The New Pictorial History of Wrestling by George Napolitano

June 18, 2019

One of three Napolitano picture books (alongside This Is Wrestling! and Championship Wrestling), this is the least “coffee table” of the trio and the closest to having some weight, albeit far from a comprehensive reference book.

Aside from a centre section, it’s largely made up of full page black and white shots, with a page each for around 150 wrestlers. Each comes with a capsule bio and a “fun fact”, which ranges from the bland (Al Perez is a devoted family man) to the storyline (Great Muta helped Gary Hart get investors for J-Tex) to behind the scenes trivia such as Bam Bam Bigelow being called Scott or Tugboat being married to Dusty Rhodes’s sister.

It’s an eclectic mix, presumably driven by availability of shots, with the obvious superstars of the publication period (1990) accompanied by a seemingly random choice of foreign and independent stars such as Akira Maeda, Otto Wanz and Cheetah Kid (the future Rocco Rock.)

The picture quality is mixed, with some professional studio shots accompanied by several clearly taken from the stands at WWF shows, such as an out-of-focus image of King Haku. Perhaps the most notable image is of Vader and Stan Hansen in the infamous match where Vader’s eye is horrifically swollen (having at one point popped out of its socket.)

While there’s a bit more meat to this one, it’s hardly a riveting read, so the glossier Napolitano titles might be more suited to collecting.

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