Pro Wrestling Books

Wrestling with words

Pro Wrestling Books - Wrestling with words

Inside the Lion’s Den by Ken Shamrock and Richard Hanner

Inside The Lion’s Den, released in 1998, is written in two sections. The first 123 pages are a look at Ken Shamrock’s life and no-holds barred career, while the remaining 78 sides give instruction in the Lion’s Den fighting techniques.

To the pro wrestling audience, it is the former section that will prove more interesting. In September 1993, Richard Hanner, a Stockton, California newspaper reporter, was sent to cover local submission fighter Ken Shamrock’s participation in the first Ultimate Fighting Championship. He found the assignment so captivating that he went on to follow Shamrock from match to match, while researching his background. The result is the biographical portion of Inside The Lion’s Den.

The book describes Shamrock’s upbringing, including his days on the street, living in abandoned cars, spells in prison, and his adoption by Bob Shamrock It then follows his no-holds barred fighting, including the creation of Pancrase, and the success of UFC, along with its controversies. There’s even a brief account on Shamrock’s little known spell as a table-top dancer.

Of particular interest to pro wrestling fans will be the brief account of his days in the South Atlantic Pro Wrestling group as Vince Torelli, along with the infamous hotel room sneak attack by the Nasty Boys (who are not named).

The pace of the biography makes for entertaining and engrossing reading, following a chronological account, but breaking away for a chapter at a time to take a look at a particular aspect of Shamrock’s life, be it his relationship with his family, or a look at the no-prisoners-taken attitude in tryouts for the Lion’s Den.

The use of description is also extremely effective, making for a fascinating look at the development of the UFC.

Shamrock’s own contribution is perhaps of more practical use to the martial arts enthusiast, but does give a comprehensive insight into his training methods, nutrition and fighting techniques.

This section (as with the rest of the book) is illustrated in detail, and all but a couple of the manoeuvres shown can be easily followed. The training manual also demonstrates how submission fighting systems need to constantly develop, with Shamrock readily admitting that he has made mistakes in fights, pointing to the need to learn from his errors. The UFC I loss to Royce Gracie is one such case, with Shamrock later adjusting his fighting methods to account for opponents wearing a gi. Of course, looking back 18 years later, it’s clear how much the MMA game has changed in the meantime.

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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.


On the Ropes: The Ultimate Wrestling Quizbook by Paul Meehan

Welcome to On the Ropes, a quizbook that covers a diverse range of topics across the wonderful world of professional wrestling. The book is aimed at both casual fans and hardcore grappling enthusiasts, with questions covering a huge range of promotions, eras and styles. Some quizzes will be straightforward, others offer more of a challenge and require a little specialist knowledge!In addition to more than 600 general knowledge questions, we’ve included a series of challenges and puzzles – match the wrestler to their hometown, identify grapplers from their real names, list the first 10 holders of a particular belt or achievement, identify tag teams from their members, and more. We’ll cover American, British, Japanese, Canadian and Mexican wrestling, take in the greatest stars of yesteryear and test your knowledge of the big names plying their trade in the ring right now. Whether you are a casual fan of the WWE or a diehard independent or Japanese wrestling fan, there’s something for everyone.Whatever your level of wrestling knowledge, On the Ropes is designed to entertain and educate – have fun!


Night Work by Greg F Gifune

In the secret worlds of organized crime and the independent professional wrestling circuit of the 1990s, no one is immune to the con, the violence, the hunger for power and respect, the lust and the darkness.

How far would you go for money and supremacy? Who would you betray? What could you tolerate? How much would you sacrifice?

Frank Ponte is about to find out…

Night Work, originally published in 2003, is Greg F. Gifune’s first published novel. Hailed as a strong debut from a promising author by both critics and readers alike, it offers a fictional glimpse behind the veil of secrecy that existed in the independent professional wrestling world at the time, and chronicles the descent of a young couple into the depths of darkness and depravity.

Part crime novel, part Greek tragedy, Night Work has been out of print for several years, but is once again available in an all-new author’s preferred edition, which includes a new introduction from author/artist Sandy DeLuca, and offers a unique look at the early work of Greg F. Gifune.


Before A Fall: A History of PRIDE Fighting Championships by Lee Daly

Before A Fall is the first book in English on the history of the PRIDE FC MMA promotion from beginning to end! Starting out with the story of how the first PRIDE came together, the book covers the history of the promotion in detail and includes: -Exclusive interviews with Bas Rutten, Stephen Quadros, Dan Severn, Frank Shamrock and many others. -Illustrations by professional illustrator John Sheehan. -A fully researched and cited text with quotes, facts and stories.


