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Under-the-radar wrestling book recommendations

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On 1/14/2019 at 8:35 AM, C.S. said:

How is the David Shoemaker book The Squared Circle: Life, Death, and Professional Wrestling?

It's currently on sale for $4.99 on Kindle, which is its lowest price to date, according to ereaderiq.com.

I really liked the author's articles on Deadspin, but is this more of an overview of wrestling history? I'm kind of burned out on those (and I still have The Comic Book History of Professional Wrestling to read anyway).

https://smile.amazon.com/Squared-Circle-Death-Professional-Wrestling-ebook/dp/B008BM4MN0/

I found it on a torrenting site (Daniel Bryan's book, too). Mainly obits - Gordy, Pillman, Rude, Davey Boy et al - an interesting chapter on S.D Jones, leading to a look at race in wrestling, and, yes, some overview of pro-wrestling in the context of eras. Definitely worth five Kindle bucks, but I've noticed you (and most of this board) are more knowledgable than I, so the things I found interesting may be old hat to you.

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Hornswoggle's book Life Is Short and So Am I: My Life Inside, Outside, and Under the Wrestling Ring is on sale for $4.99 on Kindle. 

It looks like a fun read, so I'm gonna grab it.

On 1/12/2020 at 9:18 PM, Dav'oh said:

I found it on a torrenting site (Daniel Bryan's book, too). Mainly obits - Gordy, Pillman, Rude, Davey Boy et al - an interesting chapter on S.D Jones, leading to a look at race in wrestling, and, yes, some overview of pro-wrestling in the context of eras. Definitely worth five Kindle bucks, but I've noticed you (and most of this board) are more knowledgable than I, so the things I found interesting may be old hat to you.

Thank you for your kind words. :)

Your recommendation convinced me! I will definitely grab the Shoemaker book when it's $4.99 again. 

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On 1/20/2020 at 5:26 PM, C.S. said:

I finally read this. A fun read.

Some highlights (SPOILERS):

- Kofi and Hawkins were Swoggle's best friends in WWE.

- Bob Holly and JBL are *gasp* not bullies - according to Swoggle anyway.

- CM Punk is a cranky unprofessional bitch. Swoggle got a new phone and lost all of his numbers, so he asked Punk for his number and the number of a musician (?) who was a mutual friend. This set Punk off, who called Swoggle a "user" and even taunted him about being on a future cut list. What a dick! Swoggle later apologized (even though he wasn't in the wrong) and Punk accepted that. However, Punk was eventually standoffish again. Punk has always struck me as someone who has no concept of friendship and doesn't value loyalty. Sad!

- Heath Slater once complained about having to get beat up by a midget. Dash Wilder was boo-boo-facing about being eliminated from a battle royal at one of the SaudiMania shows by Swoggle (maybe the Greatest Royal Rumble). Stuff like this confirms my suspicions that The Revival are really their own worst enemy at times.

- Khali was lazy and wanted to make as much money doing as little as possible.

- WeeLC got a standing ovation from everyone in the back, including Vince. IMO, it's the greatest PPV pre-show match of all time and one of the top ten matches of the decade. Yes, really.

- Swoggle's Wellness Violation was because he couldn't piss in a cup in time, not because of any drug failure. Yet, WWE refused to specify that Swoggle did not actually test dirty for drugs. This and other frustrations really paint WWE as a really shitty place to work IMO. Still, Swoggle is grateful overall for his career and getting to live his dream.

It's a really compelling read in general, because he goes into what it's like to be a midget (his word, which he says he doesn't mind). 

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On a side note, the Internet Archive has some wrestling books on there. Many of them are the ones aimed at grade schoolers and such, but they also have some stuff like DDP's book, The Wrestlecrap book, Duggans book, etc. You do have to register, but that's free and easy.

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For those interested in the history of 50s-70s wrestling, I just started the Gene Kiniski bio by Steve Verrier (who also wrote a pretty good history of Pacific NW wrestling) and it's really well researched and really good

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So, I found a book on Kindle Unlimited titled "Fritz Von Erich: Master of the Iron Claw" by a Ron Mullinax, who according to the book lived with and took care of Fritz while he was dying of brain cancer. The guy claims Fritz wanted him to write his story.

