2 OUT OF 3 FALLS
Great Words to Read or Great Reads about Works
So, what does your wrestling fan want for the holiday season? Well, besides a well-booked promotion and a push for your favorite wrestler that is. There are plenty of wrestling videogames out there and the two demographics usually do overlap. But, we're going for a little more edifying choices and will examine some of the wrestling books out there.
The best place to start is with wrestling's number one journalist, the Observer's Dave Meltzer. A few years ago, there was book put out collecting many of Meltzer's best-known obituary columns. Now, that book, Tributes (ISBN: 1-55366-085-4), has been revised and released by Stuart House Publishing and is a must-read for any serious wrestling fan.
The major names you expect to find are collected in Tributes, including Owen Hart, Brian Pillman, Kerry Von Erich, Rick Rude and Andre the Giant. But how many of today's twenty-something fans know about legends like Ray Stevens or Buddy Rogers? Hell, how many of them know Bruiser Brody, Eddie Gilbert, Art Barr or Dino Bravo?
For you long-time Observer readers, the stories have been tweaked, with some editing, but also updating of facts. And you may be interested in which stories Meltzer thinks are his best.
"My favorite story was that of JYD," Meltzer said. I think the best story I wrote was Kerry Von Erich, but it lost something in editing. That one needed to be very long to hold up. The Brody story is the one most people talk about, but I think many of the stories I've done, some that aren't even in the book like Sam Muchnick and Terry Gordy, were better."
For those who care about wrestling history or want to learn more about some of the business' biggest names, Tributes is a must have for their library.
Stuart House has also released the autobiography of 1980s legend Tom Billington, Pure Dynamite (ISBN: 1-55366-084-6). The book chronicles the career of the former British Bulldog, from his growing-up in England to the heights of stardom in the WWF to his post-wrestling life, where years of high-flying action have left one of the greatest workers in a wheelchair.
Pure Dynamite doesn't sugar coat Billington's life, but its breezy and conversational tone doesn't lend itself to in-depth descriptions of any one period. A veteran like the Kid (as he was usually known) surely could find a book three times this size with stories from Stampede Wrestling, Japan and the WWF (it's less than 200 pages).
Like all wrestling biographies, Pure Dynamite unfortunately suffers when compared to Have A Nice Day and Foley is Good. But it is still better all the rest of the WWF series and worthwhile reading.
Speaking of the artist formerly known as Cactus Jack, we were scheduled to do a big interview with Jill Thompson, the artist of Mick Foley's Halloween Hijinx around that most wacky of holidays. Unfortunately, that was also the same time of Wrestleline's abrupt termination. So, that chat never took place.
But, it's never too late to pick up the book, even if it is "out of season." Foley's humor and charm show through the story and the art is perfectly matched to go with it. For those that aren't comic book readers, Thompson is the creator of the popular and award-winning Scary Godmother series. It would be a great stocking stuffer for the wee ones this holiday season.
Finally, those curious about the life of a pro wrestler outside the mainstream should check out Headquarters, the autobiography of Indy wrestler Mike Quackenbush. You can order it (and check out a few of the chapters if you need some convincing) directory from Quack at www.mikequackenbush.com.
Prove mass culture wrong! Show them that wrestling can read and even enjoy doing it! These are great places to start.
(Of course, I also wouldn't complain if you also wanted to check out some other wrestling reading material. You know, like the first appearances of Dr. Alquimia, luchadors and Master of the Egyptian Art.)