This is well-written and extensively detailed, though it’s unclear if it’s the right fit for its target audience. The most notable element is the sheer length and depth of the book. At nearly 400 pages, it covers virtually every significant aspect of Johnson’s in-ring career and plenty more detail that a writer could have been forgiven for overlooking. As with Romero’s first book, Owen Hart: King of Pranks, it reads smoothly enough. There...

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...

Accepted by Pat Patterson
Review / March 22, 2019

This may not be the book you were expecting, but is still well worth your time. Ghostwritten by Bertrand Hebert (who co-authored the excellent Montreal history Mad Dogs, Midgets & Screwjobs), the book’s focus is very much on Patterson’s life as a gay man and a love story of he and his late partner Louie. It’s fascinating to read not only of the obstacles the pair faced (Patterson notes the parallel of the secrecy of his sexu...

A Star Shattered: The Rise & Fall & Rise Of Wrestling Diva by Tammy “Sunny” Sytch
Review / March 21, 2019

You know what. It could have been worse. If you’ve watched any of Sytch’s “shoot” interviews, it appears there’s little new here, but it’s an easy read if not always the most entertaining. There’s a good amount about her time in the wrestling business and her experiences learning about working the crowd. The two big problems are that it’s hard to tell how true the content is (if nothing else, it very much comes across a...

Release Schedule (20 March)
Release Schedule / March 20, 2019

25 March: Convergent Wrestling: Participatory Culture, Transmedia Storytelling, and Intertextuality in the Squared Circle (The Cultural Politics of Media and Popular Culture) by CarrieLynn D. Reinhard (Editor), Christopher J. Olson 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 Encyclopedi...

A Pictorial History of Wrestling by Graeme Kent
Review / March 20, 2019

Surprisingly widely available for a 1968 title, this is a great combination of text and photos of wrestling on both sides of the Atlantic. Written entirely from the perspective of wrestling being a sport (albeit one with showmanship in spades), the first 130 or so of the 300+ pages here deal with the development of amateur wrestling in its various styles around the world. The rest covers the professional business from the pre-Gotch days...

A Lion’s Tale: Around the World in Spandex by Chris Jericho
Review / March 19, 2019

Between the subject matter and the style, there’ll be few books like this in the future, which is something of a shame. Jericho was arguably the last wrestler to make it big in WWE having spent a serious amount of time working for both full-time US territories and international promotions. After leaving the Canadian independents, he spent time in CMLL, WAR, the German tournament scene, Smoky Mountain Wrestling, ECW and WCW, giving hi...

A Few Kindle Only Titles
Review / March 18, 2019

For the most part this blog sticks to books released in print, partly because the number of e-Book titles is both so large and so variable in quality. Here are three that may be worthy of your attention, with the disclaimer that I am “online friends” with two of the authors (Millard and Davies.) Confessions of a Smart Wrestling Fan by Lorcan Mullan Lorcan Mullan has been a fan of the wild, unpredictable and unique world of professio...

An Important Site Note
News / March 14, 2019

I recently moved this blog to a new web host and it would be an understatement to say it went badly. In short, the site (and backups) was pretty much destroyed and I’ve had to rebuild it from scratch. The good news is that although the actual post archive was irretrievably corrupted, I was able to extract the text of the reviews. With that in mind: Starting next week I’ll resume posting the weekly release schedules for wrest...

The Professional Wrestling Trivia Book by Robert Myers
Review / March 14, 2019

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 dif...

Wrestling With The Truth by Bruno Lauer
Review / March 14, 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...

Inside Out By Ole Anderson
Review / March 14, 2019

Not everyone who reads this book is going to like or agree with what it says, but you certainly can’t accuse it of being inauthentic. A Crowbar Press publication, this is arguably the best example of Scott Teal’s prowess as a ghostwriter. He’s put together a book that’s engaging, focused and flows in a logical order, but still comes across as the genuine voice of Anderson. It’s 382 pages in print and certai...