Pro Wrestling Books

Wrestling with words

Pro Wrestling Books - Wrestling with words

Release Schedule (28 March)

A couple of author and blurb updates this week. Creating the Mania: An Inside Look at How Wrestlemania Comes to Life is a WWE publication by Jon Robinson, author of My Favorite Match and The WWE Attitude Era:

Creating the Mania takes fans backstage with an all-access pass to the behind-the-scenes stories of WrestleMania 34. Follow the yearlong life cycle of WWE’s biggest event, from how the storylines were developed to how the host city was selected, from the logistics and planning behind hosting over seventy thousand members of the WWE Universe to the rivalries and matches playing out inside the ring, in a book that chronicles the events leading up to the “Showcase of the Immortals.” This journey includes exclusive interviews with top Superstars, including Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins, Braun Strowman, Charlotte Flair, Sasha Banks, Kevin Owens, The Miz, and “Phenomenal” AJ Styles, breaking down their year leading up to ’Mania and the highs and lows that go along with being a WWE Superstar ― pushing their hardest, all with the same goal in mind … to main-event WrestleMania.


Meanwhile Death of the Territories: Expansion, Betrayal and the War That Changed Pro Wrestling is by Tim Hornbaker, author of Capitol Revolution and National Wrestling Alliance:

For decades, distinct professional wrestling territories thrived across North America. Each regionally-based promotion operated individually and offered a brand of localized wrestling that greatly appealed to area fans. Promoters routinely coordinated with associates in surrounding regions, and the cooperation displayed by members of the National Wrestling Alliance made it easy for wrestlers to traverse the landscape with the utmost freedom.

Dozens of territories flourished between the 1950s and late ’70s. But by the early 1980s, the growth of cable television had put new outside pressures on promoters. An enterprising third-generation entrepreneur who believed cable was his opportunity to take his promotion national soon capitalized on the situation.

A host of novel ideas and the will to take chances gave Vincent Kennedy McMahon an incredible advantage. McMahon waged war on the territories and raided the NWA and AWA of their top talent. By creating WrestleMania, jumping into the pay-per-view field, and expanding across North America, McMahon changed professional wrestling forever.

Providing never-before-revealed information, Death of the Territories is a must-read for fans yearning to understand how McMahon outlasted his rivals and established the industry’s first national promotion. At the same time, it offers a comprehensive look at the promoters who opposed McMahon, focusing on their noteworthy power plays and embarrassing mistakes.


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

29 March: Wrestling in Britain: Sporting Entertainments, Celebrity and Audiences (Routledge Research in Sports History) by Benjamin Litherland

3 April: WWE: Then. Now. Forever. Vol. 1 by Dennis Hopeless, Box Brown et al

15 May: WWE Raw: The First 25 Years by Dean Miller and Jake Black

22 May: Golosseum 1 by Yasushi Baba

12 June: Russell Wrestles The Relatives by Cindy Chambers Johnson and Daniel Duncan

7 August: Creating the Mania: An Inside Look at How Wrestlemania Comes to Life  by Jon Robinson

7 August: King of Strong Style: 1980-2014 by Shinsuke Nakamura (Author),‎ Jocelyne Allen (Translator)

18 September: Death of the Territories: Expansion, Betrayal and the War That Changed Pro Wrestling by Tim Hornbaker

30 September: Pro-Wrestling: A Comprehensive Reference Guide by Lew Freedman

2 October: WWE: The World of the Rock by Steven Pantaleo

9 October: The Comic Book Story of Professional Wrestling: A Hardcore, High-Flying, No-Holds-Barred History of the One True Sport by Aubrey Sitterson and Chris Moreno

23 October: WWE: The Official Cookbook by Allison Robicelli

30 October: WWE: Then, Now, Forever Vol. 2 by Dennis Hopeless

18 December: WWE Vol. 4: Women’s Evolution by Dennis Hopeless

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Release Schedule (21 March)

Though I’ve not added them to the list, a range of childrens WWE books is due out in August, both individually and as the Superstars of Wrestling Set.


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

29 March: Wrestling in Britain: Sporting Entertainments, Celebrity and Audiences (Routledge Research in Sports History) by Benjamin Litherland

3 April: WWE: Then. Now. Forever. Vol. 1 by Dennis Hopeless, Box Brown et al

8 May: WWE Raw: The First 25 Years by Dean Miller and Jake Black

22 May: Golosseum 1 by Yasushi Baba

12 June: Russell Wrestles The Relatives by Cindy Chambers Johnson and Daniel Duncan

7 August: Creating the Mania: An Inside Look at How Wrestlemania Comes to Life (no author listed) (Currently unavailable)

7 August: King of Strong Style: 1980-2014 by Shinsuke Nakamura (Author),‎ Jocelyne Allen (Translator)

18 September: Death of the Territories: Expansion, Betrayal and the War That Changed Pro Wrestling (no author listed) (Currently unavailable)

30 September: Pro-Wrestling: A Comprehensive Reference Guide by Lew Freedman

2 October: WWE: The World of the Rock by Steven Pantaleo

9 October: The Comic Book Story of Professional Wrestling: A Hardcore, High-Flying, No-Holds-Barred History of the One True Sport by Aubrey Sitterson and Chris Moreno

23 October: WWE: The Official Cookbook by Allison Robicelli

30 October: WWE: Then, Now, Forever Vol. 2 by Dennis Hopeless

18 December: WWE Vol. 4: Women’s Evolution by Dennis Hopeless

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Release Schedule (14 March)

One new entry this week, Pro-Wrestling: A Comprehensive Reference Guide by Lew Freedman

This book provides readers with an abundance of information and historical perspective as well as entertaining and memorable anecdotes about professional wrestling. Readers will also learn unusual snippets of trivia that will enhance their comprehension of the sport.

