One of three Napolitano picture books (alongside This Is Wrestling! and Championship Wrestling), this is the least “coffee table” of the trio and the closest to having some weight, albeit far from a comprehensive reference book. Aside from a centre section, it’s largely made up of full page black and white shots, with a page each for around 150 wrestlers. Each comes with a capsule bio and a “fun fact”, which ranges from the bland (...

While the story of WrestleMania is well-told, both through independent accounts, compilation sets and even the WWE’s “True” story documentary, this is a different beast and one well worth exploring. DeVito joined WWF shortly before the first WrestleMania and was in charge of marketing for all of the 16 events covered in this book. As such, there’s plenty of genuine behind-the-scenes insight. It’s not backstage gossip about finishes and...

This isn’t an information piece but rather a quiz book. It’s serviceable enough but with little reread value. Published in 1988, it’s made up of nothing more than 500 multiple choice questions, grouped as “Heroes and Villains”, “Tag Teams”, “Legends of The Past” and the not entirely politically correct “Women, Blacks and Midgets.” The questions aren’t inherently difficult, but in some cases the age of the book makes them a...

Don’t let a minor controversy detract from one of the better wrestling history books out there. The first of Oliver’s Hall of Fame series (as much a way of tying the books together as an attempt to compete with the likes of the WWE and Wrestling Observer halls), this attracted some attention from a disgruntled Bret Hart, outraged at being ranked only 14th in the book’s opening section of the top 20 Canadian wrestlers. While Oliver makes a g...

This biography of Mildred Burke goes straight into the top tier of must-read historical wrestling books. Many such titles fall into one of two traps. Some are cobbled together with little research or overly reliant on a single source, meaning it’s hard to determine the accuracy of either small details or the overall narrative. Others are the result of meticulous research but the author falls prey to the desire to leave nothing else, even at the...

Among the mid-level of the WWE autobiographies, this title is ghostwritten by former WWF and WCW magazine writer Dennis Brent. It’s a decent recap of Austin’s career, though a little short on detail. That’s largely because it’s written in an authentic Austin voice and is certainly a no-nonsense title. Perhaps appropriately, Austin picks his spots to shine in the book rather than going all-out throughout. As a result, some moments in his c...

Wrestling-based novels do not have a great reputation and those involving female characters and an element of romance are normally something for reviewers to fear (particularly in the self-publishing realm.) Thankfully The Sweetheart, professionally published by Simon & Schuster, is a strong exception to that pattern. It’s the tale of Leonie Putzkammer, better known as 1950s female pro wrestler Gwen Davies. Without giving too much of the pl...

While Bryan Alvarez & RD Reynolds continue to joke about writing a TNA version of The Death of WCW — and such a title remains premature — this is the closest thing to an insight into the promotion, albeit a brief period in its history. The book covers 2002, the year Jerry and Jeff Jarrett tried to capitalise on the gap left by the demise of WCW and ECW but without the benefit of national television. They attempted to so do by updating the...

This is a quiz book rather than a collection of facts, and how challenging it is may depend on the eras in which you were a fan. Published in 2002, this has a total of 2,000 questions with a mix of straight question and answers and multiple choice questions. It’s split over 10 sections: WrestleMania, SummerSlam, Survivor Series, Royal Rumble, Raw, Smackdown, other PPVs, Old School, Titles and Outside the Ring. Some questions will seem ridicul...

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 considerably mo...

Release Schedule (5 June)
Release Schedule / June 5, 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 1 August: Thumbelina, Wrestling Champ: A Graphic Novel (Far Out Fairy Tales) by Alberto Rayo & Alex Lopez 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: ...

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...