The Book on Pro Wrestling: Lessons from Rip Rogers by Caleb Hall

A compilation of the lessons and teachings from one of the all time great pro wrestling coaches, Rip Rogers. Head trainer at OVW (previously the WWE development center) for many years, Rip has guided some of the biggest stars in wrestling today through their early days including: Randy Orton, Brock Lesnar, John Cena, and more. Being able to understand and implement these lessons will greatly expand your knowledge and help you further your career in pro wrestling.


Hottest Ticket in Town: History of Pro Wrestling in Lenor, NC (Volume One 1951 -1959) by Jason Freeman

Hottest Ticket in Town is a collection of newspaper clippings, results, phots and reproduced window posters from professional wrestling promoted in Lenoir, Hickory or surrounding town. Jim Crockett Promotions began running weekly events at the Dysart-Kendall American Legion Home in downtown Lenoir in October 1951. The Legion held weekly cards most Saturday night until March of 1955 when the weekly event moved to the Community Center in Hickory. This project is far from finished I hope that we can continue to gather more information about the history of professional wrestling in this area. Projects about the history from 1960 till present day are currently in the works. If you have clippings, posters, photos, old ticket stubs or just have stories about going to the events please contact me. Pro Wrestling has a rich history in this area and if still a part of the local culture.


The Joshi Dragon by Robert Lefrancois

Yumiko is the daughter of one of Japans top wrestling stars, when her mother dies she is raised by her uncle Takeshi, a brutal Yakuza crime lord. When Takeshi arranges for Yumiko to marry the leader of a rival yakuza family, she decides to run away. Yumiko enlists the help of her lesbian lover Devil Matsumoto and the two steal a large sum of money from her uncle, then flees Japan to start a few life in the United States. Once in America, Yumiko sets out to follow in her mothers footsteps. She and Devil join a small indie wrestling promotion, where she meets Mike Hilton, the charismatic champion of Union City Wrestling. Mike takes Yumiko under his wing and helps her and Devil get their start. It isn’t long before Yumiko and Mike fall in love—which doesn’t sit well with Devil. Yumiko is torn between her strong friendship and loyalty to Devil and her true love with Mike. Yumiko’s problems increased ten fold when she learns that news of her success has travelled back to her native Japan. It isn’t long before Takeshi and two of his top killers are on a plane bound for the United States. Takeshi is determined to force Yumiko to return to Okinawa with him, and will kill anyone that stands in his way.


Mid-Atlantic Wrestling 1976 Yearbook by Dick Bourne & David Chappell

The detailed, written history of one of Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling’s most exciting years ever. Includes a huge collection of newspaper ads, event posters, memorabilia, and a massive collection of match listings and results for every city in the territory. Comprehensive rosters of all wrestlers, announcers, and managers for the entire year broken down by their position on the card. The book also includes reproductions of the four major event publications sold at the arenas throughout that year. Plus over a dozen special features focusing on 1976. It was year full of unforgettable action and major angles featuring The Anderson Brothers, Blackjack Mulligan, Wahoo McDaniel, Ric Flair, Dusty Rhodes, Rufus R. “Freight Train” Jones, the Masked Superstar, Paul Jones, “Mr. Wrestling” Tim Woods, Terry Funk, Prof. Boris Malenko and the Mongols, Andre the Giant, and many more. Special features include: – Photo feature on the year’s biggest feud: Flair vs. Wahoo! – TV Wrestling in 1976 – NWA Officers and Board Members – The Mulligan wing of the Gateway Museum – Dusty Rhodes’ Chase of the Championships – The Birth of the Masked Superstar – A close look at the United States Championship in 1976 – Truckin’ Tom Miller ..and more! The book features – – Written History Event Posters from Greensboro 30 pages of Newspaper Ads Memorabilia Rosters & Title Histories Reproductions of all four quarterly issues of Mid-Atlantic Wrestling Magazines from 1975 50 pages of Match Listings and Results Special Features, including tournament brackets, exclusive photos, and more.


