Pro Wrestling Books

Wrestling with words

Pro Wrestling Books - Wrestling with words

Recent Release Roundup

Here are a few titles released in recent weeks that didn’t get advance listings and thus weren’t in the weekly release schedule. Note that I’ve decided not to include wrestling-related titles that are primarily erotica, of which you will find plenty in the self-published field.


How to Become a Champion by Herb Welch

In the days before wrestling became “sports entertainment,” aspiring wrestlers went through a rigorous training to reach the squared circle. Men like Herb Welch began their training classes not with running the ropes and taking bumps, but by teaching them how to take care of themselves. The art of “shoot wrestling” has been lost to history, but in this booklet, Herb Welch shared his knowledge of the holds and maneuvers that he and others used to protect themselves and their reputations. With a new foreword from Herb’s protege “Dr. D” David Schultz, Herb’s wisdom appears here in print for the first time, just as he originally presented it.

(Warning: this is only 44 pages long.)


Development Hell: The NXT Story by Michael Sidgwick

Development Hell: The Nxt Story, penned by former Power Slam scribe and WhatCulture.com’s own Michael Sidgwick, chronicles the history of Wwe’s Nxt brand. Nxt has drew universal critical acclaim for its fan service fusion of old-school booking philosophies and progressive body of in-ring work – but the road to critical acclaim was arduous. When Wwe destroyed its territorial and mainstream competition, the monolith had also annihilated the talent pool. Replenishing it was an unenviable task made all the more difficult by a blasé and counterproductive attitude and a curiously myopic direction. All of which is documented in a book covering the inauspicious beginnings of the dusty Stamford Farm warehouse and the murmurings of Memphis Power Pro, the halcyon days of Ohio Valley Wrestling, the infamous disaster of Deep South Wrestling and the literal lunacy that was Florida Championship Wrestling.


The Ring Walk by Simen Oem

The Ring Walk is a muscular historical novel about the mob, a spectacular theft, a boy coming of age in Philadelphia in the 1970’s, and Andre the Giant. When Flex Italiano and his charming hustler of a father show a little moxie and get involved in a scheme to steal a priceless ancient vase, they get drawn into a world of gangsters, con men, and carnies. Through his father’s job with the state athletic commission, Flex meets some of the his television idols, including the legendary champion Bruno Sammartino and the iconic Andre the Giant. He also explores Philadelphia’s Germantown neighborhood, the Spectrum, and the pain and pinfalls that happen to every teenage boy. Fans of “Red Green Turns Dollar Blue” and “The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity,” the novels of Dennis Lehane will love this new book by Simen Oem, author of “The Kingdom of Wondering” and “More Than Liquid.”

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Release Schedule (12 April)

Two new entries this week, both graphic novels which appear to be based on actual WWE storylines with members of the former Shield.

WWE Vol 1 by Dennis Hopeless

WWE spotlights the most popular faction in modern wrestling history, The Shield.

Seth Rollins. Roman Reigns. Dean Ambrose. Together they formed The Shield, one of the most dominant factions in WWE history—until the ultimate opportunist Seth chose to betray the group at the behest of Triple H, the “King of Kings” who has cemented himself as the authority in control of WWE.

Now, following a near career-ending injury, Seth is back on the hunt for the WWE Championship, a journey that will send him on a collision course with his former brothers…

WWE Vol 2: The Lunatic Fringe

Continuing the Shield trilogy, WWE Volume 2 follows the most unhinged former member of The Shield — Dean Ambrose.

Dean Ambrose is bluecollar toughness personified. He’s not the biggest guy in the ring. He’s not the strongest. But you have another thing coming if you expect him to stay down.

If that were all, that would be enough…But Dean Ambrose is also known as the Lunatic Fringe and naturally he’s going to run into trouble while on the road traveling from one gig to another. Dean may have bitten off more than he can chew when he finds himself face-to-face with the beast incarnate Brock Lesnar on the path to WrestleMania. Welcome to Suplex City, Dean. Enjoy your stay.


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

9 May: WWE Book Of Top 10s by DK

21 June: Professional Wrestling in the Pacific Northwest: A History, 1883 to the Present by Stephen Verrier

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

1 August: Superhero Ninja Wrestling Star by Lorna Schultz Nicholson

15 August: WWE Vol 1 by Dennis Hopeless

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

5 September: Mad Dog: The Maurice Vachon Story by Bertrand Hebert and Pat Laprade

3 October: Slobberknocker: My Life in Wrestling by Jim Ross

3 October: WWE Absolutely Everything You Need to Know by DK

17 October: Saint Mick by Mick Foley

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

30 January 2018: WWE Vol 2: The Lunatic Fringe

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First Looks (part 1)

While I’m working on full book reviews, I thought I’d take a quick break to recap my initial impressions of some recent release based on the free samples on the Kindle. Obvious disclaimer that these are not necessarily fair reflections of the book as a whole, so please do share your views if you’ve read the whole thing.

Best Seat in The House by Justin Roberts starts off with some engaging and well-written material about his childhood as an avid fan. Based on full reviews and a recent conversation I had with Roberts for an FSM piece, the theme of the book appears to be the experience of entering the wrestling business and the way that changes the fan perspective. It looks a worthwhile read though very expensive on Kindle.

