failed Spelling But Succeeded in Life by Chris Jericho

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

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Recent Release Roundup

Here’s a bumper crop of books released in recent weeks that didn’t get advance listings and thus weren’t in our weekly release schedule.


The Most Offensive Storylines in WWE History by Stuart Carapola

WWE has always been willing to take risks and push the envelope to entertain its fans, and sometimes, things work out great and we end up with legendary superstars like Stone Cold Steve Austin and Degeneration X. Other times, things don’t go so well and WWE comes away looking incompetent at best and downright tasteless at worst. The Most Offensive Storylines In WWE History looks at the absolute worst of the worst, the storylines that not only misfired on all cylinders, but made us embarrassed to be wrestling fans. Relive Big Show’s anguish as the Big Boss Man stole his dead father’s casket, the night Dawn Marie killed Torrie Wilson’s father with her overactive sex drive, Muhammad Hassan’s transformation from All-American kid to hardened Arab terrorist, and of course, Vince McMahon’s feud with God! Bonus features in this book include: -The Ten Biggest Can’t Miss Superstars (Who All Missed) -Gimmicks, Gimmicks, And More Gimmicks! -The Raw/Nitro Simulcast: The Last Night Of The Monday Night Wars


2001: The Year Professional Wrestling Died by Stuart Carapola

When 2001 began, there were three national wrestling companies, a weekly Monday night ratings battle, and a huge, ravenous fanbase of diehard wrestling fans. By the time the year was over, there was just one national wrestling company, fan interest had waned significantly, and the ratings began a steady decline that continues to this day. What happened? How could a business that had enjoyed unprecedented success as a pop culture phenomenon in the late 90s and early 2000s have fallen so far in the span of twelve months? How did WCW and ECW, once highly regarded pro wrestling empires, become punchlines on WWE documentaries? And how did WWE, the company that did everything right during the Monday Night Wars, wind up doing everything wrong the instant they were over? 2001: The Year Professional Wrestling Died looks at how the entire wrestling industry collapsed overnight. It chronicles the deaths of both WCW and ECW, the poorly-run InVasion angle that followed, the criminal misuse of WCW and ECW’s wrestlers and legacies, and the ways in which the fallout from this catastrophic time still affect WWE and the wrestling business today.


Hillbilly Jim: The Incredible Story of a Wrestling Superstar by Gary P West

In the 1980s, the World Wrestling Federation (WWF) was at its peak as a driving force in the multimillion dollar sports entertainment business. Stars of the WWF became household names, even with folks who didn t follow wrestling…names like Hulk Hogan, Andre the Giant, and Randy “The Macho Man” Savage were as well-known as anyone from Hollywood.

One of those stars was Jim Morris, aka Hillbilly Jim, from Bowling Green, Kentucky. Billed as a country mountain hick from Mudlick, Hillbilly Jim burst upon the WWF scene in 1984. With a toothy smile, baby face and big blue eyes sitting on top of his 6-foot-7-inch 300 lb. frame, complete with a scraggly beard, bib overalls and slouch hat to match, Jim s outgoing personality and natural showmanship were a big hit with the fans.

Growing up poor in central Kentucky, Jim had more in common with Motown than mountain men, but his street-wise savvy and an intense work ethic kept him out of trouble in his youth, and later helped him succeed as a star high school basketball player and, following high school, a champion weightlifter.

Hillbilly Jim The Incredible Story of a Wrestling Superstar is the true story of Hillbilly Jim Morris, from his humble beginnings in Bowling Green, KY to his glory days as one of the most loveable characters in the WWF, and on to his current gig as the host of Hillbilly Jim s Moonshine Matinee on Sirius Satellite Radio.


Boogie Jam 4Ever: A Jimmy Valiant Comic Book by Brien Wayne Powell

An anthology comic book featuring stories by Brien Wayne Powell, illustrated by various artists, inspired by Hall of Fame Wrestling Legend Handsome Jimmy Valiant, the Boogie Woogie Man & his great pal Magnet Man. Guest starring other members of the BWC Family w/a special appearance by Bill Apter! Special bonus text story by Douglas Powell! 24 pages of humor, action, thrills & lots of fun!


Cauliflower Heart: Wrestling With Life by Diana Hart

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?


I Kicked Out On Two: The Education of a Wrestler by Bobby Blaze Smedley

Bobby Blaze Smedley is a natural–born storyteller and his voice comes through loud and clear in this book. Some of the stories are funny, some inspirational, some educational or even philosophical. Every one of them is totally entertaining. *Insightful, Educatonal, & Honest *Candid, Blunt, & Outrageous Except.© Reprinted by Permission. All Rights Reserved.: The response to Blaze’s first book has been well received. Known throughout the world for his days in professional wrestling as a former Smoky Mountain Heavyweight Champion as well as worldwide television exposure on World Championship Wrestling and the more recent WWE Network, Blaze seems hotter than ever. Now he’s back with even more fascinating stories told through his unique story-telling style that makes for a fun, heart-felt read for everyone. You don’t have to be a fan of professional wrestling to enjoy his stories.


