Shake, Wrestle ‘n’ Roll by Adrian Street
Review / November 25, 2019

As a collectable item this is as quirky as ever. As a novel, it’s now a victim of the fact that truth is stranger than fiction. We’ve previously covered <a href=”“>Street’s comprehensive series of autobiographies</a> which are full of some genuinely amazing tales of life in and out of the ring. This forerunner was published back in 1987 and is instead a semi-autobiographical work of fiction produced as part of Street’s barrage of merchandising with music videos, albums and other paraphernalia during his US run. Appropriately enough the book is printed on pink paper. Most of the story is based on the Street character bridging the worlds of wrestling and music with themes that will be familiar to those who’ve seen the movies Body Slam or Grunt. Indeed, the back cover notes Street had a screenplay of the same title, as well as releasing an <a href=””>album that’s still available to download</a>. However, while it’s largely fiction, readers of Street’s autobiographies will recognise a few elements of reality such as the story of his entry into the business in England which is not far removed from reality. There are also a few nice touches such as an undercard wrestler performing…

Countdown to Lockdown by Mick Foley
Review , Uncategorized / November 22, 2019

This is a decent 100-page book. Unfortunately it’s 300 pages long. This is Foley’s fourth volume of memoirs and as with Chris Jericho’s No Is A Four Letter Word there’s an obvious limitation with covering an ever decreasing time period with each instalment. Foley’s third book tackled this by going in-depth on a specific short period, namely the build-up to his appearance at One Night Stand in 2006. Jericho’s last book abandoned chronology altogether and became a series of stories loosely tied together with a self-help theme. Countdown to Lockdown merges the two approaches with chapters alternating between a diary of Foley’s thoughts and approach in the build-up to a TNA match with Sting and almost random stories. It’s clear Foley was concerned about the approach being seen as padding as each “non-diary” chapter begins with an almost passive-aggressive “meter” rating how much wrestling content it contains. The problem isn’t that some parts of the book move away from wrestling, it’s that there’s very little focus. It’s not just that some chapters are “off-topic” but regardless of what the supposed subject is, the writing regularly goes off into tangents and tangents of tangents that hold little relevance. As with Foley’s…

Inside the Lion’s Den by Ken Shamrock and Richard Hanner
Review / November 21, 2019

Inside The Lion’s Den, released in 1998, is written in two sections. The first 123 pages are a look at Ken Shamrock’s life and no-holds barred career, while the remaining 78 sides give instruction in the Lion’s Den fighting techniques. To the pro wrestling audience, it is the former section that will prove more interesting. In September 1993, Richard Hanner, a Stockton, California newspaper reporter, was sent to cover local submission fighter Ken Shamrock’s participation in the first Ultimate Fighting Championship. He found the assignment so captivating that he went on to follow Shamrock from match to match, while researching his background. The result is the biographical portion of Inside The Lion’s Den. The book describes Shamrock’s upbringing, including his days on the street, living in abandoned cars, spells in prison, and his adoption by Bob Shamrock It then follows his no-holds barred fighting, including the creation of Pancrase, and the success of UFC, along with its controversies. There’s even a brief account on Shamrock’s little known spell as a table-top dancer. Of particular interest to pro wrestling fans will be the brief account of his days in the South Atlantic Pro Wrestling group as Vince Torelli, along with the…

Wrestlecrap: The Very Worst of Pro Wrestling by RD Reynolds & Randy Baer
Review / November 20, 2019

An attempt to give added value in this book falls short, meaning its most appreciative audience may be limited. The book stems from a hugely popular site of the same name that regularly posts short articles about some of the more ridiculous gimmicks and storylines in wrestling history, from the Shockmaster to Katy Vick and from the Ultimate Warrior’s mirror magic to Evad Navillus’s rabbit. It would have been easy to simply pick out a couple of hundred of the standout entries, slap them together with a gimmick (perhaps a Top Trumps style ranking of their various demerits) and make the type of comedic book that you get as a Christmas present and dip in and out of. While in some ways its admirable the authors tried not to use this approach, possibly for fear of seeming like a cash-in, their efforts don’t really work. Instead they use the original source material to put together a narrative that’s divided into largely chronological-ordered chapters such as one on the WCW mini-movie era. In trying to be both coherent and complete, the account loses some of the charm of the original website. It means there’s a lot of content that, while necessary to…

The Death of WCW by RD Reynolds and Bryan Alvarez
Review / November 19, 2019

For a tale that would make you cry if you didn’t laugh, this book blends its authors’ voices for a particularly apt tone. Even 15 years later, the speed of the decline of WCW remains easy to underestimate. In 1998 it became the most profitable wrestling company in the history of the business. In March 1999 a Hulk Hogan vs Ric Fair match attracted 325,000 buys; the same bout in March 2000 drew just 60,000, while house show attendance collapsed at a similar rate. In March 2001 the company sold for just a few million dollars. Just how this happened is detailed at length in a book that divides its focus between the big picture of the business, addressed mainly by Bryan Alvarez, and the fine detail of the weekly descent into some of the least effective creative ever seen on wrestling programming, detailed by RD Reynolds in the same manner with which he addressed wider WrestleCrap. It’s an effective approach that keeps the book entertaining (if perversely so at times) while informative, bringing home the point that a product so wildly out of kilter with the audience’s tastes was enough to sink a company  that had every advantage imaginable. The only…

