Pro Wrestling Books

Wrestling with words

Pro Wrestling Books - Wrestling with words

Wrestling Noir: Real In Memphis by Stevie Pearson

A bombastic, high-energy story, this novel’s writing doesn’t quite rise up to the level of its plot.

As with several pieces of wrestling fiction, most notably the Blood Red, Dollar Green series, this is based on the often shady underworld of the territorial era of wrestling. While it’s set in 1979 Memphis, it’s more of an archetype than a direct homage to its real-life equivalent promotion. For example, one common theme is the territory adjusting to the national expansion of a New York promotion with a more entertainment-based product and approach to kayfabe.

The story is certainly never dull, with all manner of outlandish characters double-crossing one another, the plot taking full advantage of the questionable ethics and reality of a world that straddles fiction and business. Some of the themes are explicitly adult and it’s certainly an example of a world that works for the benefit of an eventful plot, even if a promotion that had this level of extra-curricular activity among its roster would likely struggle to put together a line-up week after week.

Unfortunately the writing lets down the plot at times, with inconsistent punctuation and a particular problem of every sentence of dialogue being on a new line regardless of the speaker, making it hard to keep track of what’s happening in the many passages of extended conversation. More generally, there are several cases where ‘tell’ is preferred to ‘show’, with key plot developments and twists explicitly referenced in a way that takes the reader out of the immersion.

Hopefully this will be addressed in future instalments as there’s plenty of scope for finding out what happens next to this rogues’ gallery of characters — at least those who survive…

(Disclosure: The author provided a review copy.)

Read on Kindle: Amazon.com

Read on Kindle: Amazon.co.uk

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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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Death of the Territories by Tim Hornbaker

After previous books exploring the history of the NWA and wrestling in the New York region, Tim Hornbaker covers the collision between the two. Death of the Territories covers the period between Vincent Kennedy McMahon taking control of the World Wrestling Federation in 1982 and the sale of Jim Crockett Promotions to Ted Turner in 1988.

At times, the book offers fascinating insights, either revealing incidents through Hornbaker’s characteristic research skills, or highlighting seemingly small nuggets of information that prove significant with hindsight. Unfortunately the book doesn’t keep up this momentum and instead loses focus.

While the basics of McMahon breaching traditional territorial boundaries and being first in an inevitable race as cable TV exposed stars nationwide are well known, Death of the Territories certainly covers angles usually left out of the story. For example, accounts often point to the way Georgia’s TBS going nationwide as the original ‘Superstation’ meant its stars had fans beyond its territorial border, but Hornbaker highlights that the New York-based WOR station – which carried McMahon’s flagship show – also went across the country as cable and satellite television grew.

Similarly the story of Georgia Championship Wrestling promoting in Ohio as an early expansion comes with some additional detail and context. There’s a great story about the promotion booking a disputed finish and openly inviting letters of protest simply as a market research exercise to find out where viewers lived. Hornbaker also notes how the surprising level of interest in Columbus, Ohio wasn’t so much that it was an inherently wrestling-friendly city, rather than structural issues meant it had a disproportionately high level of homes with cable television.

Indeed, perhaps the biggest strength of the book is how it stresses that McMahon was by no means the only promoter who tried to compete on a national scale – simply the one who did it most effectively.

In another example of joining the dots, it’s commonly recounted that WWF drew attention in the weeks before WrestleMania with mainstream appearances on shows such as Late Night with David Letterman, SportsWorld and Saturday Night Live. However, Hornbaker notes the likely lack of coincidence that all three shows – along with Mr T in The A-Team – all aired on NBC, the same network that would begin airing Saturday Night’s Main Event just a couple of months later, suggesting particularly strong relations.

The real shame of the book is that these early pieces of insight are later lost as the book descends into extended periods of summing up the in-ring events of the various territories with little context or narrative significance. For several paragraphs at a time, the book simply lists wrestlers who worked in a particular territory and who held the titles, with little relation to the bigger picture of McMahon’s expansion and each territory’s fate.

