The Story Of The Development Of The NWATNA by Jerry Jarrett
Review / June 7, 2019

While Bryan Alvarez & RD Reynolds continue to joke about writing a TNA version of The Death of WCW — and such a title remains premature — this is the closest thing to an insight into the promotion, albeit a brief period in its history. The book covers 2002, the year Jerry and Jeff Jarrett tried to capitalise on the gap left by the demise of WCW and ECW but without the benefit of national television. They attempted to so do by updating the territorial model to the modern era, existing solely as a low-priced weekly two-hour pay-per-view. It’s a ludicrous idea in hindsight and seemed unlikely to many at the time, but this does at least show how those involved might have believed it could work. The strength of the book is that it is written as a contemporary journal. While it’s certainly possible Jarrett may have edited or even redrafted content, it comes across as his honest feelings at the time of each event rather than an attempt to rewrite history. Some of the stories are spectacular in hindsight, most notably consultant Jay Haussman telling Jarrett that the first few shows were attracting as many as 85,000 buys…

The Ultimate World Wrestling Entertainment Trivia Book
Review / June 6, 2019

This is a quiz book rather than a collection of facts, and how challenging it is may depend on the eras in which you were a fan. Published in 2002, this has a total of 2,000 questions with a mix of straight question and answers and multiple choice questions. It’s split over 10 sections: WrestleMania, SummerSlam, Survivor Series, Royal Rumble, Raw, Smackdown, other PPVs, Old School, Titles and Outside the Ring. Some questions will seem ridiculously easy to long-time fans, such as where WrestleMania III was held or who won the 1992 Royal Rumble. However, other questions go into great detail and will be tricky unless you obsessed over the era in question or have been rewatching it recently. For example, even when the book came out only a couple of years after the event, it’s hard to imagine how many people knew (or cared) whether Test and Albert, appearing on Smackdown, threatened to rename Bradshaw and Farooq’s office as the APAT&A, T&APA, TAPAT or T&AA. Similarly, anyone who can easily recall which WWE star guest-starred on Suddenly Susan or where Lilian Garcia went to university is both a great trivia quizzer and borderline obsessed. The only real criticism of the book is…

Release Schedule (5 June)
Release Schedule / June 5, 2019

15 July: Cody Heart of the Mountain (The Elite Team) by Cody Runnels & Sam Weisz 16 July: 100 Things WWE Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die by Bryan Alvarez 1 August: Thumbelina, Wrestling Champ: A Graphic Novel (Far Out Fairy Tales) by Alberto Rayo & Alex Lopez 6 August:  There’s No Such Thing As a Bad Kid: How I Went from Stereotype to Prototype by Thaddeus Bullard (Titus O’Neill) & Paul Guzzo 6 August: Jim Cornette Presents: Behind the Curtain – Real Pro Wrestling Stories by Jim Cornette & Brandon Easton 6 August: The Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame: The Storytellers (From the Terrible Turk to Twitter) by Greg Oliver & Steven Johnson 3 September: Soulman: The Rocky Johnson Story by Rocky Johnson & Scott Teal 3 September: WWE 35 Years of Wrestlemania by Brian Shields & Dean Miller 10 September: Life Is Short and So Am I: My Life In and Out of the Wrestling Ring by Dylan “Hornswoggle” Postl! 3 October: Job Man: My Life in Professional Wrestling by Chris Multerer & Larry Widen 5 November: For Your Consideration: Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson by Tres Dean 5 November: WWE: Then Now Forever Vol. 4 by…

The Wrestling Scene by Guy LeBow
Review / June 5, 2019

This is one of several TV cash-ins from the “Golden Age” boom and probably the one that’s most worth reading rather than collecting. Written in 1950 by the TV announcer from the DuMont network, this will no doubt sound familiar to those of you who read my recent review of Dick Lane’s Whoa Nellie! While this is similar in concept, it’s considerably more detailed. It’s a full-fledged book, albeit only 98 pages, and has considerably more details and articles alongside the pictures of the stars. For example, there’s an article on why wrestling boomed, with the obvious explanations of new stars and TV exposure accompanied by the suggestion that a generation of teenagers had never seen wrestling before thanks to the interruption of the war, and even a theory that wartime action stories had created an interest in hand-to-hand combat. As well as the expected profiles of wrestlers, the book features articles on specific territories, the longest matches, wrestlers from the pre-war period and even the dangers of trachoma from dirty mats. It should be noted that two sections, one on wrestling holds and the other a “Wrestling IQ” list of common questions are almost identical to that in Whoa Nellie, the only…

The Wrestling Journeyman: Life and Times of an Indy Wrestler
Review / June 4, 2019

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…

Theater in a Squared Circle by Jeff Archer
Review / June 3, 2019

This is the type of book that would likely only have been made at a specific time (in this case, January 1999.) It’s far enough into boom period that the author was able to find a publisher for a 446 page wrestling book, but still early enough that it can keep a very general approach rather than having to cover a single particular niche. There’s a curious theater-style Acts and Scenes structure to tie in with the title, but in effect this is a collection of interesting diversions into some elements of the wrestling industry that don’t get a lot of coverage. The first section briefly covers the evolution of wrestling from ancient sport to modern entertainment, then explores why wrestling appeals as a form of theater, and the way only a proportion of the public “gets” its appeal. Section two looks at some of the people involved in wrestling beyond the major stars. This breaks down into five chapters, each profiling and interviewing a range of individuals: “journeymen” (ie jobbers); newsletter writers; artists; professional journalists; and unsung heroes (mainly trainers.) The final section has lengthy profiles of the Honky Tonk Man, “Genius” Lanny Poffo, Killer Kowalski, Bob Backlund and the…