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Under-the-radar wrestling book recommendations

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I've spent the last few days listening to these audiobooks.

Under The Black Hat - Jim Ross: Not as great as his last book (which might be one of my favourite wrestling books), but still very worth your time. J.R's a great storyteller even if you've heard the stories before. Vince McMahon is truly an awful human being. The chapter on Jan's passing wrecked me. 

It's Good To Be King ...Sometimes - Jerry Lawler: The audiobook only ran for 75 minutes, so I'm going to assume this is missing some chapters than were in the book, but this was still enjoyable. He doesn't touch much on his WWE career (even the book skims past the WWE stuff), with the exception of his relationship to Miss Kitty. The way he talks about how innocent and young she looked made my skin crawl. On the other hand, I could listen to him talk about Andy Kaufman all day.

Postively Unstoppable: The Art Of Owning It - Diamond Dallas Page: Part autobiography, part self-help book. It's alright, although I was more interested in hearing his road stories than the self improvement parts. Hearing him break in as a wrestler in his mid 30's was very interesting. Also, the narrator sounded a lot like George Carlin, so there's another bonus. 

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Is Kurt Angle's book any good? I know it came out relatively early in his career (he could really benefit from a follow-up) but with that said, does it have any interesting stories?

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8 hours ago, JRH said:

Is Kurt Angle's book any good? I know it came out relatively early in his career (he could really benefit from a follow-up) but with that said, does it have any interesting stories?

The Vince airplane story and John DuPont ("Foxcatcher") stuff is notable, but I don't remember it being a great book in general.

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Very tenuous link to wrestling, but the beginning of this book quotes Ric Flair on his favorite sports movie of all time. Not sure if Flair is featured anywhere else beyond that. 

The Ultimate Book of Sports Movies: Featuring the 100 Greatest Sports Films of All Time

You can "look inside" the book to see the Flair quote.

Only $2.99 on Kindle right now. I bought it because I love movies just as much as wrestling, if not more.

 

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This was hard to get through.

Wrestling For My Life: The Legend, The Reality and The Faith of a WWE Superstar - Shawn Michaels

I haven't read any of the bottom tier wrestling books (Chyna, Rock or Hogan), but this was the least I've enjoyed a book on wrestling. 75% of the book is about his faith and his approach to religion is almost cult-like. From his church freaking out because Shawn said 'damn' on an episode of Raw to his wife threatening to get a divorce because he looked at porn, this isn't going to sell you on Christianity. The parts where he discusses the circumstances around his last match and Bret Hart returning to WWE were the only redeemable parts.

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13 hours ago, cactus said:

This was hard to get through.

Wrestling For My Life: The Legend, The Reality and The Faith of a WWE Superstar - Shawn Michaels

I haven't read any of the bottom tier wrestling books (Chyna, Rock or Hogan), but this was the least I've enjoyed a book on wrestling. 75% of the book is about his faith and his approach to religion is almost cult-like. From his church freaking out because Shawn said 'damn' on an episode of Raw to his wife threatening to get a divorce because he looked at porn, this isn't going to sell you on Christianity. The parts where he discusses the circumstances around his last match and Bret Hart returning to WWE were the only redeemable parts.

Ironically, I liked it more than the first book.

I'm sure everything you say is true, but I remember him being kind of a whiny bitch and making excuses for his bad behavior and bullshit in the first book, whereas he at least owned his mistakes and seemed to have a more mature outlook in the second book.

'Course, it probably helps that I paid only $2 for the second book on Kindle and went into it already knowing it was more about religion than wrestling, so I tempered my expectations accordingly.

BTW, I've read all three of the books on your "bottom tier" list. My quick thoughts:

Chyna: She had a rough childhood and rocky relationship with Hunter, which sadly portends her tragic future. This was written before she broke up with Hunter and left WWE, but it definitely reads like the beginning of the end in retrospect. A dour and depressing read then, and more of one now.

Rock: Half of the book is written in-character, which is such a bizarre choice, even for 1999. Needless to say, those portions are unreadable. The other half of the book - about his life and career - are much better and well worth reading. It was written too early in his career as a blatant cash-grab by WWE, but it's not bad if you skip the baffling chapters written as his character and read only the ones about his real life.

Hogan: It's...fine. A lot of bullshit, but fine. Disappointing because it's way too short and not very detailed for what is arguably the greatest wrestling career ever. If any wrestling bio warranted the 800-page Bret Hart treatment, it was this one.

