The WWE Attitude Era by Jon Robinson
Review / December 6, 2019

Finally this under-covered era gets some attention from WWE. Snark aside, this is pretty much the book version of the countless documentaries and countdowns WWE has produced in recent years, particularly since the launch of the network. It’s not a chronological history but rather a collection of pieces focused on the main players, with a heavy emphasis on photography. As you might imagine, the book is hardly an objective history. At times the detailing of events such as the Montreal Screwjob verge first into being misleading and then outright false.  The book also has a few sections where things are presented either without context or with errors. For example, there’s a story from Stephanie McMahon that’s simply referenced as the “wedding angle” with no background, accompanied by a picture of her and Triple H at an in-ring ceremony. However, on closer reading the story actually refers to her aborted wedding to Test, who isn’t mentioned in the piece, and the revelation of a drive-thru ceremony with Triple H, which is mentioned without explanation.  (The same thing happens later in the book, making it clear Test’s name has been deliberately excluded. Perhaps more understandably, there’s a wonderfully chosen shot of the…

Crazy Like A Fox: The Definitive Chronicle of Brian Pillman, 20 Years Later by Liam O’Rourke
Review / December 5, 2019

The saying that perception is reality applies to few industries more than professional wrestling, and none so more than the case of Brian Pillman. He was first a victim of the often baffling blurring between fact and fiction and then harnessed that confusion for his own advantage before his struggles to deal with physical reality ended in tragedy. It’s a tale that is told expertly in Liam O’Rourke’s biography, a work that not only covers a subject that suits detailed examination but avoids many of the stumbling blocks of many similar books. At one extreme you have bios that are too light on detail, relying on broad strokes with little insight. At the other you have books where the author has clearly put immense work into research but lacked the self-discipline or self-awareness to edit down so that only relevant information is included – instead almost trying to prove they’ve put in the effort. That’s not to say Crazy Like A Fox lacks research: quite the opposite. It’s packed with detail, with many revelations that were fresh even to this seasoned grappling obsessive (on the very first page we learn Pillman was half-Welsh), but every tidbit advances the story and…

Puroresu Tourism: Vacation in Japan to Watch Pro Wrestling by Craig Mann
Review / December 4, 2019

While there’s some useful information in this, it doesn’t really justify the steep cover price. The book combines some factual details for would-be wrestling visitors to Japan with a personal recollection as an introduction, some interviews with people who’ve seen wrestling in Japan, and brief overview histories of the major Japanese promotions. The opening account of being at a show at Korakuen Hall is extremely atmospheric and more along these lines would have been interesting to read. Unfortunately the interviews and histories don’t really add much and feel a little like padding. The meat of the book is listings and details for venues and facilities. The most useful section lists a wide range of wrestling stores plus bars and restaurants that either have a wrestling theme or are owned or staffed by wrestlers, along with a map of the Tokyo Dome area. Another highlight is two sections of useful Japanese phrases, one relating to buying tickets and choosing seats and the other covering train travel. There’s also a section on Osaka that may be useful to those travelling further afield. Other listings and information sections aren’t as useful. The guide to buying tickets doesn’t give any real specifics that can’t…

Sisterhood of the Squared Circle: The History and Rise of Womens Wrestling by Pat Laprade & Dan Murphy
Review / December 3, 2019

With the Diva’s Revolution in full effect, it’s certainly an appropriate time to look back at the history of female grappling. But while undoubtedly well-written and comprehensive in scope, the format of this book can often be frustrating. The strength is the wide range of the book, giving due attention to various eras of female grappling from the pioneer years to the Fabulous Moolah era, the Rock ‘n’ Wrestling connection days, the Diva period and the modern day, along with separate looks at Japan, the rest of the world and the independent scene. As with Laprade’s Mad Dogs, Midgets and Screwjobs, which covered wrestling’s rich heritage in Montreal, the writing flows well, with quotes taken from a wide range of sources; it’s clear the writers have not skimped on effort or research. The main problem is that rather than a broad chronological or thematic history, it’s presented as a series of profiles of female wrestlers, verging on encyclopaedic format. This brings several disadvantages. One is that the wider story of women’s wrestling’s evolution is somewhat erratically told. In particular, there’ll often be a teasing reference to an incident or event (such as the first women’s match in New York) that’s…

WWF Wrestling: The Official Book by Edward R Ricciuti
Review / December 2, 2019

While something of a cash-in on the early 90s craze, this 1992 UK release has a little more depth than most such official titles. It’s much the format you’d expect, a 160-large pages, full colour affair with a few dozen profiles of wrestlers and managers, largely featuring their character and storylines in 1991-2 rather than a full recap of their WWF careers. There are also sections on popular moves and the big four pay-per-views, all illustrated with good quality pics. There’s something a little bit different towards the end of the book with looks at WWF’s tours and popularity in Europe and Japan, Hulk Hogan’s movies, WWF television shows and the various merchandise, magazines and home video releases. It’s not exactly the Wrestling Observer Newsletter, but it’s a change to see such explicit acknowledgement of the promotion’s business activities. It’s by no means a must-read, but makes for a fun bit of nostalgia if you see it at a reasonable price. Buy on Amazon