The PowerSlam Interviews Part 2 by Findlay Martin is, naturally enough, along the lines of the first volume. Martin takes the original transcript of the interviews, with a mix of kayfabe and storyline, and presents them as Q&As, albeit with the questions sometimes extremely lengthy (and presumably not how they were originally uttered) to give the reader background and context. Long-time readers (dating back to 1998 when this book starts) might find the content familiar, but the inclusion of five new interviews and several bonus features might make it worth a purchase.

Looking At The Lights by Pete Gas doesn’t have much in the sample to suggest this has any more mainstream appeal than you’d expect. The short section of the book that’s included starts with a tale that’s going to make unwelcome reading for WWE on multiple grounds: Gas receiving numerous concussions including one from a stiff chairshot from JBL. It’s hard to tell, but this could well be one of those books that’s more honest than WWE might appreciate but without any air of bitterness. Still, it’s hard to gauge how much depth is here.

The Canvas, Volume 1: The Shine by DA Edwards is one of several fiction books to appear recently. The sample suggests it’s something of an epic (even without accounting for future volumes), along the lines of a Blood Red Turns Dollar Green series but without the crime element. Set in early eighties Florida (with the book going on to cover Mid-Atlantic and the New York region), it’s got a lot of familiar tropes and disguised characters, but appears to tell a compelling story and it’s one I plan on checking out in full.

Fritz Von Erich: Master of the Iron Claw by Ron G Mullinax is a hard one to assess. It’s a biography based on lengthy interviews with Von Erich in his final years, though much of the sample is about how Mullinax came to befriend him rather than his career. (Von Erich’s battles to adapt from DOS to Windows 95 are one of the stranger asides you’ll see in a wrestling book.) That means its hard to say whether the book has enough behind-the-scenes, non-storyline insight to be worth a read.

Lumps, Bumps and BodySlams by Michael Markus is a novel that features a lawyer and mayoral candidate with the amazing name Lawson Dawson. That’s about the highlight of the sample, however, and despite the theme there’s nothing to suggest wrestling fans would find this particularly gripping.

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Release Schedule (5 April)

One new entry this week, Superhero Ninja Wrestling Star by Lorna Schultz Nicholson:

Archie comes back from his summer away to find that he is the only kid in Grade 6 who has not grown bigger. Even his best friends Alfie and Shamini have gotten taller — and Shamini has developed in other ways, too. Archie knows that if only he can be more like the heroes of his favourite comic books, TV shows and video games, he’ll be able to keep the older boys from teasing Shamini about her newly developed body — and maybe she’ll keep her promise to go to the first school dance with him. From practicing the ninja crawl to bulking up with exercise and a high-protein diet, how can Archie fail?


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

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

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

9 May: WWE Book Of Top 10s by DK

21 June: Professional Wrestling in the Pacific Northwest: A History, 1883 to the Present by Stephen Verrier

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

1 August: Superhero Ninja Wrestling Star by Lorna Schultz Nicholson

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

5 September: Mad Dog: The Maurice Vachon Story by Bertrand Hebert and Pat Laprade

3 October: Slobberknocker: My Life in Wrestling by Jim Ross

3 October: WWE Absolutely Everything You Need to Know by DK

17 October: Saint Mick by Mick Foley

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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Ropes and Glory: The Emotional Rise of British Wrestling by Greg Lambert

A sequel to Holy Grail: The True Story of British Wrestling’s Revival, this is a worthy book, if perhaps not what readers might assume.

While the book does cover the stunning boom in British independent wrestling since the last volume ended a decade ago with the closure of the original XWA, it’s not quite a comprehensive history. Instead, as with the original, it’s more of a first-hand account based around Lambert’s continuing experiences, most notably with his own promoting work in Morecambe, his involvement with the brief revival of the FWA and the blossoming Futureshock group, and his commentary and creative work at Preston City Wrestling. Concentrating on the first-person view means that coverage of some of the most notable players in that boom such as ICW and PROGRESS is largely limited to accounts from a couple of shows Lambert attended, albeit including the Fear & Loathing show that sold out the SECC in Glasgow.

Lambert’s experiences are certainly enough to give a good flavour of the scene’s revival however, and it’s certainly engaging to be able to look back at that decade and see the events in context, particularly the increasing mainstream media attention and the first series of TNA’s British Bootcamp.

As with the first volume, perhaps the most intriguing element of the book is Lambert’s experiences with Alex Shane, this time involving Shane’s character reinvention, interest in spirituality, and work with the FWA and Challenge TV. Once again Lambert gives his own views in a well-balanced manner, but this time he includes detailed quotes from interviews he conducted with several current key players on the British scene who offer a very different perspective.

It’s no spoiler to say the book ends with the announcement of wrestling returning to ITV, something we now know has led to the first book’s stated “Holy Grail” of weekly television. Ropes & Glory serves as a detailed reminder that this success did not spring out of nothing and comes highly recommended to anyone interested in the British revival.

Read on Kindle (Amazon.com)

Read on Kindle (Amazon.co.uk)

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