This is one of the few out-of-print books that is worth tracking down. Boesch, the promoter in Houston for 20 years, was keen on sharing the lessons of wrestling history, in particular encouraging Wrestling Observer Newsletter editor Dave Meltzer to attend the Cauliflower Alley Club at a time when “outsiders” were rarely seen at the events. He continues these efforts in a book that’s part history of the US business, part autobio...

A 1983 British release, this is one of a series of 10 books on popular televised sports of the day, creating the always intriguing sight of pro wrestling being covered in the same format as “legitimate” sports. It’s made up of sections including history, rules, promoters, stars (13 profiles), championship formats and venues. While the profiles are a fun read (albeit with a few minor errors such as perpetuating the myth that Gian...

As with most annuals, the chances are few people bought this for themselves. Instead it was more likely a gift from relatives (“Auntie Audrey and Uncle David” were the original buyers of my used copy) who were taking a guess at a youngster’s interests. Let’s hope most of them got it right, because this is a book for people who love Big Daddy, and people who love Big Daddy alone. It runs to 80 pages and as you might expect,...

Published in 1970, it doesn’t appear this book had much input from McManus beyond his celebrity name. That’s no bad thing however, as the book is not specifically about McManus, but rather a series of features on British stars of the day. The couple of dozen articles largely resemble the type of profile you’d expect to find in magazines of the era such as The Wrestler, concentrating more on personalities and lives outside the ri...

Although officially a book about (US) football, this study of a concussion crisis is important reading for anyone involved in professional wrestling. Nowinski is of course the former Tough Enough and WWE star Chris Harvard, who retired from the ring after a series of concussions. His account of these symptoms, the way the WWE officials reacted, and his decision to quit the business make up the first few chapters. The rest details and collates res...

(This originally ran as a “critical analysis” piece in the Pro Wrestling Press newsletter.) When Wrestling Observer editor Dave Meltzer praises a book as “the best researched book on pro wrestling ever written”, it’s a safe bet it may be worth a read. But when an administrator on the historical-based Wrestling Classics site describes the book’s author as “a curtain jerker who made zero impression on anybo...

A veteran wrestler refusing to break kayfabe does not necessarily mean an interview or book will be a bad thing. Unfortunately with the Fabulous Moolah, that’s very much the case. In this autobiography Moolah’s real name and age are treated as major revelations in a world in which wrestling is a genuine sport and, while wrestlers might flap their gums to hype a show, no finish is ever predetermined. It’s perhaps only to be expec...

Alkaissy is best known in the wrestling world as Sheik Adnan Al-Kaissie or General Adnan from the WWF, though he also had a tag title run in the WWWF as native American star Billy White Wolf. He grew up in Iraq and claims to have been a school classmate of Saddam Hussein. He took up an international football scholarship at the University of Houston and had an amateur background, later being introduced to the pro ranks by Canadian legend Yvon Robe...

Many wrestling books feature wrestlers telling the story of what happened in their careers, but none have matched this for explaining what being a wrestler is actually like. Unladylike works because of what it is and what it doesn’t try to be. Bandenburg mainly wrestled for the Lucha Britannia and Burning Hearts promotions, neither of which are widely classed as whatever counts as mainstream in modern British wrestling. Simply telling her in-ri...

The third in our series of reviews of books based around the photography of George Napolitano, this is a different proposition to Championship Wrestling and This Is Wrestling. Originally priced at an eyewatering $49.95 (in 1988 prices), this runs nearly 400 pages and is far more comprehensive. It’s made up of just over 100 profiles of wrestlers with a blurb of a few paragraphs and a spread of pics that usually includes at least one full-pag...

The Wrestling Scene by Guy LeBow
Review / June 5, 2019

This is one of several TV cash-ins from the “Golden Age” boom and probably the one that’s most worth reading rather than collecting. Written in 1950 by the TV announcer from the DuMont network, this will no doubt sound familiar to those of you who read my recent review of Dick Lane’s Whoa Nellie! While this is similar in concept, it’s considerably more detailed. It’s a full-fledged book, albeit only 98 pages, and has consi...

