Are We There Yet?: Tales from the Never-Ending Travels of WWE Superstars
Author: Robert Caprio
Synopsis: A collection of short road stories from WWE superstars
I took off and shoved the stewardess down one of the aisles without even realizing it. The puncher had his back to me, so I grabbed him from behind when I got to him. The first thing I couldn't understand was that he's smacking other passengers around, and no one is doing about it!
So I have a hold of him from behind and he starts to fight me, swinging his elbows trying to kick, everything. I cracked him once in the head to startle him, grabbed him with one hand on the collar of his shirt and the other on his belt, and ran him all the way to the back to slam his head right into the food cart. I let him go and he dropped to the floor.
No, that wasn't a pre-taped skit from last week's SmackDown. It was an actual experience that happened to former WWE superstar Rico one time when he flew from Cleveland to Las Vegas.
Living out of a suitcase as wrestlers tend to do, it's not surprising that strange, silly and sometimes scary things happen when they're on the road for long stretches at a time. This book documents a nice cross-section of them.
Of note: This was published in early-2005, and a good 75 percent of the storytellers have since left WWE. That's not necessarily a bad thing; it's just worth pointing out because it's almost as though we're talking about a completely different wrestling company.
Most of these are short and to the point, while some are extended tales. For the most part, they're little bite-sized anecdotes that, with the exception of three or four of them, I'd never heard elsewhere before. And all of your favorite current WWE stars are here, including A-Train, Bill Goldberg, Jonathan Coachman, Miss Jackie, D-Von Dudley, Ivory, Christopher Nowinski, Trish Stratus and Molly Holly. Oops.
Surprisingly, some of the most interesting stories come from guys like Triple H, Sgt. Slaughter, Paul Heyman and Chris Jericho. I won't spoil any for you, but I will say that The Game's story in particular lets you remember how he used to be just one of the boys and not quasi-management.
The section on "ribs" is, obviously, the funniest part of the book. Most of these jokes are of the harmless kind, unlike some of the ones Roddy Piper and Ric Flair describe in their books that had serious consequences.
Vince McMahon, of all people, pulls the ultimate prank on Coach, one that would have been hilarious to be there for.
Unfortunately, there's not a lot of meat on the bones are, as the 240 pages can be skimmed through in a single sitting. But I'll give WWE points for originality; this is quite different than its typical superstar biography.
Overall Rating: Transitional Champion.
Lots of fun, and some interesting stories to boot, but your mileage for stories about Big Show breaking a toilet in India may vary. Definitely worth a peek.
Bobby The Brain: Wrestling's Bad Boy Tells All
Author: Bobby Heenan, with Steve Anderson
Synopsis: The first of two books written by the WWE Hall of Famer.
I'm in the ring with a dog suit on that was made for a guy who wore a medium suit. It felt like it was made up of carpet, and I couldn't breathe in that bastard. The end of the match came, and I took off out of the ring. Mind you, I was already blown up. I hadn't wrestled in two years, and it was a long way from the ring to the dressing room. I saw Matilda coming behind me with Davey Boy Smith. But she wasn't running fast. Davey was trying to force her to run.
I couldn't go any more. I fell down in the aisle. I told Davey to let her jump me right there. Matilda got on top of me and started sniffing the dog suit. Obviously, she smelled another dog on it, because she began to hump me. She wouldn't bite me, just hump me.
I got up, walked back to the dressing room, and told the boys backstage, "Don't worry about the payoff. I already got screwed."
It's hard to find too many wrestling fans from the 80's that don't remember Bobby "The Brain" Heenan, or if you prefer, The Weasel. He was as much a staple of the rock and wrestling era as Hulk Hogan, Rowdy Roddy Piper, Mean Gene, and anabolic steroids.
At his absolute peak, Heenan was not only a great talker but a fantastic worker to boot. Seeing him get clobbered by Hogan, The Ultimate Warrior, or even recent Club WWI guest Greg Gagne, it's obvious he was one of the premier bump-takers in the business, despite not having any formal wrestling training.
Heenan's first book skims through his 40-year career with the quick wit fans expect from the Brain. And yet, unlike many other wrestling biographies, Heenan isn't overly malicious towards those he may have "heat" with in the past. In fact, one of his least favorite experiences was his stint as an announcer in WCW, where he freely admits he was well-paid to be ignored.
Although more detail would have been fantastic, Heenan shares hilarious stories involving the likes of Vince McMahon, Baron Von Raschke, King Kong Bundy and Andre The Giant.
Sadly, the book ends with Heenan being diagnosed with cancer, a battle he is still apparently fighting to this day. I pull for the guy, not only because of the great memories he provided me as a kid, but because he's one of wrestling's best all-around personalities.
