Release Schedule (22 January)
Release Schedule / January 22, 2020

(Dates are US releases and may vary elsewhere.) 28 January: Smackdown Town by Max Nicoll & Matt Smith 4 February: New Jack: Memoir of a Pro Wrestling Extremist by New Jack 6 February: Maximilian and the Curse of the Fallen Angel (Max’s Lucha Libre Adventures) by Xavier Garza 17 February: Professional Wrestling: Sport and Spectacle, Second Edition by Sharon Mazer 17 March: WWE Beyond Extreme by Dean Miller 31 March: Under the Black Hat: My Life in the Wwe and Beyond by Jim Ross 28 April: The Eighth Wonder of the World: The True Story of André the Giant by Bertrand Hebert & Pat Laprade 19 May: WWE Kicking Down Doors: Female Superstars Are Ruling the Ring and Changing the Game! 29 September: WWE Encyclopedia of Sports Entertainment New Edition 29 September: The Young Bucks: Killing the Business from Backyards to the Big Leagues 13 October: We Promised You a Great Main Event: An Unauthorized WWE History by Bill Hanstock

A Quick Site Update
News / January 21, 2020

I’ve now completed the reconstruction of the site and am pleased to say I’ve cobbled together every review that was on the original version (which covered every book I owned in print.) Throw in the ones that I’ve added in the meantime and the site now has 195 reviews. I’ll still be updating the site with new reviews but the pace will obviously slow significantly as I read through new books (of which I have a healthy backlog.) I will still be adding the weekly release schedule updates and the occasional round-up of books that were released without advance notice. Thanks for all your support and for spreading the word. If you’ve enjoyed the blog, please do check out my own books.

Kendo Nagasaki and the Man Behind The Mask by Peter Thornley
Review / January 20, 2020

I would say this book was worth the wait, but frankly nobody ever expected to see it in the first place. Nagasaki/Thornley had arguably protected his character more than any other wrestler in the English-speaking world with the possible exception of The Undertaker. He’s finally broken that silence and gone beyond the character, reasoning it was best to tell his story properly in a book designed as a fundraiser for a charity in the memory of British soldier Lee Rigby. At just short of 500 pages, it’s a comprehensive autobiography covering both his career and personal life. It’s not merely offering Thornley’s thoughts on known career events, but covers subjects that were previously somewhere between uncertain and mystery such as his childhood, his time at the Snake Pit, and his few appearances under a different name and without the mask. (There’s still a few mysteries however: the precise details of how he lost his finger and the process of acquiring a tattoo on his skull are both glossed over.) The book also includes extracts from an unpublished autobiography on manager George Gillette (including colourful accounts of the celebrities on the London gay scene of the 60s and 70s) and some…

Self Help by Al Snow
Review / January 17, 2020

This isn’t quite as billed, but it’s all the better from it. Both the title and blurb imply the focus here is on life lessons and philosphy, supported by events from Snow’s career. It’s a format that worked well with Bobby Heenan’s second books, Chairshots and Other Obstacles, but realistically this is a straight autobiography. It has the occasional “life lesson” but it’s usually just an unnecessary line reiterating the preceding story. As an autobiography this is a winner, however, with a bit of everything. The early years have plenty of fun tales about struggling to break into the business, with Snow’s tryout with the Andersons a story that never gets less jawdropping even for those who’ve heard it before. The WWF and ECW years are told in detail with lots of behind the scenes insight, including the relative lack of creative process for those lower on the card, with Tough Enough also getting a fair bit of attention. The book then ends with some brief accounts of life as a trainer in OVW and TNA (the latter feeling somewhat abrupt) and some entertaining tales from returning to the independent scene incorporating tasers and midgets. Written with Ross Owen Williams,…

