Who’s The Daddy?: The Life and Times of Shirley Crabtree by Ryan Danes
Review / May 17, 2019

Who’s The Daddy is as much a story of Shirley Crabtree the man as it is Big Daddy the wrestler. Much like its subject, the book has clear strengths and weaknesses and its reception will depend largely on what the audience is looking for. It’s the fresh content that is the main advantage of the book. Author Ryan Danes has spoken extensively to Crabtree’s daughter Jane and uncovered some genuinely informative insights into his personal life. These build up a picture of a man with simple tastes who was never overly worried about money. We also learn a lot about some of Crabtree’s unusual quirks, his relationship struggles (including a shocking revelation involving the breakdown of one of his marriages) and the stresses of stardom and life on the road. It combines to give a balanced look at the man behind the character and serves to remind readers that simply labelling somebody as a good or bad person is overly simplistic. Unfortunately, like Daddy’s own in-ring performances, this isn’t enough to carry the show. The most striking negative is the book’s use of references to historical and world events with nothing to do with either Crabtree or wrestling. While this…