The Canvas, Volume 1: The Shine by DA Edwards
Review / May 30, 2023

Originality always helps books, but sometimes lifting from reality can be entertaining. Novels about pro wrestling tend to fall into a couple of categories. Some use it as a backdrop for genre fiction such as crime (Blood Red, Dollar Green) or romance (The Cruiserweight). Many of the rest cover fictionalized careers based heavily on the US territory era. The Canvas certainly falls into the latter category, but in this case the obvious influence of real events is an added bonus. It uses real wrestling venues but the names are fictionalised (though plausible). The characters range from familiar archetypes to very obvious individuals with new names. The broad outline of the period, from 1982 until the first WrestleMania is largely as happened for real. In other cases, specific events that happen to the lead character and his colleague are taken from real events but placed in a different time and context. It adds an extra insight for dedicated wrestling fans who, without going too far into spoiler territory, will likely have a sense of dread when a character is left alone ill in a Japanese hotel room or when a Puerto Rican promoter invites the lead character to discuss business in…

Living The Dream: Memphis Wrestling by Randy Hales
Review / May 3, 2023

My high hopes for this were not borne out, but it may be worth a look for Memphis completists. In the early years of wrestling on the internet, Hales wrote several fascinating pieces on his booking experiences and philosophies, particularly the Memphis flavour. Unfortunately those didn’t really get as much play in this book. Hales notes the focus changed midway through the writing process to switch from a history of his time running the Power Pro Wrestling group (1998-2001) to more of a life story. In practice the Power Pro section still makes up the bulk of the book, with a little either side about Hales’ entry into the wrestling business and post-wrestling life, plus an outline history of Memphis wrestling. The Power Pro account is a mixed bag. There’s plenty about the challenges of running a promotion and the evolution from the traditional “TV hypes the live show” model to more emphasis on episodic television as the main money-maker. Some sections are genuinely insightful, particularly in giving context to the infamous Doug Gilbert live TV “shoot”. While it’s a source of excitement and even amusement for some hardcore fans, Hales explains how it devastated and almost ended the promotion….