Hercules The Bear by Maggie Robin
Review / November 18, 2019

This is at best of tangential interest to wrestling fans but may be an intriguing read for some. Andy Robin was a Scottish amateur and then professional wrestler who made a dozen or so TV appearances but was best known in his native country where he was part of the Eldorado All Stars in the always atmospheric Eldorado Stadium in Edinburgh. The book instead deals with the other element of his fame, the nine-foot tall grizzly bear that he and wife Maggie considered part of the family. There’s very little wrestling content here save for a chapter on Robin wrestling with Hercules highlighted by the bear’s initial refusal to perform while muzzled, a measure that the humans on hand understandably considered a dealbreaker. Instead the book is about the relationship with Hercules and the sheer logistics of dealing with such a huge family member. The highlight is a section that makes up almost a third of the book covering the time Hercules — who like other grizzlies was a competent swimmer — went missing in the Hebrides for over a week. Buy on Amazon

Through The Shattered Glass by Jeanie Clarke
Review / November 15, 2019

Giving another angle on some familiar events, this autobiography manages to deal with issues of personal crisis and faith without being overly preachy. Clarke is perhaps best known to wrestling viewers for her love-quadrangle storyline in Dallas with Chris Adams, Steve Austin and Toni Adams, and her brief run as Lady Blossom in WCW. While the wrestling parts of the book are substantial enough to satisfy most readers, including plenty of insight into Chris’s creativity and mind for the business, it’s also very much a tale of real life behind the scenes, including Clarke being married to Steve Austin until 1999. Ghostwritten by Bradley Craig, the book does a particularly good job of simultaneously covering Austin’s early career woes and his rise to superstardom while telling the story of he and Jeanie’s personal life. It’s a powerful reminder that even the most iconic wrestlers are real people, often with a less glamorous reality than the persona. Clarke captures the frustration of being alone running a home and the awkwardness that comes when a wrestler returns from the road and wants only to recharge their batteries rather than go out and about with their partner. While the book is hardly a character reference for Austin (and…

My Favorite Match by Jon Robinson
Review / November 14, 2019

A brisk read, this has its moments but won’t call for repeat readings. Robinson has previously worked on a compilation of WWE road stories and this is of a similar style and format. As the name suggests, its made up of 20 chapters where a WWE star recalls their favorite match and explains why. All but two (Rey Mysterio vs Eddie Guerrero at Hallowe’en Havoc ’97 and Alberto Del Rio’s pro debut in Japan) are WWE bouts, most at major pay-per-views. It’s very much a mixed bag. Highlights include Cody Rhodes and Dolph Ziggler talking with surprising candour about wrestling politics and Ricky Steamboat revisiting his WrestleMania III classic with Randy Savage which, for many years, he though of as nothing particularly special. Several entries are less informative and merely detail the on-screen events, in particular Sgt Slaughter barely mentioning his chosen bout (the Alley Fight with Pat Patterson) and instead recapping his entire career, to the point that it feels as if this was excerpted from an interview for a different project. While the book is smoothly written, Robinson falls short of giving every wrestler their individual voice, meaning it feels a little corporate at times with similar phrasing and…

Positively Page: The Diamond Dallas Page Journey by Diamond Dallas Page & Larry Genta
Review / November 13, 2019

Long, perhaps overly detailed, and full of twists and turns with an upbeat ending. But enough about how Dallas Page plans his matches: let’s talk about his book. At 442 pages and not even reaching the end of his WCW career, this book certainly doesn’t miss anything out. If you find Page’s style of confidence to be abrasive, this is going to be a struggle. For most readers however, it will be a treat. Part of the bulk is down to the production style, with material coming in three ways (marked by different typefaces): Page’s own account; a third-person biographical sections to fill in the chronology by co-writer Larry Genta; and recollections of many of Page’s peers. It gives a more rounded view, but makes the book feel somewhat intense at times. The length is also caused by what appears to have been a very generous editing process with seemingly nothing left out. Turning to pages at random, you’ll learn about Lex Luger’s luggage packing techniques, the billing process of an early internet service provider and a PR strategy for a nightclub. This might be annoying in some accounts, but its appropriate for Page’s life story. The seemingly lengthy sections…

The Grapple Manual by Kendo Nagasaki
Review / November 12, 2019

This is a real Tokimitsu Ishizawa of a book. It’s a small, 80 page affair with capsule profiles, the distinguishing feature being that among the usual Undertaker, Hulk Hogan and Bret Hart, there’s also a collection of British performers such as Mick McManus, Catweazle and Adrian Street. The profiles aren’t badly written, but won’t contain any new detail to readers of this blog. While most of the information such as dates appears accurate, there are some curious timline issues such as the suggestion that in 2005 Ric Flair was regularly working six shows a week and doing 60-minute draws. The book also has a few two-page spreads covering wrestling moves such as the piledriver, clothesline and Big Daddy splash. It’s tough to recommend this as anyone with enough interest to buy it for themselves would likely gain little insight from reading it. It comes across very much as a book aimed at non-wrestling fans trying to find a Christmas or birthday present for relatives they vaguely remember are fans of wrestling. Buy on Amazon