Things were going along fairly smoothly (despite some misspellings) until we reached this gem......

According to this book.....Fritz apparently defeated Vern Gagna (actual book spelling) for the AWA World Title on July 31st, 1962. Then on July 7, 1963, he defeated Gagne who had recently become the NWA World Heavyweight Champion, to unify the AWA and NWA World Heavyweight Titles.

(To save you the time of googling it, Fritz actually won the AWA Title on 7/27/63, and held it for 12 days, and I will assume if you post here you know that the rest of that shit never happened!!)

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The new Scott Norton book launched at $7.99 on Kindle. I usually wait for a deal, but I think that's a very fair and reasonable price for a new book, so I went ahead and bought it.

Much better than something like Mayor Kane launching for $15 digitally. That's stupid pricing IMO. 

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Randomly found some Kindle deals on wrestling books...

$2.99 each:

Mayor Kane: My Life in Wrestling and Politics by Glenn Jacobs - I assume the political aspect won't be great, but the wrestling stories should be fun. I bought it.

Beer, Blood & Cornmeal: Seven Years of Strange Wrestling by Bob Calhoun - This is about Incredibly Strange Wrestling, a promotion I'm unfamiliar with. Still, this might be wacky enough to be worth a look. I'll sleep on it.

Death of the Territories by Tim Hornbaker - I read this for free through the Netgalley site, and while it is extremely informative, it's also very dry and hard to keep track of at times. It probably helps if you lived through the eras covered in the book. At this price, it's certainly worth it for any budding historian or PWO GWE type.

Life Is Short and So Am I: My Life Inside, Outside, and Under the Wrestling Ring by Dylan Postl - I paid more for this only a month or two ago (and it was on sale then too), so it stings slightly that it's now even cheaper. Still, it was worth the price I paid. No regrets there. Fun read. I posted more detailed thoughts HERE.

The Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame: The Storytellers (From the Terrible Turk to Twitter) by Greg Oliver and Steven Johnson - There's a whole series of these "Hall of Fame" books. I've read none of them though.

BTW, J.R.'s second book comes out today. However, at $12.99, I'll be waiting. The first one dropped to $1.99 within months. 

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can definitely recommend the Incredibly Strange Wrestling book, having read it myself a long time ago.  IIRC they won the Worst Promotion award in the Observer multiple times, but it's the sort of thing that i think would've played much better to 2020 audiences.  Put it to you this way: the promotion's name is taken from a classic MST3K movie, and they had a gimmick taken straight from another MST3K movie (the Aztec Mummy).

(EDIT: well they also did a lot of 90s edgelord shit that would not go over well today at all, e.g. "The HIV Kid" who'd do run-ins and openly blade himself to clear out the ring)

Tim Hornbaker's work generally tends to take the pattern you described - not the smoothest reads, but invaluable resources for the kind of people who tend to post here!

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1 hour ago, funkdoc said:

can definitely recommend the Incredibly Strange Wrestling book, having read it myself a long time ago. 

I grabbed a free sample chapter on Kindle, and I agree that the content looks fantastic.

Unfortunately, the formatting is a different story...

It uses an old Kindle file format called Topaz, which basically looks like a really bad scan. On my e-ink Kindle Paperwhite, the text is very a dull, washed out, light grey - a chore to read, needless to say. I assume Calibre might be able to fix some of that, but I no longer have a PC that can run programs like that.

At $2.99, it might be worth grinning and bearing anyway. If it were 99 cents, I wouldn't hesitate.

I did get Mayor Kane. Even though I'm sure the political aspect of it will only annoy me, the good rasslin' stories will hopefully make up for it. (As much as everyone crows about Glenn Jacobs being a "nice guy" and great politician, the fucking boob voted for Trump. With that said, I'd still take Kane over any of the inept politicians in my state.)

 

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3 hours ago, NintendoLogic said:

All I know about Kane's book is that it contains a chapter titled How Vince McMahon Took Over Pro Wrestling in the '80s As Explained by Austrian Economics.