Anything Is Possible: The Eddie Edwards Story by Eric Maher

With as much impact as his signature move, the Boston Knee Party, Anything Is Possible: The Eddie Edwards Story takes fans of all ages inside the ring for an inspiring look into world champion wrestler Eric Maher, aka Impact Wrestling’s Eddie Edwards’ journey to the top of the independent wrestling scene. Maher teams up with co-writer and DC Comics artist Mark Poulton to deliver highlights from his incredible career. The only man in history to win the Impact Wrestling, Ring of Honor, and GHC world heavyweight championships–professional wrestling’s triple crown, Maher recounts his days as a kid dreaming of a wrestling career, including training with the legendary Killer Kowalski and living and training in a Japanese dojo in the footsteps of his heroes.

The world is full of underdogs, but as “Die Hard” Eddie Edwards, Eric Maher proves that with hard work and determination his mantra of “Anything Is Possible” can be true for anyone.

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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.


Gotch vs. Hackenschmidt: The Matches That Made and Destroyed Legitimate American Professional Wrestling by Ken Zimmerman Jr

In 1908, World Heavyweight Wrestling Champion George Hackenschmidt wrestled American Heavyweight Wrestling Champion Frank Gotch for Hackenschmidt’s world title. Three years later they rematched for Gotch’s world title. After building interest in legitimate wrestling with the first match, the rematch brought back all the doubts about pro wrestling’s legitimacy. If the first bout built the sport, the second wrecked it.


KB’s Complete 2003 Monday Night Raw Reviews by Thomas Hall

And now, we reach the dark ages. There’s a reason you don’t hear much about Monday Night Raw in 2003 and that’s going to become very clear. It was a very dark time for the company as there was almost nothing positive going on. The question wasn’t when it would get better but rather how much worse could it get. In this book, I’ll be breaking down each episode of the year and looking at each one match by match and segment by segment. Included will be analysis and ratings for the shows to see what worked and what didn’t.


Wrestling School Dropout by Oliver Williams

Wrestling School Dropout is the true story of one man’s hilarious attempt to learn the art of professional wrestling.

When Oliver Williams set out to become a pro wrestler, he never anticipated the level of pain, anxiety, and insanity that would ensue. This book chronicles his journey from aspiring professional wrestler to wrestling school dropout.


A Fan’s Perspective: How My Lifelong Dream Turned Into A Nightmare by Oliver Newman

2008 was a historical year in Professional Wrestling. Chris Jericho and Shawn Michaels contested one of/if not the best pro wrestling feuds of all-time. I continued writing & reporting on the UK scene, my lifelong dream (attending a Wrestlemania – Wrestlemania 24 live) came true and I met my Childhood Hero – Bret ‘The Hitman’ Hart. 2008 is the year WWE could have catapulted Paul London to the main event (they didn’t, so I fantasy booked him there). 2008 also had some great matches – I share my thoughts on some of the best, lastly 2008 was a big year in terms of the women’s wrestling evolution we are now living through in 2018 (I explain how we have got here) and as a special bonus I share my thoughts on the beginning of 2009.


The 100 Greatest Wrestlers of 2002-2010: Ranking the Best Wrestlers of the Ruthless Aggression Era in TNA and WWF/WWE by Jonathan Johnson

After rising to the heights of a mainstream entertainment giant during the Monday Night War, the WWF/E were suddenly the only wrestling game in town in 2002. While a little upstart company named TNA emerged as a second option to the WWE giant, veterans and rookies alike vied for fan and media attention from 2002 to 2010. Here are the one hundred greatest superstars of the Ruthless Aggression era and the stories that made them sports entertainment immortals!

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The Wrestling Journeyman: Life and Times of an Indy Wrestler

There’s nothing wrong with this book. It’s just… there.

While Wolfe is perhaps best known for his “enhancement” work for WWF, he’s put the miles in, catching the final years of the territory system, working opening matches on WWF house show swings, experiencing the Texan indy scene of the 1990s and 2000s, going on foreign tours and, perhaps inevitably, joining the scores of wrestlers on hand at WCW’s Orlando tapings.

It’s all covered here, so you certainly don’t get shortchanged. The problem is that many of the stories and recollections are on repeated themes: young guys don’t know how to work; smarks killed the business; most promoters are shady; driving in foreign countries is scary.

It’s not to say none of the stories here are entertaining: there’s a great revelation about life on the road with Zeus from No Holds Barred and a subsequent Bobby Heenan zinger. However, with the greatest of respect, this isn’t a book that needed to be so comprehensive.

