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The Wrestlemania Era: The Book of Sports Entertainment Paperback – November 19, 2013
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About the Author
“The Doc” Chad Matthews is the pen name used for the popular online wrestling columnist from WrestlingHeadlines.com and LordsofPain.net. For a decade, he has written critical reviews of WWE television shows and pay-per-views, as well as a wide variety of columns from a ranking of every WrestleMania match in history to a one year series of short stories creatively detailing the lives of WWE superstars to thorough breakdowns of WWE financials to weekly thoughts on current events. A physician by trade, Matthews began writing about wrestling as a hobby to take his mind off of his rigorous class load during his professional education. Interacting with people from all over the world (his column readership spans six continents) provided him with a unique outlet. He credits writing about his favorite pastime for helping him get through school and open a private health clinic in his hometown. After 30 years as a wrestling fan, “The Doc” gives an unmatched analytical perspective on pro wrestling in the modern era. Matthews lives in North Carolina with his wife, daughter, and two dogs.
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The book counts down the greatest 90 superstars of the Wrestlemania Era. "The Doc" treats each superstar with great respect and I feel does a terrific job of highlighting the positives of each grappler and justifies why each man is included on the countdown. Throughout the book, "The Doc"'s passion and knowledge of not only the wrestlers, but history of both WWE and NWA/WCW shines through and often times, I found myself rethinking my stance on a particular wrestler based on his arguments as to why that particular superstar is one of the greatest of all time. For instance, it was after reading this book's chapter on Lex Luger that I went back and watched his early 88-89 NWA work. I now have a greater appreciation for Luger and his skill inside a wrestling ring, after having mostly only seen him battling Hogan in WCW during 1997 (basic matches with body slams, punches and not much else, in my opinion). Reading this book will make you look at classic matches, such as Ultimate Warrior vs Randy Savage at WM VII, in a new and more appreciative light. That is the biggest compliment I can pay this book: it will deepen your appreciation for the little things that make wrestlers, and wrestling in general, the unique entertainment property that it is.
The only complaint I have, and it is a minor one, is that I wish we got a more "in depth" look at most of the supestars listed on the countdown. The top tier of superstars, deservedly so, get much more comprehensive looks than the lower ranked superstars. I understand that it would be impossible to cover the careers of all 90 men in impressive detail in one book, but I found myself often wanting to get more insights into what made The Rock & Roll Express or Vader into the greats that they are. Oh well, I guess that's what actually watching the matches is for, right?
I cannot recommend this book enough. If you consider yourself to be even a casual fan of pro wrestling or even just WWE, this is a book you need to read. I've read Foley's books, Bret's autobiography, and Jericho's books. "The Wrestlemania Era: The Book of Sports Entertainment" easily stands shoulder to shoulder with all of those "definitive" books about pro wrestling. Do yourself a favor and pick this book up, you will not regret it!
Matthews’ book is both a labor of love and a love letter to the world of professional wrestling. The centerpiece of his work is a countdown of the 90 greatest wrestlers of the “Wrestlemania Era,” a period that encompasses nearly 40 years from the late 1970s to present day and includes superstars who made names for themselves in various promotions including WWE, WCW, ECW and other smaller promotions/territories no longer in business. Matthews uses a wide range of criteria that includes in-ring performance, financial success, look, etc., to create one of the most unbiased examinations of a portion of the history of professional wrestling ever recorded.
Along with his knowledge of the sport’s history, one of Matthews’ greatest qualities is his writing style. Each chapter of the book is engaging and none feel like a carbon copy of what came before. When highlighting one wrestler, he may cite a personal experience when justifying that superstar’s ranking (Edge, for example). In another section, he does a fantastic job of putting a wrestler’s career into perspective and context despite troubling circumstances (Chris Benoit). His greatest strength however, may be his ability to inform the reader and back up his claims without coming across as arrogant. You can sense Matthews’ perfect blend of enthusiasm as a fan and wealth of information as a member of the “wrestling media” in every sentence.
For those unfamiliar with Matthews’ work, it should take just a few pages for a newcomer to become a fan of his writing. For those who enjoy his work as “The Doc” on LordsofPain.net, you will not be disappointed here. While some might expect this book to be an extended “Doctor’s Orders” column, Matthews’ output here actually allows him to expand on his subject matter in a way that is difficult to accomplish online. Everyone’s favorite wrestler of the past 35 years is highlighted in this book and despite my love and knowledge of superstars including The Rock, Randy Savage and CM Punk, Matthews’ all-around perspective only enhanced the way I view their careers and legacies. Whether you’re a long-time, die hard wrestling fan or someone becoming familiar with the product for the first time, Matthews offers something for everyone.
Simply put, The Wrestlemania Era: The Book of Sports Entertainment is an in-depth, highly entertaining and informative look at the best the world of professional wrestling has had to offer over the past four decades. For my money, it lives up to its title as THE definitive sports entertainment publication and stands alongside the absolute best offerings from the world of professional wrestling.