 

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7 hours ago, C.S. said:

Ironically, I liked it more than the first book.

I'm sure everything you say is true, but I remember him being kind of a whiny bitch and making excuses for his bad behavior and bullshit in the first book, whereas he at least owned his mistakes and seemed to have a more mature outlook in the second book.

'Course, it probably helps that I paid only $2 for the second book on Kindle and went into it already knowing it was more about religion than wrestling, so I tempered my expectations accordingly.

BTW, I've read all three of the books on your "bottom tier" list. My quick thoughts:

Chyna: She had a rough childhood and rocky relationship with Hunter, which sadly portends her tragic future. This was written before she broke up with Hunter and left WWE, but it definitely reads like the beginning of the end in retrospect. A dour and depressing read then, and more of one now.

Rock: Half of the book is written in-character, which is such a bizarre choice, even for 1999. Needless to say, those portions are unreadable. The other half of the book - about his life and career - are much better and well worth reading. It was written too early in his career as a blatant cash-grab by WWE, but it's not bad if you skip the baffling chapters written as his character and read only the ones about his real life.

Hogan: It's...fine. A lot of bullshit, but fine. Disappointing because it's way too short and not very detailed for what is arguably the greatest wrestling career ever. If any wrestling bio warranted the 800-page Bret Hart treatment, it was this one.

 

Ha, I only read it because I couldn't get hold of the first one as an audiobook. I was aware that it was quite heavy on the religious aspects, but I still taken aback by it all.

I haven't actually read any of the bottom tier books I've listened, I've just heard really bad things about them over the years. Although I'm quite interesting in reading Chyna's one after hearing your thoughts on it. 

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9 hours ago, cactus said:

I'm quite interesting in reading Chyna's one after hearing your thoughts on it. 

Well, it's not exactly what I'd call a "fun" read - it's pretty dark and depressing throughout - but if you're a fan of hers, go for it!

The Jeanie Clarke and Martha Hart books are even more depressing (I posted about Clarke earlier in the thread). 

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12 hours ago, JRH said:

Does the HBK book have any mention of the Vince vs God feud?

He goes over it briefly. I was wondering how he would justify it, but he just says he thought it was stupid, but did it anyways. 

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Yeop, written by both Pat Laprade (who also does the play-by-play for WWE RAW in French) and Bertrand Hébert (who wrote Pat Patterson's autobiography). They're also behind the Mad Dog Vachon bio and Mad Dogs, Midgets & Screwjobs books. Definitely am gonna buy it to read this summer as I really need to catch up on Pat's books.

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I'm up to 1982 in the Andre book and really enjoying it. 

 

That's halfway through the book, so there's plenty of detail on his last 10 years. 

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If I understood correctly, Pat Laprade wrote more about Andre and his family while Bertrand Hébert took care of the wrestling side of things. From the reviews I've seen, I don't believe they missed anything, which isn't surprising to me. They've always been thorough with their research.

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I really want to read & own The Last Outlaw - Stan Hansen's book. But even freakin' paperback versions are like $100 on Amazon. Is it that rare? I don't want to get a Kindle version. I want to own a tangible copy.

I also want to read Scott Norton's book. Has anyone read that? @C.S. did you finish it? I take pride in being Norton's highest voter in the PWO GWE ballots from a few years back.

Also, thanks to this thread I learned about Tito Santana's book which I'm now interested in.

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4 hours ago, Coffey said:

I really want to read & own The Last Outlaw - Stan Hansen's book. But even freakin' paperback versions are like $100 on Amazon. Is it that rare? I don't want to get a Kindle version. I want to own a tangible copy.

I also want to read Scott Norton's book. Has anyone read that? @C.S. did you finish it? I take pride in being Norton's highest voter in the PWO GWE ballots from a few years back.

Also, thanks to this thread I learned about Tito Santana's book which I'm now interested in.

Here you go Sir, 24.95 plus shipping....

http://www.crowbarpress.com/cbp-books/14-sh.html

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On 2/8/2017 at 4:33 PM, Hoya Saxa said:

Has anyone read "When it was Big Time" by Rock Rims"? It's a history of wrestling in California and looks very interesting.

Anyone else check this out since the question was posed a few years back?

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14 hours ago, Coffey said:

I really want to read & own The Last Outlaw - Stan Hansen's book. But even freakin' paperback versions are like $100 on Amazon. Is it that rare? I don't want to get a Kindle version. I want to own a tangible copy.