It’s not a bad read as such, it’s just that you’ll be dedicating a lot of time to fairly routine stuff among the gems. If it’s on on offer on the Kindle it might be worth a look, but the inevitable price implications of a 350-page self-published print book means the paperback is probably worth passing on.

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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.

Kayfabe: Stories You’re Not Supposed to Hear from a Pro Wrestling Production Company Owner by Sean Oliver 

“Sean’s story, beginning as a renegade, outlaw company and evolving to redefining the shoot video genre, is extremely fascinating. Who knew that the man asking the questions was as fascinating as his subject matter?” -Justin Barrasso, Sports Illustrated

“Kayfabe brings to life a world that once had its own version of ‘omerta’ in a fascinating, well written book that will intrigue long time fans, new fans, and just those who are hoping to take a peek behind the curtain of this unlikely cultural phenomenon.” -Eric Bischoff, WCW President

“I worked in a business full of liars, cheaters, workers, con artists and of course…politicians. I can name maybe 3 people over the years that I 100% trusted, or even believed for that matter. Sean Oliver is one of those men. In reading Kayfabe, you can believe that 100% of this masterpiece is accurate–yes, even the parts about me. The most stand-up guy perhaps ever associated with the business of Pro Wrestling. You want truth–you’ll find it right here.” -Vince Russo, Former WWE/WCW Head Writer

If you thought the world of pro wrestling was wild, imagine what you haven’t seen on TV and in the ring. Add to that the backdrop of building a renegade production company, negotiating with impossible wrestling talent, and hosting groundbreaking, shoot-style programming, and you have the story of Sean Oliver.

Sean has seen industry-wide accolades for the company he co-founded and for which he serves as frontman. But there are also the threats, stories of abuse, and moments of downright hilarity that you haven’t known…until now.

Watch the unpredictable and unconventional story through Sean’s eyes.

Wrestling Demons by Jason Brick

Varsity wrestler Connor Morgan and his mother moved to Portland, Oregon to get away from his drug-addicted father, but they didn’t move away from trouble. At his new high school, three heavyweight wrestlers chase him through the halls. He runs away, in his underwear, past the girl he likes, into the January cold.

Then something weird happens.

The next thing Connor knows, he is fighting for his life against supernatural evil with the help of new friends as he learns the powers and dangers of his new destiny. The stakes rise as he discovers a powerful enemy bent on destroying more than just his high school. Ultimately, he must embrace his role in an ancient fight if he wants to save the day.

And he still has to get good grades and a date for the prom.

Season’s Beatings: Holiday Wishes from the Golden Age of Wrestling by John Cosper

From the golden age of grapplin’ comes a holiday treat for wrestling fans young and old! Compiled from a 1947 California wrestling program, this amazing collection of Christmas greetings features stars like Gorgeous George, “The Black Panther” Jim Mitchell, Enrique Torres, Jan Blears, Yvon Robert, and Ed “Strangler” Lewis. Season’s Beatings is not a history or a biography. It’s a window into the past, a photographic look at some of the biggest stars of wrestling’s golden age. It’s the perfect gift for those who prefer headlocks and body slams to visions of sugar plums.

KB’s Complete Monday Nitro Reviews Volume VI by Thomas Hall

A comprehensive look back at every episode of WCW Monday Nitro and Thunder from July – December 1999. To say WCW is in a bad place is the understatement of the year. They haven’t won a night in the Monday Night Wars in almost nine months and things are getting worse every single week. While the first few months are going to be more of the same, there’s a major change around Halloween that is going to shake things up forever. In this book, every episode of both shows in the second half of 1999 is reviewed in full, complete with analysis, ratings and complete content included.

The Ballad of Shelby McCallahan: The Raging Redhead of the Redneck Riviera by Jacob H Baxter

This book is about a young girl growing up in Panama City, Florida, chasing her dream to become a professional wrestler.

Crazy Like A Fox: The Definitive Chronicle of Brian Pillman 20 Years Later by Liam O’Rourke

An alpha male with a beta body, looking to thrive in worlds where beta males with alpha bodies are the primary requirement. He was a complex paradox, a walking contradiction. He lived more in 35 years than most do in a lifetime, the product of an arduous infanthood. His overachievement is awe-inspiring. Tales of his conflicts and conquests became the stuff of legend. His borderline genius and tragic demise made him an icon shrouded in mystique. He was Brian Pillman, and two decades later the most comprehensive look at one of professional wrestling’s most fascinating stories has been compiled. Discover unheard details of his upbringing, the incredible story behind chasing an NFL roster spot and his introduction to pro wrestling in the crazy Stampede circuit. Revel at his trials and tribulations in WCW and the WWF, walking the fine line between the cusp of superstardom and political turmoil. Reflect in the most detailed, inside breakdown of his Loose Cannon gambit ever produced, the scam that turned him into the talk of the business, before fatally drowning in personal tragedy and addiction. With exclusive interviews with some of Brian’s closest friends and family, Crazy Like A Fox is a must-read for Pillman fans, and a breathtaking look at the bizarre world of wrestling to boot…

