Don’t let a minor controversy detract from one of the better wrestling history books out there.
The first of Oliver’s Hall of Fame series (as much a way of tying the books together as an attempt to compete with the likes of the WWE and Wrestling Observer halls), this attracted some attention from a disgruntled Bret Hart, outraged at being ranked only 14th in the book’s opening section of the top 20 Canadian wrestlers. While Oliver makes a great case for the likes of Whipper Watson, Yvon Robert and Killer Kowalksi taking the top spots, Hart being ranked below Sky Low Low and Little Beaver certainly does look odd.
Still, concentrating on the rankings misses the point of the book, which is an excellent set of profiles of Canadian grapplers. From his work at the SLAM site, Oliver has developed the skills and contact lists to get insight from wrestlers across the generations and that pays off here. No matter how knowledgeable you are about wrestling history, you’ll likely learn something new or get a fresh perspective in every profile.
The most notable aspect of the book is realising just how many major names in wrestling originated in Canada. The likes of Abdullah the Butcher, the Tolos Brothers, Rick Martel, Paul ‘Kato’ Diamond, Ron Garvin, Rocky Johnson, Ivan Koloff, Buddy Roberts, Jerry Valiant, Stan Stasiak, Steve Corino, Test and Val Venis all get their due coverage here.
It’s hard to imagine anyone not being both entertained and informed by this, making it a strong recommendation.