Monday 17 April 2017

Wrestling Books, Why They're Awesome And Which I Recommend By Nathan K. Major

I don't often do consumer advice, mainly because I'm not qualified to do so, but one thing I am qualified to say is: Books are the best. Well, not the best, I'd say wrestling is the best, or maybe movies, but they're pretty great, unless you don't like books in which case then this column probably isn't for you anyway. Sorry.

If I may step away from the silliness, I'll explain. You see, I like reading, have done since I was a kid, I also like wrestling, hence why I write about it so much and one of my treasured possessions is my Kindle (other e-readers are available) which is chock-a-block full of books, and most of them are about wrestling, in fact at the moment I'm alternating between two books about wrestling, and they are: A Lion's Pride a book about the history of New Japan Pro Wrestling and Power Slam Interviews: Volume One a book of interviews from the lifetime of British Wrestling Magazine Power Slam. I'm about halfway through each and thoroughly enjoying the read, Lion's Pride in particular gives a great insight into the history of a promotion many have just become acquainted with, and with the Power Slam book, I really enjoyed reading the book about the history of the magazine while I was on holiday last year and have only just got round to buying it, just in time for Volume 2's release.

So, why am I talking about what I'm reading? Well, because in this article I'm going to highlight a few personal favourites and talk about them, because as with everything in wrestling, we need to encourage the writing of wrestling books for the enjoyment of fans worldwide, potential authors need encouragement after all, so for your enjoyment and to better your book collection, I attempt consumer advice. Enjoy.

The Death of WCW by R.D Reynolds and Bryan Alvarez

The death of WCW is all over the internet to be ridiculed by all, and quite often it is, but nothing quite covers the history and misgivings of a promotion that went so horribly wrong as this books does, written by the same men behind the website and books WrestleCrap give an informative and humorous read, I'd recommend getting the 10th Anniversary Edition of the book as it include more content including all the 'Lessons Not Learned' after the closure of WCW, and an entire chapter dedicated to TNA, in comparison with the decisions made in the last few years of the deceased company. Also the audio-book version, read by Alvarez is worth a listen as hearing the stories read aloud somehow makes them more absurd, and more importantly, entertaining.

Mankind: A Tale of Blood and Sweatsocks by Mick Foley

Really, all four of Mick Foley's memoirs could appear on this list, but I'm trying my best to keep it to one book per author, so I'm including his first book, which is somewhat of a trailblazer in the wrestling autobiography world as he wrote it all himself, without the aid of a ghost-writer, and what's more he wrote it all in shorthand, as he was computer illiterate at the time, it's somewhat of a revelation too, as Mick comes across as the world's most likeable, charming man telling his story which took him from sleeping in his car and travelling 600 miles to training all the way to winning the WWE World Title, all the time telling his story in his own charming style, what's even more impressive is he kept this up through FOUR books, it was also a best selling phenomenon, who'd have ever though that the guy who fell off a cell would ever be a New York Times Number One Best Seller, three times in fact! A book that set the standard for all wrestling books to follow it.

A Lion's Tale by Chris Jericho

Again, a case of any book could have been included Jericho has written three volumes of his autobiography so far, with a fourth to be released in the summer and like Mick Foley before him, tells his story in a unique and entertaining way, dropping a lot of references as he goes, not only does it cover his wrestling career but his out of the ring exploits, including his band Fozzy, who I am a fan of also. This book covers his career up to his WWE debut, through WCW, ECW, Mexico and Japan as well as a bit of tragedy, some may prefer reading about his WWE runs, but to really get a measure of Jericho, you really need to start here. The Book of Jericho. Read It Maaaaaaaaaaaaan.

All Or Nothing by James Dixon

A book closer to home now, as James Dixon chronicles the turbulent life of 1PW, a British company which spent big, went through several pairs of hands, and ultimately went under into bankruptcy due to overspending and bad management, also, uniquely it's told by the wrestlers at the centre, the book is based around interviews about the events and paragraphs of exposition by the author to tell of the events behind the scenes and first hand accounts by wrestlers and personalities including the companies founder to tell it's story and as with WCW it's intriguing to read about a company self destructing, as intriguing as it is devastating for those involved.

Hitman by Bret Hart

This was a book that was long awaited, and one I've read many times over, Bret has had an unmatched career with many stories and title reigns, sprinkled with the bitterness that we've come to know from the Hitman in recent years, he's still a man who is clearly hurt, even almost 10 years on from Montreal at this point and possibly a man still grieving for his younger brother, taken by the industry he'd given his entire life to, in reading all the trials and tribulations of Bret, you feel many things, elation one minute, devastation the next, it is a map of human emotion masquerading as a wrestling autobiography, and you should absolutely read it, as a wrestling fan, or as someone who is interested in the backstage stories of the late 80s and early 90s.

So, there you have it, actual consumer advice, and what's more you can probably pick a few of these up for very cheap these days, especially the Mick Foley ones. Another one I'd recommend but couldn't put on due to my 'One Book Per Author' rule but deserves to be mentioned is Titan Sinking by James Dixon, it's a book about the worst year in WWE history, 1995 and it's a fascinating read.

In conclusion, we should all read more, especially us wrestling fans, given how the mainstream perceive us as knuckle-dragging neanderthals, so let's prove people wrong. Also, tweet me if you think I've missed any.

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