Pro Wrestling Books

Wrestling with words

Pro Wrestling Books - Wrestling with words

Pro Wrestling: A Comprehensive Wrestling Guide by Lew Freeman

It’s unfair to review a book having only read the free Kindle sample. But then it’s also unfair to produce something this bad and charge $94 for it.

You’ll often see academic books with ludicrous prices such as this, mainly because nobody is buying them with their own cash. You’ll often see wrestling books with as many factual errors, though admittedly usually in eBook-only titles that cost a dollar or two. But you’ll rarely see the two combined in this manner.

It starts out reasonably enough with a very simplified history of wrestling in America, albeit with a slightly odd jump from Evan Lewis, the original ‘Strangler’ of the late 19th, to the post-war territorial era. But within a few pages it goes to pot and the flurry of often-baffling errors begins.

We learn that shortly after 1983, Vince McMahon signed a deal to have wrestling shown five nights a week on TNT. We learn how the 1980s begin with the WWF overwhelming WCW and ECW.  We learn that Andre the Giant’s run as Giant Machine was a failed attempt to fool the fans. We learn how ECW was originally East Coast Wrestling.

It’s just a shame we don’t learn how this book got made or why it costs so much. But the fact that author Lew Freedman has more than 120 books listed on Amazon might be a clue.

Read on Kindle (Amazon.co.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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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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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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Recent Release Round-Up

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.

 


TrumpMania: Vince McMahon, WWE and the making of America’s 45th President by Lavie Margolin

The bluster and bravado that Trump witnessed at several WrestleManias, whether from a front row seat or inside the ring, surely lent a hand to his memorable electoral debate oratories. TrumpMania is the story, on screen and off, of the mutually beneficial business and personal relationship between Donald Trump, Vince & Linda McMahon and the WWF/WWE. No matter what side of the political aisle you sit on, it would be hard to deny that Vince McMahon had some hand in the election of the 45th President of the United States, Donald J. Trump.

(Disclaimer: I edited this book.)


Rival Angels: Season 3 Volume 1: Book 7: Double Trouble by Alan J Evans

Rival Angels is the #1 Wrestling Webcomic. Four sassy girls attempt to make a career for themselves in a male dominated sport: Professional Wrestling! They soon discover that surviving their battles outside of the ring will be tougher than their battles inside the ring.

Season 3 (Volume 7) sees Sun and Sabrina try to make in-roads in the tag team division, but nothing can prepare them for the Towers or Terror, Too Hott or the tag champions, Black and Blue. Krystin and Brooke try to get the next chapter of their careers in gear, if only they could get out of their own way!


To Be The Man: Evil Ain’t Good: Chapter 1 by Jared Vaughan Davis and Josh Taylor

The 80’s. Reagan’s ‘Murica. Where fantasy and reality are one and the same, and the heroes of the day are the booze-fueled demigods of the squared circle… “Fabulous” Frank Hazard and Greg “The Gargoyle” Grimes are just a couple of “the boys,” traveling up and down the road in search of fame, fortune, and glory. With their violent, blood-and-guts Southern territory under threat of extinction from the cartoonish promotion up North, Hazard and Grimes’s heated rivalry has spilled out of the ropes and into the batshit-insanity of their daily lives. But when the greedy promoter from the New York-based federation of World Wrestling All-Stars literally sells his soul to steal control of the southerners’ coveted championship belt, the two boozy bruisers will have to set aside their boiling hatred to form an unlikely tag team that must fight Evil in and out of the ring.


Wrestle Maniacs

A dozen dark fiction masters bring their twisted vision to the world of professional wrestling. Twelve original stories of crime, horror, humor, and taboo. Ohhh, yeahhh! This ain’t no kayfabe, baby. This is hard-hitting wrestling fiction that grips like a Camel Clutch, and pins the reader to the page for the count of one, two…THREE! Includes a confrontational foreword by ring legend ‘Pulverizing’ Pat McCrunch (as told to Jeff Strand)… An all-new story starring Nick ‘The Widowmaker’ Bullman from James Newman’s wrestling noir, “Ugly as Sin”… And ex-boxer turned strip club bouncer Reggie Levine (“Tijuana Donkey Showdown,” “Damn Dirty Apes”) returns for another action-packed misadventure. Whether you like it or not, learn to love it, because it’s the best thing going, WOOOOO!!


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.


Clash of the Champions: The Story of Sting CHAMPIONSHIP EDITION: Now featuring reviews of WWE’s two CoC events and more! by Ted Blanchard

Includes reviews of all of the WCW Clash of the Champions events, as well as WWE’s two Clash of Champions shows!

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

The saying that perception is reality applies to few industries more than professional wrestling, and none so more than the case of Brian Pillman. He was first a victim of the often baffling blurring between fact and fiction and then harnessed that confusion for his own advantage before his struggles to deal with physical reality ended in tragedy.

