Book frustrations remain unsatisfied
By GREG OLIVER -- SLAM! Wrestling
Wrestling's Greatest Heroes and Villains
By David Hofstede
Our four contest winners are: Nathalie Caron from Quebec City, Larry M. Walsh from Brampton, Grant Kennell from Oakland, and Neal Wilson from Chicago.
It's a common lament from fans -- why aren't there more books about
I've lived with that frustration during my 15 years as fan and as a
reporter. There's something about picking up a book that makes all the facts
seem more real, more trustworthy than a WWF program, a magazine or the
And so it was with excitement that I finally received my review copy of
SLAMMIN': Wrestling's Greatest Heroes and Villains, by David Hofstede after
bugging ECW Press off and on for 10 months.
Weighing in at a decent 251 pages, it's a good size book, with a nice cover
with some cool photos. But once inside, those photos don't really matchup.
On the front, besides the typical big names like Stone Cold Steve Austin,
The Undertaker, Sable and Randy Savage, there's Jesse 'The Body' Ventura,
Bruno Sammartino and Owen Hart. Ventura smacks of opportunism -- he's the
governor of Minnesota now -- but there's no bio inside on him. Ditto for
Sammartino. As for Owen Hart, this book went to press just after his death,
so again he probably got put on the cover as a last minute thing. But at
least his bio inside is excellent.
The back cover is equally perplexing -- why are Cyndi Lauper & Lou Albano
there, let alone Junkyard Dog and Bobo Brazil?
I complain about those photos, yet once inside, there is a distinct
of pictures. And none in colour.
The best way to describe SLAMMIN': Wrestling's Greatest Heroes and Villains
is to call it a 'here-and-now' book. All the bios -- which are excellent,
thorough and complete -- are of today's stars like Kevin Nash, Chris Jericho
and Hunter Hearst Helmsley. It brought me to thinking about those George
Napolitano/Bert Randolph Sugar books from the mid-eighties, when Hulkamania
ruled the world. You know, The Pictorial History of Wrestling: The Good, The
Bad and The Ugly and Wrestling's Great Grudge Matches, which had bios on the
stars of the day like Cowboy Bob Orton, Superfly Snuka and Superstar Billy
Graham. (It also had tons of photos, which I know for a fact, because my
brother and I cut most of them out!)
Those books are a charming relic of the past, and reminder of who was a big
star at the time. Plus, it's a decent resource today, if you can get past
all the simplistic storylines and lack of true facts about a wrestler's
upbringing -- like claiming straightfaced that The Missing Link is a true
wildman, and not a decent gent from Ontario named Dewey Robertson.
I think that SLAMMIN' will probably stand the test of time better. (For one,
none of the inside photos are worth cutting out.) The facts are better and
not a direct company line. I can see myself referring to it for information
about the stars of the 1990s. It's a good book, but to be honest, I didn't actually learn that
much about the stars in the book. But then I'm not your average fan.
Sure, it could have been better by including more interviews with wrestlers,
more photos and better copy editing, but that all comes down to what I said
in my opening paragraph. Perhaps if there were more books about wrestling,
there would be more copy editors better prepared to edit the books that
celebrate the twisted world of pro wrestling.