Book Review: ‘Memphis Wrestling History Presents: 1957-1989 Clippings’ by Mark James

This is another historical wrestling reference book by Mark James.

By it’s title you can probably gather that it focuses on the Memphis territory. While it has an introduction written by James, the rest of the book is just pages of newspaper clippings about each Monday night wrestling show held in Memphis from 1957 through 1989.

While it is fantastic that it gives the entire history of Memphis’ Monday night cards, I kind of wish that there was more information given throughout the book.

This is definitely something worth looking at, though, if you’re a fan of wrestling history, especially Memphis.

This lets you see, from week-to-week, which wrestlers were featured, who came into the territory and where they fit on the card.

Rating: 7/10
Pairs well with: other books on Memphis wrestling, as well as books by Mark James.

Book Review: ‘Tiki Pop: America Imagines Its Own Polynesian Paradise’ by Sven A. Kirsten

There are books on Tiki culture and then there’s Tiki Pop: America Imagines Its Own Polynesian Paradise by Sven A. Kirsten and publisher TASCHEN.

What I mean by that is that this book is the bible on Tiki history in the United States, as it covers its genesis, all of its key elements, how it expanded into everything in pop culture and ultimately, how it faded away and then saw a bit of a revival.

Like all books I own by TASCHEN, this is image heavy and presented on premium paper stock. It’s a legitimate art book that truly delves into Tiki history and displays everything that one could imagine from that pocket of Americana.

This book is a very thick hardcover that covers so much territory, even for being chock full of hundreds of images and also being translated into three languages.

I found every single chapter intriguing and well researched. My only real gripe about the book is that the written part of each chapter is kind of short and I felt like it all could’ve been greatly expanded on. Maybe the author can do that in the future, as this has so many great entry points to different parts of Tiki pop that can be expanded upon in many books.

Regardless of that, this is still the greatest book I have ever come across on the subject. Plus, it’s beautifully and immaculately presented. For lovers of Tiki culture, this is absolutely a must own and it’s also really inexpensive for its size and quality.

Rating: 10/10
Pairs well with: other books on Tiki culture and pop culture from bygone eras.

Book Review: ‘How to Become a Champion’ by Herb Welch

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I ordered this book and it’s more of a square-bound pamphlet than anything.

This is pretty simple. It contains an introduction by Dr. D David Schultz, a great professional wrestler who was trained by legend, Herb Welch. He informs the reader that this is a collection of pictures and notes on how to shoot fight for real.

Welch kept this as a guide for professional wrestlers that needed to know how to hold their own in the ring in case shit got real.

This is several pages of photographs featuring Welch applying specific holds with his notes on how to apply them and why.

Obviously, this won’t appeal to many people and it’s sort of an outdated relic, as legit fighting has evolved greatly since Welch’s time.

However, this is still an interesting look back into history for those who love professional wrestling or legit combat sports.

Rating: 5.5/10
Pairs well with: The Fall Guys and Don’t Call Me Fake, both of which have been reviewed on Talking Pulp.

Book Review: ‘The Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame: The Tag Teams’ by Greg Oliver & Steven Johnson

I’ve heard good things about this book series from several of the people on the old school wrestling podcasts I listen to regularly.

That being said, I really wanted to check this one out first, as I’m a massive fan of old school tag team wrestling because it’s an art that seems lost in the modern era and because so many of the legendary tag teams were just too cool for f’n school.

This does a great job of providing mini-biographies on the greatest teams the sport of wrestling has ever seen up to the early ’00s. It covers all the different eras going back to the beginning of tag team wrestling.

The book is well organized, well researched and it discusses the teams and the wrestling stars with great care.

All in all, this was a thoroughly enjoyable read and I especially liked it because I don’t think tag teams get enough love.

Rating: 8/10
Pairs well with: other books from this series, as well as other historical wrestling books.

Book Review: ‘500 Godzilla Facts’ by James Egan

Well, this small book is just a collection of facts. So the title isn’t misleading or anything but this is basically just a long list organized into a book format with a section for each film and an area for general facts that don’t specifically fit with one movie.

I guess this is informative for those who might not know anything about Godzilla but this is mostly common knowledge stuff that avid fans will already know.

Additionally, this is written like it was ripped from a middle schooler’s notebook. Plus, some “facts” are more like opinions of the author or what he deems as the opinion of the consensus.

It’s free on Kindle Unlimited, so I guess I can’t really bitch about the investment. Although, I did opt out to buy a physical copy because it was so cheap and I have a nice kaiju/tokusatsu book library.

I guess I can’t really say it was a big waste of time either, as I read the thing in about a half hour.

Rating: 5/10
Pairs well with: other books about the Godzilla franchise, many of which I reviewed with higher praise than this one.

Book Review: ‘Don’t Call Me Fake: The Real Story of “Dr. D” David Schultz’ by David Schultz, John Cosper

To say that “Dr. D” David Schultz is one of the most interesting guys that ever worked in the wrestling business might be an understatement. He’s most famous for being infamous but he also got pushed out of the career he loved and became one of the most famous bounty hunters in the United States.

His most famous act, still to this day, was slapping 20/20‘s John Stossel back in December of 1984 at Madison Square Garden. It’s the incident that changed his life and set him on a different career path outside of professional wrestling.

Schultz is much more complex and a lot more interesting than just being the cantankerous heel that hit a reporter, though. He’s actually a pretty badass dude, legitimately.

