Most definitely in the collectors category, this is a good example of wrestling in its era, albeit one that doesn’t lend any real insight into the business itself. It’s the work of Jack Curley, a major boxing and wrestling promoter of the late 19th and early 20th century, responsible for several of the style and rule changes that made pro wrestling more entertaining, and a key part of the original “wrestling trust”, a forerunner to the NW...

When the index to a book takes up 25 pages, you know it’s going to be detailed. While it’s reputation may have been boosted a little by its irritating rarity, Gary Hart’s tale remains one of the top tier books on pro wrestling. In its simplest terms, it’s an account of a wide-ranging career taking in wrestling, managing and booking in multiple territories, most notably in Florida and World Class. The breadth of Hart’s time in and arou...

This is a great historical study that was sorely in need of an editor. Covering the history of the Alliance — and by default the US wrestling business as a whole — from its origins in the 1940s  through to the 1970s, with some brief coverage of later events, what really stands out here is the detail. Hornbaker has clearly worked tirelessly to track down documentary evidence rather than rely on the opinions and memories of those involved. Key...

One of the big perils of successful career autobiographies — as seen with Mick Foley — is that subsequent volumes cover a shorter and shorter period and require more padding out of concentration on trivial detail. Chris Jericho has presumably tried to avoid this with his fourth book, which is presented not as a chronological sequel but rather a self-help motivational title. Such an approach can work, as shown in Bobby Heenan’s follow-up t...

A Hornwsoggle autobiography might not seem the most obviously engaging title, but it could be the sleeper surprise of 2019. While the book does address Postl’s height and medical condition, it’s very much not a cliched story of “triumph over tragedy”. Instead most of the detail on the subject is about the practicalities of his lack of height such as the fact he can drive a car without any problems but would likely be endan...

If photo books are your cup of tea, this is one of the better wrestling options. It’s based around a tight theme, specifically the small ECCW promotion in British Columbia. Given the subject, it’s an appropriately low-fi presentation: a black and white photo on the right hand side of each spread, with an accompanying extended caption on the left-hand side. These add useful background detail and context, and can sometimes be wonderfully dry ...

A brief read, this still manages to convey a life and career that was fuller and more widely influential than many wrestlers can dream of. There are few wrestling tales that take you from the Snake Pit in Wigan (described in all its unglamorous reality) to the US territorial scene to both the glory days of New Japan’s TV era and the growth of the shoot-style promotions (and in events obviously not covered here, to WWE’s cruiserweight show via...

This is about as a close to a must-read wrestling book as is possible in something dealing with a niche topic. Most wrestling histories fall into one of two traps: they have solid research delivered in a dry, academic manner; or they are full of engaging stories but don’t give a complete picture and context. McCoy is one of the rare authors who manages to pull off a book that tells a story in a comprehensive, authoritative and highly readable m...

In the days when wrestling books were a relative rarity, this was a reasonable buy. Today it will be of little interest to most fans. Part of a “Performance Studies” series, this is two for two on the “wrestling academia” checklist: it quotes Roland Barthes’ essay on wrestling, and it devotes little or not attention to the fact that people promote professional wrestling events as a business. Indeed, most of the book continues along the...

(I must, of course, include a disclaimer here — I wrote for Power Slam over the course of around 30 issues in 1996-1998 and 2006-7.) For those readers who were aggrieved at Power Slam being restricted to 40 pages — a subject addressed in this book — this will be more than compensation. At approximately 240,000 words, it’s a perfect example of a title that would only be viable as an e-book as a printed copy would have been unmanageably bul...

Modern Wrestling by Jack Curley and Nat Fleischer
Review , Uncategorized / August 23, 2019

Most definitely in the collectors category, this is a good example of wrestling in its era, albeit one that doesn’t lend any real insight into the business itself. It’s the work of Jack Curley, a major boxing and wrestling promoter of the late 19th and early 20th century, responsible for several of the style and rule changes that made pro wrestling more entertaining, and a key part of the original “wrestling trust”, a forerunner...

