For the most part this blog sticks to books released in print, partly because the number of e-Book titles is both so large and so variable in quality. Here are three that may be worthy of your attention, with the disclaimer that I am “online friends” with two of the authors (Millard and Davies.)
Confessions of a Smart Wrestling Fan by Lorcan Mullan
Lorcan Mullan has been a fan of the wild, unpredictable and unique world of professional wrestling for over twenty years. This book continues on from his hit solo stand-up comedy show in providing a personal history of life as a obsessive in the wild, bizarre and unique world of pre-determined tussles.
I’ll be honest and say I didn’t hold out much hope when I read the description, but it’s actually tremendous. I don’t know how many non-wrestling fans would actually stick with it all the way through (as opposed to seeing a one-hour show version), but I genuinely can’t imagine any wrestling fan in their forties or younger, particularly based in the UK, not enjoying it.
You’ll either enjoy the nostalgia, learn about being a fan “back in the day”, repeatedly recognise yourself in the book, or some combination of the three. There’s enough of the “here’s what happened in wrestling/here’s what happened in my life” to make it more interesting that a bunch of old Scott Keith reviews, but not so much that it becomes clunky.
It’s the closest thing to a wrestling version of Nick Hornby’s Fever Pitch. It covers everything from Hogan-Warrior to Cena-Punk, but it’s a “moments in a fan’s life” selection rather than a history of wrestling, so it’s got all those milestones like the first time you see an IWA/FMW tape advert, or that time Jacqueline went topless at Capital Carnage, along with pretending to be HHH in a WWE AOL chatroom and realising how much the crowd stinks at ROH in Liverpool along the way, plus the whole mark>smark>realising you were being a dick progression. Big thumbs up.
Smoke & Mirrors and Steven Seagal: The Burning Pants of Popular Culture by Stuart Millard
Millard peels back the curtain on the peddlers of tall tales and fantastical bunk, in those subcultures where the nature of truth is subjective.
From pro wrestling’s funhouse mirror world of kayfabe, there’s the method-acted insanity of Brian Pillman, and the mad lies of Hulk Hogan.
Martial arts gives us super-spy movie stars, deadly men like Count Dante, who can explode your heart from fifty paces, and the strange, forgotten story of James Hydrick, telekinetic Kung Fu cultist; the man no prison could hold.
In the paranormal realm, we’ve Derek Acorah, and the spectacular rise and lurid public fall of Most Haunted. Plus, the BBC’s Ghostwatch, a hoax that became the cultural bogeyman for an entire generation of Brits.
And could Bill Murray really be putting headlocks on the strangers of New York? And just what is his connection to Purple Aki?
This isn’t a wrestling book as such, but pro wrestling makes up a key part of it, both directly and tangentially. It’s a collection of accounts of a variety of celebrities and other public figures who, for one reason or another, have engaged in bending or breaking the truth.
Two chapters deal directly with wrestling. One attempts to comprehensively list the lies and exaggerations offered by Hulk Hogan in media appearances and books. It’s a perhaps impossible task, but gathered together like this even a small selection of his fibs makes for amazing reading.
The second wrestling chapter puts together one of the most detailed accounts of Brian Pillman’s “Loose Cannon” period in which he tried to fool fans, wrestlers and promoters alike with his supposed insanity and refusal to follow the script. Rather than just poke fun at the more outlandish moments, the book explores both the genius and flaws of Pillman, who was dead less than 18 months later.
The rest of the book deals with topics you may not be familiar with, but are sure to interest anyone fascinated by wrestling’s world of kayfabe. There are in-depth looks at infamous spoof documentary Ghostwatch and supposed psychic show Most Haunted, pieces on the myths of the supposed martial arts gurus, and the amazing story of grade one bullshitter and alleged psycho-kinetic practitioner James Hydrick. In every case it’s some of the most complete looks at the subject you’ll find anywhere, and whatever side of the Atlantic you lie on, it’s the ones you aren’t already familiar with that may prove the most fascinating.
Dixon: Life Of A Soap Star Bad Arse by Dan Davies
The most bad arse soap star in the UK has finally told his story in this action packed, adrenaline filled book! Read about Gary Dixon has he covers such insane events as how his parents were sex obsessed maniacs, how he caught the attention of his agent by sabotaging the school production of Scrooge by being inspired by his hero Razor Ramon, his first day on the hit soap Beverston Way, his tenure with the notorious teenage gang The Megaboyz, his problems with a stalker, his failed pop career with Justin Norris, the origins of his Beverston Way character Aaron Carew getting his canine best friend Wrighty, celebrating his 18th birthday with the Beverston Way cast, competing in a backyard wrestling match, his relationship with the hippy Anneka and their disastrous trip to Woodstock 99, how he met his future best friend drug dealer Jay Polotta, the holiday from hell in Ibiza, his first and last ever stint in panto and how he became blackballed from pantomime, the funeral of his childhood friend and how it became chaos, his drug use and the time he went to the premiere of Maid In Manhattan completely buzzed off his head, the trail of his former agent and how he lied in court to impress a cute girl, his last days on Beverston Way, the time he presented Britain’s Hardest Students on Sky and how he tried to confront a TV critic who slagged him off, the botched attempt to launch a fragrance, his attempt to crack America, the real truth about being kicked out of Celebrity Love On An Island, his dark days having to get a normal job and how he lost his Dixon Magic, being forced to sign on the dole, his stint in Trapped In The Jungle and which spirit of a 80’s pro wrestler helped him get through a challenge, when he went to PoloMania to impress a gold digger, his trip to The Gathering Of The Juggalos 2009 and meeting an old nemesis, filming the controversial film Kung Fu Midget which ended in the most action packed and ludicrous way, and getting what he wanted all along in the end but did he find happiness? All this in Dixon: Life Of A Soap Star Bad Arse!
*NOTE* This is a spoof autobiography. Whilst there are things based on real events, what happens in the book is entirely fictional and for entertainment purposes only.
This really is not for everyone. In fact, it’s not for most people. It’s a spoof autobiography of an actor who starts out on a soap (clearly Eastenders) and becomes a Z-List celebrity lad, getting into utterly ridiculous situations, including loads of silly fights that involve wrestling moves. As well as spoofing popular culture of the 90s and 2000s (particularly that of the UK), it’s an unintended history of WWE, games consoles and internet porn tech of the period, albeit with a definite bias.
There’s no denying it’s utterly stupid, juvenile and puerile, but I found it ridiculously funny. It’s a properly written book with a plot and everything, and I polished it off in a weekend because I kept wanting to see what came next.
It’s the kind of thing 99% of people will think the worst book ever and the other 1% will find inexplicably great. The free sample on the Kindle is pretty lengthy and representative, so do give that a read and you’ll know whether it’s going to appeal to you.
If it doesn’t, and it probably won’t, I apologise for subjecting you to such filth. But it’s a price worth paying to get the book in the hands of that rare person to whom it does.
(Sadly this no longer appears to be available to buy.)