An original graphic novel. Written by Aubrey Sitterson. Art by Chris Moreno. Colors by Len O’Grady, Brad Simpson, Allen Passalaqua, and Jay Moreno. Letters by Rus Wooton. Published by Ten Speed Press.
Those who have read this blog and it’s previous version for awhile are well aware of my love for wrestling and comics. For any new readers who may have come here for this review – there are hundreds if not thousands of posts across the internet with my name on it about pro wrestling. Articles, lists, podcasts, interviews, videos, photos, all of it. I used to buy the Pro Wrestling Illustrated Almanac every year to study title histories. My friends and I pass long car rides with the wrestling name games. I have life long friendships caused by a mutual love of pro wrestling. All of this over the last 30-35 years. I consider myself knowledgeable about the sport, the entertainment, the history of pro wrestling.
Then this book came along and slapped that ignorance out of my mouth.
Over the last year I have written numerous deep historical looks at events in wrestling. The War to Settle the Score, the first Smackdown, breaking down how wrestling works to get my Dad into the sport. I’m looked at by others as a guide. This book explores the history of wrestling back to the carnival days. Rigging the results, putting titles on men that could hurt someone if they wont do proper business. The expansion of arenas and territories. How the World Wars and television affected wrestling. Making more money using the evil foreigner or the beloved immigrant – sometimes the same guy. The ups and downs of the NWA. Vince McMahon’s questionable yes but also brilliant maneuvers to grow. This book shows why names like Gotch, Mondt, and Hackenschmidt matter. Along with the Flair’s and the Funks.
What astounded me was the rich chapters on the history of wrestling in England and Japan. While Japan grew in my younger days thanks to talent in WCW and the height of tape trading, I only knew a small amount of all that took place overseas. As little that I knew there, I realize my knowledge was near zero for the UK. This book alone has inspired me to look into the history of British wrestling and thankfully in this modern era I can find so much online. Everything from discovering a character who was a joke called Loch Ness in WCW was actually one of the biggest heels in England named Giant Haystacks. All the way to a new appreciation for NXT UK.
All of this is made crystal clear with the ridiculously detailed art for each and every wrestler mentioned in this book going back over a century. The originators before the moving camera now live and breathe in color. Black and white footage doesn’t do justice to the colorful work of larger than life characters like Gorgeous George. Up to the modern day when certain panels are ripped right from my memories, but sharper.
As if I didn’t love the book enough, this panel hit me at the right time. During the rebrand of this site I wanted something that encompassed wrestling, comics, and disposable pop culture. Some days I still debate on the new name but then a panel like this builds my confidence.
Every wrestling fan has stacks of VHS and DVD plus at least one streaming source for more action. But we don’t have a ton of books, less so ones that matter. This graphic novel needs to sit next to Mick Foley’s “Have a Nice Day” as an important and necessary part of any wrestling fans library.