This feels a lot more of a problem as the book nears its conclusion, with one example being a short section on SuperClash III, arguably the last real attempt of the surviving regional promoters to work together. Readers are told the pay-per-view buyrate was “0.5” but given no indication what this means, how it compared to other shows of the era, or why it proved a financial failure. That’s particularly problematic in 2018 when the very concept of PPV revenue being a significant measure of business is now several years out of date.

Despite its flaws, the book certainly has something for everyone, and is more readable than both of Hornbaker’s previous titles. Fans who know the story of the 80s wars will enjoy many new tidbits, while those exploring the topic for the first time will find this a useful primer. But the best historical books combine fresh facts and insight with a strong and compelling storyline, and after a strong start, this sadly drifts away from both goals in the latter stages.

(This review originally appeared in Fighting Spirit Magazine.)

Read on Kindle (Amazon.com)

Read on Kindle (Amazon.com.uk)

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I’m Sorry I Love You by Jim Smallman

Imagine a Scott Keith book. Now imagine it was funny. And then imagine it was largely accurate. It wouldn’t be a Scott Keith book any more, but it might be a bit like this.

PROGRESS promoter and stand-up comedian Smallman has put together what is carefully labeled as “a” rather than “the” history of professional wrestling, and in the big picture it does a good job of such a daunting task. It aims to cover all aspects and time periods, and while there’s a natural tendency towards the (comparatively) more recent times, the book is a third of the way through before getting to WrestleMania III.

It’s a general overview of the themes and events of the wrestling business over time, with the WWF expansion, the death of the territories and the Monday Night War era having a particularly coherent narrative. It’s told in a casual style with plenty of commentary and asides, largely as you might expect from a stand-up and wrestling promotion front man who is writing in his natural voice.

Whether it’s the subject matter or simply the writing process, the strengths and weaknesses of the book do seem to fall into three sections. In the earlier chapters, while the historical content is very good, the comic asides are relentless, at some points seeing virtually every paragraph end in a punchline. If you’re not a fan of this style it may seem overbearing and some tighter editing would have helped the stronger gags have more impact.

The sweet spot is the aforementioned middle section where the asides are more selective and are more about adding personality to the narrative. In several cases they enhance the story being told rather than simply being comedy for the sake of it, such as an apt footballing analogy for the match quality of Hogan and Andre.

The format does drop off a little in the last few chapters covering the post-WCW era. The quality of the writing and content isn’t diminished, but it’s not quite as tightly focused, jumping from topic to topic more often. There’s also a lot more of Smallman’s personal perspective on (and even involvement in) the events, which works better in some cases than others.

While the book does have several factual errors, they aren’t glaring (in many cases being a case of taking promotional claims of sellouts or big figures as accurate). There’s enough of them to be noticeable by more dedicated readers but they never affect the big picture narratives.

Judging the book as a whole depends on the audience. For long-term fans who’ve read a lot of wrestling history, there might not be enough new here to make it a must-read. For more casual fans or those who’ve got into wrestling in recent years, it’s an excellent starting point to learn the history of American wrestling, particularly given the lack of serious books out there tackling such a wide topic.

Read on Kindle (Amazon.com)

Read on Kindle (Amazon.co.uk)

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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.

Read on Kindle (Amazon.com)

Read on Kindle (Amazon.co.uk)

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Quick Thoughts: Eggshells & Death Of The Territories

I have upcoming reviews in Fighting Spirit Magazine for two books, which I’ll add here once the issue is off sale, so here’s some quick thoughts.

Eggshells: Pro Wrestling In The Tokyo Dome by Chris Charlton is well worth a look if you have any interest in Japanese wrestling. It’s got full run downs of every show in the building, including some I was previously unaware of. There’s also plenty of background and context, so in some ways it’s also an overview of New Japan in particular over the past 30 years.

