Described by the author as a “loosely chronologized cultural criticism of World Wrestling Entertainment’s herstory”, this may not be what some readers expect but is certainly worthy of your attention. Rather than a chronological account aiming to cover the entire development of womens wrestling, this is more a series of essays on the different ways womens wrestling, particularly in WWE, intersects with wider culture. It goes far deeper than...

This book makes the best of a concept with arguably limited potential, which is pretty much the opposite of what happened in the match it covers. It’s automatically an impressive feat to get a full book out of a match where famously almost nothing happened. Even with a literal blow-by-blow account (Gross bravely becoming sure the only person in history to watch the match multiple times), the core of the book is inherently limited in drama. Unfo...

Pro wrestling in Douglas Clark’s era was an often muddled blend of reality and fictionalised drama, as indeed is this book. Clark certainly had a life worthy of chronicling. He was among the pioneers of rugby league, winning numerous championships with Huddersfield and England, and is among just 25 members of the sports Hall of Fame. While a rugby professional, he was also a perennial top contender in Cumberland and Westmorland Wrestling, a leg...

Sometimes you don’t enjoy a book because it’s plain bad. Sometimes you don’t enjoy it because it just isn’t for you. This feels like more of the latter. “In Defense Of…” is an anthology of columns from the 411Mania site in the mid 2000s with a simple concept: to take the conventional wisdom of the “Internet Wrestling Community” and argue against it, in the form of a courtroom defense argument. Prag is open in the appendix of thi...

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 ...

Brisco by Jack Brisco & William Murdock
Review / April 25, 2019

While not everyone will find the entirety of this ghostwritten autobiography interesting, it’s a must for people with an interest in the territorial era. It’s a worthwhile story from a wrestler who was once at the very top of the business and then walked away right as the WWF was beginning its national expansion, making him one of the few wrestlers to quit while still healthy and able to perform at a strong level. The manner of his ...

Brody by Larry Matysik & Barbara Goodish
Review / April 24, 2019

The story of Bruiser Brody would always be a fascinating one, but it’s the format that makes this book a particular success. It’s a blend of biography and autobiography, with chapters alternating between close friend Larry Matysik recalling Brody’s in-ring career and widow Barbara Goodish talking about his personal life. The approach works particularly well given the contrast between the crazed brawler and the intelligent family m...

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

One new entry this week, Job Man: My Life in Professional Wrestling by Chris Multerer & Larry Widen: Milwaukee-native Chris Multerer wrestled for more than a decade, starting in 1978, on professional circuits around the United States. As a “job man,” Multerer made the superstars of wrestling, such as Mad Dog Vachon and Hulk Hogan, shine. In cities around the country, thousands of screaming fans cheered when their favorite wrestlers ...

Nitro by Guy Evans
Review / April 23, 2019

This is a remarkable and unique book despite not being the comprehensive WCW history you might imagine on first glance. The key selling point (beyond the sheer length at 500+ pages) is the intensive research through interviews and in turn access to documentation. While some key on-camera figures such as Eric Bischoff, Kevin Nash, Vince Russo and Kevin Sullivan are among the subjects, the fresh angle here is interviews with people workin...

Broken Harts: The Life and Death of Owen Hart by Martha Hart
Review / April 22, 2019

This is a book every wrestling fan should read once. It’s also a book few will bring themselves to read a second time. This is not a traditional wrestling biography as it features virtually nothing about Owen Hart’s in-ring career, save to acknowledge the respect his abilities had earned within the industry. Instead it’s a very personal account by his widow Martha of their life together, the stresses of his being on the road, and...

Can You Take The Heat? The WWF Is Cooking: By Jim Ross
Review / April 19, 2019

This concoction has a nasty aftertaste of cash-in. It’s doubtful whether it’s possible to produce a good wrestling-themed cookbook, but this certainly isn’t one. It’s nothing more than a bunch of very basic, unappetising recipes which appear to have been randomly assigned to wrestlers with little pretense the superstar in question either cooks or eats the meal. The unlucky buyer will learn how to make Stone Cold’s Cinnamon Ice...

Championship Wrestling by George Napolitano
Review / April 18, 2019

This is a good example of the type of books that were available before the boom inspired by the success of Have A Nice Day and the growth of self-publishing and eReaders. It’s a 112-page collection of pictures by George Napolitano, arguably tied with Bill Apter for the best-known wrestling photographer of his era. There is a fair bit of accompanying text, though nothing with any real insight and it’s mainly made up of kayfabe capsu...

Chair Shots And Other Obstacles: Winning Life’s Wrestling Matches by Bobby Heenan
Review / April 17, 2019

This is a wrestling book like no other. It’s also one of the most undersung titles around. It’s a format few would have expected to see from Heenan: a self-help manual. Rather than the usual wishy-washy new age content you’d normally see in such books, this is effectively a series of serious points for living a successful live used as pegs for genuinely hilarious stories from Heenan’s career. Unlike with his autobiography, ther...

Release Schedule (17 April)
Release Schedule / April 17, 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 ...

Capitol Revolution by Tim Hornbaker
Review / April 16, 2019

American wrestling as most Brits know it arguably began on 23 January 1984 when Hulk Hogan beat the Iron Sheik at Madison Square Garden to capture the WWF title and kick off the national expansion era. But New York wrestling has a rich heritage, explored in this book which appropriately enough ends on that very day. Capitol Revolution begins its tale just after the first world war when the likes of Jack Curley and Tex Rickard battled to...