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Tributes II: Remembering More of the Worlds Greatest Wrestlers (Wrestling Observer) Hardcover – DVD-ROM, October 1, 2004
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But pro wrestling has a rich tradition that is oftentimes overlooked or quickly forgotten after a star from yesterday passes away. Some of Meltzer's most powerful writing has been remembering the greats who have passed, as his candid accounts of their lives inside the squared-circle and outside the arena truly brings the legends to life, perhaps for the first and/or last time.
In Tributes II, his second book of profiles from the newsletter, Meltzer includes his articles on Lou Thesz, The Sheik, Johnny Valentine, Wahoo McDaniel, Rick Rude and Curt "Mr. Perfect" Hennig, along with an expanded tribute to Andre the Giant.
The forward is written by Bret Hart and the book touches his family in such a tragic way. The lives of his father - Stu Hart - and brother-in-law, Davey Boy Smith, are chronicled by Meltzer, along with a new profile on Bret's brother, Owen Hart, who tragically fell to his death before a sold-out arena and cable TV pay-per-view audience in a risky stunt that went so terribly wrong.
Included in the book is a one-hour DVD where Meltzer provides additional information on the wrestlers. The DVD alone is worth the purchase price.
Each profile is a touching tribute that celebrates the lives of those who entertained with style and class.
It would be only too easy to write a sensationalist expose of wrestling and to push the seamy side of each wrestlers death but Meltzer takes the high road and produces articles on each wrestler that is a fine rendition of their life.
It is just a pity that this book written in 2004 had to be written at all as so many of the people mentioned passed too young and what is even worse, in the last 5 years there is enough material for Tributes III.
The appearance and text of Tributes II really shines. Dave Meltzer's journalism is every bit as sharp as before, but much less of his written word winds up on the cutting room floor to make room for the umpteenth full page color photo.
For those of you who have never read Dave Meltzer's work before, you will find that The Grim Reaper is often his finest muse. While a collection of obituaries might seem like a grim read to those unfamiliar with the inner workings of the pro wrestling industry, this is far from the case. Dave does an especially good job covering both the glory and complications in the life of a wrestler. You will read about wrestlers who lived long, fascinating lives (Freddie Blassie, Johnny Valentine, Stu Hart), as well as wrestlers who lived fast and fell hard (Davey Boy Smith, Hawk, Curt Hennig). Perhaps the most difficult read is the tribute to Owen Hart, who did not live fast, and whose tragic accident seemed preventable.
Bret Hart writes a particularly moving foreward to Tributes II, where he talks about the love/hate relationship he and other wrestlers had with Dave Meltzer's newsletter when it first became the rage in the mid 1980s. The wrestling community resented Meltzer for spilling the secrets of a tight-lipped industry, but its members were always asking fellow wrestlers if they had a copy of the current issue they could borrow. Hart tells about his own transformation from a hesitant Wrestling Observer reader to a wrestler who realizes that an insider sheet can benefit the wrestlers in an industry where the grapplers often get short changed by unscrupulous players.
A nice bonus is the DVD that accompanies the book, which has Meltzer sharing his thoughts on the wrestlers featured in this edition. When I popped the DVD in, I was expecting a 15 minute "take it or leave it" interview. I was pleasantly surprised to find there was a little over one hour of high quality interview time!
While the previous edition of Tributes is a must read, Tributes II immensely exceeds its depth and quality. If you want to shell out your money on only one edition, "Tributes II" wins by a wide margin.
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Young & strong beautiful one
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