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 (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...

Pure Dynamite by Tom Billington
Review / March 13, 2019

1999 is something of a year zero in wrestling books thanks to the stunning success of Mick Foley’s Have A Nice Day proving to the publishing industry that wrestling fans could indeed read. But it also marked the publication of the autobiography of the Dynamite Kid, a book that remains among the small selection of genuine must-reads. Originally published in a limited print run by the company behind the UK’s Power Slam magazin...

Blood Red Turns Dollar Green Volume 2 by Paul O’Brien
Review , Uncategorized / March 13, 2019

Paul O’Brien’s debut novel, published last year, received high praise: in the pages of FSM we described it as “the first truly professional novel about professional wrestling.” Volume two answers the question of what happened next and does so in a stylish manner. Without spoiling too much of the plot, the new book deals with the immediate fallout of a battle between rival promoters that spilled over from control ...