Spandex Ballet by Lee Kyle

July 30, 2019

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Some wrestling autobiographies amaze with their tales of reaching the heights of fame and success with international promotions. This is not one of those autobiographies, but it’s all the better for it.

Kyle — now a stand-up comedian — was what can generously be called a low-level indy wrestler in the Northeast of England in the early and mid 2000s. The book tells the story of his early years as a fan and then his time in the ring during periods of both unemployment and menial jobs.

The book is genuinely laugh-out-loud funny throughout thanks to Kyle’s dry humour and unconventionally conversational writing style, though more of the laughs come in the fan section, with lines such as:

…it was CLEARLY real, I mean, sure, sometimes I was confused by things, like occasionally you’d see people talking to each other in the ring but I just assumed they were saying stuff like “I’m going to bloody deck you in a minute” or “I’m class at wrestling compared to you.”

There’s also the incredible tale of the the top 40 wall, something I will leave as a a treat for those who buythe book.

While the wrestling section also has its share of laughs — not least at some of the outlandish characters in the promotion such as Harry Pain, the hardest kid in school — it has a surprising amount of insight. Perhaps because he has since left the “business” Kyle is able to look back on his time in wrestling and pick out not only the benefits it brought to his life as a creative outlet and a way of enriching the local community, but also the less savoury elements such as homophobia and unjustified egotism.

It makes for one of the more rounded looks at the culture of professional wrestling in the absence of either fame or money and to me is one of the surprise hits of 2016.

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