Death of The Territories is the latest Tim Hornbaker title, covering the period between Vince McMahon taking over from his father and Ted Turner buying out Jim Crockett. It gets off to a great start with some interesting details that haven’t been widely discussed and a good job of highlighting context. However, the latter stages concentrate too much on in-ring events that don’t really contribute to the narrative.

 

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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.

 


NITRO: The Incredible Rise and Inevitable Collapse of Ted Turner’s WCW by Guy Evans

In April 1999, Entertainment Weekly asked its readers what many were surely wondering to themselves: how did wrestling get so big? As a consequence of the heated ratings competition between World Championship Wrestling (WCW) and the World Wrestling Federation (WWF), the spectacle had taken over Monday nights on prime-time cable television. But in a departure from the family-friendly programming produced by the last industry boom – the 1980s wave, which made household names of Hulk Hogan, ‘Rowdy’ Roddy Piper and Andre the Giant – the new era of wrestling combined stunning athleticism with a raunchy sex appeal, engrossing story lines and novel production techniques that reflected a changing society and its shifting values. Once again, wrestling was a ubiquitous phenomenon – only this time, it seemed as though the fad would never end. With both WCW and WWF expanding into other forms of entertainment – movies, video games, music and the like – the potential for growth appeared to be limitless. But with uncertainty surrounding its corporate future, and increasingly uninspired programming eroding its audience, WCW stood on the verge of collapse. Three years into a five-year plan devised by its charismatic leader – a former Blue Ribbon Foods salesman named Eric Bischoff – the company whose unexpected ascension initiated the entire boom was operating on borrowed time. For by the end of the five-year plan, WCW ceased to exist. But NITRO is a story about much more than WCW and the Monday Night Wars. It is a story of an era, a time in which the media and cultural landscape precipitated – and later supported – pro wrestling’s mainstream popularity. It is a story of how a company made in the image of an intuitively brilliant risk-taker betrayed its original promise. It is a story of how a handful of men, each struggling with their own limitations, facilitated a public obsession that changed television forever. And so, with the inside knowledge of a journalist, the perspective of a historian, and the passion of a fan, author Guy Evans provides a fresh look at an unfortunate inevitability – the downfall of World Championship Wrestling. Bolstered by exclusive interviews with over 120 former TBS and WCW employees, NITRO is the definitive picture of the last wrestling boom. Featuring exclusive interviews and comments from: Eric Bischoff, fmr. President of World Championship Wrestling; Harvey Schiller, fmr. President of Turner Sports; Jamie Kellner, fmr. CEO of Turner Broadcasting System; Bill Burke, fmr. President of TBS network; Joe Uva, fmr. President of Turner Entertainment Sales and Marketing; Scot Safon, fmr. SVP of Marketing for TNT network; Kevin Nash, WWE Hall of Famer and 5-time WCW world champion; Diamond Dallas Page, WWE Hall of Famer and 3-time WCW world champion; Vince Russo, fmr. WCW writer; Marcus ‘Buff’ Bagwell, fmr. WCW superstar and 5-time world tag team champion; Kevin Sullivan, fmr. WCW superstar and head booker; Hugh Morrus, fmr. WCW superstar; Neal Pruitt, fmr. WCW Feature Producer and voice of the nWo; David Crockett, fmr. WCW Vice President of Production; Dick Cheatham, fmr. Group Controller for TBS; Alan Sharp, fmr. WCW Director of Public Relations; Mike Weber, fmr. WCW Director of Marketing; Rob Garner, fmr. WCW Vice President of TV Programming and Sales Jerry Jarrett, legendary wrestling promoter and booker… And many, many, many more!

