Book Review: ‘Slobberknocker: My Life in Wrestling’ by Jim Ross, Paul O’Brien, Scott E. Williams

Man, this was just a damn good read, through and through.

Good Ol’ JR tells us his life story from his youth, to his first gig in the wrestling business and through all the companies he worked for from the ’70s and up until the ’00s.

What makes this so good is that it is very much just Jim Ross talking in his own words. While there are co-authors on the book, these are Ross’ personal stories and they are told with that certain panache that is very much JR. Fans of the man’s work over the years probably understand what I mean by that.

While this is about his own personal journey through life and the wrestling business, it actually gets more intimate and more personal than I was expecting and as a longtime admirer of Jim Ross, it’s really neat getting this close to the guy, as he’s been front and center in my family’s living room for decades.

Everything in this book is interesting, as he had a full life and never seemed to live a dull chapter. But the fact of the matter is, Jim Ross came up with hard work and a burning desire to be a part of the business he fell in love with as a kid. He hustled and shoved his foot through the door with a certain youthful moxie that says a lot about his character and his drive. And ultimately, it paid off for Ross, as he has now spent decades in front of the camera and behind the scenes for massive companies.

I really liked the early sections of the book that dealt with how he eventually won over Cowboy Bill Watts and got to be an important part of Watts’ Mid-South empire. But honestly, the whole book is engaging as hell and sucks you in.

I really took my time with this book, more so than I normally do, as it hooked me early and kept my attention throughout. There isn’t really a low point and it just made me like and respect the man even more.

Rating: 9/10
Pairs well with: JR’s upcoming book Under the Black Hat, as well as other wrestling biographies and books about the business side of things.

Vids I Dig 260: Chris Van Vliet: Melina Interview

From Chris Van Vliet’s YouTube description: Chris Van Vliet sits down with Melina at the NWA Powerrr taping in Atlanta, GA. She talks about how and why she joined NWA, winning the Divas Championship and the Women’s Championship and why both meant different things to her, teaming with John Morrison and Joey Mercury in MNM, her favorite opponents, Bret Hart calling her one of the best wrestlers in the world, a possible WWE Hall of Fame induction and much more!

Vids I Dig 251: Jim Cornette: 1987-1988 – Jim Crockett Promotions – Deep Dive Omnibus

From Jim Cornette’s YouTube description: In late 2017 & early 2018, Jim Cornette opened his books and on three episodes of The Jim Cornette Experience, did a Deep Dive on 1987 & 1988 Jim Crockett Promotions! Here those segments are, collected as one: Jim Cornette’s 1987-1988 Jim Crockett Promotions Deep Dive Omnibus

Book Review: ‘Death of the Territories: Expansion, Betrayal and the War That Changed Pro Wrestling Forever’ by Tim Hornbaker

There have been countless books that have talked about wrestling territories and their collapse due to the emerging monster that was Vince McMahon’s World Wrestling Federation. However, none of the books I’ve ever read were as good and comprehensive as this one.

I think the main reason this is the best book I’ve read on the subject is because it’s not told from one perspective or about one promotion and its own woes against the WWF juggernaut. This book just lays out the facts, tells its tales and covers every territory under the sun.

This looks into every territory, from all angles and gives a ton of info and history while moving through the late ’70s and the entire ’80s. It’s comprehensive as hell and doesn’t seem to have any bias one way or the other. It helps set this apart from the wrestling book pack, as many are written with an axe to grind or with just one version of a story.

The subject matter here is fascinating, whether one is a wrestling fan or they just like to read about businesses and industries during times of major change.

Death of the Territories was superb, well researched, well presented and honestly, it makes me wish someone would make a documentary on all of this and do it the same justice.

Rating: 8.5/10
Pairs well with: other books on wrestling history. In fact, there are a lot of really good ones that have come out in recent years.

Vids I Dig 238: Chris Van Vliet: Nick Aldis Interview

From Chris Van Vliet’s YouTube description: The NWA World’s Heavyweight Champion Nick Aldis sits down with Chris Van Vliet at the NWA Powerrr tapings in Atlanta, GA. He talks about why NWA is the perfect fit for him, meeting his wife Mickie James in TNA, raising their son Donovan, why he never signed with WWE, leaving TNA, wrestling Cody Rhodes at All In and much more!

Talking Wrasslin’: Reflecting On My Personal Experience at NWA Hard Times

*I wanted to write this and have it up last weekend but I was dealing with a loss in my family, the hustle and bustle of my trip to Atlanta (for family and to see this show) and then I had to get right back to the real job while fighting off a cold for the last few days.

