It is truly wonderful that a book such as this could be written and published. But it would be unfair to say everyone needs to read it. Pile Driver is a biography of 1920s and 30s wrestler Charles “Midget” Fischer, a grappler who stood 5’3″ and thus mainly competed in lower weight divisions, claiming versions of both the world light-heavyweight and middleweight titles. While not as widely known as the heavyweights of the e...

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...

At Issue: Professional Wrestling
Review / April 3, 2019

Part of a series that covers everything from Anti-Semitism to UFOs, this is designed to be a research tool and study guide for social studies students. It’s an anthology, which brings the benefit that you get a slightly wider range of viewpoints than usual in such books (including entertainment and sports writers alongside professors) but the drawback that some pieces are extremely short and have little substance. Most of the topics h...

Release Schedule (3 April)
Release Schedule / April 3, 2019

6 April: Convergent Wrestling: Participatory Culture, Transmedia Storytelling, and Intertextuality in the Squared Circle (The Cultural Politics of Media and Popular Culture) by CarrieLynn D. Reinhard (Editor), Christopher J. Olson 7 May: Self Help: Life Lessons from the Bizarre Wrestling Career of Al Snow by Al Snow & Ross Owen Williams 7 May: WWE SmackDown 20 Years and Counting by Dean Miller & Jake Black 7 May: An Encyclopedia of Wome...

Arn Anderson 4 Ever by Arn Anderson
Review / April 1, 2019

The subtitle of this book is “A Look Behind The Curtain” but that’s one thing you most definitely will not get from this book. This autobiography was published in 2000 by the “Kayfabe Publishing Group”, an appropriate title given its nature. As those who’ve seen Anderson speak in interviews or in talking head segments on documentaries, Arn continues to maintain that wrestling was a legitimate contest and the on-screen produc...

Are You Hardcore by Matt Hiller & Joe Lisi
Review / March 29, 2019

There was a point at the turn of the millennium where it seemed any book related to wrestling could find a publisher. This is one of those books. It’s pretty much an internet forum thread come to life, with the first half being nothing more than 316 (geddit?) ways to tell you are obsessed with pro wrestling. A random selection should give a flavour of what’s on offer: 46: When delivering a eulogy, you don’t see the problem in equa...

Are We There Yet by Robert Caprio
Review / March 28, 2019

This is an official WWE book made up of a collection of road stories from wrestlers on the crew in the mid-2000s. It’s a fun read, albeit with everything showing the wrestlers in a good light. The stories are all a page or two at most, so it’s perfect for bathroom reading or dipping into. To give an idea of the subject material, a random selection throws up Ivory and Jacqueline staying in the motel from hell; Rico helping subdue a ...

Andre The Giant: Closer to Heaven by Brandon M Easton & Denis Medri
Review / March 27, 2019

A wrestling star might get one graphic novel written about their life. Andre the Giant, a wrestling legend in every sense, now has two. I’ve not had a chance to read Box Brown’s Andre the Giant: Life and Legend yet, though other reviews suggest it may be more of a surface read, recounting some popular tales (some likely as tall as Andre.) This new take from Easton and Medri feels like a rounded biography, or as much as can be cove...

Release Schedule (27 March)
Release Schedule / March 27, 2019

A big batch of new entries this week starting with The Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame: The Storytellers (From the Terrible Turk to Twitter) by Greg Oliver & Steven Johnson: The legendary storytellers worthy of a spot in the pro wrestling hall of fame You can’t escape pro wrestling today, even if you want to. Its stars are ubiquitous in movies, TV shows, product endorsements, swag, and social media to the point that they are as much celebr...

All Or Nothing by James Dixon
Review / March 26, 2019

According to writer James Dixon, All or Nothing was originally conceived as an unofficial sequel to Simon Garfield’s 1995 book The Wrestling, updating readers on developments in the British scene since that time. Tales of the 1PW group proved so compelling that Dixon decided to first make the promotion the basis of an entire chapter and eventually took it on as the subject of a full-length book. In an openly admitted homage to Garfiel...

Adam Copeland On Edge
Review / March 25, 2019

The fact that a book by a then-16-time WWF titleholder was released far too early in his career may say more about modern-day booking than it does the author, but this 2004 autobiography looks woefully incomplete today. At the front end that’s the simple issue that Edge falls the wrongside of the “Jericho divide” regarding modern wrestlers route into the business. While the likes of Jericho and Mick Foley toured the world and had...

Accepted by Pat Patterson
Review / March 22, 2019

This may not be the book you were expecting, but is still well worth your time. Ghostwritten by Bertrand Hebert (who co-authored the excellent Montreal history Mad Dogs, Midgets & Screwjobs), the book’s focus is very much on Patterson’s life as a gay man and a love story of he and his late partner Louie. It’s fascinating to read not only of the obstacles the pair faced (Patterson notes the parallel of the secrecy of his sexu...