The Wrestling: The Hilarious True Story of Britain's Last Great Superheroes.
By Simon Garfield.
Published by Faber and Faber.
Released November 1, 2007 (Originally published in 1996).
256 Pages, paperback.
Simon Garfield is a British author of non-fiction books such as; Expensive Habits: The Dark Side of the Industry, The End of Innocence: Britain in the time of AIDS, and Just my Type. Garfield is also a well versed journalist appearing in such newspapers as The Independent on Sunday, The Observer, and the Sun, a long with editing Time Out magazine. Simon would be named the Mind Journalist of the Year in 2005. As a small boy he would be fascinated by the All-In professional wrestling featured on the television, when meeting Mick McManus, one of the top stars, years later it would compel Simon Garfield to compose a book on the story of The Wrestling.
The Hilarious True Story of Britain's Last Great Superheroes isn't so much humorous as it is a unique look into the world of professional wrestling. The book is made up almost entirely of interview excerpts collated by Mr. Garfield. Whilst the chapters are put together in an order that is some what chronological the contents of the chapters is often hard to decipher the exact period of time is being spoken of, especially if you did not grow up watching the World of Sport TV show or seeing the live events that took place. After an introductory section to introduce some of the main characters of the era and to explain how the book came about, we naturally are treated to brief, selective history of British wrestling. A whole host of stars are featured including The Giant Haystacks, Big Daddy, Adrian Street, Jackie Pallo, Max Crabtree, and Kent Walton. The is also an on-going story that takes places involving Simon trying to make contact with one of the most talked about and notorious names in the locker room, yet known to a whole generation of people as a comedic wrestler, Les Kellett. The interviews themselves consist of comments on other wrestlers, promotions, promoters, memories they have of the business, and talk of how the business changed in Britain ultimately succumbing to the invasion of American style professional wrestling over the television channels. Backstage at a WWF (Now WWE) show in England he even managed to secure interviews with such stars as The British Bulldog, Shawn Michaels, and Hunter Hearst Helmsley. For the most part the wrestlers are light-hearted and just reminiscent of yester-year and the tremendous success achieved during their time on top of the entertainment scene in the U.K. Others come across as slightly bitter at how it all ended and towards other stars who they feel attributed to it's almost sudden demise. Followed by only a recount of an interview of may-be the most famous and mysterious character from this era, Kendo Nagasaki.
The Wrestling is an enjoyable read if you are looking to just relive fond memories of your childhood in front of the fire during winter watching these larger than life personalities duke it out on T.V. It is also good if you want to get a loose feel for what that period of British wrestling once was and an idea of the sheer magnitude of success it saw. By no means is Simon Garfield's book an accurate representation of wrestling in the United Kingdom. Certain parts are glaringly mistaken or left out, may-be this is due to the wrestlers memories, but there are places where Mr. Garfield has added information, where as other segments are left uncorrected. It is an enjoyable read overall, but it can not be taken as a serious view on British professional wrestling.
By Jimmy Wheeler
Full list of people featured as per the book:
Bill Abbey (Promoter), Bobby Barnes (Wrestler), Roland Barthes (Semiologist), Big Daddy (Wrestler), Big Jim Harris, the Mississippi Mauler (Wrestler), Peter Blake (Artist & Fan), Dave Soulman (Wrestler), Don Branch (Wrestler), Wayne Bridges (Wrestler), Robbie Brookside (Wrestler), Frank Casey (Wrestler), CB Cochran (Promoter), Brian Crabtree (Announcer), Max Crabtree (Promoter), Dickie Davies (Commentator), Doc Dean (Wrestler), Alan Dannison (Wrestler), Brian Dixon (Promoter), Joe D'Orazio (Referee), Ian Dury (Singer & Painter), Greg Dyke (Television Executive), Brian Howard Finkel (Former WWE Announcer), Simon Garfield (Narrator), Giant Haystacks (Wrestler), Brian Glover (Wrestler & Actor), Steve Grey (Wrestler), Georg Hackenschmidt (Wrestler), Diana Hart (British Bulldogs Former Wife), Bobby Heenan (Former WWE Commentator), Hunter Hearst Helmsley (WWE Wrestler), Hulk Hogan (Former WWE Wrestler), Les Kellett (Wrestler), Kendo Nagasaki (Wrestler), Mucky Mal Kirk (Wrestler), Ilona Kirk (Mucky Mal Kirk's Widow), Kondyke Kate (Wrestler), Johnny Kwango (Wrestler), Ken Livingstone (Politician), James Mason (Wrestler), Vince McMahon Jr (WWE Owner), Mick McManus (Wrestler), Paul Merton (Comedian), Shawn Michaels (Former WWE Wrestler), Miss Linda (Valet), Mitzi Mueller (Wrestler), Sir Atholl Oakeley (Promotoer), Jacki Pallo (Wrestler & Promoter), Jackie Pallo Jr. (Wrestler), Steve Prince (Wrestler), Pat Roach (Wrestler & Actor), Rollerball Rocco (Wrestler), Lloyd Ryan (Drummer & Manager), Mal Sanders (Wrestler), Jimmy Savile (Wrestler & Celebrity), The British Bulldog (Former WWE Wrestler), Adrian Street (Wrestler), Tony Banger Walsh (Wrestler), and last but not least Kent Walton (Commentator),