A Star Shattered: The Rise & Fall & Rise Of Wrestling Diva by Tammy “Sunny” Sytch
Review / March 21, 2019

You know what. It could have been worse. If you’ve watched any of Sytch’s “shoot” interviews, it appears there’s little new here, but it’s an easy read if not always the most entertaining. There’s a good amount about her time in the wrestling business and her experiences learning about working the crowd. The two big problems are that it’s hard to tell how true the content is (if nothing else, it very much comes across as somebody taking little or no personal responsibility for their life events) and a lot of incidents you might expect to see here are unmentioned. A seemingly trivial but perhaps telling example is the book gleefully celebrating a time Sable found excrement in her bag but saying nothing about an oft-cited incident in which Sunny herself was the victim of an even more unpleasant variation on this ‘rib’. While the sleaze, booze and jail section of the book doesn’t overshadow the wrestling as it might have done, it’s still a depressing few chapters that are neither pleasurable nor informative for the reader. As for the ending, it’s unusual to say the least to have the happy conclusion of an autobiography being the shooting of an adult movie. It’s…

A Pictorial History of Wrestling by Graeme Kent
Review / March 20, 2019

Surprisingly widely available for a 1968 title, this is a great combination of text and photos of wrestling on both sides of the Atlantic. Written entirely from the perspective of wrestling being a sport (albeit one with showmanship in spades), the first 130 or so of the 300+ pages here deal with the development of amateur wrestling in its various styles around the world. The rest covers the professional business from the pre-Gotch days, split into “The Golden Age”, “Between the Wars” and separate chapters on American and European Wrestling after 1945. The text history is relatively comprehensive and accurate, albeit limited by the lack of “insider” material, particularly during the often-baffling era of doublecrosses and promotional manouvrings in the 1920s and 19302. Meanwhile the picture content is hugely impressive: although limited to black and white, there are literally hundreds of images included, covering everyone from Al Hayes to Georges Gordienko in both action and posed shots. Highlights include pictures of Reggie Lisowski (The Crusher) and Pat Patterson in their early years and a shot of an early battle royale from a time when that gimmick still involved teams of wrestlers doing battle while wearing boxing gloves. At almost any…

A Lion’s Tale: Around the World in Spandex by Chris Jericho
Review / March 19, 2019

Between the subject matter and the style, there’ll be few books like this in the future, which is something of a shame. Jericho was arguably the last wrestler to make it big in WWE having spent a serious amount of time working for both full-time US territories and international promotions. After leaving the Canadian independents, he spent time in CMLL, WAR, the German tournament scene, Smoky Mountain Wrestling, ECW and WCW, giving him one of the more diverse backgrounds of his generation. This gives him a wealth of experience of very different styles and set-ups of pro wrestling which he describes here, whether it be being abandoned in the middle of nowhere in Mexico, the raucous nightlife of Hamburg (and the hellraising of the likes of Drew McDonald), or the sheer confused disorganization of WCW. It’s a striking contrast to his later volumes as there’s a real sense of the personal and professional journey he took to the point where he stood by the curtain for his WWE debut, which marks the book’s conclusion. The style and tone is a difficult one to judge for anyone yet to read this book. As the first of Jericho’s books, it came across as refreshingly…

A Few Kindle Only Titles
Review / March 18, 2019

For the most part this blog sticks to books released in print, partly because the number of e-Book titles is both so large and so variable in quality. Here are three that may be worthy of your attention, with the disclaimer that I am “online friends” with two of the authors (Millard and Davies.) Confessions of a Smart Wrestling Fan by Lorcan Mullan Lorcan Mullan has been a fan of the wild, unpredictable and unique world of professional wrestling for over twenty years. This book continues on from his hit solo stand-up comedy show in providing a personal history of life as a obsessive in the wild, bizarre and unique world of pre-determined tussles. I’ll be honest and say I didn’t hold out much hope when I read the description, but it’s actually tremendous. I don’t know how many non-wrestling fans would actually stick with it all the way through (as opposed to seeing a one-hour show version), but I genuinely can’t imagine any wrestling fan in their forties or younger, particularly based in the UK, not enjoying it. You’ll either enjoy the nostalgia, learn about being a fan “back in the day”, repeatedly recognise yourself in the book, or…

