Steve Rickard’s Life On The Mat by John Mancer

July 11, 2019

This biography of the New Zealand promoter and wrestler, who died on 5 April 2015, is an entertaining enough read but not worth going out of your way to track down.

Rickard wrestled briefly in North America but mainly divided his time between his native land and travelling the Pacific region. He was a regular NWA member and even spent a brief period as president in the 1990s, long after its heyday. He was best known for producing the show On The Mat which aired in New Zealand as well as being syndicated.

Author Mancer was a sportswriter, but was a friend and colleague of Rickard, so this is hardly an objective or critical book. It’s also not a strict chronological life story, but rather darts about from subject to subject, including a particularly entertaining chapter on New Zealand wrestler Lofty Bloomfield and his supposedly inescapable finishing hold.

The book doesn’t break kayfabe, but does frequently note that opponents are able to peacefully coexist out of the ring, so never comes across as insulting in a modern context.

There’s not a great deal for the historians as there’s little detail on matches and limited insight into Rickard’s tactics and philosophy in promoting and booking. It’s mainly stories about Rickard’s life, the highlights being some of the more hairraising incidents when travelling abroad.

Unless you’re a particular devotee of the New Zealand scene, this isn’t worth paying over the odds for, but is a fun enough read if you ever come across it at an affordable price.

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