Pure Dynamite by Tom Billington

March 13, 2019

1999 is something of a year zero in wrestling books thanks to the stunning success of Mick Foley’s Have A Nice Day proving to the publishing industry that wrestling fans could indeed read. But it also marked the publication of the autobiography of the Dynamite Kid, a book that remains among the small selection of genuine must-reads.

Originally published in a limited print run by the company behind the UK’s Power Slam magazine (which had published a rare interview with Billington), the book was later reprinted and made more widely available under the Wrestling Observer banner, a promotional tie-in rather than any editorial involvement.

The book stands out for its sheer uncompromising honesty, with Billington not sparing anyone’s feelings. Just as with Bob Holly’s book years later, whether you agree with what Billington says or not, you are in no doubt he genuinely believes it.

It has to be said that Billington comes across as, to use his insult of choice, a bit of a prick. He makes no secret of his failures as a husband and father, nor his reputation for pulling cruel pranks or being eager to get into fights.

It’s his wrestling career that’s most of interest of course, and whatever you think of him, it’s a striking conclusion to discover that, having wrecked his body through his genuinely groundbreaking style and heavy drug use, leaving him in a wheelchair while still in his 30s, he has no regrets about his life.

There is at least one factual question over the book however. Billington discusses his backstage fight with Jacques Rougeau and then covers his final match at the Survivor Series in 1988 when the men were on opposing sides. Billington implies that Rougeau was deliberate eliminated early in the bout and whisked out of the building to avoid Billington being in the ring with him and seeking revenge. The problem with that story is the video of the match shows that the pair were indeed in the ring together, working together in what appears to be a professional style.

Still, that’s nit-picking with what is a fantastic book, with particular credit going to ghostwriter Alison Coleman for capturing the authentically brisk and unapologetic voice of Billington.

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