He was known as one of the toughest wrestlers in the locker room and he would go on to have a great career as a bounty hunter where he actually used that job to try and help those on the wrong side of the law. Despite his legendary reputation as a heel, David Schultz has actually helped people turn their lives around, whether just checking up on them or helping them escape very bad people.

This book tells Schultz’s story in his own words and man, it’s compelling stuff and, hands down, one of the best wrestler biographies I have ever read.

The first half of the book covers Schultz’s youth and wrestling career while the second half takes you through his bounty hunting career. Even though I bought this for the wrestling stories, I found the bounty hunting stories to be much more intriguing and captivating. The guy has lived one hell of a life.

Don’t Call Me Fake is incredible and I don’t know why this hasn’t been made into a movie yet.

Rating: 9.5/10
Pairs well with: other biographies and historical books written about old school wrestling from the territory era.

Book Review: ‘Dungeons & Dragons Art & Arcana: A Visual History Book’ by Michael Witwer, Kyle Newman, Jon Peterson & Sam Witwer

I never got to play Dungeons & Dragons, even though I was fascinated by it. My mum dumped the religion on me pretty hard and then by the time I was older and didn’t care about that, none of my friends really cared about playing D&D anymore.

I’ve always adored the franchise and everything within it, as I’ve always loved fantasy, especially sword and sorcery fiction and movies. I also dug the hell out of the cartoon when I was a kid, which I was actually allowed to watch for some reason.

This big, thick, hardcover masterpiece is a damn fine book to add to your collection. Even if you’re not a fan of the franchise, the artwork collected in this alone makes the book well worth the price tag.

One really cool thing about this is that it’s foreward was written by Joe Manganiello. Yes, that Joe Manganiello, who apparently was a massive D&D fan. Sam Witwer, another actor known for a lot of his sci-fi roles, also contributed to this.

This book covers a lot more than even its large size would imply. It shows the history of the property in just about all of its forms from early role-playing manuals to the animated series to video games to comics to books and just about every other medium and product that adorned the Dungeons & Dragons name.

I love this book. Right now, it’s on my coffee table. Granted, I should probably move it before someone with French fry fingers gets it all nasty. 

Rating: 10/10
Pairs well with: anything, from any media, about Dungeons & Dragons, as well as other big, hardcover art books on cool nerd shit.

Book Review: ‘The Solie Chronicles: The Life and Times of Gordon Solie’ by Robert Allyn, Pamela S. Allyn & Scott Teal

I grew up in Florida with the men in my family being big professional wrestling fans. So the territory that I was exposed to the most was Florida’s. Because of that, Gordon Solie really was the voice of my childhood, as far as being the guy who was the host of every single episode of the television program I liked the most after G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero.

Sadly, I never got to meet the man even though I saw him at wrestling events all over the state, as well as being front and center at the few studio tapings I went to with my dad and my uncles.

As a kid, I took Gordon Solie for granted. He was just always there and I guess I never realized how great he was and how much he meant to me until he wasn’t with us anymore and other than Jim Ross and Lance Russell, who I could only see when I had access to Memphis wrestling, I was typically disappointed with the wrestling commentary that came after Solie.

Additionally, I never knew much about the man. I had heard and read things over the years but even then, a lot of the information was scant and kind of unreliable. Wrestlers love telling stories but if you’ve listened to enough, you know that those stories often times comes with a lot of bullshit.

So reading this was really great. It’s written by Solie’s son-in-law and daughter and they were able to give a lot of insight into the man’s personal life, going all the way back to his childhood, his military service and how he eventually broke into sportscasting in the State of Florida.

I know that this book might not appeal to many people, as it’s about a guy from just one territory in a bygone era for a business that has completely changed but I enjoyed it and I think that those who know of Gordon Solie, might enjoy it too.

Rating: 7.75/10
Pairs well with: other books on the history of the old school territory wrestling business, as well as biographies on the personalities who lived it.

Book Review: ‘The Truth About Chuck Norris: 400 Facts About the World’s Greatest Human’ by Ian Spector

I got this book as a gift, as I wouldn’t have bought it for myself.

That’s not because I don’t like Chuck Norris but it’s because of what this book is, which is just a long series of “facts” about the man and how badass and incredible he is.

None of this is true and it’s all republished from a humor blog.

That being said, there isn’t a whole lot to say about the book. It’s a lightning fast read but if you enjoy this sort of stuff, you’ll probably like it.

Thus ends my really short review.

Rating: 6/10

Book Review: ‘Tuesday Night at the Gardens: Pro Wrestling In Louisville’ by Jim Cornette & Mark James

I was glad that I picked this book up from Jim Cornette’s website before he had to shut it down multiple times due to being overwhelmed by people like me buying up all his great old school wrestling goods.

What’s really cool about this book is that it is written by Jim Cornette, along with Mark James, who is one of the premiere wrestling historians, especially in regards to the old territory era.

Cornette grew up in Louisville and it’s where he first fell in love with the wrestling business. His passion and love really comes out in this, as he walks the reader through professional wrestling history in the Louisville area.

He goes into Louisville’s ties with Memphis wrestling, the stars that used to come through his hometown and all the major angles and developments that shaped the business during that great era.

For fans of old school territory wrestling, this is an immensely informative and entertaining read.

Rating: 7/10
Pairs well with: other books on the history of territory wrestling. Primarily those by either Mark James or Scott Teal.