Like a stereotypical indy match, this has its impressive moments but occasionally loses focus while cramming too much in. The challenge of writing such a book is that it “independent wrestling” is a topic with almost unlimited scope. In turn that means having to find the right blend of a straight chronological history and a more themed approach with a focused story. For these reasons the first third or so of the book often feels a lit...

While it’s a hugely exaggerated fictionalisation of the real British wrestling world, this novella is unexpectedly timely. At first glance this seems purely in the world of outlandish fiction, with the central storyline being a Muslim wrestler beaten to death as he attempts to detonate a suicide vest in the ring. However, while the plot may be far-fetched, the setting is very true to life. The descriptions of a small-time independent wrestl...

An in-character account by “The Animal” would have been a short read, but this attempt to capture his true voice disappoints. The book is presented as a first-person account in the words of Jim Myers (the man who portrayed Steele in the ring), but several style choices mean that even if this is how Myers speaks, it doesn’t feel natural. One problem is the repeated inclusion of extraneous facts that nobody would include in normal...

This account of Chris Benoit’s life and time in wrestling has been described as a true crime story. It reads like the case for the prosecution. (Before going further, I must say that had I been reading this book for “pleasure” rather than a review, I would have quit when I reached the point where the author refers to a group of sex workers as “subhuman ogresses”.) There is nothing wrong with a book on Benoit being ex...

While Ken Shamrock’s life has already been covered via Inside The Lion’s Den, that book was hampered not just by only covering his early MMA career, but also by being a far from complete and rounded account of his life. To say Snowden’s work is a different prospect would be a spectacular understatement. The biggest strength of this book is that it is utterly comprehensive. Not only does it cover every fight of his career, but vi...

Dates are for US release and may vary in other countries. 29 June: S is for Suplex by Ryan L Schrodt and Nicholas Camia 13 July: Philosophy Smackdown by Douglas Edwards (Pro Wrestling Books review.) 1 September: Too Sweet: Inside the Indie Wrestling Revolution by Keith Elliot Greenberg 29 September: WWE Encyclopedia of Sports Entertainment New Edition 13 October: We Promised You a Great Main Event: An Unauthorized WWE History by Bill Hanstock 15 ...

One of those titles long-term collectors will recognise, this turns out to be a pleasant surprise. Originally published in 1974, this was a familiar sight when searching book catalogues in the pre-Have A Nice Day era, but wasn’t always easy to track down. Lewin is the brother of the better known wrestlers Mark and Donn. While he had the odd match later on, the bulk of his career came in the mid-sixties on the WWWF circuit. He wrestled mainl...

This is that rarest of beasts: an academic book about wrestling from which wrestling fans might actually learn something. With most philosophy essays and books on wrestling there’s a familiar pattern: start by citing Roland Barthes, raise the revolutionary point that pro wrestlers are performers rather than athletes competing to win a match, then discuss how the whole thing is a cipher for morality/ethnography/society/homoeroticism, making ...

Profiling the subject of the tallest of tall tales, this extensive biography strives for truth without sacrificing readability. Between graphic novels, a WWE published bio and two documentaries, the story of Andre’s life has been covered multiple times but never in such depth. Running nearly 400 pages it covers the familiar stories but also lesser-covered parts of his career including his time in Europe and Mexico and his importance to the ...

This is very much a book of two halves with a big decline midway through. The first half covers both the Stampede promotion and Hart’s own career and is a definite thumbs up. While Hart is almost always portraying himself in a positive light, there’s some good insights into the establishment and operations of the territory and the unusual world of dealing with pro wrestlers and their egos. It all goes off a cliff when the book gets to...

Wrestling Fan’s Book by Sid Feder
Review / May 9, 2019

Published at the tail of the first national TV wrestling boom, this is an excellent memento of the period and is a genuinely informative read rather than just a collectible historical item. The heart of the book is a series of profiles of around 250 wrestlers, ranging from full-page pieces on the top stars to capsule bios. Naturally it’s entirely in kayfabe, but there’s a fair bit of detail on backgrounds and career histories, most ...