The 100 Greatest Wrestlers of 1985-1992: Ranking the Best Wrestlers of the Hulkamania Era in WWF / WWE and WCW by Jonathan Johnson

Who can forget their first exposure to the crazy circus that was wrestling in the mid-80s? From Giants to Snakes to Nature Boys to Million Dollar Men, professional wrestling had something for everyone in the height of its greatest era. Relive now the hundred greatest men who made professional wrestling must watch television in the Hulkamania era!

Memphis Wrestling History Presents: Tennessee Athletic Commission: Memphis Filings 1977-1980 by Mark James

After every Monday night at the Mid-South Coliseum in Memphis, Wrestling promoter Jerry Jarrett had to file paperwork with the Tennessee Athletic Commission in Nashville. Several items had to be accurately entered on the form. From every wrestler and referee on the card to the number of tickets sold and even the total revenue taken in from those ticket sales, it was all there. This book contains all those Jarrett filings and looks at those numbers from 1977 through 1980. These hard facts add even more info into the rich history of Memphis Wrestling.

7 Keys to Becoming a Better Performer: A Book For Fellow Pro-Wrestlers by Mike Quackenbush

Pro-wrestling is performance art, and trying to occlude that fact for decades has, in many ways, prevented the evolution of the art form. Little has been written about the challenges modern pro-wrestlers face, and the ways in which they engage with audiences. “7 Keys to Becoming a Better Performer – A Book for Fellow Pro-Wrestlers” offers a fresh, frank examination of the skill set every professional wrestler needs to hone, regardless of where they ply their trade.

Oh, and Stuart Carapola has put out another 11 books this month…


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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.


Drew Gulak: Biography Paperback by Ronald Russell and Alex Medvedev

Biography of Drew Gulak, currently Professional Wrestler at Combat Zone Wrestling, LLC., previously Swimming Instructor at Northeast Raquet & Fitness Center and Swimming Instructor at Northeast Raquet & Fitness Center.


Planning The Biggest Party Of The Summer 2017 by Aaron Varble

WWE threw the Biggest Party Of The Summer once again when they returned to Brooklyn for an impressive third year in a row. Relive all of the build up to the big show as well as all the injuries, controversy and political nightmares along the way. From Enzo Amore’s brush with an angry stripper to Baron Corbin’s social media faux pas which might have stifled his push it’s all in this comprehensive book. This book features every Raw and SmackDown from June to August 2017 as well as the entire results for Money In The Bank, Extreme Rules, Great Balls Of Fire, and Battleground. Of course, it also features detailed coverage and analysis from SummerSlam as well as plenty of news stories along the way to keep you up to date with the stories.


Invasion from Planet Wrestletopia: Date With Destiny (Volume 1) by Ed Khuenal and Matt Entin

When a disgruntled professional wrestler declares himself “galactic champion of the universe” an alien planet of wrestlers sees it as an act of war! A hilarious THIRTY-TWO PAGE megaextravaganza kicks off this limited comic book series with art by Dan Schkade, colors by Marissa Louise and lettering by A Larger World Studios.

A Fan’s Perspective: 2016 – What A Year To Be A Fan Of WWE by Oliver Newman

2016 was a truly great year to be a fan of World Wrestling Entertainment. Join me as I take you on a journey through every PPV (RAW & SD Live), NXT Takeover and WWE Network Special. Read my alternative Wrestlemania 32 booking, plus my thoughts and insights on all of 2016’s major matches, segments, story-lines and major news stories throughout this historical and ground-breaking time.

1984-1986 WWF LJN Wrestling Figure Price Guide by Jimmy Lee Kelly

This guide will give you prices for the 1984 Line of WWF figures distributed by LJN. These figures were some of the most popular figures of the 80s and were well loved despite their lack of articulation.

Independent Pro Wrestling Guide: How To Become an Independent Professional Wrestler by Matthew Soulia

If you want to learn how to become an independent professional wrestler, then check out “Independent Pro Wrestling Guide.”

