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The Complete Idiot's Guide to Pro Wrestling Paperback – 1998
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15 years later, I love it even more, but for completely different reasons and from different perspectives. I know a lot more than I did when I was a kid, as most people would, moving forward in life, regarding any topic.
When I was a KID, I laughed at the mistakes I could find in this book. I couldn't imagine the stuff I'd be able to point out TODAY if my 13 year old wrestling-noob-self was able to spot so many errors.
That's the mark of a poor 'reference' guide, as this book was clearly written by idiots. Avoid it. If you want to learn about wrestling, stop watching WWE/TNA (and the indys, even) and buy some bootlegs. It is ALL out there. Smoky Mountain, New Japan, AWA, AAA, FMW, CMLL, Memphis...you name it. Wrestling fans are meticulous with hoarding footage and it all exists if you get into the right circles. The best way to really learn is to witness it all yourself. The books are good for statistics and all, but wrestling history isn't about who beat who and when, it's about HOW they beat them. It's about seeing the story with your own eyes, not necessarily reading about it.
If you feel like reading, though, buy the autobiographies. Avoid biased stuff like WWE Encyclopedias. But above all else, avoid THIS book.
So many things about this book bugged me: the fact that half the time, the authors act as if wrestling is real (especially Albano, when he is recounting his days in the WWF)...the fact that they suggest that the reader only follow one federation (so we don't bite off more than we can chew, supposedly)...the fact that their description of "the moves of pro wrestling" don't explain that the moves for the most part DON'T hurt the opponent...the fact that they consistently refer to Real Life in wrestling as "real-real" (when any mark or carny knows it's "shoot") and to the bad guys as "villains" (not "heels," as they're known to wrestlers). A thousand factual errors share pages with a thousand typographical errors.
Basically, this is a book which purports to be an "insider view" of professional wrestling, but which is written by two people from the outside who feel the need to keep the illusion of "wrestling as real-life violence." There's some interesting information about the earliest days at the turn of the 20th century, but it's hard to believe it as gospel when ten pages later the authors are telling you that Kane and the Undertaker are really brothers, that the first ladder match was in ECW, that Onita's barbed-wire cage uses real live electricity, and not just fireworks.
Rather than really explain what goes on in the industry (from backstage to in the ring), they try to get the reader to choose one of the two major companies (now, of course, there's only one) and believe that it's real. This may have been the way fans were in the 70s, but by now, for some reason, we are all in on the gag. All of us, apparently, except Albano and Sugar.
If you are in fact a Complete Idiot, and you need to spend 19 bucks to have someone tell you that you can look up a favorite wrestler on search engines for more information, then go ahead and buy this book. Otherwise, steer clear or get it at a Salvation Army like I did.