Chris Jericho’s autobiography has reached three volumes (so far.) Mick Foley is up to four. But Adrian Street — a man not short of experience nor verbiage — is up to seven.
The volumes are:
My Pink Gas Mask, which covers his years growing up in Wales, dreaming of one day becoming a pro wrestler.
I Only Laugh When It Hurts, covering his moving to London and breaking into the independent scene.
So Many Ways To Hurt You, covering his initial years working for Joint Promotions.
Sadist In Sequins, covering more of his Joint career, plus his international travels.
Imagine What I Could Do To You, covering his move to the independent circuit.
Violence Is Golden, covering trips to Mexico and Germany and then his US work in Memphis and Mid-South among other territories.
(I’ve not yet reviewed the final book, Merchant of Menace.)
It’s clear across all six volumes that Street has both a storytelling skill and an incredible memory. As well as being entertaining, the books are also extremely informative — instead of just recounting events, Street explains his thinking at the time and the way he managed to build himself up into a main eventer, with payoffs to match, despite lacking the height and bulk of many of his contemporaries.
There’s also a lot of detail about his personal life, making money outside of wrestling, and his dealings with the colourful characters of 1960s London, including notorious slum landlord Peter Rachman.
If you want to try a book to see if the series is for you, then I Only Laugh When It Hurts is the best starting point. That’s not to dismiss My Pink Gas Mask, which is a compelling memoir in its own right with plenty of humour, but it doesn’t contain any of his wrestling career. That said, it’s certainly worth returning to if you enjoy the rest of the series as it puts into context his drive to prove the doubters wrong and succeed in wrestling. It’s also a positive that although Street had a difficult relationship with his father, he does relate in extensive detail the horrendous suffering he went through as a Japanese prisoner of war.
Those who are more familiar with Street’s US career might be tempted to jump in with Violence Is Golden, but it’s not reflective of the series as a whole. That’s partly because Street is so established by the point in his career, meaning the books lack some of the struggle and well-rounded assessment of his strengths, weaknesses and mistakes. Meanwhile the combination of his experience and the comparative lack of amateur credentials among his US opponents mean that accounts of the genuine struggles that can go on in matches tend to be more predictable and one-sided than in the earlier volumes.
These are only criticisms in comparison to the rest of the series however, and while it may seem a stretch to describe a run of four consecutive books as must-read, that is certainly the case for anyone with even the slightest interest in British or territorial era wrestling.