 


Lord Carlton: Aristocrat of the Mat by K.K. Herzbrun and John Cosper

Leo Whippern was a talented young painter, the descendant of Hungarian royalty, and a phenomenal athlete, but as “Sailor” Tug Carlson, his life was headed no where. He was just another fit grappler in black trunks with nothing to make him stand out. Then without any warning, Tug Carlson was gone. In his place came a veteran of Her Majesty’s Royal Navy, a world-traveler, a British nobleman intent on teaching the Americans what a truly outstanding athlete looks like. K.K. Herzbrun, daughter of his lordship, and John Cosper (author of “Dr. D” David Schultz’s best-selling autobiography) tell the story of a forgotten legend of the 1950s, a heel on par with the great Gorgeous George who sold out arenas from coast to coast in the 1950s. Inspired by Lord Lansdowne, the same man whose gimmick inspired Gorgeous George, Whippern transformed himself into the British heel Lord Leslie Carlton. His new heel persona made him a rich man as he created drama in and out of the ring, but his family life after wrestling proved to be even wilder than any wrestling storyline. Lord Leslie Carlton’s tale is a story of triumph and heartbreak. It’s the story of a stellar athlete and a talented artist, an eclectic migrant family, a tragic murder, a vengeful wife, and the daughter who somehow found the God her father never believed in.

 


What the World Was Watching: The World Wrestling Federation in 1995 by Logan Scisco

1995 was the doldrums of the professional wrestling industry. Major promotions such as the World Wrestling Federation (WWF) and World Championship Wrestling (WCW) lost money, ratings for programming declined, and suspicions of drug and steroid use clouded the sport. However, 1995 also set the stage for a post-Hulkamania wrestling boom as the Monday Night Wars began and talent switched companies. This book offers a historical glance at the WWF in 1995, reviewing all of its major televised programming, compiling win/loss data for superstars, charting major feuds and angles, ranking matches, and providing a timeline for the year’s major events.

 


Memoirs of a Mad Man by Mad Man Pondo

“He’s just a bleeder,” they said. “He can’t wrestle. All he can do is bleed!” Mad Man Pondo never argued when people called him “just a bleeder.” He knows who he is, and he’s embraced it. He knows that his high tolerance for pain, his fearless nature, and his talent for bleeding are the reason he’s wrestled all around the world, starred in three video games, appeared in a horror film with one of his great heroes, befriended celebrities from the A-list to the D-list, and become a legend to deathmatch wrestling fans everywhere. Now, Mad Man Pondo is telling his story his way. He takes you from his early days as a wrestling fan in Flora, Illinois who accidentally got his butt kicked by Jos LeDuc to his glory days as a headliner for Big Japan. You’ll read about in-ring encounters with Junkyard Dog, Terry Funk, and Kevin Sullivan; real life run-ins with David Blaine and Benny Hinn; and unexpected confrontations outside the ring with crazed fans and the Yakuza. You’ll learn how his small cable access show Skull Talk led him to become a casting agent for Jerry Springer and how a deathmatch legend gets to rub shoulders with the likes of MC Hammer, Jonny Fairplay, Mick Foley, Eli Roth, and Robert Englund. Pondo shares stories about his most legendary deathmatch encounters and the inspirational story behind his all-women’s promotion, Girl Fight. And you’ll read his unforgettable speech from the Juggalo March on Washington D.C. at the Lincoln Memorial where Forrest Gump once cried out, “Jenny!!!” With a foreword by Vanilla Ice (yes, THE Vanilla Ice!), dozens of must-see photos, and countless stories from friends, fans, and fellow grapplers, Memoirs of a Mad Man is an all-out extreme autobiography as graphic and over the top as a Four Corners of Pain Deathmatch.

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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.

 


Wahoo McDaniel Record Book: 1962-1996 by Greg Mosorjak with Mark James

A record book containing the results of over 5000 matches from the legendary professional wrestler, Wahoo McDaniel. One of the sport’s legitimate tough guys, Wahoo was an unstoppable force in the ring. This record book looks back over his 34 year career.

 


Wrestliana by Toby Litt

Toby Litt’s father wanted him to find about their ancestor: William Litt, a champion Cumberland Wrestler.

William was one of the greatest ever ‘kings of the green’ – a man who reigned undefeated in one of the nineteenth century’s most popular sports, taking home over 200 prize belts. William had other talents, as well. He was almost certainly a smuggler – and definitely published poet and novelist.

