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Three Moves of Doom: Weird Horror from Inside the Squared Circle Paperback – September 10, 2016
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First, it should go without saying that wrestling is scripted, but just in case, wrestling is scripted. The matches often feature lots of improvisation but the endings are predetermined. Don't call it fake though, those are real people putting on incredible -- and incredibly dangerous -- athletic performances in an attempt to tell a compelling story.
The book leads off with Matthew M. Bartlett's entry, "The Dark Match." A man from Leeds, MA attempts to leave that devil-haunted town and the life he lead there behind, but finds himself in a place that doesn't seem much more wholesome. Most of the story comes in the form of a monologue by a former wrestler, recounting a nightmarish late-night match he attended years ago. In this most gruesome of the three stories here, squeamishly surreal violence is surrounded by an atmosphere of detailed, can't-look-away creepy weirdness, much like the stories in his collections Gateways to Abomination and Creeping Waves. Wonderfully queasy.
Next is "A Severance of Roots" by Joseph Pastula, and here wrestling history and wrestling fandom itself are major parts of the story. You don't have to know wrestling personalities or trivia to enjoy it, anyone who has ever been a serious fan of just about anything will appreciate the narrator's zeal in tracking down obscure information on the subject he loves. "A Severance of Roots" is quieter and more subtle than "The Dark Match," and is the more unsettling for it. Pastula increases the unease slowly but steadily, building to a genuinely chilling conclusion.
Tom Breen's "The Vision of James Lee Dawson, King of the Death Matches" rounds out the book and, like "A Severance of Roots," is very fluent in wrestling terms and the behind-the-scenes reality of the matches, in this case an ultraviolent death match tournament. This is a real type of match, resembling stunt exhibitions and carnival geek shows more than actual wrestling. And there is always blood. Lots of blood. Breen's story follows an older veteran of the scene and his terrifying match with an opponent who doesn't seem human and has no interest in following the scripted match. An exciting story with believable characters and lots of tension. Not as outright grotesque as "The Dark Match" nor as quietly eerie as "A Severance of Roots," but probably my favorite story of the three.
Also in the book are an editor's note and two pages of faux ads, very much like one would read in an old wrestling magazine or comic book. Some ads are a little hard to read but all are worth it, they are hilarious and add a nice lighter element to what is essentially a very dark book. Another winner from Orford Parish Books.
2 thumbs up, look forward to discover more works with the same mixture of wrestling and horror.
With awesome fake wrestling ads in between, Three Moves of Doom is more fun than a folding chair to the face!
I don't even like wrestling, and I loved this book!