Assuming you're serious, if that doesn't make it a must-read, nothing will. :D 

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Found another one for $2.99:

Slamdown Town (Slamdown Town Book 1)

Looks like a fun kids' book. I had credits, so I bought it. 

I'm reading Mayor Kane now. Nothing groundbreaking, but a light enjoyable read. If nothing else, there will never be another book with introductions by Undertaker and Rand Paul.

Hope Mayor Kane enjoys his term, because he won't be getting another.

https://www.knoxnews.com/story/news/politics/2020/04/02/knox-county-mayor-glenn-jacobs-says-tennessee-gov-bill-lee-coronavirus-stay-home-order-goes-too-far/5117151002/

(Dumbass!)

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Just now, C.S. said:

BTW, J.R.'s second book comes out today. However, at $12.99, I'll be waiting. The first one dropped to $1.99 within months. 

It's already on certain torrenting sites (along with the Sabu one).

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The Last Wrestlers: A Far Flung Journey in Search of a Manly Art (by Marcus Trower, Ebury Press 2007)

A friend bought me this a couple of years ago and I'd forgotten about it. I do remember really enjoying it, and I'd confidently point you in its direction (https://www.amazon.com/Last-Wrestlers-Flung-Journey-Search/dp/0091910676). It's a memoir of his (real) travels studying traditional, tribal/village wrestling hoping to find that spirituality was either the source or the outcome of the "purest" wrestling (IIRC), not a novel.

From Google "For most of us, wrestling is synonymous with muscle-clad men in spandex costumes pulling faces for TV cameras. For Marcus Trower, however, the camp theatre of WWF was a dishonourable perversion of an honourable tradition - a tradition sadly on the wane in modern society. Wrestling acted as an outlet, both physical and mental, for Marcus; a means of expression 'purer' than any of the martial arts he had tried before.Then tragedy struck - chronic health problems prevented him from doing what he loved most. Unwilling to let go, he determined to look into the roots of wrestling, to try and uncover some deeper, perhaps spiritual, dimension. His travels took him to such far-flung reaches as India, Mongolia, Nigeria and Brazil, the incredible scenery matched by equally colourful characters. Sometimes frightened, often frustrated but always intrepid, Marcus discovered the true origins of wrestling appeared to have little to do with spirituality and everything to do with seduction...THE LAST WRESTLERS is both the story of one man's rebellion against the office-bound constraints of the modern world and a lament for a bygone era of masculinity. It is also a superbly written piece of sports and travel writing. Vivid, comic and often moving, it reveals a testosterone-fuelled world you never knew existed.

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On 3/31/2020 at 5:14 PM, NintendoLogic said:

All I know about Kane's book is that it contains a chapter titled How Vince McMahon Took Over Pro Wrestling in the '80s As Explained by Austrian Economics.

Finished this chapter - and the book. Honestly, as expected, the parts about politics and economics were uninteresting slogs to get through. 

He kisses the asses of Ron Paul, Rand Paul, and Trump, and goes into his various libertarian political and economic viewpoints. Yawn!

The scariest takeaway: One person in WWE voted for Trump solely because Trump was cool to him backstage. 

The rest of the book was fine. It's more along the lines of "I'm thankful for the career I've had and the people I met along the way." Nothing wrong with that - just don't expect any salacious gossip.

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So looking for recommendations... Are there any books worthwhile that focus on or spend a large portion of their time on pre-Nitro WCW? Or is my best bet really just biographies and autobiographies from the talent that was there?

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15 minutes ago, tallmike said:

So looking for recommendations... Are there any books worthwhile that focus on or spend a large portion of their time on pre-Nitro WCW? Or is my best bet really just biographies and autobiographies from the talent that was there?

Good question. That era is definitely under-represented in books.

Booker T, Regal, and Dustin all have books, but I can't remember how much focus there is on pre-Nitro WCW. Dustin, in particular, seems to rush through his career. 

As for a book focusing solely on that specific era, there isn't one that I know of. 

Of course, there's the Nitro book, but that is the opposite of what you're asking for.