Take care with this however as it’s currently listed at a somewhat suspicious $94.


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

29 March: Wrestling in Britain: Sporting Entertainments, Celebrity and Audiences (Routledge Research in Sports History) by Benjamin Litherland

3 April: WWE: Then. Now. Forever. Vol. 1 by Dennis Hopeless, Box Brown et al

8 May: WWE Raw: The First 25 Years by Dean Miller and Jake Black

22 May: Golosseum 1 by Yasushi Baba

12 June: Russell Wrestles The Relatives by Cindy Chambers Johnson and Daniel Duncan

7 August: Creating the Mania: An Inside Look at How Wrestlemania Comes to Life (no author listed)

7 August: King of Strong Style: 1980-2014 by Shinsuke Nakamura (Author),‎ Jocelyne Allen (Translator)

18 September: Death of the Territories: Expansion, Betrayal and the War That Changed Pro Wrestling (no author listed)

30 September: Pro-Wrestling: A Comprehensive Reference Guide by Lew Freedman

2 October: WWE: The World of the Rock by Steven Pantaleo

9 October: The Comic Book Story of Professional Wrestling: A Hardcore, High-Flying, No-Holds-Barred History of the One True Sport by Aubrey Sitterson and Chris Moreno

23 October: WWE: The Official Cookbook by Allison Robicelli

30 October: WWE: Then, Now, Forever Vol. 2 by Dennis Hopeless

18 December: WWE Vol. 4: Women’s Evolution by Dennis Hopeless

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Tokyo Dome Book Free Sample

Chris Charlton has published a sample chapter of his upcoming crowdfunded book Eggshells: Pro Wrestling In The Tokyo Dome. The chapter covers the February 1990 New Japan show that included appearances from All Japan and AWA wrestlers.

The funding has now reached a high enough level that the book will be published in both paperback and hardback versions, and that there’ll be an accompanying podcast series (with episodes released early for backers.) The next funding target is for an audiobook version read by Dan Lovranski.

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Release Schedule (8 March)

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

8 March: Identity in Professional Wrestling: Essays on Nationality, Race and Gender by Aaron D Horton

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

29 March: Wrestling in Britain: Sporting Entertainments, Celebrity and Audiences (Routledge Research in Sports History) by Benjamin Litherland

3 April: WWE: Then. Now. Forever. Vol. 1 by Dennis Hopeless, Box Brown et al

8 May: WWE Raw: The First 25 Years by Dean Miller and Jake Black

22 May: Golosseum 1 by Yasushi Baba

12 June: Russell Wrestles The Relatives by Cindy Chambers Johnson and Daniel Duncan

7 August: Creating the Mania: An Inside Look at How Wrestlemania Comes to Life (no author listed)

7 August: King of Strong Style: 1980-2014 by Shinsuke Nakamura (Author),‎ Jocelyne Allen (Translator)

18 September: Death of the Territories: Expansion, Betrayal and the War That Changed Pro Wrestling (no author listed)

2 October: WWE: The World of the Rock by Steven Pantaleo

9 October: The Comic Book Story of Professional Wrestling: A Hardcore, High-Flying, No-Holds-Barred History of the One True Sport by Aubrey Sitterson and Chris Moreno

23 October: WWE: The Official Cookbook by Allison Robicelli

30 October: WWE: Then, Now, Forever Vol. 2 by Dennis Hopeless

18 December: WWE Vol. 4: Women’s Evolution by Dennis Hopeless

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WWE Greatest 100 Matches by Dean Miller

It’s hard to tell if this book is a success because it’s unclear what it’s trying to do.

From a literal perspective, it fits the bill: it has 100 matches presented in a random order rather than ranking, with each getting a two-page spread with a brief background piece, a detailed description of the bout itself, and then a short paragraph on what happened next.

Perhaps anticipating the inevitable criticism of the choices, the authors give no explanation of the selection process or the criteria, other than that a handful of bouts are noted as being the top choice of a particular group (WWE wrestlers, WWE Magazine and so on.)

For the most part it’s a combination of the generally regarded best in-ring matches and those with some form of historical significance (the latter being the only explanation for including 2011’s 40-man Royal Rumble.) In some cases the reader is left to figure this out somewhat: for example, the only thing notable about Team Piper vs Team Flair at Survivor Series 1991 is that it was Flair’s WWF pay-per-view debut, but this isn’t really hammered home. Similarly the description of Shawn Michaels vs John Cena at the 02 Arena in London makes no mention of the match going (on TV at least) almost an hour.