The Professional Wrestling Trivia Book by Robert Myers
Review / March 14, 2019

This isn’t an information piece but rather a quiz book. It’s serviceable enough but with little reread value. Published in 1988, it’s made up of nothing more than 500 multiple choice questions, grouped as “Heroes and Villains”, “Tag Teams”, “Legends of The Past” and the not entirely politically correct “Women, Blacks and Midgets.” The questions aren’t inherently difficult, but in some cases the age of the book makes them a little more challenging now. To give some random examples of the tone and difficulty: He is America’s hero A) Hulk Hogan B) Sergeant Slaughter C) Ric Flair D) Dusty Rhodes (Answer: B, presumably because it was a specific nickname he used at that time.) … was responsible for the initial success of the Fabulous Ones. A) Jackie Fargo B) Ernie Roth C) Lou Albano D) Jimmy Hart (Answer: A) Ronnie Garvin hooked up with… to create the Risky Business Boys. A) Dusty Rhodes B) Steve Regal C) Rick Morton D) Scott Hall (Answer: A)   The book has a few minor problems. One is that some questions don’t have a clearly objective answer, such as one asking which wrestler “experts consider to be the top black athlete in pro wrestling.”…

Wrestling With The Truth by Bruno Lauer
Review / March 14, 2019

Downtown Bruno, aka Harvey Whippleman, was a gruff, angry, vociferous little so and so. And his book is not much different. While a manager (and occasional referee) rather than grappler, Lauer had an interesting career path that lends itself to an autobiography with wide appeal, covering the smallest independents, the territorial era and the WWE in both peaks and troughs. Large parts of the story here are about the rough and ready nature of the territory scene with hustle and BS as important as performance in making sure you always had somewhere to work. Territories as diverse as Hawaii, Memphis and the Continental area are all covered here, along with Lauer’s journey from total mark to teacher. It’s an understatement to say Lauer is direct and to the point here (ghostwriter Scott Teal has done an excellent job of capturing his unique voice.) Those he feels deserve praise get it, while those he did not take to get their criticism with unrelenting force, often to a shocking degree, though always with Lauer’s personal justification for his views. The peak of this comes in a couple of incidents where he shows no interest in the maxim of not speaking ill of…

Inside Out By Ole Anderson
Review / March 14, 2019

Not everyone who reads this book is going to like or agree with what it says, but you certainly can’t accuse it of being inauthentic. A Crowbar Press publication, this is arguably the best example of Scott Teal’s prowess as a ghostwriter. He’s put together a book that’s engaging, focused and flows in a logical order, but still comes across as the genuine voice of Anderson. It’s 382 pages in print and certainly won’t leave anyone disappointed by a lack of depth. As far as accuracy goes, while there are always limitations in perspective and memory, this is reminiscent of Bob Holly’s book in that reading it you get the impression this is Anderson’s honest belief and opinion and — for better or worse — he’s not varnished over anything for the sake of winning friends or boosting his own image. Thanks to Anderson’s career this also serves as an excellent insightful guide into both the territorial era as a whole, and the relatively unusual position of “homesteading” in a particular territory (specifically Mid-Atlantic and later Georgia) for an extended period, both as a wrestler and booker, rather than travelling around the country. Perhaps the only disappointment for some fans…

Pure Dynamite by Tom Billington
Review / March 13, 2019

1999 is something of a year zero in wrestling books thanks to the stunning success of Mick Foley’s Have A Nice Day proving to the publishing industry that wrestling fans could indeed read. But it also marked the publication of the autobiography of the Dynamite Kid, a book that remains among the small selection of genuine must-reads. Originally published in a limited print run by the company behind the UK’s Power Slam magazine (which had published a rare interview with Billington), the book was later reprinted and made more widely available under the Wrestling Observer banner, a promotional tie-in rather than any editorial involvement. The book stands out for its sheer uncompromising honesty, with Billington not sparing anyone’s feelings. Just as with Bob Holly’s book years later, whether you agree with what Billington says or not, you are in no doubt he genuinely believes it. It has to be said that Billington comes across as, to use his insult of choice, a bit of a prick. He makes no secret of his failures as a husband and father, nor his reputation for pulling cruel pranks or being eager to get into fights. It’s his wrestling career that’s most of interest of course,…

Blood Red Turns Dollar Green Volume 2 by Paul O’Brien
Review , Uncategorized / March 13, 2019

Paul O’Brien’s debut novel, published last year, received high praise: in the pages of FSM we described it as “the first truly professional novel about professional wrestling.” Volume two answers the question of what happened next and does so in a stylish manner. Without spoiling too much of the plot, the new book deals with the immediate fallout of a battle between rival promoters that spilled over from control of the wrestling world championship to a blood feud. After charting the rise of Danno Garland — loosely based on Vince McMahon Sr — to the top of the cutthroat wrestling business, we discover what happens after a shocking event that makes his victory a hollow one. Whereas volume 1 covered a four-year period, Blood Red Turns Dollar Green only advances the storyline by a further seven days. However, large parts of the book involve flashbacks to the timeline of the first volume, revealing previously undocumented events. The technique allows O’Brien to slowly add new context to events with which the reader is already familiar, putting a new spin on things and forcing the reader to rethink how to view particular characters and the choices they make. It’s a format that…