Wrestling Noir: Real In Memphis by Stevie Pearson
Review / January 16, 2020

A bombastic, high-energy story, this novel’s writing doesn’t quite rise up to the level of its plot. As with several pieces of wrestling fiction, most notably the Blood Red, Dollar Green series, this is based on the often shady underworld of the territorial era of wrestling. While it’s set in 1979 Memphis, it’s more of an archetype than a direct homage to its real-life equivalent promotion. For example, one common theme is the territory adjusting to the national expansion of a New York promotion with a more entertainment-based product and approach to kayfabe. The story is certainly never dull, with all manner of outlandish characters double-crossing one another, the plot taking full advantage of the questionable ethics and reality of a world that straddles fiction and business. Some of the themes are explicitly adult and it’s certainly an example of a world that works for the benefit of an eventful plot, even if a promotion that had this level of extra-curricular activity among its roster would likely struggle to put together a line-up week after week. Unfortunately the writing lets down the plot at times, with inconsistent punctuation and a particular problem of every sentence of dialogue being on a…

Eggshells: Pro Wrestling In The Tokyo Dome by Chris Charlton
Review / January 15, 2020

Writing a good wrestling book isn’t just about having a knowledgeable and skilled writer picking an engaging topic. That topic has to be of the right size and scope to neatly fit the format of a book, something that’s certainly the case for Chris Charlton’s latest project. In a previous review of James Dixon’s All or Nothing, we noted that 1PW was one of the few promotions for which it would be possible (and interesting) to write a blow-by-blow account of every single show and backstage happening: a smaller, shorter-lived group would not justify the attention, while anything with more of a history would be impractical to cover in such a format. Similarly, few buildings other than the Tokyo Dome would work for a book like Eggshells. Somewhere used less often would not have the heritage and prestige to be worthy of coverage, while venues such as Budokan Hall or Madison Square Garden have been used too often to allow coverage with this depth. For each of the shows at the venue, Charlton provides the full results along with detailed reports on the most notable matches. It’s not merely a blow-by-blow however: instead, every match is put into context so…

Pro Wrestling: A Comprehensive Wrestling Guide by Lew Freeman
Review / January 14, 2020

It’s unfair to review a book having only read the free Kindle sample. But then it’s also unfair to produce something this bad and charge $94 for it. You’ll often see academic books with ludicrous prices such as this, mainly because nobody is buying them with their own cash. You’ll often see wrestling books with as many factual errors, though admittedly usually in eBook-only titles that cost a dollar or two. But you’ll rarely see the two combined in this manner. It starts out reasonably enough with a very simplified history of wrestling in America, albeit with a slightly odd jump from Evan Lewis, the original ‘Strangler’ of the late 19th, to the post-war territorial era. But within a few pages it goes to pot and the flurry of often-baffling errors begins. We learn that shortly after 1983, Vince McMahon signed a deal to have wrestling shown five nights a week on TNT. We learn how the 1980s begin with the WWF overwhelming WCW and ECW. We learn that Andre the Giant’s run as Giant Machine was a failed attempt to fool the fans. We learn how ECW was originally East Coast Wrestling. It’s just a shame we don’t learn…

Recent Release Roundup
News / January 13, 2020

The following recent releases did not get advance listings and thus weren’t in our weekly release schedule. Owen Hart: King of Pranks: The Ultimate Anthology of Owen’s Greatest Ribs, Pranks and Stories After his passing in May 1999 at the age of 34, the world discovered a couple of things about Owen Hart that hitherto had only been fully appreciated by his friends, family and colleagues:One – Owen was one of the most highly-respected and beloved people in the wrestling industry.Two – Owen was perhaps the greatest prankster in the history of the business.Through exhaustive research, this book chronicles more than 100 pranks, jokes and ribs Owen perpetrated on his co-workers, friends, family and even his boss as told by witnesses, co-conspirators and of course, the victims.Also included in this book is a truncated biography of Owen’s life in and out of the ring, as well as innumerable fun facts and ridiculous side stories from the wacky world of professional wrestling.All hail The King of Pranks and long live The King! Nikolai by John Crowther NIKOLAI is the authorized comic biography of Croatian wrestling legend, Nikolai Volkoff, 2005 WWE Hall of Famer, former WWF Tag Team Champion, and former partner of…