This guide is written by a former indie pro wrestler who will show you step by step to get started in the independent wrestling world.

• Learn how to get your start in as a professional wrestler on the independent circuit.

• Hear tales and get advice from someone who knows what it’s like to wrestle as an independent wrestler

• Find out how to find the perfect wrestling school as well as how to pay for your wrestling education.

• Having trouble getting booked in your first match? This book lets you know what tools you need to get yourself between the ropes!

• From the moves you perform in the ring to the timing of said moves, everything you do in the ring has meaning. This book helps to tell you what that meaning is, and how to improve your in-ring game!

• Contains tips to help you when developing your wrestling persona, as well as useful suggestions for how to become a better talker on the microphone.

• Learn what it takes to survive the long and perilous roads when traveling from show to show, and how to deal with troublesome situations with fellow wrestlers.

Number 1 Red by Ian Mullins

He’s a disgraced wrestler living in an abandoned carnival. She’s a frustrated ex-grappler and wrestling promoter who wants to tear it down. When they clash in the ring more than blood will be spilled. She has a daughter she hardly knows, and a partner she barely respects. He has no-one, and wants to keep it that way. As the northern winter tears up the coast, the secret that unites their warring families will destroy them both, or finally set them free. Together or apart, they face the same question: how do you ‘keep it real’ in a world of fake emotions? Why would you even try?

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

With the Diva’s Revolution in full effect, it’s certainly an appropriate time to look back at the history of female grappling. But while undoubtedly well-written and comprehensive in scope, the format of this book can often be frustrating.

The strength is the wide range of the book, giving due attention to various eras of female grappling from the pioneer years to the Fabulous Moolah era, the Rock ‘n’ Wrestling connection days, the Diva period and the modern day, along with separate looks at Japan, the rest of the world and the independent scene.

As with Laprade’s Mad Dogs, Midgets and Screwjobs, which covered wrestling’s rich heritage in Montreal, the writing flows well, with quotes taken from a wide range of sources; it’s clear the writers have not skimped on effort or research.

The main problem is that rather than a broad chronological or thematic history, it’s presented as a series of profiles of female wrestlers, verging on encyclopaedic format. This brings several disadvantages. One is that the wider story of women’s wrestling’s evolution is somewhat erratically told. In particular, there’ll often be a teasing reference to an incident or event (such as the first women’s match in New York) that’s then left hanging until later in the book when another wrestler is profiled.

The laudable aim of covering as many names as possible also has drawbacks. For those women such as Mildred Burke or Moolah with rich stories to tell, the profiles inevitably only scratch the surface. In other cases even a few paragraphs feels like a stretch with the emphasis on dates and title reigns giving the impression there’s no particularly compelling human interest story to tell. British readers may be particularly disappointed when what’s trailed earlier as a dedicated section turns out to be a matter of a few paragraphs listing names and then a solitary profile of Sweet Saraya.

More positive points include a handful of special sections breaking up the profiles to detail a specific event or setup, be it GLOW, the controversial Wendi Richter-Lady Spider bout, or the 1994 AJW Tokyo Dome show. There’s also some welcome even-handedness with both sides of controversial issue’s such as Moolah’s control of her stable given a fair hearing.

Overall it’s not quite a comprehensive history of women’s wrestling to rival the Montreal book, but certainly serves as an appetiser for fans of contemporary wrestling to learn more about the women wrestlers of the past before moving on to a more focused volume such as Jeff Leen’s ‘Queen of the Ring’ which details the Mildred Burke era.

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[This review originally appeared in Fighting Spirit Magazine.]

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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.

Professional Wrestling by Ed W Smith

Back in 1900, when wrestling was not nearly as popular in the Middle West as it is at the present time, and when wrestlers were looked upon with a great deal of suspicion by the average man, the wrestler being qualified along with the crafty secondstory man and porch climber, Martin Burns, then one of the best heavyweights in the country, began to circulate stories about a wonderful young fellow he had discovered out in Iowa and for whom he predicted the most brilliant future. His name was Gotch, and he said he intended to make a champion of the world out of him if it took him the rest of his life.