But Toby knew that coming to terms with him would be hard. A huge and fascinating man, William was also troubling. He ended his life in poverty and exile. And as well as having to measure himself up against this apparent paragon of masculinity, Toby would have to uncover uncomfortable memories and hard truths.

Would Toby like what he found out about himself along the way? As a novelist, as a son, and as a father in turn? Would he have to get in the wrestling ring? … Would he even want to?

Using the nineteenth century as a guide, Wrestliana asks vital questions about modern-day masculinity, competition, and success. It is a beautiful portrait of two men and their different worlds, full of surprises and sympathy, and a wonderful evocation of a lost place and time.

 


Milestones: How pro wrestling has been shaped into what we know today by Edward T Brickeen Jr.

Pro wrestling has evolved from massive gates at Comiskey Park at the turn of the century to dimly lit halls and gyms to hockey and basketball arenas in primetime. The wrestling world has changed and here are the important events in the modern history that has given us the shows we have today.

 


NXT: The Full Sail Years Volume III: From Dallas To New Orleans by Thomas Hall

What more is there to say about NXT? The promotion, which started off as nothing more than a developmental territory to build up some of WWE’s stars, has taken on a life of its -own. There have been more classic matches, more stars made and more great moments there than anywhere else in recent wrestling memory. In this book, I’ll be breaking down over one hundred more episodes of NXT plus ten live specials and breaking each one down match by match and segment by segment. Included will be analysis and ratings for the shows to see what worked and what didn’t.

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Canvas Countdown by Paul Meehan

Following on from my recent review of The WWE Book of Top 10s, this independently produced alternative is a mixed bag with some worthwhile elements.

It’s a similar format of 100 lists of 10 entries, almost all with a brief explanatory paragraph. As you’d expect, the big difference is the absence of photos: how important that is depends on the reader.

Other differences are that the book covers a much wider range of promotions and that the lists are for the most part in no specific order. This can occasionally be a little jarring when something seems to be obviously in a “wrong” position and in a second volume it might be worthwhile putting the entries in alphabetical order to reinforce the point that the items aren’t ranked.

One of the strong points is the diversity of subjects covered with examples including amusing real middle names of wrestlers, PWI Rookies of the Year that proved a wise choice, and wrestlers whose ring name involved a family relationship.

Perhaps surprisingly, some of the more intriguing lists are the purely objective stats-based ones. I certainly wouldn’t have picked out which wrestler has an 0-16 record at the Royal Rumble or who has the most wrestling pay-per-view appearances, while on a non-wrestling note it’s something of a surprise to see how many more people follow WWE stars on Instagram than Twitter.

It’s not a 100% hit rate: a couple of the lists feel overly smarky while others feel a bit like a clickbait listicle. But overall it’s got enough worthwhile content to justify it as something to read in small chunks, particularly at the Kindle price.

Read on Kindle (Amazon.com)

Read on Kindle (Amazon.co.uk)

(Disclaimer: The author provided a review copy.)

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Jim Cornette Comic Book On The Way

A 60-page graphic novel covering some of Jim Cornette’s favourite stories is the latest wrestling project on Kickstarter:

Jim Cornette Presents: Behind the Curtain – Real Pro Wrestling Stories is a historical look at some of the most impactful behind-the-scenes moments in pro wrestling history, presented through the eyes of legendary wrestling personality Jim Cornette. A true-story style anthology, these ‘insider’ tales will show the lengths that wrestlers went to uphold ‘kayfabe’ (the old carny term for the presentation of legitimate conflict) as well as the noteworthy cultural, racial & economic impact these events and characters had on society. This is the graphic novel that old school wrestling fans have been waiting their entire lives for: a no holds barred graphic representation of the moments that wrestling insiders couldn’t talk about for years.

The book — which has already met its funding target — will be written and illustrated by Brandon Easton and Denis Medri, the team behind Andre The Giant: Closer to Heaven.

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