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Foley's first book spends a great deal of time talking about pre-Nitro WCW  as does Austin's. Just wondering, by "pre-Nitro WCW" do you also mean GCW/JCP, or just the 1988-95 era?

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Jeanine Clarke's book might have a little bit about it, but probably not too much. I seem to remember more of a focus on World Class and USWA, but she was in WCW briefly. Wish I could remember more clearly what she talked about, but the book was very depressing and makes Austin look like a monster (even more than what we already know). 

https://smile.amazon.com/Through-Shattered-Glass-Jeanie-Clarke-ebook/dp/B01FFXV686/

She has since changed the name and cover of the book, so who knows what else was changed.

I wonder if Austin lawyered up and got some of the more unsavory aspects of the book removed? That's just speculation on my part though - I have no idea if anything else actually changed other than the title and cover.

Update: I actually posted about the book in detail. Hopefully it will help you...

On 3/29/2018 at 1:02 PM, C.S. said:

I just finished Jeanie Clarke's book. It's mostly about her massive drug problem, so it's quite depressing. The only difference between Jeanie Clarke and Melanie Pillman as parents is that Jeanie's kids still like her.

The book's page count is padded with a lot of by-the-numbers recaps of Austin's career.

Austin never physically abused Jeanie - or at least there's no mention of it in the book - but there are a lot of other tidbits about Austin and others.

I'll spoiler tag them, in case people are interested in reading this.

  Reveal hidden contents

 

  • Jeanie's mother was an alcoholic and they grew up poor and constantly on the move.
  • Chris Adams slept around and did drugs, which led to the end of their marriage - but they remained great friends, which is how they were able to work together in wrestling later on.
  • Jeanie was great friends with Gino Hernandez, did drugs with him, and found him "asleep" in the apartment but did nothing more than knock on the door. She didn't want to call the police ahead of time because they'd find his drugs. He was dead.
  • Adams forced Austin to cancel another booking, only to stiff Austin on a payoff - promising $100 but delivering only $40. Austin never trusted Adam again and cost Adams a spot in WCW. (The WWF wasn't mentioned, but I'll assume the same pattern was repeated there.)
  • Dusty named her Lady Blossom because her breasts were blossoming out of her blouse.
  • The Iceman and "Don't let your tea get stone cold" stories are repeated here.
  • Austin 3:16 was an angry response to Jeanie Clarke's newfound religious beliefs, or at the very least, he got the idea from a religious shirt Clarke made.
  • Austin was a huge mama's boy and didn't tell his mother he split from his previous wife, was with Jeanie, and Jeanie was about to have a baby until the day before the baby was born.
  • Austin's mother was a controlling bitch who never fully liked or trusted Jeanie. Austin was too timid to stand up to her.
  • With that said, he agreed against his mother's wishes to a church wedding and to be baptized. During the Baptism, he slipped and fell, and the entire church laughed at him.
  • Jeanie spiraled into drugs after they moved to a secluded Texas house and she felt trapped, caged, and had no friends or family to turn to.
  • Jim Ross once remarked that Austin should "keep that young woman in the kitchen."
  • Austin neglected Jeanie to hang out with his neighbors - two massive racists who used the n-word, hated Mexicans, etc.
  • Those same neighbors tried to kidnap the kids from Jeanie and bring them back to Austin.
  • Eventually, Jeanie moved them away to England. Austin barely made an effort to call on birthdays, holidays, etc. Basically, he became a deadbeat dad.
  • Debra was a controlling bitch, and Austin seemed afraid to trigger her temper.
  • Adams died. Toni died. Everyone was dead.
  • Jeanie had a major drug problem. Her kids finally got her help.
  • The book has lots of quotes from WCCW and WCW personalities - Terri Runnels, Terry Garvin Simms, but not Terry Bollea.

     

All in all, despite the depressing subject matter, there are some good tidbits.

 

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Luger's wrestling career seems almost like an after thought in Luger's book between Jesus, drugs, football, cheating on his wife, and then all of the bad shit that happens to him at the end. If you are looking for substantial tidbits about WCW, you might find one or two, but nothing covering it in any sort of depth.

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