Wrestling Is For Me by Art Thomas
Review / May 8, 2019

Don’t buy this. When it arrives sight unseen from an online auction site you’ll discover it’s not by 60s pro wrestler Art Thomas but rather a high school amateur wrestling coach of the same name. You’ll also discover it’s a children’s book, heavily illustrated with pictures of very young kids in singlets locking up and looking inexplicably happy. You’ll also discover that even in the context of having a wrestling book coll...

Release Schedule (8 May)
Release Schedule / May 8, 2019

One new entry this week, an updated re-release of a 1998 title, Professional Wrestling: Sport and Spectacle, Second Edition by Sharon Mazer Professional wrestling is one of the most popular performance practices in the United States and around the world, drawing millions of spectators to live events and televised broadcasts. The displays of violence, simulated and actual, may be the obvious appeal, but that is just the beginning. Fans d...

Wrestling Part III (1926) by Billy Sandow and Ed “Strangler” Lewis
Review / May 7, 2019

A reprint of a book now in the public domain, this is a nice novelty but doesn’t really have any collector value. Despite the name given to this release, it’s actually part 7 of 8 of a series originally published as “The Sandow-Lewis Kinetic Stress System of Physical Training.” With earlier volumes covering the basics of bodybuilding and self defense, this is the second of three parts dealing with wrestling itself. That most lik...

Wrestling Observer’s Top 100 Pro Wrestlers Of All Time by John Molinaro
Review / May 6, 2019

Any list-based book stands and falls on two point: the credibility of the list and the quality and information of the write-ups. Unfortunately this falls short of top-notch in both areas. The big problem with the list is that although the book’s editor Dave Meltzer notes in the forward that choosing criteria for ranking wrestlers — who perform in a sport without objective wins and losses — is difficult, there’s no clear explanat...

Wrestling with the Truth by Bruno Lauer
Review / May 3, 2019

Downtown Bruno, aka Harvey Whippleman, was a gruff, angry, vociferous little so and so. And his book is not much different. While a manager (and occasional referee) rather than grappler, Lauer had an interesting career path that lends itself to an autobiography with wide appeal, covering the smallest independents, the territorial era and the WWE in both peaks and troughs. Large parts of the story here are about the rough and ready natur...

Wrestling Title Histories and Wrestling Real Names & Aliases by Royal Duncan & Gary Will
Review / May 2, 2019

These are two examples of how printed reference works have been superceded by the Internet, but without the research that went into them, said online reference sources would be far poorer. The Wrestling Title Histories book covers more than 2,000 different wrestling titles, with as complete records as possible until the end of the 20th century. Much of the information gathered by Will and Duncan here served as the basis of sites such ...

Release Schedule (1 May)
Release Schedule / May 1, 2019

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 Women’s Wrestling: 100 Profiles of the Strongest in the Sport by LaToya Ferguson 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 ...

Wrestling: A Pictorial History by David Hofstede
Review / May 1, 2019

This is a strange book as, it’s unclear what it’s meant to be, and whatever the case it it falls short. It’s nothing but captioned pictures and, despite the name, there’s no attempt at chronology or covering major events. Instead the pictures are separated into a couple of dozen loose themes, though the categorization is extremely disputable, with lowlights including Danny Hodge placed across the page from Viscera in the “Jour...

Wrestling’s 101 Strangest Matches by Oliver Hurley
Review / April 30, 2019

This is along the lines of similar books on unusual incidents in sports like football, cricket or golf, but being the outlandish world of pro wrestling there’s a lot more barbed wire and hypnotism. The book is divided into loose sections covering the likes of doublecrosses, unusual locations, crazy stipulations and unpredictable events. Many, from the Funk-Lawler empty arena match to New Jack and Eric Kulas will be familiar to long-ti...