British Wrestler Portrayed In New Book
News / January 11, 2021

1930s British wrestler Chick ‘Cocky’ Knight is the subject of a new biography, London’s Loveable Villain, by Andy Scott published this month: Born in Hammersmith, West London in 1903 (Chick later lived in Castelnau, Barnes SW London where he passed away at home in 1967) Chick was a champion Wrestler, Boxer and Fencer in the Army (1st Suffolk Battalion Regiment), and then both an amateur and pro-Boxer, and a professional Wrestler from 1932-58 fighting all the great heavyweights including many battles with Bert Assirati. He fought as a professional Boxer from 1935-36, which included a contest with former British Champion, Reggie Meen. Chick was one of the first British Wrestlers on TV in 1938 (he fought Canadian champion Earl McCready at Earls Court in London) as well as being a professional Wrestler he was also a professional Boxer, a Soldier, a Doorman at several London nightclubs, including The Lyceum, a Film Stuntman and Extra, security to Royalty (Princess Margaret at Kensington Palace) and a Triple Lifesaver, with 2 rescues, one in Gibraltar in 1924 when he saved a fellow solider from drowning at Catalan Bay, and a second in the Thames at Hammersmith in June 1930, when he saved 2…

A Diva Was A Female Wrestler by Scarlett Harris
Review / January 8, 2021

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 simply acknowledging how the presentation and priority of womens wrestling in the promotion has improved over the years while still being behind the time in many regards. The book’s main appeal is that, rarely for a pro wrestling title, it addresses academic topics and thinking but in accessible and unpretentious language. It offers different perspectives on the topic, not as simplistic as “wrestling from the viewpoint of a woman” but rather focusing on specific aspects of female portrayal and involvement in WWE. Examples range from the expectations of how performers create and maintain their hair and make-up to the trope of the wrestling wedding and its near-inevitable disastrous outcome. This is a case of Harris presenting a different take: whereas many long-time wrestling watchers have come to expect that a wedding…

Ali vs. Inoki: The Forgotten Fight That Inspired Mixed Martial Arts and Launched Sports Entertainment by Josh Gross
Review / November 20, 2020

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. Unfortunately the lack of cooperation from the key players involved means the book doesn’t reveal too much about the match, in particular the process by which a potential worked finish was set aside, a legitimate contest decided on (or reached by default) and the rules negotiated. Even with the book’s explanations, it still reads somewhat unclear exactly what each man could and couldn’t do and whether it’s fair to criticise Inoki for not taking down and submitting Ali, or whether the rules meant this really wasn’t a boxer vs grappler affair at all. Within these limitations, Gross does an excellent job of putting the match into context. Without ever losing the thread that keeps everything on topic, he covers everything from the development of…

Buddy Rogers Bio Coming Soon
News / November 16, 2020

Crowbar Press is soon to publish Master Of The Ring, a biography of Buddy Rogers by Tim Hornbaker. (We’ve previously reviewed his books National Wrestling Alliance, Capitol Revolution and Death of the Territories.) It will initially be available in print direct from Crowbar Press with a Kindle version scheduled for December.

Unofficial Rock Biography On The Way
News / November 3, 2020

James Romero, whose book on Owen Hart I previously reviewed, will soon be publishing Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson: The People’s Champion – From WWE to Hollywood c. Here’s the blurb: FINALLY… from the author of the highly regarded Owen Hart: King of Pranks comes the wrestling biography every WWE fan and the millions… and millions of Rock fanatics around the world have been waiting for! Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson: The People’s Champion – From WWE to Hollywood charts the personal life and wrestling career of ten-time WWF/WWE/WCW Champion and movie megastar Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson in-depth for the very first time. Along with Stone Cold Steve Austin, Vince McMahon and the concept of “Attitude”, the emergence of The Rock was instrumental in turning the languishing World Wrestling Federation, on the brink of downsizing, into a billion dollar entity within two years. With The Rock at the forefront, the WWF routinely broke viewership, box office and ticket sales records. In 2000, The Rock became the most well-known mainstream professional wrestler in the world and in 2001 Dwayne entered the Guinness Book of Records as the highest paid debuting lead actor for his star-making turn in The Scorpion King. After several years…