The Wrestling Journeyman: Life and Times of an Indy Wrestler
Review / June 4, 2019

There’s nothing wrong with this book. It’s just… there. While Wolfe is perhaps best known for his “enhancement” work for WWF, he’s put the miles in, catching the final years of the territory system, working opening matches on WWF house show swings, experiencing the Texan indy scene of the 1990s and 2000s, going on foreign tours and, perhaps inevitably, joining the scores of wrestlers on hand at WCW’s Orlando tapings. It’...

Theater in a Squared Circle by Jeff Archer
Review / June 3, 2019

This is the type of book that would likely only have been made at a specific time (in this case, January 1999.) It’s far enough into boom period that the author was able to find a publisher for a 446 page wrestling book, but still early enough that it can keep a very general approach rather than having to cover a single particular niche. There’s a curious theater-style Acts and Scenes structure to tie in with the title, but in effec...

The WWE Championship by Kevin Sullivan
Review / May 31, 2019

If you’re reading this blog, the chances are that reading this book will be reminiscent of a Sean O’Haire promo. This official WWE release is billed as the story of the men who held the title up till 2010. The acknowledgement section mentions carrying out some fresh interviews, but the majority of the quotes appear to come from the full range of WWE official autobiographies and the feel is very much of a compilation. While the book ...

This Is Wrestling! by George Napolitano
Review / May 30, 2019

If you’ve read my review of Championship Wrestling by Napolitano, you know what to expect here. Sadly this book fails to meet even those limited expectations. It’s the same basic concept — a collection of Napolitano photographs in a coffee-table format book — but looks remarkably like the publishers saw Championship Wrestling and decided to see if they could capitalise with a version that was quicker and cheaper to produce. This...

Thumbs Up by Joe Cornelius
Review / May 29, 2019

This is a hugely entertaining story of a British wrestler’s career and life, but it’s most definitely not for the easily offended. Cornelius was a successful heavyweight in the 1950s and 60s, working across the UK as well as touring continental Europe and Japan. He went on to act in films and on stage, including being a regular entertainer at the London Palladium. The book doesn’t explicitly break kayfabe, but it’s easy enough ...

Release Schedule (29 May)
Release Schedule / May 29, 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 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 6 August: Jim Cornette Presents: Behind the Curtain – Real Pro Wrestling Stories by Jim Cornette & Brandon Easton 6 August: The Pro Wrest...

Titan Shattered by James Dixon
Review / May 28, 2019

1996 was a curious year for the World Wrestling Federation: while house show attendance began to rebound and the company returned to profitability, it’s seen as a year of failure thanks to WCW beginning its two-year dominance of Monday night TV ratings. Creatively it was a confusing period, with a move to a more adult, realistic product undermined by cartoonish gimmicks such as TL Hopper and the Goon. These contradictions are covered ...

Smackdown 20 Years And Counting by Jake Black, Jon Hill and Dean Miller
Review / May 28, 2019

If you’ve read any of the similar WWF titles, most notably WWE RAW: The First 25 Years, you can probably imagine exactly how this book goes. It’s the same format with around eight pages for each year, made up of a couple of dozen one-paragraph entries about matches and angles on the show. You also get the occasional boxout for when a character debuted on the show and a few snippets about happenings on pay-per-views that affe...

Wrestling Arcade Book On The Way
News / May 27, 2019

One of the gems of wrestling Twitter is working on a book. Wrestling Arcade’s Twitter feed features 32-bit pixellated animations of classic wrestling moments from Shockmaster to Barber Shop. It’s the same creative force that produced the opening titles for the Being The Elite YouTube series. The animations are now coming out as a stills book titled Pro Wrestling’s Greatest Moments – A Pixelated Guide. It won̵...