Being that I have been digging the hell out of the National Wrestling Alliance’s product since Billy Corgan bought them and took over, I didn’t want to miss out on one of their marquee events, as I regretted not being able to make it up to Atlanta for Into the Fire a month ago.

Making the trip this time, I wasn’t disappointed and I plan to go back because the show and everything surrounding it was fantastic. I haven’t been to a wrestling event where the promotion hosting it seemed to care this much about their fans and providing them with a memorable experience.

Also, I haven’t quite felt this level of energy while at a wrestling show since the late ’90s when I used to go to ECW events whenever they came to the southern half of Florida.

What made this even more cool was that it didn’t just feature NWA talent but it also featured some of the guys from Ring of Honor: Marty Scurll, Flip Gordon, Matt Cross and Dan Maff.

The NWA Worlds Heavyweight Champion Nick Aldis is currently in a program with long-time friend and rival Marty Scurll, which has opened the doors for NWA to crossover with ROH (and possibly other promotions). This makes for a really exciting time in the wrestling business for fans that need alternatives to the mainstream WWE content.

Hard Times was built around a tournament for the recently resurrected NWA World Television Championship. The tournament bracket featured eight wrestlers (six from NWA and two from ROH). Well, Ken Anderson didn’t make it to the event, so his first round opponent, Tim Storm, got a bye.

The tournament itself was damn cool to watch, as I’ve always been a fan of wrestling tournaments but have never seen one live, in its entirety.

Apart from that, the show also featured other marquee match ups and there wasn’t a low point. Everything was fun, energetic, engaging and kept my, as well as the crowd’s, attention.

Sadly, due to the loss in my family mentioned earlier, I was only able to go to Hard Times and missed out on the TV tapings for the third season of NWA Power. But for the one night I did go, I bought the VIP pass because I wanted to immerse myself into the product as much as possible.

I’ve got to say, even if you do it just once, the VIP experience is well worth the price of admission.

We got let into the studio an hour earlier, which we were allowed to explore pretty freely. We also got first dibs on seats, got to touch and hold the Television Championship while taking photos with it and we also got to meet producer Dave Lagana, as well as have a Q&A session with on-air personalities Dave Marquez and Kyle Durden. On top of that, we also got treated to a pre-televised “dark match” that advanced the storyline between Eddie Kingston and “The Pope” Elijah Burke.

My biggest takeaway from this was how much the NWA personalities liked us being there and how much they seemed to enjoy shooting the shit with us all. Marquez and Durden were open, personable, held the attention of the small group and didn’t shy away from answering questions on any topic. We even got Marquez setting the record straight on what the difference was between rides and attractions at Disneyland.

After the show, my friend and I waited a few minutes for the studio to clear out a bit so we could soak the place in a bit more before leaving. What I had felt that day was pretty infectious. My friend, who had just watched the show casually up to that point, became a die hard loyalist over the course of the night. We didn’t want to leave but as we went to exit the building, we discovered some seriously badass fan service.

In the lobby of the studio, the merchandise tables weren’t just selling the merch that was displayed before the show. Now most of the tables had the wrestlers themselves there, selling all types of cool stuff. But most importantly, they were there to talk to us, hang out a bit and make us feel like we were appreciated and that we were all a part of the same wrestling family. It didn’t feel like there was an imaginary line between the show and the fans. There wasn’t a guardrail or a curtain surrounded by guards, there was just us and them and just good, jovial times where everyone was happy.

I got to talk to Kamille and the Wildcards, Allysin Kay, Thunder Rosa, Marti Belle, The Question Mark and my main dude, hands down, the “Outlandish” Zicky Dice.

All in all, this was a great experience. I’ve been to dozens, if not hundreds, of wrestling shows in my lifetime and very, very few have ever made me feel the way I did seeing this modern incarnation of the National Wrestling Alliance. I’ve been backstage at WWE, WCW, ECW, old school NWA, indie shows and Championship Wrestling from Florida tapings but my first experience going to the modern NWA was one of my all-time greatest nights as a lifelong wrestling fan. There was just this overwhelming feeling of something right and comforting in my soul.

I was already sold on the NWA and Power is the weekly wrestling show I most look forward to. But what I was feeling before Hard Times has now multiplied tenfold.

Everything that the NWA is doing, right now, is perfect. I just hope that they can win over the hearts of many more people and continue to grow. For those who are already watching NWA Power but haven’t seen any of this live and in person, you really need to make the trip to Atlanta.

With the Crockett Cup returning in April, as the next big pay-per-view event, I know that I have to make the journey, wherever it is held. They’ve already announced that this show will take place in a bigger venue, I just hope it’s at least in the southeast and in a city I can fly to or drive to easily. And by then, maybe we’ll see more ROH talent get involved or even talent from other promotions.