The Wrestler: The Pursuit of a Dream by Bill Vincent

The Wrestler—Nicolaus Martin has always loved wrestling. Everyone called him Nicky. As a child, he and his brothers would wrestle around as they watched the WWF, WCW and NWA. No matter how poor their lives were wrestling would make it all better, even if it was for an hour. Nicky and his family were very poor. Every winter there was at least a month with no electricity at their home. The Wrestler—Nicky was bullied starting at the age of thirteen. The more he got picked on the tougher he got. Nicky and his buddies had such an imagination. They made up their own wrestling in a little town in Illinois. They made their championship belts out of cardboard and aluminum foil. By age seventeen, his toughness got him noticed by a small wrestling organization. Before he knew it, he was wrestling in Japan for $50 a night. Now this was not entertainment. This stuff was real. The Wrestler—Nicky broke his nose several times and was on the injured list more than not. He got to the place, that he would not let on that he was in pain.


Spandex Ballet by Lee Kyle

Imagine if you’d always dreamed of being a professional wrestler. The bright lights, the screaming crowds, the money and the stardom. Now, imagine if you’d always dreamed of being a professional wrestler but you weren’t really very good at it. For nine years this was Lee Kyle’s reality. Find out how he wasted his twenties pretending to fight with various oddballs and enjoying some of it. “Lee Kyle sounds like he might have been the worst wrestler ever” – Journal Culture Magazine


I’m a Mark: Dreams and Destiny of a Wrestling Fan by Fred Esposito


If you’re reading this, it’s because you’re a wrestling fan. If you’re a wrestling fan, then at least once, you’ve dreamed of being a part of the show in the famed squared circle. Ever since the age of nine, all I ever wanted was to work for the WWE. Despite having horrible social anxiety, I went for my dream and failed. I ended up broke and broken. While I never did end up as the next Bobby “The Brain” Heenan, Hulk Hogan , or Randy Orton, I do have stories about meeting them. I’m not as well known as “Stone Cold” Steve Austin , but I did sleep on the same couch that he did. (So I was told) To be a WWE superstar you have to have “it”. While I didn’t have “it“, I do have a ton of stories about meeting wrestlers while losing everything I had, just to go for my dream. Some wrestlers were nice and some not so much. Some got mad at me and some….were just plain weird. I have stories of meeting:

  • Hulk Hogan

  • The Dudley Boys

  • Randy Orton

  • Nancy Benoit

  • Greg “The Hammer” Valentine

  • Brian Knobbs

  • “Iron” Mike Sharpe

  • The Honky Tonk Man

  • “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan

  • John Laurinaitis

  • and many more…

        I may have never made it to the WWE, but I had a

    wild

      ride trying to get there.

Complete Science of Wrestling by George Hackenschmidt

 “But then, equally of course, every man who takes up wrestling seriously will only do so because he is fond of it, because he prefers wrestling to most, if not all, other sports and pastimes. Every wrestler who ever trod the mat is a potential champion. He may not have been endowed with the wrestling instinct, but he will be able to cultivate a high degree of wrestling science, even quickness, if not absolute lightning rapidity of movement, which, if combined with the necessary strength and stamina, may enable him to compete with all but the greatest champions on equal terms. Skill, that is to say, the science of wrestling, can only be cultivated by practice, and the man who takes up wrestling seriously must get as much practice as he can with the most skilful wrestlers. The better his opponents are, the faster will be his progress in knowledge of the art, as also in the power of its application. He can learn a good deal also in another way, and that is by closely watching serious bouts between skilled wrestlers, and by carefully practising such moves as attract his notice.” – George Hackenschmidt This is an original version, restored and re-formatted edition of Hackenschmidt’s 1909 classic


Abusive Relationship: My Attempt to Escape from Professional Wrestling by Aaron Madden

What if your childhood dream had a tendency to become an abusive nightmare? Unbeknownst to you, all those years of hard work, dedication and desire that were sacrificed to reach that dream were ultimately leading you toward an unforeseen world of physical, mental and emotional abuse. At first the abuse didn’t exist. As you began to live out your dream, you fell deeper in love with it as all the wonderful experiences you had always imagined became reality. But then one day you discovered that there had always been a price to pay. Throughout years of this pursuit, the festering nightmare began to surface. And as you attempted to escape this nightmare, you quickly realized that you were trapped. This is what happened to Aaron Madden, better known to wrestling fans as “Luscious” Rocky Reynolds. For nearly two years, Aaron journaled after every wrestling show, his abusive relationship with his childhood dream of professional wrestling. Spending nearly two decades as a professional wrestler, Aaron wrestled in numerous territories throughout the country, held dozens of championships, stepped into the ring with multiple legends, performed on national television and proudly captured and defended the NWA World Junior Heavyweight Title a remarkable four times. But as Aaron got older and became a loving husband and father, he began to find himself struggling to prioritize his love for his family with his love for professional wrestling. Wincing in pain to get out of bed in the morning, pulling out of the driveway and regretfully watching his daughters grow up in the rear view mirror, selfishly spending his anniversary at wrestling shows while his wife sat at home alone and constantly concerned that he was limiting the quality of his life with every match he wrestled, eventually brought Aaron to the realization that he had to get away from professional wrestling. But like a beaten woman who repeatedly returns to her abuser, Aaron discovered that he was trapped in his Abusive Relationship with professional wrestling.

