If photo books are your cup of tea, this is one of the better wrestling options. It’s based around a tight theme, specifically the small ECCW promotion in British Columbia. Given the subject, it’s an appropriately low-fi presentation: a black and white photo on the right hand side of each spread, with an accompanying extended caption on the left-hand side. These add useful background detail and context, and can sometimes be wonderfully dry ...

A brief read, this still manages to convey a life and career that was fuller and more widely influential than many wrestlers can dream of. There are few wrestling tales that take you from the Snake Pit in Wigan (described in all its unglamorous reality) to the US territorial scene to both the glory days of New Japan’s TV era and the growth of the shoot-style promotions (and in events obviously not covered here, to WWE’s cruiserweight show via...

This is about as a close to a must-read wrestling book as is possible in something dealing with a niche topic. Most wrestling histories fall into one of two traps: they have solid research delivered in a dry, academic manner; or they are full of engaging stories but don’t give a complete picture and context. McCoy is one of the rare authors who manages to pull off a book that tells a story in a comprehensive, authoritative and highly readable m...

In the days when wrestling books were a relative rarity, this was a reasonable buy. Today it will be of little interest to most fans. Part of a “Performance Studies” series, this is two for two on the “wrestling academia” checklist: it quotes Roland Barthes’ essay on wrestling, and it devotes little or not attention to the fact that people promote professional wrestling events as a business. Indeed, most of the book continues along the...

(I must, of course, include a disclaimer here — I wrote for Power Slam over the course of around 30 issues in 1996-1998 and 2006-7.) For those readers who were aggrieved at Power Slam being restricted to 40 pages — a subject addressed in this book — this will be more than compensation. At approximately 240,000 words, it’s a perfect example of a title that would only be viable as an e-book as a printed copy would have been unmanageably bul...

If you recognise the title, you’ll get a lot from this book. If not, it’s still an interesting read, but in neither case is it worth paying silly money for. The title is of course the phone number of the box office at the Olympic Auditorium in Los Angeles, a number which was not only repeated on air throughout the show but also appeared prominently in the building itself. Walton worked for the LA territory both as manager Tux Newman and behin...

1999 is something of a year zero in wrestling books thanks to the stunning success of Mick Foley’s Have A Nice Day proving to the publishing industry that wrestling fans could indeed read. But it also marked the publication of the autobiography of the Dynamite Kid, a book that remains among the small selection of genuine must-reads. Originally published in a limited print run by the company behind the UK’s Power Slam magazine (which had publi...

A sequel to Holy Grail: The True Story of British Wrestling’s Revival, this is a worthy book, if perhaps not what readers might assume. While the book does cover the stunning boom in British independent wrestling since the last volume ended a decade ago with the closure of the original XWA, it’s not quite a comprehensive history. Instead, as with the original, it’s more of a first-hand account based around Lambert’s continuing experiences...

The semi-biography of Vince McMahon is a case of a book having value despite numerous flaws. While Mooneyham is a regular columnist on pro wrestling, Assael is a sportswriter from ESPN and approaches the subject from an outsider perspective. It’s arguably the most perceptive such work from somebody not already involved in or interested by the wrestling business, though that approach brings a risk of errors that is certainly realised. The book c...

Buy on Amazon While a creative concept for a WWE book, this is less than the sum of its parts. Second Nature effectively combines two autobiographies – covering Ric Flair’s final run in WWE and retirement and Charlotte’s entry into the business – neither of which would provide enough material for a full-length book in themselves. They join together almost too seamlessly, drawing attention to the way that the ghostwriting doesn’t really ...

Sex, Lies and Headlocks by Shaun Assael and Mike Mooneyham
Review / August 6, 2019

The semi-biography of Vince McMahon is a case of a book having value despite numerous flaws. While Mooneyham is a regular columnist on pro wrestling, Assael is a sportswriter from ESPN and approaches the subject from an outsider perspective. It’s arguably the most perceptive such work from somebody not already involved in or interested by the wrestling business, though that approach brings a risk of errors that is certainly realised. ...

Second Nature: The Legacy of Ric Flair and the Rise of Charlotte by Ric Flair and Charlotte Flair
Review / August 2, 2019

Buy on Amazon While a creative concept for a WWE book, this is less than the sum of its parts. Second Nature effectively combines two autobiographies – covering Ric Flair’s final run in WWE and retirement and Charlotte’s entry into the business – neither of which would provide enough material for a full-length book in themselves. They join together almost too seamlessly, drawing attention to the way that the ghostwriting doesn...

Sharpshooters & Sermons by Darren Kane
Review / August 1, 2019

One of the more unusual books about wrestling you’ll find, this is one man’s tale of the parallels he finds between wrestling (mainly WWE) and religion (mainly Christianity.) The book follows a set pattern with each chapter beginning with a recollection of an incident or aspect of wrestling and then an explanation of a related element of religion or Biblical story. For example, the opening chapters compare the issue of planning a m...

Smarten Up! Say It Right by Brian Blair
Review / July 31, 2019

Unfortunately this is a book with redundant content in a redundant format. Published in 2001, this is at heart a listing of around 150 insider wrestling terms with definitions and examples of usage. While that may have been of interest to some readers back when online wrestling content was more limited, it’s a topic covered by countless readily-available webpages today. In theory the book has some value in that Blair is a wrestler gi...

Spandex Ballet by Lee Kyle
Review / July 30, 2019

Buy on Amazon Some wrestling autobiographies amaze with their tales of reaching the heights of fame and success with international promotions. This is not one of those autobiographies, but it’s all the better for it. Kyle — now a stand-up comedian — was what can generously be called a low-level indy wrestler in the Northeast of England in the early and mid 2000s. The book tells the story of his early years as a fan and then his ti...

Recent Release Roundup
News / July 29, 2019

The following recent releases did not get advance listings and thus weren’t in our weekly release schedule. Thanks to Alex Sarti for spotting a couple of these titles. Strong Style by Scott Norton & Adam Randis Strong Style is the autobiography of Scott “Flash” Norton, world arm-wrestling champion and professional wrestler whose career spanned the AWA, WCW, and New Japan Pro Wrestling. His career took him to ice roads in norther...

Release Schedule (24 July)
Release Schedule / July 24, 2019

One new entry this week,Wrestling Action Figures of the Early 1990s by Kevin Williams: Step back into the ring and recapture the golden days of wrestling as we look back on the legendary action figures from the early 1990s. Check out the toy line that rocked the world featuring wrestling legends such as Hulk Hogan, Rowdy Roddy Piper and Ric Flair.As well as lavish illustrations of the heroes and villains themselves, Kevin Williams follo...

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...