The Unmasked Tenor: The Life and Times of a Singing Wrestler by Sam Tenenbaum and TJ Beitelman

Equal parts showman and artist, hustler and faithful son, trained tenor and fast-talking raconteur, Sam Tenenbaum is—to paraphrase Whitman—large, he contains multitudes. In this inspirational and quintessentially American “song of himself,” we see Sam pick himself up by the bootstraps of an awkward childhood in mid-20th Century Birmingham, Alabama, and forge an unlikely path through the roughriding, anything-goes early days of professional wrestling in the American South—all while nurturing his faith and pursuing, on the sly, his  rst true love: operatic singing. In the end, we learn what Sam learned early on: how to live large, fear nothing, and never give up on your dreams.

The Impending Sausage Sandwich of Doom by Kirk St Moritz

Elliott Rose is having a bad day. After being fired from his job as the clandestine stooge on hit TV show Ghostbusters UK, Elliott returns home to find his girlfriend missing. To make matters worse, Hapkido Valentine, the legendary 1980s wrestler, has returned from the dead and taken up residency in Elliott’s flat. Despite a voracious appetite for sausage sandwiches, Hapkido is convinced he has finally become the mystical Japanese warrior he once portrayed in the ring. Together they must undertake a dangerous journey to find out why the Universe created this most unlikely of partnerships. All that stands in their way is a medallion wearing TV psychic, a train-spotting assassin and the murderous intentions of the local over 75’s women’s group. If Elliott thought the day started badly, things are about to get a whole lot worse.

AWA Record Book: The 1970s Part 2 197579 by Mark James & George Schire

A record book that covers the entire AWA wrestling territory from 1975 through 1979. This book features the cards and results for hundreds of wrestling cards that took place throughout the mid-west wrestling promotion during the second half of the 1970s. This is the third book in the AWA series.Besides cards and results, this book features programs and photos.

The Road To The Show Of Shows 2017: How WWE Put Together The Biggest WrestleMania Of All Time by Aaron Varble

WrestleMania 33 was the most watched WrestleMania of all time. WWE really outdid themselves with the $5 million set, the stacked card, and the seven hours of showtime. Let’s take a look back at the events leading up to the Show Of Shows in 2017 and relive all of the amazing action along the way. Relive all of the injury drama, the anticipation, and the Hardy news that kept us on the edge of our seats. This book provides full play-by-play of the entire WrestleMania 33 card, 2017 Royal Rumble match, and 2017 Elimination Chamber match . Read never-before-read analysis from Still Real To Us writer Aaron Varble providing a retrospective look at how each big match on the card was set up. This is a can’t miss for any pro wrestling fan.

OCW Vol 1 (Finale): The Lethal Lotto by TL Brown

LETHAL LOTTO IS TONIGHT!! -Genuin defends against Sully Sphinx -Lita Walters finally gets to fight Key -Top contenders will be named in two devastating Lethal Lotto matches.

Four Horsemen: A Timeline History by Dick Bourne

 From the author of “Big Gold” and “Ten Pounds of Gold” comes a look back at the greatest faction in the history of professional wrestling: the Four Horsemen.

“Four Horsemen” is a complete month-by-month, year-by-year, linear timeline of the Horsemen, covering every version of the group and every member of each version over their thirteen years of existence.

From the glory days of Jim Crockett Promotions to the early WCW period to the Monday Nitro era, it’s all here in one concise timeline.

Every break-up and every reformation. All the championships. All the triumphs. All the betrayals. Month-by-month, year-by-year. It’s the ultimate reference guide to wrestling’s most infamous group, with clear timeline confirmations of keys dates and events.

Ric Flair, Ole and Arn Anderson, Tully Blanchard, Lex Luger, Barry Windham, James J. Dillon, Sting, Brian Pillman, Steve McMichael, Dean Malenko and all the rest. Every wrestler, every manager, and every woman that walked the aisle with them.

Over 40 photographs, some rare, a few never published before.

They were pro wrestling’s greatest stable and the very foundation upon which every other great faction that followed was built.

They were the Four Horsemen!


Nature Boy: The Career of Buddy Landel by Lance Archie

“You know I’ve got dozens of friends and the fun never ends as long as I’m buying. When the money ran out, that’s when the people left me. God forgave me. My family forgave me. And everybody in Knoxville knows that Buddy Landel is a home cooking, hometown boy. I love Knoxville, Tennessee and I’m proud of it.” – Buddy Landel Buddy Landel was considered one of the biggest ‘what ifs’ in the world of professional wrestling before he died tragically after a car accident in 2015. In the mid-1980s, Landel seemed to be on the fast track to fame in becoming the heir apparent to “Nature Boy” Ric Flair’s top dog status in the NWA promotion. But Landel couldn’t steer clear of the fast life and would ultimately fade into obscurity for several years until a career resurrection in Jim Cornette’s Smoky Mountain Wrestling. Finally defeating his demons, he would turn his life around and become one of the feel good stories of wrestling before dying tragically after a car accident.

