February 24, 2004
Hope springs eternal for grappling books
By GREG OLIVER -- SLAM! Wrestling
Ah, spring, when one's thoughts turn to re-growth, flowers, sunshine after a bleak winter. And wrestling books, of course.
Heading down the pipe this spring and early summer are no less than five wrestling books, all from major publishers.
Topping the list is the WWE tag team with Pocket Books for Ric Flair: To Be the Man, by the Nature Boy with Keith Elliott Greenberg. It's scheduled for a June release. "Professional wrestling's "Natureboy" gives the lowdow on his life and career" reads the blurb in Publisher's Weekly. The hardcover is set for 320 pages, and was edited by Pittsburgh journalist and former WCW broadcaster Mark Madden.
The book was originally with another publisher and virtually complete, and the WWE and Pocket Books bought it back to publish it themselves once Flair was again working for the company. At one point, the book was going to be called The Dirtiest Player in the Game: Ric Flair. Greenberg also worked with Freddy Blassie's autobiography, Listen, You Pencil Neck Geeks.
The other big name book coming is Bobby Heenan's Chair Shots and Other Obstacles: Winning Life's Wrestling Matches, with Steve Anderson. Like Flair's book, Heenan also switched publishers: his first book, Bobby the Brain: Wrestling's Bad Boy Tells All, was published by Triumph Books in the fall of 2002, and this one is being put out by Sports Publishing. Oh yeah, Ric Flair writest the foreword for Heenan's book.
The folks at Sports Publishing are excited by the 250-page Chair Shots and Other Obstacles, which they plan to do an initial run of 20,000 copies. "We had never done a wrestling book before," said Maurey Williamson, "and this seemed like a good opportunity."
Heenan is a natural pitch-man, said Williamson. "He's a guy even known to novice wrestling fans like myself," he said. "We've already got him lined up for a lot of interviews and appearances."
Sports Publishing is considering a few other wrestling books for the fall, including Harley Race's autobiography and a book on wrestling' "greatest moments". The company will be talking to the various wrestlers at the Cauliflower Alley Club reunion in April in Las Vegas about their various projects.
Like Ric Flair, Michael Holmes is straddling two projects with two different publishers.
In his spare time, he's a writer and poet, and has a book of wrestling poetry coming out. During the day, he is an editor at ECW Press, which has two wrestling books coming out in the short-term.
Insomniac Press is publishing Holmes' collection of wrestling-inspired poetry, entitled, Parts Unknown: Wrestling, Gimmicks and Other Works. It's in the proofing stage now, and will be in stores for May as a trade paperback.
The publisher's description reads "With humor, bravado and bone-cracking language, Parts Unknown bridges the invisible gap between highbrow cultural endeavors and lowbrow athletic diversions. These high-flying poems strut to their own music and enter the literary ring ready to rumble."
Holmes grew up in southern Ontario, immersed in the three promotions that aired on TV in his area: the AWA, Grand Prix and Maple Leaf Wrestling.
"I'm a huge mark," admitted Holmes. "I just realized that [wrestling] was as poetic as anything else."
He says the poetry is mainly about "imagining the lives of the wrestlers when they're not wrestlers."
For his day job at ECW Press (which has carved out a niche with wrestling books, including the Stu Hart biography, The Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame: The Canadians, and Missy Hyatt's tell-all), he has been working with Jimmy "The Mouth of the South" Hart of for the publication of his autography, which should be out for early summer.
The other book from ECW Press is Wrestle Radio U.S.A.: Grapplers Speak by Vinnie Carolan and Ed Symkus. The 250-page book features interviews conducted on the Boston-based Wrestle Radio U.S.A. show, Jim Ross, Sherri Martel, Shawn Michaels, Ric Flair, Terry Funk, Triple H, Kevin Nash, Chris Benoit, Madusa Miceli, Lou Thesz, Fabulous Moolah, Killer Kowalski, Missy Hyatt, Eddie Gilbert and more.
Greg Oliver founded SLAM! Wrestling with John Powell way back in
1996, and has been writing about pro wrestling since 1985. He is the
author of the recently published book The Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame:
The Canadians from ECW Press. Order it from the SLAM!
Wrestling Store. He can be emailed at email@example.com.