Pro Wrestling Books

Wrestling with words

Pro Wrestling Books - Wrestling with words

A Brief Site Update

Just a quick word to say that with 148 reviews now on the site, I think I’ve now caught up with every wrestling book that I’ve read. That means the pace of reviews will slow down while I work my way through a sizeable backlog of unread books.

In the meantime, there’ll still be regular updates on the release schedules along with news on books in the works and catch-ups on those titles which appear without any advance publicity.

Thanks to everyone for their continued support and promotion of Pro Wrestling Books, particularly those who’ve used the Amazon links.

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Physical Chess by Billy Robinson with Jake Shannon

A brief read, this still manages to convey a life and career that was fuller and more widely influential than many wrestlers can dream of.

There are few wrestling tales that take you from the Snake Pit in Wigan (described in all its unglamorous reality) to the US territorial scene to both the glory days of New Japan’s TV era and the growth of the shoot-style promotions (and in events obviously not covered here, to WWE’s cruiserweight show via trainee Jack Gallagher).

Robinson tells a story that encompasses his skills and accomplishments without ever seeming arrogant. In particular, the moment he defeats Billy Joyce in a legitimate gym bout (which Joyce made a prerequisite for dropping the British heavyweight title in a public worked match), he is quick to point out it was more a question of ageing vs athletic prime than superior talent.

There’s also a great balance of including the technical detail of Robinson’s grappling skills without confusing the reader. One key example is when Robinson explains how legitimate catch wrestling, which allows both pins and submissions, was able to work as a contest: while at first glance these might seem two completely contrasting aims, Robinson tells of how a wrestler trying to bridge out of a pin inevitably risks exposing a joint to a submission hold.

The closest thing to a criticism of this book is that it could have been longer, but that’s certainly not to say it will leave you short-changed.


Paperback: Amazon UK
Read on Kindle (US)
Read on Kindle (UK)

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Holy Grail by Greg Lambert

This is an insightful book that is thankfully already out of date.

It smoothly brings together two different styles of book: a history of British wrestling’s development after more than a decade off TV and an autobiographical account.

Lambert is a newspaper reporter, former Power Slam writer, and was previously involved in the FWA and his own XWA group as a manager and later promoter. (British fans remain disappointed he never managed Andy Simmons to create the team of Lambert & Butler.)

It’s by no means a comprehensive history as it concentrates very much on the “new school” promotions such as the FWA which combined a new generation of performers in a modernised style and the use of imports from the American indy scene. What makes it work is Lambert’s insider accounts, covering not just the big-time image presented to the public, but also the realities behind the scenes of shoestring budgets and improvisation.

In particular, the book has one of the most rounded and balanced portrayals of the ever-controversial Alex Shane that you’ll read.

The only real downside is that the book ends in 2007 with the storyline death of the FWA. The British scene since then has changed beyond recognition, most notably with the apparent realisation of the title’s “Holy Grail” of a return of British wrestling to television. That will be covered in Lambert’s Ropes and Glory, due imminently, but in the mean time this is an excellent primer as to where the current UK scene came from.

Read on Kindle (Amazon.com)

Read on Kindle (Amazon.co.uk)

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Hitman: My Real Life in the Cartoon World of Wrestling by Bret Hart

hitmanIf you despise Bret Hart or you have no attention span, this might be worth a miss. For everyone else, it’s as close to a must-read as it gets.

The most mindblowing thing about Hart’s autobiography is that the first draft was reportedly as much as three times longer than the nearly 600 pages here. It’s hard to tell whether that would be the best or worst wrestling book you could ever read.

What was published is incredibly in-depth, covering every match and incident of any note and many others. While older wrestlers, particularly ones who’ve suffered serious concussions and strokes, don’t always have the best memories, Hart kept detailed records not just of the events in his career, but his reactions and state of mind at the time.

It’s clearly a book written to be completist rather than tailor it to emphasise what a publisher might assume to be the most appealing sections. There’s extensive detail on his pre-WWF days, while the section of Montreal is sufficient but is certainly not dwelled on to excess.

The flaws, such as they are, are limited. Hart is exceedingly confident about his own abilities, something that may grate on some readers. It becomes something of a running joke how many times he mentions other wrestlers congratulating him on a match. And there are certainly cases of exaggerating such as claiming the Davey Boy Smith match at Wembley Stadium lasted 37 minutes.

These are not serious detractions though. The book is both a fascinatingly detailed insight into one man’s life and career and a history of the WWF during both its national expansion era and the dark days of the mid-90s.

Read on Kindle (UK)

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Release Schedule (11 January)

No new entries this week, but good news for fans of womens wrestling as Sisterhood of the Squared Circle: The History and Rise of Womens Wrestling by Pat Laprade & Dan Murphy will be available on Kindle a couple of weeks earlier than expected.