[Warning: This is only 36 pages long.]

Wildfire: The Career of Tommy Rich by Michael Cooney

Wrestling went through a Golden Era in the 1980s due to the advent of cable television. Hulk Hogan, Roddy Piper, and Ric Flair would become household names during this time. But the first wrestler to benefit from the change in the market would be none other than “Wildfire” Tommy Rich. Sporting shoulder-length bleached blonde hair and a good old boy personality, Tommy Rich would set attendance records in the Tennessee and Georgia areas before his star fizzled out almost as fast as he rose to the top.

[Warning: This is only 34 pages long.]

Tale of a Mad Dog: Wrestling Legend Buzz Sawyer by James Chaplin

Buzz Sawyer was considered one of the most athletically gifted wrestlers to campaign in the 1980s. Opinions vary on the man as most of the wrestlers who worked with him did not have a flattering assessment of his personality or character. All would concede, however, that he was a genuine bad ass in an era of tough guys. What was undeniable was his charisma and ability to entertain in one of wrestling’s Golden eras.

[Warning: This is only 38 pages long.]



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First Looks (2 May)

Here’s another batch of initial impressions of some recent releases 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.

Squared Circle Blues by Matt Posner is one of several novels set in the territory eras. There’s certainly plenty of authentic-sounding insider jargon (and politically incorrect dialogue) along with all the stock character gimmicks you’d expect to get. It may well be a slow burner however as the free sample appears to be more about explaining the business to non-fans than any major plot developments, though the effect of a struggling territory’s top star jumping ship to what’s clearly the WWWF appears to be the catalyst.

Hardway: A Novella by Hector Acosta seems to be more of a teen fiction drama based around backyarding rather than the fully pro business. The sample suggests the wrestling element might be more of a backdrop than the primary focus of the book, but it’s an easy read.

Taking Bumps: How I Made 49 Bucks In Pro Wrestling by Alexander Goodlive is a non-fiction memoir about what can only be described as very low-level indy wrestling. It’s very much about the business rather than Goodlive as an individual and there’s some intriguingly detailed accounts of what goes through his mind during a match.

Wake Up! It’s Feeding Time by Ryback Reeves is a selfhelp book that looks like its aimed at people who wouldn’t normally buy such a book. The sample covers nutritional advice (with fitness, motivation, money management and personal responsibility covered later on.) For the most part it seems to be simple, almost common sense points made in a clear way, but there’s also what feels like padding with several pages made up of lists of side effects associated with artificial sweeteners that are simply copied and pasted (with attribution) from medical and health websites. The sample does prove intriguing as it cuts off when a list of the supplements Ryback takes every day has already reached 10 items.

Teeny: Pro Wrestling’s Grand Dame by Brennon Martin is a biography of hia grandmother Christine Jarrett. While that’s no doubt a fascinating story of an undersung figure in the business, it’s a little disappointing to find it told in a “non-fiction novel” format with extensive detail and dialogue that the writer confirms in the foreword is imagined and recreated based on stories that have been passed down. The problem is that the dialogue so clearly being created in this way makes it difficult to trust any of the stories, making it hard to know what mindset to apply when reading.


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Wrestle Radio USA Grapplers Speak by Ed Symkus and Vinnie Carolan

Somewhat outdated in the Internet age, this is a collection of transcripts of radio interviews with wrestlers between 1993 and 1996.

There’s a combination of big names like Ric Flair and Rick Steamboat and future superstars in the early part of their career such as Triple H in his Jean Paul Levesque days.

For the most part the interviewees don’t explicitly break kayfabe, but neither do they insult anyone’s intelligence and it’s easy to read between the lines where necessary, while there’s plenty of behind the scenes talk.

The main drawback is that many of the interviews are relatively brief and there are plenty of one-line replies that don’t get followed up on. These are very much time-restricted radio segments rather than the type of in-depth talk that’s more commonplace in today’s shoot interview era.

It’s an interesting enough read and the anthology format keeps things moving, but the novelty of wrestlers being interviewed outside of a storyline setting is long gone, so this isn’t something to go out of your way to track down today.

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