In addition to wrestler bios, I've read a numerous amount of books on the subject of wrestling. "Broken Harts: The Life and Death of Owen Hart" was written by Martha Hart, Owen Hart's widow. I have Dave Meltzer's "Tributes" book, but I do not have the 2nd one. I have all 3 of Scott Keith's books in "The Buzz on Pro Wrestling", "In this Very Ring...", and "Wrestling's One Ring Circus: the Death of the WWF". I have a book called "Wrestling Madness" that talks about wrestling in general and has some good pictures, but the book is nothing special other than that. I also have the Wrestlemania book that was released in anticipation called "Wrestlemania: the Insider's Story", which came with a truly excellent DVD. "Sex, Lies, and Headlocks: the Real Story of Vince McMahon and the WWF" in my collection as well. Finally, I have PWI Wrestling almanacs from 1997 and 2001-2004.
I wonder how much that whole stack would sell?
To answer my question, what is in a good wrestling book? I'd say the answer is very simple. First, it must be easy/fun to read. If it's a wrestler biography and it's using a ghostwriter, then the book must sound as though the wrestler is talking to you personally. In addition, the book must be taken seriously. We're talking sentence structure, grammar, the whole nine yards! It's something that an everyday wrestling fan can read, or better yet, a non-wrestling fan at least looking for a good read. The book is presented in the mainstream through bookstores and libraries and should be respected as such. Plus, the book shouldn't be a chore to read. Jerry Lawler's book, for instance, has a long section on his childhood and life before wrestling. It's ok to mention it, but devoting many chapters to it? Poorly written books are NOT fun to read, too. It's not easy to read a book and at the same time, proofread it in your head.
Second, the content must be good or correct. If you're a pro wrestler with a biography, don't lie or exaggerate stories. Tell the truth and you'll be more respected for that. If you're a non-wrestler, do your homework and have legit sources to quote to back up your points. If the book is full of lies and half-stories, it will fail to catch on with readers and maybe not receive multiple readings (I've reread many chapters of Foley's first book over and over again, for instance).
Third, the book needs to be organized and edited well. Shame on a book company if they screw up the organization of the book (Keith's first book, "Buzz on Pro Wrestling", for instance had odd pictures everywhere) and not edit the book. Books should be taken seriously by a book publisher to help increase sales and open the door for other great books to be written. Writing mistakes should be eliminated completely and revisions should be enforced on the book's writer.
From all of the books that I've read, when one or more of those things goes wrong, the entire book is "dead already".
For today's column, I'm going to review TWO recent books that I've reviewed. First, it will be "Adam Copeland on Edge", the autobiography of Edge. Second, it will be Scott Keith's 3rd installment called "Wrestling's One Ring Circus: the Death of the World Wrestling Federation". Then, I'll give a ranking system of the books that I've read and discuss several points about my feelings on each book. Should be a fun column... Time to go on Edge...
Has Edge's career warranted him a biography? Yes, I would say so. Edge has paid a whole lot of dues in his career to get to where he is today. In his book, he describes driving across icy Canada in the dead of winter just to wrestle for a handful of fans. He lived poor and busted his ass on the side working jobs and in college while training to be a wrestler. He worked his way up through the WWE developmental system at the time. Through his matches in the WWE, he has seriously earned his spot on the WWE roster. He's nearly risked his life several times for the sake of a ladder match and he has a broken neck to prove what a tough career he's had. In fact, he wrote this book while recovering from his neck surgery and I can imagine how sane it kept him to write his thoughts on a piece of paper. Edge has had a 10 year or so career of bumps and bruises.... Yes, he's book worthy. In addition, he said that there would be more books to come on his career as it happens. That should end any argument against him having a biography. When there's more chapters to be added, he'll write more. And I anticipate that!
