Dazzler Dunlop by Ken Dunlop

December 3, 2021

An engaging, breezy account of two decades in the business, this may still appeal most to the Australian market.

Ken Dunlop wrestled throughout the 1980s and 1990s, a period in which the local business remained viable (Dunlop recollects wrestling around 15 times a month though held down a full-time job as well) but suffered in comparison to the glory days of the nationally televised World Championship Wrestling which went off air shortly after his debut. It’s a period fairly covered by Dunlop, who remains proud of his work but does not fall into hyperbole about the size of the crowds or the level of fame he achieved.

The first third or so of the book is a more traditional chronological account of his career, with the rest of the chapters covering themes, from the drug scene, to injuries, mental health and crazed crowds. British readers will be particularly taken with the chapter on his 1992 tour with a post-TV era Joint Promotions and Orig Williams.

The marketing for the book stresses Dunlop’s experiences as one of the few openly gay wrestlers. Perhaps surprisingly given stereotypes about both Australian macho culture and the wrestling business, particularly in that era, Dunlop was largely accepted without question, in some ways more in wrestling than “real life”.

While the themed chapters will have universal interest, the sections on the wrestlers Dunlop worked with are likely to be more of interest with readers familiar with the scene and era, particularly given the lack of television means it didn’t receive much exposure even in the international tape trading community. It’s a point Dunlop addresses when talking about the opportunities for today’s wrestlers, for whom he appears remarkably supportive with little bitterness or resistance to the business continuing to evolve.

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[Disclaimer: The author provided a review copy.]

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