Wrestling Shorts: The Royal Rumble 2000 by Alex Smith-Powell
Review / March 28, 2024

Short but sweet, this may be too brief for some buyers. Lying somewhere between an extremely extended blog post and a very concise book, Amazon estimates a print version of this e-Book only title would be around 30 pages, something that’s important to remember if you’re considering a purchase. Unlike some less reputable titles such AI-generated “biographies”, this is an appropriate length for the subject matter: a detailed look at a single PPV. Rather than simply recapping the moves, this adds some content and background both for individual matches and for the event as a whole, including the perspective of a viewer in the UK where it was the first WWF PPV on broadcast television. It also includes analysis of the matches, concentrating on why particular elements worked rather than simply what happened. (One exception is the Rumble match itself which curiously switches into the present tense and is largely a running commentary.) The book achieves what it sets out to do and certainly doesn’t fall short of its billing. The question is whether that’s enough to justify a purchase, which is a matter where personal opinions mary vary. Read on Amazon. (Affiliate Link) Disclaimer: The author provided a review copy.

Business Is About to Pick Up!: 50 Years of Wrestling in 50 Unforgettable Calls by Jim Ross
Review / March 18, 2024

A third volume of autobiography is always a challenge, but the gimmick here doesn’t really hit. As the likes of Mick Foley and Chris Jericho have shown, later chronological volumes usually prove diminishing returns with too short a period to cover. The alternative is a fresh format, something that works well in some cases (Bobby Heenan) and not so well in others (Jericho again). Here the gimmick is 50 short chapters, each based around an incident in Ross’s career and pegged onto a line of commentary (though in most cases we get multiple occasions.) The big problem is that many of his most important career moments have already been documented in his previous books. What’s left is a combination of chapters making a single point (racial portrayals have progressed in the business), covering less important moments (Jeff Hardy was elevated despite losing to Undertaker) and elements from Ross’s personal life that are sometimes clunkily connected to a match call to fit the format. It’s the last of these categories where the book most often shines, with genuinely touching insights into Ross losing his wife in a tragic car accident, coping with the adjustment to single life, using work as a…

Macho Man: The Untamed, Unbelievable Life of Randy Savage by John Finkel
Review / February 1, 2024

This is a well-researched and often illuminating biography, but for a WWF superstar subject, his time in the promotion is the weakest aspect of the book. This is the closest thing to an authoritative biography of Savage thanks to brother Lanny Poffo being a key source before his own passing. It also brings together quotes from a wide variety of figures both inside and outside the business, usually – though not always – commenting on topics where they have particular knowledge or insight. This research pays off most in the accounts of Savage’s childhood, baseball career and pre-WWF wrestling days. While for those outside North America the cited baseball statistics could have used more explanation and context, there’s plenty on Savage’s motivations and even a rounded account of father Angelo Poffo’s time in the business. The book also has some fresh and intriguing accounts of Savage’s out-of-the-ring activities from the production of his signature ring gear to his time working with Slim Jim, his baseball announcing and his talk show appearances. Unfortunately, the coverage of his in-ring career after joining the WWF brings less insight. That’s partly because there’s little new to tell here and partly because of some inaccuracies….

Wrestling Unmasked: Ripping the Mask off the Crime, Politics and Intrigue Beyond the Ring by WrestleTalk
Review / January 22, 2024

Somewhat a mirror image of its predecessor, this works as an overall collection of articles, even if some pieces feel a little flat. The second compilation from WrestleTalk, this follows The New War: AEW vs WWE. I found that while individual pieces were intriguing, it didn’t necessarily hang together as an overall narrative or history of a time period. The situation is reversed here, with a much broader topic, namely wrestling’s crossover into the real world. Topics include the portrayal of gay and disabled characters, political-based storylines, the Chris Benoit case and the lack of unions in the business. Despite being less directly connected, the book’s themes comes together, turning the compilation format into a strength. The main problem is that many articles have plenty of relevant content, but left me unfulfilled at the end. Too often the writer would provide plenty of examples and incidents on a particular topic but either intentionally avoid making a conclusive argument or unintentionally lack a big picture point. Pieces intended to be thought-provoking often failed to really cut through. Some notable exceptions do lift the book. A piece giving some previously underreported examples of mafia involvement stands out, as does a (perhaps overly)…

My Recommendations
News / January 10, 2024

Following a question from a reader, I thought I’d share some recommendations from among the 250+ books I’ve reviewed on the site, broken into a few categories. The Must Haves These are books that every wrestling fan should own: A Lion’s Tale: Around the World in Spandex by Chris Jericho Gorgeous George by John Capouya Have A Nice Day by Mick Foley Hitman: My Real Life in the Cartoon World of Wrestling by Bret Hart Hooker by Lou Thesz (which I appear to have not reviewed for some reason. The best version is the annotated reprint from Crowbar Press.) Pain and Passion: The History of Stampede Wrestling by Heath McCoy Pure Dynamite by Tom Billington Hidden Gems These are books which I particularly enjoyed but have either been forgotten or didn’t get as much buzz for some reason: A Chosen Destiny by Drew McIntyre Chair Shots And Other Obstacles: Winning Life’s Wrestling Matches by Bobby Heenan Headquarters by Mike Quackenbush Lita: A Less Traveled R.O.A.D. – The Reality of Amy Dumas by Amy Dumas Spandex Ballet by Lee Kyle Tod is God: The Authorized Story of How I Created Extreme Championship Wrestling by Tod Gordon & Sean Oliver Niche Topics…

