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Rating My Collection of Wrestling Biographies

Along with collecting sports cards and memorabilia, I also have an extensive collection of pro wrestling biographies.

I’m not much of a wrestling fan any longer, actually, ever since the death of Eddy Guerrero and, two years later, the double murder-suicide by Chris Benoit completely changed my love for the entertainment spectacle.

I do, however, still enjoy the history of the genre and love to read “road stories” as part of pro wrestlers’ autobiographies.

Mick Foley’s New York Times top-selling autobiography, “Have A Nice Day! A Tale of Blood and Sweatsocks” ushered in a boom period for pro wrestling books. And it remains the benchmark in which other wrestling biographies and autobiographies are compared.

While I don’t profess to own every pro wrestling autobiography, I have read many. Here are my thoughts on the majority of them and how they rank.

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Must-read titles

* “Have A Nice Day! A Tale of Blood and Sweatsocks” – Mick Foley

This book would be enjoyable even for those not into pro wrestling. For a self-author (no ghost writer here), Foley is a natural writer who mixes humor into serious aspects of his life story.

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* “A Lion’s Tale: Around the World in Spandex” – Chris Jericho

Another incredibly gifted writer, Jericho’s first tome was well received. His ability to blend in comedy with the toils of life as a struggling wrestler is heartwarming.

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* “Pure Dynamite” – Tom “Dynamite Kid” Billington

This may be the most underrated pro wrestling autobiography in existence. But the tale of Tommy Billington, from skinny shooter-in-the-making to one of the greatest workers in pro wrestling history, is gripping and compelling.

Billington mixes in his own British humor, along with tales of some of the most cruel practical jokes – and their repercussions – from dressing rooms around the world.

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* “Undisputed: How To Become the World Champion in 1,372 Easy Steps” – Chris Jericho

Jericho’s second effort was nearly as good as his first. If you are a fan of Fozzy, or that style of music, you’d probably think it was better than the first.

Not a Fozzy fan, but I still enjoyed reading the story of one of my favorite wrestlers after he joined World Wrestling Entertainment.

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Good reads

* “King of the Ring: The Harley Race Story” – Harley Race

Probably my favorite all-time wrestler, the only thing disappointing about Harley Race’s autobiography is the length.

One of the most respected workers in and outside the ring, stories about Race, along with alcohol, firearms or driving – sometimes all three – are legendary. Surely there are more fascinating road stories from one of the greatest grapplers of the 1970s.

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* “Terry Funk: More Than Just Hardcore” – Terry Funk

If there is a close second to my all-time favorite performer, Terry Funk is it.

Again, the only real disappointment is the lack of road stories, especially for a man who is not only a legend in his native country, but is one of the most respected “puroresus” in Japan.

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* “Cheating Death, Stealing Life: The Eddie Guerrero Story” – Eddy Guerrero

A fascinating tale of an undersized, Mexican-American wrestler and his life trying to live up to the famous Guerrero name.

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* “The Queen of the Ring” – Mildred Burke

If you’re a fan of the history of wrestling, particularly the history of women’s wrestling, you’ll love “The Queen of the Ring.”

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* “In the Pit With Piper” – Roddy Piper

I was never much of a fan of “Rowdy” Roddy Piper, but his book offered awesome stories along with a splendid mix of humor that kept me reading.

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* “Bobby the Brain: Wrestling’s Bad Boy Tells All” – Bobby Heenan

One of the greatest managers in wrestling history, Heenan continues his mastery of humor in his first book.

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These were “not bad”

* “The Stone Cold Truth” – Steve Austin

This was a great look at the biggest-selling memorabilia man in wrestling history. It may have been published a little too soon, though, as there’s more to the story of “Stone Cold” Steve Austin.

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* “Batista Unleashed” – Dave Bautista

Again, a nice read about the past of one of the more modern successful wrestlers, but even though Dave Bautista retired from wrestling, I get the feeling there’s more to come.

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* “Ric Flair: To Be the Man” – Ric Flair

Widely considered the greatest all-around performer in pro wrestling history, Flair’s book was a nice mix of childhood-to-fame, a stressful tenure with World Championship Wrestling to his endeavors at World Wrestling Entertainment.

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Disappointing entries

* “4 Ever: A Look Behind the Curtain” – Arn Anderson

You would think an autobiography by one of my all-time favorite wrestlers would be further up the charts, but what made this disappointing is that Marty Lunde (Arn Anderson) stayed somewhat in character, treating pro wrestling as if it were real.

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* “Gorgeous George: The Outrageous Bad-Boy Wrestler Who Created American Pop Culture – George Wagner

I was expecting more from one of the guys who was most
responsible for taking wrestling to the new medium of television. A bit boring
at times.

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Stay far, far away

* “Hollywood Hulk Hogan” – Hulk Hogan

About the only thing in Hogan’s first tome that is believable is the cover title. Nearly everything else is a stretch of the truth to pure fiction.

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* “Rope Opera: How WCW Killed Vince Russo” – Vince Russo

The most overrated pro wrestling scriptwriter of all-time continues to blame everybody but himself for the rise and fall of World Championship Wrestling.

Filed in: Entertainment, Historical, Parts Unknown

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