The Wrestlers’ Wrestlers: The Masters of the Craft of Professional Wrestling by Dan Murphy and Brian Young

March 18, 2021

While well-written and informative, this book may struggle to stand out.

If you’ve read any of the Greg Oliver/Steve Johnson “Hall of Fame” series, you’ll be familiar with the format of this book. It’s a series of profiles (primarily of US wrestlers) grouped together in broad categories, each combining a career overview with comments from interviews.

In this case the participants are not the subjects but rather several dozen wrestling figures interviewed for the project, covering such diverse perspectives as Colt Cabana, Shayna Bayzler and referee Jimmy Korderas. These are backed up wit the occasional, clearly-acknowledged, extract from a book or broadcast interview.

Between the category sections the book has a run-down of various historical eras such as the height of the territory system or the shoot-style period in Japan.

The profiles are detailed enough that only the most devoted fans of wrestling history will come away without learning anything.

The main limitation is instead the absence of a clear niche. The problem is that “wrestler’s wrestler” is inherently a subjective and fuzzy concept that’s defined largely by the contributing voices. At different points it covers skilled in-ring workers, those with a legitimate background, and those who connected with an audience.

That leaves some curious inclusions and exclusions: while this is one of the few books that profiles Brad Armstrong, it doesn’t really feel obvious why Jerry Lawler and Dusty Rhodes get profiles but Hulk Hogan does not.

This certainly isn’t a limitation on the content itself — those who pick it up will find it worthy of their attention. But it does mean the book doesn’t have a clear unique selling point to make it a can’t-miss proposition in a crowded market place.

(The Wrestler’s Wrestlers is released on 29 April. The publisher’s provided a review copy.)

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