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

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)

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

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

21 March: WWE: WrestleMania: The Poster Collection

1 April: Best Seat in the House: A Backstage Pass to My Journey As Wwe Announcer by Justin Roberts

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)

9 May: WWE Book Of Top 10s by DK

25 July: Second Nature: The Legacy of Ric Flair and the Rise of Charlotte by Ric Flair & Charlotte

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

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

31 October: The Book of Booty: Shake It. Love It. Never Be It (It’s Twerked for Us!) by The New Day

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Recent Release Roundup: Ryback Self-Help Book

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

Wake Up!: It’s Feeding Time: A Professional Athlete’s Advice on How to Succeed in the Game of Life by Ryback Reeves and Pat Buck

Are You Settling for Less than Your Full Potential?
Ryback, also known as “The Big Guy”, may seem like he has it all – success as a professional athlete, health, money, and a physique to envy. But in Wake Up, It’s Feeding Time he reveals that he hasn’t always been so successful; he had to earn it.

The key to his success – and yours too, if you heed his advice – is to “believe in yourself, even when nobody else does”, set smart goals and work toward achieving them.

In this inspirational book, Ryback hands out gem after gem of useful life lessons, and shows you how you too can take charge and live the life of your dreams.

A Surprising and Unique Self Improvement Book
If you thought WWE wrestlers were all brawn and no brains, you’ll be amazed as you turn each page of Wake Up, It’s Feeding Time. Ryback shares with you an incredible number of practical things you can do to improve your life.

From nutrition and fitness tips, to financial advice and how to stay focused, he covers it all. He gives you some of his favorite motivational quotes that inspire him to do his best, work hard, and overcome his challenges. He even shares valuable insights for how to forgive, how to love, and how to be your best in every way.

There’s something for everybody in this book. Teens to grandmas will find motivation and inspiration in the words Ryback shares.


 Monday Night Wars: A Fans Side of the Story by GG Conte

Is wrestling fake? This is the age old question for professional wrestling. Most people think they have the answer, even those who have never watched it. While the matches may be predetermined, what happens behind the curtain and bright lights is just as real as any other business on earth. In the mid-90’s, professional wrestling would have it’s first real fight, but not in the ring; it would be on the business side of the equation. In 1995, a war was declared between the two biggest companies in the business, the World Wrestling Federation and World Championship Wrestling. Both companies flagship shows, Monday Night Raw and Monday Night Nitro, would go head-to-head in a bitter ratings war. In a fight that spanned six years, both companies would go to incredible highs and disastrous lows to try and outdo each other. To this day, only one side of the story has ever been told, and that’s been the WWE’s. But what was the war like for the fans? What was it like for the ones that sat in the arenas or watched it on their television screens.? Maybe it’s time for a fans side of the tale; my side of the tale.


Green: A Pro Wrestling Novella by Charles LeoGrande

Green: A Pro Wrestling Novella A draft-age young American leaves 1971 New York for Canada, crossing the border and journeying west with a seasoned veteran of the pro wrestling circuit, headed to Calgary for the spring stampede. Along the way he learns the ropes, in-and-out of the ring, coming of age and into his own, through lessons both bloody and bittersweet in this tale of wrestling action and adventure.


There’s also been a flurry of paperback releases by two authors:

Thomas Hall has a series of TV and pay-per-view review compilations.

Stuart Carapolla has a series of  books covering subjects such as the Undertaker’s streak, Undertaker storylines, the New Generation years of WWF and the most offensive WWE storylines.

 

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The Hardcore Truth: The Bob Holly Story by Bob Holly & Ross Williams

Many wrestling autobiographies feature the subject being “outspoken” for the sake of it, in a similar way to how “shoot interviews” seem to be judged on how many people the interviewee verbally attacks. The Hardcore Truth is most definitely an outspoken book, but Holly clearly has a different motivation: he simply says it how he sees it, with no regard for how it will be perceived or the consequences for his career.

Whether or not you were a fan of Holly or like (what you believe you know of) him as an individual will not make much difference to your enjoyment of this book. Nor will your opinion likely be changed.

While Holly was not a WWE headliner, he was involved in plenty of interesting points in the company’s history, from the dark days of the mid 90s through the Attitude Era, the Brawl for All and, of course, Tough Enough. He covers these aspects in detail with his perspective, giving a rounded account of the reality behind the fantasy.

Ghostwriter Ross Williams does a great job of keeping the narrative focused while having it come across in a consistent voice that is clearly that of the man behind the Bob Holly character rather than the on-screen persona.

This isn’t quite an absolute must-read, simply because the subject matter won’t interest everyone, but for a fair portrayal of the wrestling business — warts and all — it’s tough to beat.

Read on Kindle (Amazon.com)

Read on Kindle (Amazon.co.uk)

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