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...

Wrestling Arcade Book On The Way
News / May 27, 2019

One of the gems of wrestling Twitter is working on a book. Wrestling Arcade’s Twitter feed features 32-bit pixellated animations of classic wrestling moments from Shockmaster to Barber Shop. It’s the same creative force that produced the opening titles for the Being The Elite YouTube series. The animations are now coming out as a stills book titled Pro Wrestling’s Greatest Moments – A Pixelated Guide. It won̵...

Titan Sinking by James Dixon
Review / May 27, 2019

Of the 25 years I’ve been following WWE, 1995 was undoubtedly the in-ring lowpoint, when I’d have tapes posted to me from home while away at university only to find myself struggling to make time to see the likes of Sid, Mabel and Tatanka in lead villain roles. It was a period of depression in the company’s product, and one that is detailed in-depth in Titan Sinking. As previously noted here, it’s a major change of pace from Dix...

Tonight… In This Very Ring by Scott Keith
Review / May 24, 2019

You know when you’re at a wrestling show and you’re having fun but the experience is spoiled by that one guy OF DOOM behind you who won’t shut up with the smarky insider talk where he keeps going on about people being held down or getting a push or being good workers? And it’s really annoying because he proves that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing, and it feels like half of what he says is not just factually wrong but re...

Undisputed by Chris Jericho
Review / May 23, 2019

While this lacks the charm of A Lion’s Tale, it’s entertaining enough and in some ways more insightful. The second volume from Jericho deals with his initial WWE run from 1999 to 2005 and his subsequent break from wrestling before returning in late 2007. That means it doesn’t have the sheer breadth of settings of its predecessor, but it does give it a very focused look at the reality of life behind the scenes in WWE. The big stren...

Western Boxing & World Wrestling by John F Gilbey
Review / May 22, 2019

One of those few titles that would reliably show up in book catalogue searches for “wrestling” a couple of decades ago, this holds little interest for pro wrestling fans today. The book splits roughly in two into boxing and wrestling. Much of the latter half is taken up by the legitimate combat styles of places such as Japan, India and Turkey. Despite being written in 1986, the US and UK history is almost entirely about pre-war wres...

Release Schedule (22 May)
Release Schedule / May 22, 2019

No new entries this week, but the front cover for Mayor Kane: My Life in Wrestling and Liberty by Glenn Jacobs is now available: 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: ...

When You’re Ready Boys – Take Hold! by Len Ironside
Review / May 21, 2019

While this has some interest, the length and style mean it’s really for collectors only. Ironside was a Scottish wrestler, so this has some good insight into some of the names and characters who didn’t get the TV exposure. It’s more of a collection of stories and reminiscences than a chronological career history. Unfortunately it’s only 88 pages so is likely a single-sitting read. It’s also written with kayfabe in full effect,...

I’m Next by Bill Goldberg
Review / May 20, 2019

While widely viewed and remembered, Bill Goldberg’s wrestling career was extremely brief-lived. It might seem as if there’s not much to say and that certainly seems to be the case with this book. Released in 2000, when his WCW stint had barely finished, this doesn’t have a great deal of wrestling content. It’s written in a somewhat haphazard order and only around 90 pages (of large type) deal directly with the chonology of his i...

Who’s The Daddy?: The Life and Times of Shirley Crabtree by Ryan Danes
Review / May 17, 2019

Who’s The Daddy is as much a story of Shirley Crabtree the man as it is Big Daddy the wrestler. Much like its subject, the book has clear strengths and weaknesses and its reception will depend largely on what the audience is looking for. It’s the fresh content that is the main advantage of the book. Author Ryan Danes has spoken extensively to Crabtree’s daughter Jane and uncovered some genuinely informative insights into his perso...

Whoa Nellie: Dick Lane’s Wrestling Book
Review / May 16, 2019

This is a cash-in booklet from the 1940s-50s era when Lane was the announcer on the televised Olympic Auditorium shows during the initial “golden age” when many homes could get wrestling in prime time almost every night of the week. It’s a mere 32 pages, most of which is made up of capsule profiles and pictures of wrestlers of the day. There’s also a short section covering seven of the most popular moves of the day and relativel...