The Man of All Talents: The Extraordinary Life of Douglas ‘Duggy’ Clark by Steven Bell
Review / October 23, 2020

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 legitimate contest where grapplers aim simply to trip or throw an opponent to the ground. Following an eventful stint as a supply driver on the battlefields of the First World War he was given a disability discharge and ordered to give up professional sport. Instead he continued winning rugby championships throughout the 1920s before turning to pro wrestling where the addition of submission holds helped revive the business. Now in his 40s he claimed a British and later world championship, touring Australia and New Zealand. Author Steven Bell has amassed a wealth of source material including newspaper archives, Imperial War Museum records and even Clark’s own diaries and memoirs. Sadly Clark died before chronicling the pro wrestling years, so we don’t get his direct insight in this…

Too Sweet: Inside The Indie Wrestling Revolution
Review / September 18, 2020

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 little scattergun, skipping from topic to topic and relaying a string of information about each but without really telling a story or making a clear point. In particular, several sections will have multiple short quotes from different wrestlers and personalities that don’t really add up to an overall insight. This changes once the book returns to a clear focus point of the first All In show and concentrates on how various developments from the PWG “workrate” era to the rebirth of the UK scene to the way New Japan used international stars to increase its worldwide appeal combined to create the circumstances that led to a 10,000+ seat arena selling out in minutes. As you’d expect from an author with Greenberg’s experience, it’s clearly…

The All-Action, Family-Friendly Wrestling Spectacular by Dean Harris
Review / July 31, 2020

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 wrestling show and its cast of characters are very much on the nose. A wrestling promotion may not be made up entirely of the people described in this book, but they could all very plausibly exist. Released in early-June, it’s a particularly notably timed book as a subplot involves a wrestler with a predatory interest in an underaged fan. The description of his machinations and the varying responses of his peers borders on eerily believable in the wake of the #speakingout movement. The story itself doesn’t quite live up to the characterisation. It’s brief enough to read in a single setting and is largely based around description. The plot consists of two detectives investigating the events that led up to the fateful night and the final twist feels too…

New Book on Wrestling Pioneer
News / June 22, 2020

Steven Bell has a new title due for release on 5 October, The Man Of All Talents. It covers Douglas Clark, a key figure in the UK’s pro wrestling revival in the 1930s. A Man of All Talents is the remarkable story of rugby and wrestling legend Douglas ‘Duggy’ Clark. Born in 1891 in the sleepy Cumbrian village of Maryport, at 14 he left school to work for his father’s coal merchant business. Duggy grew into an exceptionally strong but quiet and reserved young man. His two great passions were rugby and Cumberland and Westmorland-style wrestling, and he excelled at both. By 24 he was already a rugby league great and a key member of Huddersfield’s ‘Team of All Talents’, winning every honour the sport could offer. He represented Britain in the infamous 1914 ‘Rorke’s Drift’ tour of Australia before being called up to serve in the Great War. He was awarded the Military Medal for bravery, but his war injuries were so severe he was discharged with a 20% disability certificate. Doctors gave Duggy an ultimatum: either he could stay home and live a long but sedate and ordinary life or risk his health by returning to sport. He…

Vince McMahon Bio coming
News / June 1, 2020

Author Abraham Riesman has announced he is writing a biography of Vince McMahon to be published by Atria Books (part of Simon & Shchuster) with the blurb: …a biography of Vince McMahon, who went from a dyslexic boy growing up in a trailer park to the iconoclastic Chairman and CEO of the multi-billion dollar WWE empire, with new reporting and exclusive interviews from those witnessed, aided and suffered from his ascent. Riesman previously wrote a biography of Marvel Comics writer Stan Lee. This will be the first full-blown bio of McMahon, though Shaun Assael’s Sex, Lies and Headlocks was loosely organised around his life and career. Hold your excitement however, as the new book has no scheduled release date and Riesman is aiming for late 2022.