I liked picking Edge's brain. I liked how he was big fans of KISS and Spiderman, two fetishes of mine as well even though he shows no love for non-facepaint KISS. KISS "Revenge" was a great album! One thing, though, that was touching about Edge was how much respect he had for his family. He loved his mother very much and early on in his wrestling career, he had the guilt of not helping to support her. It was tough for him to work for peanuts while his mother worked 2 jobs to not only support herself, but a struggling Adam Copeland as well. Edge, throughout the whole book, was very honest about his career when looking back. He offered his opinions, and when he kept silent on a storyline he might have hated, you could just sense his apparent disgust with the angle by the tone he's wrote for that topic. That was great! This book also chronicles his various friendships with wrestlers, such as Christian, Rhyno, among many others who paid dues alongside Edge or he became friends with in the WWE. The various road stories, throughout the book, are very funny to read or are quite touching to hear about for a wrestler trying to make it into the big leagues.
LAST WORD: I HIGHLY recommend this book. It's an easy read and at the same time, an informative read. Being autobiographical helps and Edge seems to write well. A nicely put together book on Edge's career thus far and I'd definitely buy more books with "Adam Copeland" as the author. [ A ] CLICK HERE to buy the book!
When I say all of this, I mean it out of respect. I have no bones to pick with Keith. What you are about to see is an honest review and I did NOT like this book. I have zero problems with the content since I've heard most of the insider stories over the years and can agree with Keith on a great deal of opinionated stuff. With regards to the content of the book, I have no problems. However, I have problems with the writing and editing... There is a BIG DIFFERENCE between writing a book and writing an internet column. First, you get paid to write a book and for the most part, you do not get paid to write a wrestling column. Which would you take more seriously? This whole book was written as though it was a long email or maybe a message board post. It was not written, however, in a more professional or technical mode as it should be for a book. Whomever edited this book did not scan it for sentence structure or grammar mistakes. Same problem happened in the "Buzz on Pro Wrestling", but not so much with "In this Very Ring...". Shame on the editors at Citadel Press for not running through this book with a fine tooth comb.
As I said before, writing an internet column and writing something professional, such as a book, are two different things. I have NEVER claimed to be world's greatest writer. Usually, I'm writing things on the fly with my million miles per hour typing speed. I could tighten things up most definitely. However, time is an issue for me and 2 hours is usually the time I have to write a column. The bulk of that 2 hours is spent writing the content of the column! However, when I wrote my Master's thesis, I took it very serious and it was very technical in nature. It's not something you'd read in an email. Sentence structure, grammar, correct punctuation, etc. all had to be correct. When they weren't, the professor in charge of my thesis tore me a new one with revisions. The editor of Scott Keith's book should have done the same thing and Keith's head should have been hurting with revisions to make. For instance, allow me to share a quote from page 29 of the book:
"You knew there was gonna be problems with the nWo angle right away, as Vince revealed their presence on Smackdown, by spinning around in an office chair that had the nWo logo painted on it in white, with what appeared to be liquid paper, and done backward so that it could be read in a mirror that was placed behind Vince."
Where do I begin with that? In addition, this was an entire paragraph! This wasn't just page 29, for it was the majority of the book. Run-on sentences, poor usages of the comma, and just a poor organization of arguments. In addition to the unedited writing style, Keith goes off into tangents too often in this book. He should have stuck with a certain topic and present a case as to why the World Wrestling Federation has died. Like I said before, he has good content and opinions, but his overall arguments come off as incredibly messy. How can you convince a reader about the WWF dying when the book is hard to read in the first place, but you can't stick with the chapter topics to begin with?
LAST WORD: This book was a mess. FINGER OF SHAME to the editors at Citadel Books for not doing their jobs. This book should have been taken more seriously. As I said before, there's a difference between writing an internet column for fun and writing a book as a paid job. If I were to land a book deal, it would be taken seriously. This book, however, wasn't taken seriously and readers will suffer trying to get through it. It's a shame, too, for Keith has some good content and opinions in the book. However, those are overlooked from the insanely poor editing. [ D ]. Recommendation to avoid, but CLICK HERE to buy it if you'd like. I'm sorry Scott, for I'm sincerely giving an honest review of your book.