My Life in Wrestling by Gary Hart
Review / August 22, 2019

When the index to a book takes up 25 pages, you know it’s going to be detailed. While it’s reputation may have been boosted a little by its irritating rarity, Gary Hart’s tale remains one of the top tier books on pro wrestling. In its simplest terms, it’s an account of a wide-ranging career taking in wrestling, managing and booking in multiple territories, most notably in Florida and World Class. The breadth of Hart’s time i...

National Wrestling Alliance by Tim Hornbaker
Review / August 21, 2019

This is a great historical study that was sorely in need of an editor. Covering the history of the Alliance — and by default the US wrestling business as a whole — from its origins in the 1940s  through to the 1970s, with some brief coverage of later events, what really stands out here is the detail. Hornbaker has clearly worked tirelessly to track down documentary evidence rather than rely on the opinions and memories of those inv...

Release Schedule (21 August)
Release Schedule / August 21, 2019

One new entry this week, WWE Kicking Down Doors: Female Superstars Are Ruling the Ring and Changing the Game!. Although it’s from DK, which has published several authorised WWE titles such as Raw and Smackdown histories, this is listed as: NOT LICENSOR APPROVED The top female Superstars in WWE’s history, plus their most exciting moments and matches! It’s likely the “Not Licensor Approved” may refer to the c...

No Is A Four Letter Word by Chris Jericho
Review / August 20, 2019

One of the big perils of successful career autobiographies — as seen with Mick Foley — is that subsequent volumes cover a shorter and shorter period and require more padding out of concentration on trivial detail. Chris Jericho has presumably tried to avoid this with his fourth book, which is presented not as a chronological sequel but rather a self-help motivational title. Such an approach can work, as shown in Bobby Heenan’s fo...

Life Is Short And So Am I by Dylan “Hornswoggle” Postl with Ross Owen Williams
Review / August 20, 2019

A Hornwsoggle autobiography might not seem the most obviously engaging title, but it could be the sleeper surprise of 2019. While the book does address Postl’s height and medical condition, it’s very much not a cliched story of “triumph over tragedy”. Instead most of the detail on the subject is about the practicalities of his lack of height such as the fact he can drive a car without any problems but would likel...

One Ring Circus by Brian Howell
Review / August 16, 2019

If photo books are your cup of tea, this is one of the better wrestling options. It’s based around a tight theme, specifically the small ECCW promotion in British Columbia. Given the subject, it’s an appropriately low-fi presentation: a black and white photo on the right hand side of each spread, with an accompanying extended caption on the left-hand side. These add useful background detail and context, and can sometimes be wonder...

Physical Chess by Billy Robinson with Jake Shannon
Review / August 15, 2019

A brief read, this still manages to convey a life and career that was fuller and more widely influential than many wrestlers can dream of. There are few wrestling tales that take you from the Snake Pit in Wigan (described in all its unglamorous reality) to the US territorial scene to both the glory days of New Japan’s TV era and the growth of the shoot-style promotions (and in events obviously not covered here, to WWE’s cruiserweigh...

Pain and Passion: The History of Stampede Wrestling by Heath McCoy
Review / August 14, 2019

This is about as a close to a must-read wrestling book as is possible in something dealing with a niche topic. Most wrestling histories fall into one of two traps: they have solid research delivered in a dry, academic manner; or they are full of engaging stories but don’t give a complete picture and context. McCoy is one of the rare authors who manages to pull off a book that tells a story in a comprehensive, authoritative and highly ...

Release Schedule (14 August)
Release Schedule / August 14, 2019

20 August: Jim Cornette Presents: Behind the Curtain – Real Pro Wrestling Stories by Jim Cornette & Brandon Easton 1 September: Thumbelina, Wrestling Champ: A Graphic Novel (Far Out Fairy Tales) by Alberto Rayo & Alex Lopez 3 September: Soulman: The Rocky Johnson Story by Rocky Johnson & Scott Teal (Check out my review.) 3 September: WWE 35 Years of Wrestlemania by Brian Shields & Dean Miller 10 September: Life Is Short and So Am I: M...