Another “get it for Christmas, read it once” title, the content here is more plausible than you might imagine. The format is exactly as you might imagine: 100 or so lists with around 50 words explanation for each entry. There’s a good variety of topic matters, broadly divided into wrestlers, matches and championships, including a few purely objective rankings (shortest title reigns, youngest champions etc.) Aside from a little i...

If you don’t mind the fact you’ll probably never read this twice, it’s an amusing enough diversion. It’s written under the pretext that, like the British constitution, the WWE rulebook is made up of a variety of official and unofficial documents that are never collated in one place. Covering both the in-ring ‘rules’ and the company policies, it’s effectively a cover for a barrage of in-jokes for wrestling...

It’s hard to tell if this book is a success because it’s unclear what it’s trying to do. From a literal perspective, it fits the bill: it has 100 matches presented in a random order rather than ranking, with each getting a two-page spread with a brief background piece, a detailed description of the bout itself, and then a short paragraph on what happened next. Perhaps anticipating the inevitable criticism of the choices, the aut...

This is not a wrestling book. Don’t get me wrong: the blurb and other cover material don’t make any pretense this is a wrestling book, but it’s important to stress this so that would-be readers don’t get misled. This isn’t a book like the Bill Watts autobiography that is about wrestling but has some diversions into religion. Instead it’s the story of Shawn Michaels’ Christianity with a backdrop of pro wre...

Finally this under-covered era gets some attention from WWE. Snark aside, this is pretty much the book version of the countless documentaries and countdowns WWE has produced in recent years, particularly since the launch of the network. It’s not a chronological history but rather a collection of pieces focused on the main players, with a heavy emphasis on photography. As you might imagine, the book is hardly an objective history. At times t...

The saying that perception is reality applies to few industries more than professional wrestling, and none so more than the case of Brian Pillman. He was first a victim of the often baffling blurring between fact and fiction and then harnessed that confusion for his own advantage before his struggles to deal with physical reality ended in tragedy. It’s a tale that is told expertly in Liam O’Rourke’s biography, a work that not only covers a ...

While there’s some useful information in this, it doesn’t really justify the steep cover price. The book combines some factual details for would-be wrestling visitors to Japan with a personal recollection as an introduction, some interviews with people who’ve seen wrestling in Japan, and brief overview histories of the major Japanese promotions. The opening account of being at a show at Korakuen Hall is extremely atmospheric and...

With the Diva’s Revolution in full effect, it’s certainly an appropriate time to look back at the history of female grappling. But while undoubtedly well-written and comprehensive in scope, the format of this book can often be frustrating. The strength is the wide range of the book, giving due attention to various eras of female grappling from the pioneer years to the Fabulous Moolah era, the Rock ‘n’ Wrestling connection days, the Diva p...

While something of a cash-in on the early 90s craze, this 1992 UK release has a little more depth than most such official titles. It’s much the format you’d expect, a 160-large pages, full colour affair with a few dozen profiles of wrestlers and managers, largely featuring their character and storylines in 1991-2 rather than a full recap of their WWF careers. There are also sections on popular moves and the big four pay-per-views, all...

Ghostwriting means turning a subject’s recollection into a coherent narrative. Sometimes it’s a seamless process. But sometimes it’s clearly a struggle. The Cowboy And The Cross isn’t an unclear or rambling book by any means, but it gives the distinct impression of a tussle between Watts wanting to let rip on the subjects of his choice and Williams wanting to produce a narrative that would appeal to the likely audience. If...

Steel Chair To The Head edited by Nicholas Sammond
Review / July 12, 2019

There’s a lot of talk about the wrestling bubble and it’s always interesting to get the perspectives of people who don’t follow professional wrestling as a fan, but this collection of academic essays is often a case of missing the point. As you’d expect if you’ve ever seen the references section of a college paper on wrestling, this starts with philosopher Roland Barthes’s 1957 essay “The World of Wrestling.” Respected a...

Steve Rickard’s Life On The Mat by John Mancer
Review / July 11, 2019

This biography of the New Zealand promoter and wrestler, who died on 5 April 2015, is an entertaining enough read but not worth going out of your way to track down. Rickard wrestled briefly in North America but mainly divided his time between his native land and travelling the Pacific region. He was a regular NWA member and even spent a brief period as president in the 1990s, long after its heyday. He was best known for producing the sh...

There’s No Such Thing As a Bad Kid: How I Went from Stereotype to Prototype by Titus O’Neil
Review / July 10, 2019

In no way a pro wrestling book, this might appeal to dedicated O’Neil fans. It’s half-autobiography, half-social science manual, but only deals with O’Neil’s childhood and university days. The wrestling references limited to a couple of paragraphs on his spectacular Saudi Arabia ring entrance and winning the tag titles, plus a page or two describing his entry into the developmental system. Instead the book is a w...

Stu Hart by Marsha Erb
Review / July 10, 2019

This isn’t a book that gets a lot of talk, but it’s certainly one of the better wrestler biographies out there. Although a lawyer by trade, Erb was formerly a journalist and approached the project from that perspective rather than primarily as a wrestling fan. While there’s no shortage of wrestling material here, it’s far more of an individual life story than the territorial history of the also-excellent Pain and Passion by He...

Release Schedule (10 July)
Release Schedule / July 10, 2019

Two new entries this week starting with New Jack: Memoir of a Pro Wrestling Extremist by New Jack: You may have cheered for New Jack. You may have booed him out of the building. You may have even feared him at times. But until now, you’ve never really known The Most Dangerous Man in Wrestling. For the first time, the man born Jerome Young opens up about how he became one of the stars who enabled Extreme Championship Wrestling to m...

Superhero Ninja Wrestling Star by Lorna Schultz Nicholson
Review / July 9, 2019

There’s only a slim connection with pro wrestling, but this is a fun enough children’s book, though you might want to shop around on the price. The bulk of the story is about 11-year-old Archie who feels undersized after his friends and foes go through growth spurts. He then tries a range of tactics to both bulk up and improve his social standing, which backfire in a manner of amusing ways. The wrestling element comes in two par...

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 ...

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 th...

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 hi...

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 hi...