Superstar Series: The Ultimate Warrior by James Dixon
Review / July 8, 2019

[Post originally published in April 2014.) With the tragic death of Jim Helwig/Warrior this week, I thought I’d mention this title from the “History of Wrestling” series. Following on from titles dedicated to WWF video releases, Monday Night Raw and the Hart Foundation, it’s a complete set of reviews of every Warrior match available on tape (around 150 in total), transcripts of more than 100 promos, and a comprehensive look at the Self Destruction of the Ultimate Warrior DVD and a shoot interview. According to the writers: While Warrior may not hit as highly on the star rating scale as some of the subjects covered in other editions of our Superstar Series line of books, his has been one of the most fun to compile. Unusually for the series, this covers matches in Memphis, World Class, Mid-South and WCW as well as the WWF days. I’ve only had the opportunity to read the free sample on Kindle, but it looks to be good stuff if the concept of such a book appeals to you. Early releases in the series were annoyingly smarky in places and seemed to try too hard to carry off Scott Keith-like gimmicks, but this seems much better, with some genuinely…

Tangled Ropes by Billy Graham
Review / July 5, 2019

One of the better WWE-authorised autobiographies, this appears to be a notably honest account, albeit one framed by the warm relationship Graham had with WWE at the time of its writing. As with the Blassie and Lawler books, this stands out not so much for the writing, although that’s perfectly fine thanks to ghostwriter Keith Elliot Greenberg. Instead the key is Graham having had a deep and varied career in multiple territories and thus having unfamiliar stories to tell. It’s almost two-thirds in to the book before he even starts his WWWF title run. The honesty covers both Graham’s extensive, almost pioneering drug use (and the accompanying medical consequences) and his assessment of his strengths and shortcomings as a performer. He also details his frustration at dropping the title to Bob Backlund in 1978 — something planned a year earlier before Graham even won the belt — rather than Vince McMahon Sr changing plans to capitalize on his obvious drawing power and potential to turn babyface. Whether it’s simply his own approach or the guiding hand of Greenberg, Graham comes across as rational here, rather than sounding like he is motivated by bitterness. The conclusion of the book deals with…

Tales From Wrescal Lane by Mick Foley & Jill Thompson
Review / July 4, 2019

For wrestling fans, this is the best of Foley’s range of childrens books, though that also means it may be somewhat dated for today’s kids. The story, told in rhyme, takes the stars of the Attitude era and pictures them as children growing up on the same street and getting into scrapes. It’s amusing enough stuff and largely in exaggerated character, with the only real insider gags being Foley continuing the digs at Al Snow from his autobiographies. The illustrations are great with Thompson doing an excellent job of taking the cartoonish caricatures of the actual wrestlers and turning them into plausible kids, rather than simply shrinking them down. The Dudley Boys throwing a tantrum is a particular highlight. It’s enough of a novelty that it’s worth picking up if you spot it at a bargain price. Whether your kids will recognize the characters enough to find it of any interest may depend on whether you’ve let them loose on the WWE Network with the parental controls switched off. Buy on Amazon

The Adrian Street Collection by Adrian Street
Review , Uncategorized / July 3, 2019

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…

Release Schedule (3 July)
Release Schedule / July 3, 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: The Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame: The Storytellers (From the Terrible Turk to Twitter) by Greg Oliver & Steven Johnson 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 3 September: Jim Cornette Presents: Behind the Curtain – Real Pro Wrestling Stories by Jim Cornette & Brandon Easton 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 15 October: For Your Consideration: Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson by Tres Dean 5 November: WWE: Then Now Forever Vol. 4 by…

The Best In The World: At What I Have No Idea by Chris Jericho
Review / July 2, 2019

This is definitely among the best third volumes of wrestling autobiography, alongside Adrian Street’s So Many Ways To Hurt You. Unfortunately that categorisation acts as faint praise for several perhaps-inevitable reasons. Jericho’s new book, following on from the structural trick of his first two volumes, runs from his 2007 return to WWE until his surprise appearance at the 2013 Royal Rumble. It’s a period that covers some of his bigger wrestling successes, notably the Shawn Michaels feud in 2008 that earned him his spot in the Wrestling Observer Hall of Fame. Two major problems limit the book’s potential. The first is simply the period it covers, one in which Jericho was firmly established in both wrestling and other entertainment activities. A Lion’s Tale had the story of a boyhood fan working his way around the world en route to achieving his dream job. Undisputed told the tale of a man struggling to overcome setbacks and disappointments with said dream job, as well as branching out into non-wrestling activities. This book has no such arc to speak of: while Jericho’s successes are great for him personally, there less cohesion or narrative here and it’s simply a set of anecdotes in which…

The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Pro Wrestling by Lou Albano & Bert Sugar
Review / July 1, 2019

Oh boy. This is the result of the publishers of a series along the lines of the “…for Dummies” brand deciding to cash in on the Monday Night Wars era boom by doing a wrestling title and finding the always media-friendly Sugar and Albano to lend their names. If you’ve seen any of their appearances in mainstream media reports of the era, you’ll know their role is to play a gimmick that excites TV producers rather than to lend any real insight. Fortunately it appears the bulk of the book was written by a professional, Roger Woodson. He’s done similar titles on everything from photography to “reaching your goals”, so has the skills needed to quickly explain an unfamiliar topic in simple terms. The problem is that while he does a decent job of that, the book’s in the unfortunate position that anyone with enough interest to read a book on pro wrestling will likely know more than the author. It’s not a topic where you can give useful “how to” tips, so it’s more of a potted history, an overview of the late 20th century scene, and one hell of a lot of padding. There is some good background…