Living The Dream: Memphis Wrestling by Randy Hales

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.

Other sections bring us less insight, for example a chapter on Kurt Angle that doesn’t really tell the reader anything other than that he was a good hook for local publicity.

The biggest drawback is a lack of a ruthless editor. The combination of epic paragraphs and short sentences hurts the flow, while several points are repeated across different sections of the book. There’s also several cases where the content turns to descriptions of the writing process itself, which simply act as a distraction.

There’s really not enough here for the more general Memphis wrestling fan, so it’s appeal will largely depend on how interested you already are in the Power Pro era, or how much an account of running a TV promotion appeals.



  • FFTW May 7, 2023 at 2:56 pm

    Your review of Dynamite Kid’s “Pure Dynamite” book is repeated twice in the book list. Just a note :).

    • jnlisterwriting May 9, 2023 at 11:56 am

      Thanks for letting me know. I’ve weeded out a couple of other duplicates, which I think are left over from when I had to rebuild the site.