Banner Days: The Life of Pro Wrestling Legend Penny Banner
Description: I am somewhat biased, because Penny is a great friend of this website; After all she did do her first interview with us. But honestly folks, this is a wonderful book because there is no other like it. It is certainly WAY better than Moolah's book, that is for sure! A story of old school woman's wrestling told by a hard working woman who respected the traditions of psychology within the ring and continually knocked down the barriers holding women back in professional rings everywhere she went in the United States and Canada.
There are many valuable history lessons buried inside the pages of Banner Days that make it worth a read. Very few wrestlers talk about woman's wrestling in their books. Penny goes into great detail talking about dozens and dozens of hard-working female wrestlers like the legendary Mildred Burke and June Byers. Penny's opinions of the Fabulous Moolah, however, will shock and entertain you.
If Penny reads this, I would just like to say THANK YOU for writing a book about your life and career. With so many wrestling books out there, it was important to honor the accomplishments of the kayfabe days of Woman's wrestling.
Rating: Great book, great stories, great insight, but poorly edited; So I give it a 7, just because it is a one of a kind book!
Reviewed by Brad Dykens on January 31, 2005.
An autobiography by Penny Banner
with Gerry Hostetler
Flying Mare Productions
For women's wrestling, this was a better time. Penny Banner, wrestling legend, AWA Women's Champion and Hall of Fame inductee, takes us back to the Golden Age of wrestling, when the outcome of a match may have been fixed but the wrestling was as real as it got.
With her classic blonde beauty and girl-next-door smile, Penny Banner epitomised the image of a lady wrestler: lovely, well groomed, tall and athletic. The savage beauty in the ring yielded to the "lady" outside of it, displaying a sweet naiveté that never seemed to diminish despite her years on the road in a tough industry.
Penny Banner provided the fans with a strange paradox; expecting as they were to see a fair, by-the-rules wrestler, Penny shocked audiences by wrestling "dirty" or as fans today would call her, a "heel." The girl-next-door transformed into a fierce tigress inside the squared circle, delighting audiences with her skill and technique.
Penny takes us through her childhood and adolescence, and describes her family in loving detail. Frightening encounters with a young thug who was all too keen to take advantage of Penny's trusting nature evolved into her motivation to learn to defend herself physically, and would ultimately propel her to the pinnacle of the wrestling industry.
Part of Billy Wolfe's stable, Penny wrestled and travelled extensively, facing NWA Champion June Byers on many occasions, as well as locking up with other legendary figures such as Nell Stewart and the Fabulous Moolah, who frustrated Penny by wrestling much dirtier than she ever would. She spent time in tag teams with Betty Jo Hawkins, who would become a lifelong friend, and Lorraine Johnson, who mirrored Penny's gorgeous visage and physique. Penny also wrestled for Stu Hart's Calgary promotion, Stampede Wrestling, and spent her time in Alberta in the Hart House, as part of the weird and wonderful environment that produced one of the most famous families of wrestling.
Penny describes her 35 year marriage to Johnny Weaver, a fellow wrestler and a man with an insecurity complex that drove him to adultery, and physical and emotional brutality. Readers experience with Penny her pain and frustration, but ultimately her love and commitment to her vows that meant she would endure decades of abuse. However, Penny speaks of their only child, Wendi, and the close relationship she enjoys with her, with such love and affection the reader realises the joy produced in the union after all.
Banner Days is a unique insight into an historical era of wrestling, into a time where women wrestlers were, ironically enough, respected more than they are today. Penny's distinctly personal narrative is compelling, easy to read and utterly fascinating. Although it is a must-read for any wrestling fan, this reviewer would deem it an absolute necessity for perpetuators of today's diabolical women's product - there are some valuable lessons they could learn from Penny Banner.
Reviewed by Kirsty Quested on August 15, 2005 (NZpwi.co.nz).