2. Ric Flair's "To Be the Man" - Best WWE filtered book. The ghostwriter did a truly excellent job captivating Ric Flair's long career into one novel. Flair's insight into the business really carries the book and no opinions were held back!
3. Diamond Dallas Page's "Positively Page" - Great book and straight from DDP's heart. It's not only a great biography, but a nice motivational book for anyone in need of an uplifting success story.
4. Dynamite Kid's "Pure Dynamite" - What a great and honest book by Tom Billington. He doesn't hold a thing back in talking about his wrestling career. He admitted to personal drug use and other wrestler drug use long before Jose Conseco did it just recently about baseball. Great road stories and a nice look at wrestling outside of the WWF, too, with his tours of Japan, among other places.
5. Edge's "Adam Copeland on Edge" - Autobiographical and nicely written. Short read, though, but a good read. My other thoughts on this book are above.
6. The Hardy Boyz's "Exist 2 Inspire" - Nicely done by using both brothers to discuss wrestling topics. Matt Hardy, though, mostly carries the book with some incredibly honest opinions on WWE and personal matters.
7. Roddy Piper's "In the Pit with Piper" - Roddy is a bit left of center but damn was this a great book. Piper showed true honesty within the book and nearly put me into tears laughing at road stories. Unexpectedly good book.
8. Mick Foley's "Foley is Good" - Filled in the holes that 500+ pages of Have a Nice Day didn't discuss. Goes off topic more in this book, but it's an overall fun read and a nice sequel.
9. Bill Goldberg's "I'm Next" - Like Goldberg or not, you cannot deny his brutal honesty. He pulled no punches in his comments about certain matters in WCW.
10. Hulk Hogan's "Hollywood Hulk Hogan" - Good WWE filtered book that also presented honesty from Hogan. Look, he believes his own hype and tells it as he believes. I disagree with his actions and thoughts, but he's 100% behind himself. As much as I can hate Hogan, I respect that he actually believes in himself to do great things.
(Please note that unless the book was listed above, I have NOT read it. This includes Lou Thesz, Harley Race, Arn Anderson, Ted Dibiase, Lita, and many others. Other bios I've read. Kurt Angle's book was good, but too WWE filtered. Steve Austin's book fell flat on expectations and was too short, given his storied career (especially in WCW... he held back on a lot of things). Jerry Lawler had a great middle section to the book, but the beginning and end parts were terrible reads. Bret Hart's was more of a coffee table book than a bio, as I anticipate his real biography getting released someday. The Rock's book started off great but then he got into character! How do you get into character in a book? Don't get me started on what a mess Chyna's book was. She avoided critical topics in her career, lied about steroid use, and lied about most of her career.)
2. "Broken Harts: The Life and Death of Owen Hart" by Martha Hart - Easily, the biggest tearjerking book on the market. With the help of other writers, it painted a researched and very detailed analysis of Owen Hart's death and wrongful death lawsuit afterward. It's easily the biggest emotional rollercoaster of a read that you'll find on the market. Good snapshot of Owen's early career, too, by his wife, along with the insider look at the Hart family.
3. "Tributes" by Dave Meltzer - Meltzer is Mr. Knowitall in pro wrestling, and this was a good example of his expertise. It's more of a coffee table book, though, than a novel. The fact that it ranks #3 shows how good it was by Mr. Meltzer.
4. "Wrestlemania: The Insider's Story" by the WWE. Good coffee table reader as well, with excellent pictures and somewhat backstage stuff about the events. The added DVD helps boost this book's ranking.
5. "In this Very Ring..." by Scott Keith - Keith's best work as an author, discussing the booming era of wrestling from the late 1990's through 2001.
LAST WORD: Well, this was fun... I hope you enjoyed my analysis of wrestling books as well as my 2 newest book reviews. I'm happy that I finally got around to dedicating a column to wrestling books. Despite a few difficult books to read, I enjoy reading about wrestling for the most part. I'm fascinated by the business and will continue to read about the business. Any book recommendations are welcome, by the way, so that I may add to my list of wrestling books read.
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