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...

The Sheikh of Baghdad: Tales of Celebrity and Terror from Pro Wrestling’s General Adnan by Adnan Al-Kaissy
Review / October 11, 2019

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...

Unladylike: A Grrrl’s Guide to Wrestling by Heather Von Bandenburg
Review / October 11, 2019

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...

Complete Book of Wrestling by George Napolitano
Review / October 10, 2019

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 on...

Release Schedule (9 October)
Release Schedule / October 9, 2019

3 October: Job Man: My Life in Professional Wrestling by Chris Multerer & Larry Widen 15 October: For Your Consideration: Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson by Tres Dean 15 October: Wrestling Action Figures of the Early 1990s by Kevin Williams 15 October: Soulman: The Rocky Johnson Story [Check out my review] 29 October: Professional Wrestling and the Commercial Stage (Routledge Advances in Theatre & Performance Studies) by Eero Laine 5 November...

Exquisite Mayhem by Mike Kelley, Cameron Jamie & Theo Ehret
Review / October 9, 2019

This will likely be the strangest book we review at Pro Wrestling Books. It’s an absolutely enormous 480-page coffee-table book (listed at 14.6 x 11.7 x 1.6 inches and nine pounds) made up of three types of material. Of most interest to readers here will be the extensive collection of wrestling photographs by Theo Ehtret who spent many years as a photographer in the Los Angeles territory, specifically shooting at the famed Olympic...

Yes!: My Improbable Journey to the Main Event of WrestleMania by Daniel Bryan
Review / October 8, 2019

In the era of kayfabe-breaking shoot interviews and autobiographies, honesty as a selling point has become somewhat distorted. It’s often interpreted as somebody “shooting” in the form of spilling scandalous secrets and viciously attacking those who have crossed them. Daniel Bryan’s autobiography comes across as among the most honest WWE books ever published and yet it has none of these mudslinging characteristics. Much of the h...

Fall Guys by Marcus Griffin
Review / October 7, 2019

While by no means an infallible Bible, this is by far the most important book written about the fascinating period of wrestling between the wars. It’s an era that saw the culmination of the process of wrestling changing from a fixed event designed to scam gamblers into one where match finishes were designed to build up future bouts for ticket-buying customers. It’s arguably the period when, while the style and pace may differ, prof...

Foley Is Good by Mick Foley
Review / October 4, 2019

By comparison to 99 percent of wrestling books, this is excellent. The problem is that Foley’s second volume inherently invites comparison to Have A Nice Day, something that perhaps unfairly highlights its shortcomings. Foley is Good, while in the same style and tone (still largely warm and optimistic with little in the way of cynicism or bitterness) differs from its predecessor in a couple of ways. Firstly, despite being a similarly ...

Finally Meeting Princess Maud by Seamus Dunleavy with Shirley Thompson
Review / October 3, 2019

Although Dunleavy had a lengthy run as a pro wrestler including several years as a TV regular, this is primarily not a wrestling book. Only a few chapters of this autobiography are dedicated to his time in the ring, though there’s some interesting stuff in particular on his training at the infamous Snake Pit and on the boxing booths. The book as a whole is ghostwritten in what comes across as a very authentic conversational voice, com...

New Book Covers Canadian Heavyweight Title
News / October 2, 2019

Dick Bourne, author of several books on major wrestling championships, has a new title due out this fall: The Canadian Heavyweight Title – The Complete History 1978-1984 In 1978 as the Toronto territory was taking off with the young stars of Mid-Atlantic wrestling, promoter Frank Tunney introduced a local championship. That title, the first true local title in many years, was called the Canadian Heavyweight Title to be defended by...