It’s a tale that is told expertly in Liam O’Rourke’s biography, a work that not only covers a subject that suits detailed examination but avoids many of the stumbling blocks of many similar books. At one extreme you have bios that are too light on detail, relying on broad strokes with little insight. At the other you have books where the author has clearly put immense work into research but lacked the self-discipline or self-awareness to edit down so that only relevant information is included – instead almost trying to prove they’ve put in the effort.

That’s not to say Crazy Like A Fox lacks research: quite the opposite. It’s packed with detail, with many revelations that were fresh even to this seasoned grappling obsessive (on the very first page we learn Pillman was half-Welsh), but every tidbit advances the story and illustrates a point.

As well as research on the details of matches, the book draws from a carefully selected batch of interviewees: enough to give a rounded insight to Pillman’s life and career but not so many that the reader loses track or that quotes are included for the sake of it. Perhaps surprisingly to some readers only two wrestlers (Raven and Shane Douglas) are among the interviewees, but the list includes figures who can speak with authority to Pillman’s dealings with the political nature of pro wrestling, notably ‘insider’ newsletter writer Dave Meltzer and NFL strength coach Kim Woods, both of whom acted as confidants and advisors for Pillman’s career choices.

For those unfamiliar with Pillman, or indeed with the wrestling business, the book fully explores his best-remembered period under the ‘Loose Cannon’ banner in the World Championship Wrestling. This involved Pillman secretly working with WCW chief Eric Bischoff to attempt to fool fans and colleagues alike that he was a performer out of control who would go off-script during live TV appearances. Pillman fully committed to the character, both at wrestling shows and in ‘real life’, becoming the talk of both the industry and a growing online community of fans who were as fascinated by behind-the-scenes machinations as the on-screen storylines.

The punchline was that Pillman was in fact playing Bischoff as much as his colleagues. The character – developed with Woods’ assistance – was designed to peak his notoriety just as his contract expired, the idea being to provoke a bidding war between WCW and the rival World Wrestling Federation. Indeed, at one stage Pillman even convinced Bischoff to order WCW’s human resource department to legitimately release him from his contract. While Bischoff believed this was simply a way to make the insider storyline more realistic, Pillman had in fact created an opportunity to begin negotiations with both sides on his own terms.

At the simplest level, Crazy Like A Fox explores these events in intricate detail. For example, it was already known that Pillman had planned to gain publicity for his ‘crazed’ character by chaining himself to the goalposts at the Super Bowl, giving up the idea only because he could not persuade contacts to lend him a pitch-side press pass. However, the book also reveals that he had tickets for a WWF event with the intention of attending in a mask and hitting the ring without authorization during the main event, unhooding to attract attention before the inevitable arrest, with only a family emergency foiling the plot.

More impressively, everything in the book sets the scene for this period of Pillman’s life and the context in which he pursued the character. We learn how football coaches could not overcome their perception of him as too small to succeed in his chosen position despite him performing impressively in real games. We also see how he learned the lesson that attracting attention and becoming a known figure in the locker room helped him politically in both football and wrestling.

We also discover how Pillman came to learn how perception is reality in the multi-layered world of pro wrestling. Promoters decided he was too bland or small to attract ticket-buying customers and TV viewers, selectively choosing their evidence and ignoring the occasions when Pillman proved he really could ‘get over’ with a crowd. Yet we also realise how the process works in reverse: by portraying Pillman as a loser in wrestling storylines, promoters were able to damage his standing with the audience and in turn hurt his market value. Indeed, the way in which wrestlers with large guaranteed contracts were promoted in prime position to justify the expenditure was a self-fulfilling prophecy that both frustrated and drove Pillman in his career choices.

That leads the book to its depressing final section in which Pillman is hit with the cruellest blow: just as he becomes the bidding war prize he hoped, he suffers a serious car wreck that destroys his ability to perform in the ring with advanced athleticism. Joining WWF just a couple of years before it exploded in popularity headed by his former partner Steve Austin, Pillman sinks into a cycle of painkiller dependency and personal life chaos. It’s sadly no spoiler to reveal that he died in 1997 of a cocaine-induced heart attack like exacerbated by damage caused from steroid use.

To try to pick out criticisms of the book is a difficult task. For British readers at least, a little more explanation of the college sports system might have made it easier to understand the progress Pillman made and the challenges he faced. There’s also an analogy to Hitler and Martin Luther King that comes across as a little heavy-handed. But these are petty niggles at worst.

While Crazy Like A Fox justifies its billing as ‘the definitive chronicle of Brian Pillman’, it is far more than the tale of one man’s life. Both Pillman’s journey and the way in which it is told here serve as a truly enlightening explanation of the physical and psychological stresses of a business that few people truly understand.

Brian Pillman was one of those people and one of the many tragedies of this story is that ultimately this didn’t make a difference.

(This review originally appeared on the Cinemazine site.)

