Memphis Wrestling History
Vol. 2: The Programs (1972-1976)
by Mark James
Forward by Lance Russell
Being the Editor-in-Chief of a website known as “Online World of Wrestling,” has provided me with many opportunities to discover and explore the extensive and remarkable history of the professional wrestling business. It seems like I have a life-long scholarship to Wrestling University, because my education of the subject is a never ending lesson in kayfabe, respect, and glory.
Even I admit that I still have a lot to learn about wrestling’s past. Thankfully, we live in a world full of information resources created by people just like me – but specialized in areas that I might not be familiar with. Wrestling historian Mark James is one of the foremost experts on pro-wrestling in Tennessee, focusing his interests on the city of Memphis.
Most fans today associate Memphis wrestling with WWE Hall of Famer Jerry “The King” Lawler, and although it may be true that Lawler helped bring the Memphis territory into a brighter spotlight, there is a lot of great history that paved the road for the “King.” Those trailblazers include Eddie Marlin, Jerry Jarrett, Jackie Fargo, Tojo Yamamoto, Billy Wicks, Sputnik Monroe, and countless others.
Mark James has done his part to teach the students of the wrestling community about Memphis with his website, Memphis Wrestling History (www.memphiswrestlinghistory.com). He has also gone above and beyond the call of duty by writing a book with the same name. I am here to give you my review for Mark’s second book, “Memphis Wrestling History Vol. 2: The Programs 1972-1976.” There are printed contributions from Memphis legends such as Lance Russell, Billy Wicks, Bill Dundee, Jimmy Hart, Jerry Jarrett, Jimmy Valiant, Scott Bowden, and others. The bulk of this 400+ page coffee table-sized book is a huge collection of scanned programs from Memphis. Each program features pictures and text hyping and celebrating the various aspects of the Memphis circuit.
If you’re a big fan of Jerry Lawler, you may have some extra incentive to check out this book, because it covers the unfamiliar era of Lawler’s early years as a professional wrestler. You will quickly realize why Lawler would eventually become the “King” of Memphis wrestling, having learned the ropes from so many extraordinary legends of the industry.
This is a fun book for the reader, worthy of relaxing bathroom literature. I have used that term to describe books in the past and it is by no means an insult. I just mean that it’s a good book to explore while you were “passing the time” in the restroom.
If you call yourself a “student” of wrestling, then I recommend you add this book to your collection of text books.
Reviewed by Brad Dykens for Online World of Wrestling