Friday, February 1, 2008
BOOK REVIEW: THE WRESTLECRAP BOOK OF LISTS!
For any pro wrestling fan not yet familiar with the highly popular Wrestlecrap website (Wrestlecrap: The Very Worst of Pro Wrestling), a visit is long overdue. Be sure to bring along your sense of humor and a desire to wallow in some of the most enjoyably inane and mind-bendingly hilarious gimmicks and angles ever spawned under the pretense of sport.
Wrestlecrap.com, created several years ago by R.D. Reynolds and Blade Braxton (which really should have been names used in a tag team somewhere in time), is devoted to the frequently funny, sometimes bizarre and all-too-often stupid concepts found in both good and bad wrestling promotions. More power to the two writers. It’s a risky business to spend countless hours constructing such a book without questioning one’s own sanity. From all reports, both Reynolds and Braxton are still reasonably sound of mind and not to be feared any more than usual.
Published by ECW Press, The Wrestlecrap Book of Lists! is a fun-filled read. Similar in design to R.D.’s previous work, Wrestlecrap: The Very Worst in Professional Wrestling, the Book of Lists! is just as engrossing. Someone not accustomed to the vagaries of the sport may have a difficult time believing that a promoter, a man allegedly in business to make money, would give his approval to proceed with the nonsense illustrated in these pages. Those that follow pro wrestling, especially in the sports entertainment era, will recognize the vast majority of examples cited. Depending on an individual’s tolerance for the illogical and the absurd, one may find himself either laughing raucously or shaking his head in disbelief. Either way, the journey is a lively and rewarding one from front-to-back.
The book begins with a short introductory chapter that sets up what is to follow. Pro Wrestling is Dumb, claim the authors, and they make a good case for such a declaration. Proving that they are hopelessly dedicated fans (as are most wrestling historians, analysts and journalists), it is this very admission that gives them their sharp perspective on what qualifies as Wrestlecrap. In describing the insoluble and inexplicable that is found between the pages, they write, “You see, this stupidity opens the door for not only obsessed fans, but more importantly, for some downright bizarre folks in front of the fans and behind the scenes. It leads not only to insanity in the ring, but backstage as well. With so many weirdos competing for such a small spotlight, comedy ensues.”
It surely does. Within each of the nine chapters of the book, there are categories of every size and shape. While they will vary in appeal depending upon the reader, all are presented with a strain of humor that the originators of the gimmick, angle or storyline only wished they’d possessed. For instance, in the chapter Tell Us a Story, Uncle Vince, one discovers the category “The 6 Crimes For Which We’d Hope Kane and Undertaker Would be Arrested if They Lived in Our Hometown.” Number 4 on the list is a cautionary tale that many wrestling fans will recall:
Concreticide: You probably just looked at that word and thought, “Waitaminute … concreticide isn’t in the dictionary!” Heck, even Microsoft Word would agree with that assessment. But you know what? Maybe you can’t use it in Scrabble, but there’s really no other way to describe Undertaker’s actions on June 27, 2004, at the Scope in Norfolk, Virginia. Undertaker’s manager, Paul Bearer, was locked up in a glass case as per a pre-match stipulation. Idling next to said case is a cement truck. The stipulation is that unless Undertaker agrees to take a dive, Bearer will be encased in concrete. Apparently, this type of wagering is legal in the state of Virginia. Although his mentor of over a decade will perish should he prevail, Undertaker fights valiantly and wins the match. He then proceeds to personally pull the lever to bury his pal. Some career advice to aspiring pro wrestling managers: never agree to manage Undertaker.
Moving along to the chapter Those Poor, Poor Promoters, we find the hilarious category entitled “The 3 Worst Tony Schiavone Comments Ever.” Anyone that bore witness to the final few years of the floundering behemoth, AKA World Championship Wrestling, will recall the ridiculous excesses of that company’s lead announcer. Number 1 on the list, and deservedly so, is…
This is the Greatest Night in the History of Our Sport: This is the wrestling equivalent of the riddle of the sphinx; how could one man think that every single Nitro, Thunder or pay-per-view was the greatest one he’d ever seen? We can only assume Tony must’ve been suffering from an undiagnosed case of Anterograde amnesia, a disorder that renders a person unable to remember anything that occurs after his attention is shifted for more than a few seconds. Well, if you’re going to be diseased, we suppose it could be worse. After all, every girl you make out with would feel like the first time. And that Stevie Ray vs. Bunkhouse Buck match on WCW Saturday night? Greatest thing since sliced bread – or at least since WWF Ice Cream Bars. On second thought, diseases are never funny, nor was hearing about how great every single Nitro was … especially when they weren’t.
One more example: in the chapter Wrestling … You Know, Actual Wrestling, the category is “The 8 Most Needlessly Complex – or Just Downright Stupid – Matches in Wrestling History. And Number 2 on the list is …
The Dog Poo Match: We’ve kind of veered off the path of intricate matches to talk about just plain stupid ones. And no list of idiotic bouts could leave out this bout, in which the Rock and Davey Boy Smith attempted to throw each other into dog feces. Do you really need more description than that? We didn’t think so.
The only reservation I have in recommending this book is that occasionally the authors’ own humor descends into unnecessary vulgarity. Hitting the mark far more often than missing, there are at least a few instances of the writers’ attempts at low humor that may cause the more sensitive reader to wince and perhaps even feel slightly embarrassed for them. In those instances, it would have been better to simply let the subject’s crude behavior speak for itself.
Small quibbles aside, I applaud The Wrestlecrap Book of Lists! for the reminder of what did and mostly what didn’t work in pro wrestling. There are hundreds of delightfully ludicrous memories to be relived here, covering most of the major promotions that registered on the grappling landscape, from old school to sports entertainment. Simply stated, the book is entertaining and the source of numerous belly-laughs.
Richard Berger is a freelance writer and editor with an extensive background in professional wrestling. His career includes media production for Stampede Wrestling, ring announcing, regular columns for WOW Magazine and IGN.com, and special feature work for other publications. Between June, 2007 and June, 2008, he wrote a weekly column for The Fight Network and Live Audio Wrestling. To discuss Richard’s articles or just about anything else, contact him at: WriterGuy1A@hotmail.com.
The small sampling of his work found here was originally published at The Fight Network and Live Audio Wrestling. The majority will appear in a soon-to-be-released book along with new material. Stay tuned for information as it becomes available!