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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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Special Offer On Greg Oliver Books

Until tomorrow (August 31), ECW Press is offering Greg Oliver’s Slam! Wrestling: Shocking Stories from the Squared Circle along with your choice of any one of his other books for CAD$20 plus shipping.

The choice includes:

  • Benoit: Wrestling with the Horror that Destroyed a Family and Crippled a Sport
  • The Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame: Heroes and Icons
  • The Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame: The Heels
  • The Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame: The Tag Teams
  • The Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame: The Canadians (Check out my review)

Here’s the blurb on the SLAM book:

Founded by Greg Oliver and John Powell, SLAM! Wrestling (http://slam.canoe.ca/Slam/Wrestling/home.html) changed the way North America’s true favorite pastime was presented on the web. With the backing of Sun Media and Canoe, SLAM! Wrestling brought pure journalism to the muddy waters of the pro wrestling media coverage. Never in the Internet Age had the squared circle been viewed with a keen eye by reporters and analysts who broke down the philosophy of wrestling and feted its legends, while also not being afraid to show the very human side of the locker rooms that are hidden from the plain eye inside the world’s biggest arenas.

SLAM! Wrestling takes readers on a journey through SLAM! Wrestling’s first dozen years and the often all-too real world of professional wrestling. From WWE to the independent leagues that dot North America’s landscape, SLAM! Wrestling gives the unique view of the reporter’s eye as history unfolds, including interviews with “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, John Cena, “The Rock” Dwayne Johnson, Trish Stratus and many others.

Plus, for the first time ever, SLAM! Wrestling’s writers take you behind the scenes and share their insights into what made the site stand out as one of the most respected sources for information in all of the Internet wrestling community. From the celebration of WrestleMania XVIII in Toronto, to the tragic death of Owen Hart and many others, SLAM! Wrestling has covered it all and now brings the history of the mat wars straight to your bookshelf.

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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.


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.


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

A comprehensive look back at every episode of WCW Monday Nitro and Thunder from January – June 1999. WCW is in trouble and there’s not much of a better way to put it. They’re being defeated by Monday Night Raw in the Monday Night Wars, but as any wrestling historian can tell you, that doesn’t mean there’s no hope. Monday Night Raw was crushed for the better part of two years so maybe WCW can come back as well. In this book, every episode of both shows in the first half of 1999 is reviewed in full, complete with analysis, ratings and complete content


Shoot by Zachary Keith Jesse Smith

Josh is a failed independent wrestler who has taken his other love, beer, as his constant companion. One day he is given a chance to get back in the ring, and he is determined to make this opportunity into what he had always dreamed his career would be. The championship belt is like the holy grail to some wrestlers, and Josh is really hoping he is worthy of that prize.


Over: A Short Story Collection About Wrestling by Zachary Keith Jesse Smith

A short story collection about the lives, relationships, dreams, and failures of the people in the WBC (World’s Best Competition) wrestling promotion. “The story keeps going. It’s never over.” This collection features characters from the novel Shoot, continuing their stories, as well as giving the reader a glimpse into their lives before they were professional wrestlers.


KB’s Complete 2002 Monday Night Raw Reviews by Thomas Hall

To say 2002 was an up and down (ok mostly down) year for Monday Night Raw is a huge understatement. The show underwent a variety of changes, many of which would affect the way the company operated for years to come. That certainly sounds like something that deserves to be looked at again all these years later. 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.


A Wrestler’s Lament: And one hundred other poems by Joe D’Orazio

A poem is a window into somebody’s mind. The pages within this book allow you to peek through that window and into the creative side of a much-loved mind of the old wrestling scene. The average wrestler has a tough image. By taking the time to read this book, that image of Joe D’Orazio will dissolve and leave behind a residue of his humbleness. Poetry found its way into Joe’s life when he met his wife, Tina. With her support and inspiration and his energy and dedication he became a published poet and author. As Joe firmly believes “The world would be a better place if we all spoke poetry to each other”. So we invite you to peel back the cover and experience his love, sweetness and cracking sense of humour.


Three-Way Dance by Michael Chin, Frankie Metro & Brian Rosenberger

The following collection of professional wrestling themed literature is no disqualifications, no count-outs, and no holds barred … Our first writer, hailing from Utica, New York, with his chapbook of prose poetry (and lyric essay) “The Leo Burke Finish,” is the student, the scholar, the technician, Mike Chin. Our second entrant, with his story “Todo lo Malo,” comes to you via the open road, by way of Albuquerque, New Mexico. He is the enigmatic Frankie Metro. And our third and final writer, hailing from Parts Unknown, and armed with his chapbook “The Rulebreaker’s Alphabet,” is the spiritual lovechild of Bruiser Brody, aka Brian Rosenberger. Three men enter the squared circle, and the winner, dear reader, is you. Gimmick Press proudly presents … Three-Way Dance!


And as usual Stuart Carapola has published another 873 or so books.

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