I was curious about that book myself.  The one thing that stopped me from ordering it is the fact that Stan Hansen seems to be one of those old school guys who is still trying to "protect the business" whenever he talks about stuff that went on behind the scenes.  I saw his episode of "Legends" with JBL, his Shoot Interview with Devon Nicholson and his episode of "Back to the Territories" with Jim Cornette, at Kayfabe Commentaries.  In all three interviews he seemed happy to discuss certain aspects of his career, but Stan Hansen seems content to speak in generalities and really never goes into any detail. For example, he admits he ran the AWA World Championship Title belt over with his truck and mailed it back to Verne Gagne rather lose the championship, but he won't get into the specifics of why he refused to drop the title. (I know it's pretty much common knowledge at this point, but it would have been nice to hear it from his perspective.)  I was especially annoyed with the "Back to the Territories" Shoot Interview.  The whole point of the interview was to discuss All Japan, and Hansen only mentions Misawa and Kobashi in passing.  If I recall correctly, he never even mentions Kawada.  He is also surprisingly sparse on details when talking about Baba. I am worried his book would be similarly vague and short on insight.

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12 hours ago, Coffey said:

I also want to read Scott Norton's book. Has anyone read that? @C.S. did you finish it? I take pride in being Norton's highest voter in the PWO GWE ballots from a few years back.

I did finish it. It's a really solid book, mainly of stories about wrestling in Japan, but also about growing up in Minnesota, his time as an arm wrestler and filming the movie "Over The Top," his stints in WCW, and living through the infamous show in North Korea. Nothing salacious. Just a fun career overview. Still only $7.99 on Kindle, and I'd say it's definitely worth that.

Edit: Just noticed you said you don't want Kindle. The paperback is $25 on Amazon - pity there isn't a nice hardcover - but I remember paying that or more for books way back in the day. As Scott Norton's biggest fan on PWO, it may be worth it to you.

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I have the Hansen book, and he discusses his refusal to drop the AWA title in it. The funny thing is, his telling of the story is actually less flattering to him than the prevailing version. The way it's usually told is that he walked out with the belt because he thought Verne was trying to double-cross Baba, who had paid for the rights to promote Hansen as AWA champion and had booked title defenses in Japan. The way Hansen tells it, he simply told Verne that he wasn't ready to drop the belt because he hadn't had a chance to make money with it. He also took umbrage at the fact that Verne only notified him of the planned title change in the locker room the night of the show, but he didn't make that out to be a deciding factor.

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1 hour ago, NintendoLogic said:

I have the Hansen book, and he discusses his refusal to drop the AWA title in it. The funny thing is, his telling of the story is actually less flattering to him than the prevailing version. The way it's usually told is that he walked out with the belt because he thought Verne was trying to double-cross Baba, who had paid for the rights to promote Hansen as AWA champion and had booked title defenses in Japan. The way Hansen tells it, he simply told Verne that he wasn't ready to drop the belt because he hadn't had a chance to make money with it. He also took umbrage at the fact that Verne only notified him of the planned title change in the locker room the night of the show, but he didn't make that out to be a deciding factor.

That's interesting.  I had always heard the same story you mentioned, that the whole reason Hansen won the title was that Baba wanted to showcase Stan Hansen as a World Champion when he did his next AJPW tour, but Gagne turned around and wanted to take the belt off Hansen before he had barely defended it in AJPW.  If I remember correctly, Hansen did mention somewhere that he thought it was odd that Gagne would ever have agreed to put the title on him in the first place, considering it was common knowledge that All Japan would always be his first priority over everything else, and his tours there would make him unavailable for long stretches of time.  Now that you mention it, I do remember Hansen saying that he wasn't impressed with how disorganized Gagne was and the fact that putting the title on Bockwinkel seemed to be a last minute decision.  Talking about Stan Hansen and Verne Gagne, they have to be more of the two more notably stubborn and bull headed guys in the history of Pro Wrestling.  Small wonder they couldn't work together.

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Just read DDP's book. Just a warning, the first half of the book is mostly about DDP's involvement in the nightclub scene, but once he gets started into wrestling it becomes much more readable. Nothing special, no real revelations or such , but he comes off as a likable individual. I'd like to see a follow-up (the book came out in 2000) where he discusses the end of WCW, his WWE run, and of course, DPP Yoga and how he saved the lives of Jake and Hall.

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