There’s also a tendency to favour stipulation bouts, with a key example being the Bret Hart-Owen Hart SummerSlam 1994 steel cage match included but the pair’s WrestleMania X match left out. That’s probably the most obvious exclusion from an in-ring perspective, while Ivan Koloff ending Bruno Sammartino’s eight year title reign is likely the biggest historial oversight.

The list is more spread out chronologically that you might imagine, though a few of the more questionable choices seem to be the beneficiaries of recency bias such as Daniel Bryan vs Dolph Ziggler at Bragging Rights 2010, a match I still don’t remember even after reading the description.

For those wondering, there’s one Chris Benoit match included (the 2001 Royal Rumble ladder match with Chris Jericho), with the pictures carefully chosen to not show Benoit’s face. It’s very hard to criticise either the inclusion of this or the omission of the WrestleMania XX match which, while no doubt top-notch in the ring, loses much of its context and appeal given what later happened.

As a general rule the historical sections are accurately written, though the book does perpetuate a few myths such as Bruno Sammartino having “nearly 200 sellouts” at Madison Square Garden.

It’s a decent enough historical primer or nostalgia piece depending on your age, but having neither criteria nor rankings does leave it feeling a little flat.

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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.

 


Don’t Call Me Fake: The Real Story of “Dr. D” David Schultz

Ask anyone who watched wrestling in the early 80s who the most dangerous man in wrestling was and they will tell you it was Dr. D. Trained by Herb Welch, the Tennessee native terrorized fans in Tennessee, Memphis, Florida, Calgary, Japan and Minnesota before being recruited into the WWF at the request of Hulk Hogan. Dr. D was a singles and tag team champion for multiple promotions, and he faced some of the most dangerous men in the business: Antonio Inoki, Abdullah the Butcher, Bruiser Brody, and Johnny Rodz. Yet he is remembered to this day for taking down a very different opponent: ABC reporter John Stossel, who dared to utter the words, “I think this is fake.” While the Stossel incident precipitated the end of his wrestling career, but it’s hardly the end of the story. Dr. D  turned babyface in real life, finding an even greater calling as a professional bounty hunter. Working out of Connecticut, Dr. D traveled the world and brought back hundreds of “skips” who had fled from justice. Dr. D tracked fugitives from New York to California to Puerto Rico and even Egypt with a 100% capture rate. If he couldn’t coax you into coming back of your own free will, he still possessed the skills taught by Herb Welch that could turn even the biggest thug into a crybaby. Call him a wrestler. Call him a bounty hunter. Just don’t call him fake! Dr. D David Schultz is the real deal, a hero in the wrestling locker room who became an even greater hero in his post wrestling career, clearing the streets of dangerous men and women with his Southern charm and a shooter’s grip.

 


Canvas Countdown: The world of wrestling in 100 lists by Paul Meehan

Canvas Countdown contains 100 lists which explore the diverse world of professional wrestling. From facts and key statistics about the major events to personal reflections on the wrestlers, events, feuds and stories that have shaped a century of grappling history, Canvas Countdown spans the wrestling world. The lists highlight the glamour and glitz of the major American promotions as well as featuring events and stars from Japan, the UK and the independent circuit. Canvas Countdown also reflects the author’s journey of discovery over the past three decades, tracing the rise of the sport in Japan, the Monday Night Wars of the 1990’s and of course the infamous ‘Attitude Era’. With personal reflections, plenty of statistics and a look at some of the key figures that have shaped the industry, Canvas Countdown offers something for every wrestling fan.

 


The Great Cheyenne by Alma Chaidez and‎ Jason Eaglespeaker

An indigenous female pioneer. One woman’s journey deep into the alpha male world of professional wrestling.

 


The 100 Greatest Wrestlers of 1993-2001: Ranking the Best Wrestlers of the Attitude and Monday Night War Era in ECW, WWF/WWE and WCW by Jonathan Johnson

The nineties were a time of great social change. A youth counter-culture was emerging in the world and professional wrestling embraced reality more than ever before to make Monday nights the most watched cable television nights of the week. Millions of fans were entertained by three amazing promotions, ECW, WCW, and the WWF/WWE. Enjoy reliving the Monday Night War and the Attitude era through the hundred greatest stars that made professional wrestling great!


KB’s History of the WWE Championship by Thomas Hall

It’s the grandest prize in wrestling and one of the most historic championships in the history of the spot. Over the last forty years, nearly every top star in wrestling has held it in all of its many forms. There have been many great matches and moments over the years and that’s certainly worth looking back at again. In this book, we take a look at the history of the WWE Championship over the last fifty years, including every title change and several important defenses along the way. With over 280 matches reviewed and no title change left out, this is as comprehensive a look as you’ll be able to find about the important parts of the title’s history.

 


The American Wrestling Association: The ESPN Years: 1988-1990 episode reviews by Ted Blanchard

The American Wrestling Association broke ground in the 1980’s by appearing on the then-fledgling ESPN network. Watch the progression (and some would say fall) of the AWA through reviews of episodes resurrected on ESPN Classic.

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