Book Review: ‘Florida Mat Wars 1977’ by Robert D. VanKavelaar & Scott Teal

At this point, many of you know that I grew up in Florida and witnessed Championship Wrestling From Florida live and in-person, as a kid in the ’80s. My earliest and some of my fondest wrestling memories came from this great promotion.

That being said, I like to read every book that has ties or stories to the company. Since I wasn’t alive in 1977, I found this one particularly interesting, as it chronicles a full year in the company before I was born.

However, 1977 was also an incredible year where CWF was packed full of immense prime time level talent.

This book is a collection of photos, newspaper articles and promotional advertisements of every event the company held in the State of Florida that year.

By looking through this, the year takes shape as you see rivalries form, feuds ignite and what came next for the wrestlers involved. Also, I liked seeing where all these events took place, as I could pinpoint ones that I knew my father and my uncles would have gone to live.

This is just a really cool book to own and to thumb through if you’re a fan of the promotion and wrestling history in general.

Rating: 8.25/10
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: ‘Drawing Heat’ by Jim Freedman

I’ve read a lot of books this year about the days of the old school wrestling territories. While this one wasn’t by any means the best, it did have some of the most interesting stuff in it, especially considering the time in which it was written and published.

In a lot of ways, this reminded me of The Fall Guys, as it peeks behind the curtain and exposes certain secrets of the wrestling business.

The true story that is covered here, sees the author initially start out to write about a small wrestling promotion through the eyes of a fan. However, as he interviews more people and becomes familiar with them, he ends up working for the promotion.

What he didn’t know when he started writing this, is that he was chronicling the demise of a small local Canadian wrestling promotion, which eventually got swallowed up by a large corporation that was taking over the industry and becoming a multi-national company.

While just about every wrestling territory had the same demise as this one, it’s really interesting seeing it told from the perspective of the small company while it was happening.

Beyond that, this book also has several subplots due to the wacky things that weaved in and out of this company during its final days.

The most interesting and fucked up story in the book is about the company’s wrestling bear, a beloved living mascot, that killed the girlfriend of its trainer.

All in all, this wasn’t great but for those with an interest in the subject, it’s got a lot of meat to chew through, most of it pretty good.

Rating: 6.5/10
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: ‘Rags, Paper and Pins: The Merchandising of Memphis Wrestling’ by Jim Cornette & Mark James

This is a sort of sequel to Jim Cornette and Mark James’ other book about Memphis Wrestling. However, this one covers the merchandising and marketing side of that legendary wrestling promotion.

Rags, Paper and Pins covers a lot of ground and it’s chock full of images on nearly every page, showing you all the great things Memphis did to market their events and wrestlers.

For fans of the old school Memphis territory, this is a solid read and it’s a hell of a lot of fun just to flip through. It’s a literary time machine and for me, it channeled strong feelings of nostalgia for an era in the wrestling business that I truly miss.

Cornette and James have already covered a lot of territory in their multiple books about Memphis but it was such a cool promotion with such a rich history that I’d pick up just about anything that they’d put out on the subject.

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

Book Review: ‘Assassin: The Man Behind the Mask’ by Joe Hamilton & Scott Teal

I’ve definitely been digging the wrestling biographies I’ve recently gotten from Scott Teal’s website, Crowbar Press. This one is just the latest of those books that I’ve read but it lives up to the quality I’ve come to expect from the publisher.

The Assassin primarily wrestled before my time but I did get to catch the tail end of his work when I was really young. Also, he spent some time in Florida, where I grew up and still live. Because of that, I love reading books that are tied to that specific wrestling territory.

This was thoroughly enjoyable from cover-to-cover and I even liked all the stuff about his youth and growing up, as he had some issues and felt as if he needed to leave his small town behind and follow his older brother into the professional wrestling business.

I wasn’t sure what to expect going into this book, as I honestly didn’t know much about the man other than his in-ring character and all that knowledge came later, as I was a wrestling tape trader in the ’90s and early ’00s.

Like everything I’ve read from Crowbar Press, this did not disappoint and it’s a cool book for anyone that’s a fan of the old territory era of the professional wrestling business.

Rating: 7.5/10
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.

Documentary Review: You Cannot Kill David Arquette (2020)

Release Date: August 21st, 2020
Directed by: David Darg, Price James
Music by: Dimiter Yordanov, Matt Glass, Will Patterson
Cast: David Arquette, Patricia Arquette, Rosanna Arquette, Richmond Arquette, Courteney Cox, Ric Flair, Dallas Page, “Jungle Boy” Jack Perry, Luke Perry, RJ Skinner, Ken Anderson, Coco Arquette, Eric Bischoff, Colt Cabana, Mick Foley, Jerry Lawler, Christina McLarty Arquette, Kevin Nash, Vince Russo

One Last Run Productions, Kidz Gone Bad, Carbon, 91 Minutes

Review:

I was fairly excited for this when the trailer dropped, months ago. I was never mad at David Arquette for his stint in the wrestling business and I honestly just blamed it on the shit creative that was killing World Championship Wrestling, at the time. Funny enough, the company ceased to exist the following year.

I also know that Arquette has loved and respected the professional wrestling business since he was a kid and that he truly felt bad about how people perceived his small run in it, which led to him becoming the WCW World Heavyweight Champion for a few weeks back in 2000.

People viewed this as destroying the prestige of the World Title but it was devalued immensely before Arquette ever got his hands on it. Plus, Vince Russo winning it after the Arquette debacle showed that WCW creative were absolute imbeciles that deserved their fate.

Anyway, I get why David Arquette wants to repent and doesn’t want to be perceived as a joke or some Hollywood opportunist asshole that came in and took a shit on the business.

However, his path to redemption was a terribly misguided one that just made me feel even worse for the guy and made me realize that he was taken advantage of and poorly directed by the modern “hardcore” sect in wrestling a.k.a. the outlaw mudhsow ass hats that should never have their version of the business reach the mainstream. Granted, wrestling is pretty fucking dead in my eyes, anyway, so who’s to say what kind of stupid horeseshit is going to get over with the thirteen fans that still go to live shows in crossfit warehouses.

David Arquette, for a guy that loves the business, doesn’t seem to really know enough about it to avoid the people that put him in the ring, where he nearly got killed just to make this film. He didn’t need to redeem himself by fighting the most “hardcore” shitheads in the business, he needed to go to wrestling school, a real one, and learn the basics, work hard, get put on a decent show and work his way up.

His objectives in this were never really clear but he seemed to just have this idea that he needed to be severely punished for his sins more than he needed to become a legitimate wrestler that could stand proudly next to other former WCW World Champions.

I was severely disappointed by this, overall. I was rooting for the guy and hell, I still really like him. But this isn’t what he needed to do to absolve himself of the immense guilt he’s felt for twenty years. I left this feeling even worse for him but I guess if he believes he succeeded than who am I to piss in his coffee.

Rating: 4.5/10
Pairs well with: other recent wrestling documentaries.