Overall Rating: The Best There Is, The Best There Was, The Best There Ever Will Be. I've been searching for the sequel "Chairshots and Other Obstacles" for some time now, because the first book left me wanting more.
Hardcore History: The Extremely Unauthorized History Of ECW
Author: Scott E. Williams
Synopsis: The history of ECW, unauthorized to the EXTREME!!!
WCW now seemed to realize the gravity of its situation and offered Heyman the chance to put Heyman and Dreamer over in a tag match over Awesome and Eric Bischoff live on Nitro. WCW offered to allow ECW guys to lay out Awesome also live on Nitro.
Heyman was not interested. His counter-offer was another cash settlement, and the use of Awesome in ECW one last time. Heyman demanded that Awesome show up to drop the title in a three-minute match with Heyman having the only say as to the finish and as to the person to defeat Awesome. Having aroused a federal judge's anger by violation the original agreement, WCW was in no position to turn Heyman down.
As soon as the agreement was done, Heyman got on the phone and called the WWF's Bruce Pritchard.
Now that ECW has died for good (.... OR HAS IT???), it seems as good a time as any to look back on the original lifespan of the Philadelphia-based promotion.
Hardcore History one of several books that have attempted to delve into ECW's history, including a WWE-released companion book to its "The Rise And Fall Of ECW" DVD set published a few years back.
I've read the books, not to mention the dueling documentaries that came out around the same time. So for me, it almost becomes almost a matter of, is this book better than what I already know?
Williams is no stranger to the wrestling book genre -- he helped write the recent Terry Funk and Bill Watts biographies. And he has a decent grasp of ECW's rich history, and doesn't see the need to re-educate his audience on what it was. That's actually a good thing. Chances are that if you're reading this book, you already have at least a vague notion of what ECW stood for.
The story is presented well, complete with new interviews with Tod Gordon, Shane Douglas and some of the other ECW principals (even "Hat Guy" gets some ink here). But when WWE's book gives me Paul Heyman, Tommy Dreamer, The Dudley Boyz and Tazz.... well, it's hard to compete with that.
One unique thing: Williams delves back into the ECW predecessor leagues in Philadelphia, such as Tri-State Wrestling.
Perhaps this is my own personal issue, because the book
flows nicely enough. But I just couldn't help thinking déjà vu as I went through this. Particularly towards the end, when ECW's aftermath is spread out over several largely unnecessary chapters.
Granted, the "Death of WCW" folks had a larger wealth of material to draw from, but I can't help but think that their version of a time capsule was superior to this version of a time capsule. Not to say you should avoid this one, I just wouldn't make it the first book on my list.
Journey Into Darkness: The Unauthorized History Of Kane
Author: Michael Chiappetta
Synopsis: A ficticious biography explaining Kane's many confusing (and often contradictory) storylines.
Kemp bent over the child's form - it was a boy. A very, very badly burned boy.
He looked at the boy's face. It was untouched by soot, but some of the hair was singed off the top of his scalp, and there was severe blistering on his right cheek and down his neck. His torso seemed untouched by the fire, but his right arm, and the whole lower half of his body....
Kemp's stomach turned. It was one thing to see such damage on a television screen or in a book; on a child it was downright grotesque.
I've never been
a huge fan of the Kane character. It has nothing to do with his in-ring ability or his admittedly-decent look. When he debuted in 1997, he was portrayed as a one-dimensional cartoon; The Undertaker's long-lost brother, a cross between The Dead Man and Frankenstein. And of course, even though they've attempted to give his character a few more "layers" over the years, they just beg more questions.
But what if there was a decent explanation behind Kane's madness; something more than the Russo-esque account that was force-fed to us, and conveniently changed numerous times during the Attitude Era? One minute, he killed his parents. The next minute, it was actually The Undertaker who did the deed. One minute, he and Taker are mortal enemies, and the next minute, they're best of friends. One minute, he needed a voice-box to speak, the next minute… well, you get the picture.
That's what "Journey" attempts to explain, in a writing style that borrows a little from Stephen King (not nearly as strong, mind you). We begin with a four year-old Glen Jacob Callaway (tying Kane's real name of Glen Jacobs and Taker's Mark Callaway together), awakening as his family's funeral home burns to the ground and apparently, as the only survivor.
In time, we learn about how characters such as Paul Bearer, Vince McMahon and yes, even Katie Vick fit in. The only thing missing is the mysterious story of May 19th and Kane's evil doppelganger - though to be fair, this book was published years before that angle played out.
Give Chiappetta a ton of credit. He was able to do something WWE's creative could never do - make sense of the Kane storyline without contradicting himself. This certainly isn't a traditional autobiography, but that doesn't mean it isn't without its charm.
Overall Rating: Transitional Champion. Limited appeal outside of those who are big Kane fans, but I give WWE an 'A' for effort in trying to sort out the convoluted story behind The Big Red Machine.
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