 

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Wrestling Part III (1926) by Billy Sandow and Ed “Strangler” Lewis

A reprint of a book now in the public domain, this is a nice novelty but doesn’t really have any collector value.

Despite the name given to this release, it’s actually part 7 of 8 of a series originally published as “The Sandow-Lewis Kinetic Stress System of Physical Training.” With earlier volumes covering the basics of bodybuilding and self defense, this is the second of three parts dealing with wrestling itself. That most likely suggests this was originally a mail order course sent out over multiple weeks.

The 60 or so pages include large photographs and instructions for all manner of holds, including Lewis’s infamous headlock. While they are written for the supposed rules of pro wrestling (such as chokeholds being barred but sleeperholds legal), what’s described appear to be legitimate combat moves that could work in a genuine if performed as described. In particular there’s a lot of detail of correct positioning such as wrist control.

It’s tough to recommend this given the nature of the reprint however. A single volume complete print of the full series at a reasonable price would be worth considering, but combining the various instalments would add up to well over $100, which is hard to swallow for a public domain reprint.

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Release Schedule (12 October)

One new entry this week, Wrestling’s New Golden Age: How Independent Promotions Have Revolutionized One of America’s Favorite Sports by Ronald Snyder:

The past, present, and future of independent wrestling.

Following the “Monday Night Wars,” where WWE and WCW battled for wrestling supremacy (with the WWE coming out on top), there was only one game in town. If fans wanted to watch wrestling, it was WWE or bust. That is no longer the case.

Wrestling’s New Golden Age is both a historical look at the sport and a demonstration of how everything has come full circle. The sport was originally territory-based, with wrestlers traveling across the country from promotion to promotion. From the East coast (Jim Crockett, WWWF) down to Texas (NWA) and all the way up to Canada (Stampede), wrestling was run on an individual level. But once Vince McMahon Sr. came into the picture, that all changed.

While the territory system is long gone, indie wrestling is bigger than ever. Whether it’s ROH, CZW, NXT, NJPW, or any of the other numerous promotions, wrestling has a new face. With information spreading online through social media and video streaming, fans are able to watch wrestling on a consistent basis, as opposed to only when the WWE is on TV. They not only have more options but are able to watch wrestlers travel up the ranks to the “big show.” Now when a wrestler from the indies makes his WWE premier, he already has a gimmick, a storyline, and a faithful fan base. As can be seen with CM Punk, Daniel Bryan, and many others, the independent promotions are the new face of professional wrestling.

Featuring interviews with wrestling stars, including Jeff Jarret, Kevin Nash, Scott Hall, Matt Hardy, Tommy Dreamer, and numerous others, Wrestling’s New Golden Age shares how the wrestling world has finally come full circle, to the joy of fans across the globe.


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 

7 February 2017: Superstars of Wwe (Pro Sports Superstars) by Todd Kortemeier 

28 February: The Official WWE Book of Rules: (And How to Break Them)

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

21 March: WWE: WrestleMania: The Poster Collection

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

1 August: Wrestling’s New Golden Age: How Independent Promotions Have Revolutionized One of America’s Favorite Sports by Ronald Snyder

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

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Steel Chair To The Head edited by Nicholas Sammond

There’s a lot of talk about the wrestling bubble and it’s always interesting to get the perspectives of people who don’t follow professional wrestling as a fan, but this collection of academic essays is often a case of missing the point.

As you’d expect if you’ve ever seen the references section of a college paper on wrestling, this starts with philosopher Roland Barthes’s 1957 essay “The World of Wrestling.” Respected as Barthes may be in his field, this doesn’t offer much depth or insight: even in the 1950s, it shouldn’t have come across as a stroke of genius to note that wrestling is a performance of good and evil and a morality tale rather than a pure sport. The problem is that there’s little if any acknowledgement that pro bouts are put on primarily to draw ticket-paying customers rather than as a moral and artistic cause in their own right.

Many of the essays are along similar lines, focusing on wrestling being a masculine melodrama, political allegory or even a sado-masochistic narrative, with many of the points somewhat undermined by reading levels of symbolism that were surely not intended by the performers involved.

Some parts are more intriguing though, including a look at the importance of the mask in Mexican culture, an exploration of Latino characters’ portrayal in the US, and studies of the changing fan base of the 1990s that became more aware of the dual reality of on-screen and backstage conflicts.

As a whole, it’s certainly worth a read, though possibly one to dip into rather than be overwhelmed with the academic and philosophical perspective in a single sitting.

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