By: Patrick Jones
Publisher: Millbrook Press
Publication Date: August 2012
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler
Review Date: October 2012
No doubt pro wrestling is big entertainment, but “many people argue that wrestling is staged, and not a real sport.” That may be debatable, but the fact that it is the “world’s oldest sport” is not. It was anything goes for the ancient Greeks and Romans, who were great fans of the sport, until King Theseus outlined match rules. Perhaps you have formed your own opinion when you’ve watched modern-day wrestlers come into the ring and perform amazing moves such as a piledriver, moonsault, the sleeper, or a stone cold stunner. Regardless of whether you believe the performers are faking it, you do have to admit, it takes a lot of talent to pin an opponent with a figure-four leg lock. You’ll learn who invented it and how Ric Flair perfected and uses it.
In 1908 an international match between “U.S. champion Frank Gotch and European champ George Hackenschmidt” made wrestling a spectator sport. It drew an amazing 30,000 people to the match, an incredible number of people to come together to watch any sport in that day and age. Popularity of the sport has had its ups and downs, but by the time the 2000s rolled around it was a phenomenal success. You’ll read all about the history of promotions, promoters, and organizations such as the AWA, WWWF, NWA, WWE, and WCW. If you’re a real wrestling fan you just may know what these acronyms stand for, but if not you’re in for a wrestling education. Ever heard of WrestleMania or the Attitude Era? If not, you will.
Most people have never heard of the match between Hackenschmide and Gotch, but just maybe they have heard of the one between Shawn Michaels and the Undertaker in Phoenix in 2010. Many other memorable matches are discussed in this book including the one between Bill Goldberg and Hulk Hogan in 1998 and Hulk’s unusual one with Andre the Giant in 1987. There’s a top ten list of matches that will excite any wrestling fan. Of course “professional wrestling is all about stars” and you’ll meet the likes of Strangler Lewis, Gorgeous George, Lou Thesz, “Nature Boy” Buddy Rogers, Bruno Sammartino, Andre the Giant, Ric Flair, Roddy Piper, Randy Savage, Hulk Hogan, Steve Austin, Mark Calloway (the Undertaker), Mick Foley, and many other dazzling athletes. You’ll also read about those “most devastating finishing moves,” memorable moments in pro wrestling, what the future of the sport might hold for its fans, and many other fascinating things about the sport and its amazing stars!
This is an exciting look at pro wrestling, a “billion-dollar industry,” the young reader will love. Regardless of whether one considers pro wrestling to be a sport or simply sports entertainment, this overview was fascinating and young fans (or just the curious) will enjoy the journey through time. I’ve read a few in this sports series and they are not only thorough, but of high interest to young, confident readers. There are numerous full-color action photographs as well as several black and white ones from historic moments in the sport. There are a few scattered sidebars that are also great additions to the book, including ones on “Ladies in the Ring” and one on the McGuire twins. In the back of the book is an index, a glossary, and additional recommended book and website resources to explore.
Quill says: This is one book that every young wrestling fan will clamor for if they want to know all about their favorite stars and the history of the sport!