Amateur-to-Pro Journey Covered In New Book
News / November 6, 2023

Congratulations to reader Jason Norman on the publication of his book American Women in Amateur Wrestling, 2000-2022. Although it’s primarily about the growth of the female amateur scene and it’s tumultuous status in the Olympics, it does include a chapter on women who have moved from the amateur ranks into pro wrestling.

The Future of Pro Wrestling Books
News / October 30, 2023

Having reached the milestone of my 250th review, I’ve decided now is the right time to cease regular updates of Pro Wrestling Books. This is primarily because the money generated by ads and affiliate links no longer justifies the time I spend on the blog. A secondary issue is that the way Amazon is now flooded by low quality “books” produced either through cut-and-pasting of Wikipedia or generative AI tools, to the point that when a wrestler dies, there’ll be literally dozens of so-called biographies published within a day. This has overwhelmed Amazon’s algorithms such that search tools for upcoming or recent releases of wrestling titles are virtually useless. The practical changes of my move as as follows: The 250 reviews on the site will remain online. I’ll still add new reviews as and when I read a wrestling title, but these will become less frequent. I will no longer post the weekly release schedule or the recent release round-up features. As these are time-sensitive, I’ll be removing the archive posts for these categories which may mean the site as a whole works more smoothly and loads quicker. Thank you to everyone who has read, subscribed to the blog, shared…

Bang Your Head: The Real Story of The Missing Link by Dewey Robertson and Meredith Renwick
Review / October 26, 2023

Something of a mixed bag, this takes a while to get going but provides some useful insight. The ghostwritten format works well when sharing the first-hand accounts of Dewey Robertson, the man behind the gimmick. However, in what could be either an attempt of completeness or a touch of padding out, the book does occasionally fall into extensive lists which are neither informative nor entertaining. Unfortunately this is particularly prevalent in the early stages dealing with Robertson’s early life and local wrestling career before moving out to the territorial circuits. This means readers will need to stick with it to get to the best content. Once into the meat of his career, the book becomes insightful, with Robertson sharp on the way promoters operated, the importance of character development, booking approaches and the realities of varying pay structures. It’s particularly strong on the similarities and differences of various promotions and the realities of their declines. One confusing element is the approach to kayfabe: Robertson is open about how wrestling worked and why particular booking patterns emerged, yet at times describes matches as if he was legitimately competing to win. It’s more of a linguistic quirk than an attempt to fool…

Chris Candido: No Gimmicks Needed by John Cosper and Jonny Candido
Review / October 12, 2023

In a just world this would be an autobiography. We’ll have to settle for an entertaining and informative biography. A good wrestling biography will do one of three things: adequately document a wrestler’s in-ring career, give some insight into their life outside the ring, and share some engaging stories. This manages all three, thanks largely to its authorship. It’s not quite the same as when Scott Teal steers the recollections of a wrestler into the realms of reality, but perhaps the next best thing. Cosper is an experienced wrestling biographer who conducted dozens of interviews for the project, while Candido (Chris’s brother) was clearly incredibly close with Chris and shares not just personal memories, but retells experiences and conversations which Chris had shared with him. The result is both a life story and a career retrospective that doesn’t simply list dates and matches, but shares the lessons Chris Candido learned on his journey to becoming a truly great worker in the professional wrestling business. Inevitably it’s not the happiest of tales at times and doesn’t shy away from Candido’s low points or the effects his drug problems had on his career and colleagues. However, it does fully convey the tragedy…

Ambush At The Palace by DR Feiler
Review / September 28, 2023

Feiler’s third wrestling novel shifts genre but remains an easy read that should hold your interest. Ambush At The Palace is set in the same universe (a fictionalised late-70s Florida territory) as his previous books on Gorpp The Grappler, but puts less emphasis on the sci-fi element. Instead this is a crime thriller kicked off by a robbery of the man returning the night’s takings from a wrestling show. The wrestling element is more of a backdrop this time, with Gorpp a cameo player, though with the interesting perspective that to the characters in this volume, whether he is really an alien is a mystery on the same level as to how much Native American heritage a headdress-wearing grappler really has. The story develops smoothly and at a brisk pace, with the main criticism being that it occasionally goes into too much detail about pricing or times that feels like an unnecessary attempt to prove that the fine detail of points such as timelines are indeed internally consistent. The ending of the book also felt a little rushed, though this was partially a matter of expectations as the final 15% or so of the book is actually a sample of…