Slam! Wrestlingâ€™s Greg Oliver and Steven Johnson Ph.D. have been a busy duo in the last few years, writing a series of books under the Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame title. They have written about Canadians and legendary tag teams and now they return with a book dedicated to the bad guys aka THE HEELS (ECW Press, 400pgs, $19.95 US.) I didnâ€™t get a chance to read those two books but if they are anything like this new book I will be adding them to my library. Sorry about the length of this review but this book does not need to be spoiled by a page by page breakdown.
Oliver and Johnson go over and beyond the average wrestling history book, talking about heels from the beginnings of the sport through the territorial era to todayâ€™s WWE and TNA Wrestling stars. After an interesting foreword by â€œthe Modelâ€ Rick Martel, the duo compiles what they consider the top 20 of all time which is filled with legends from â€œNature Boyâ€ Buddy Rogers and the Sheik to modern stars â€œRowdyâ€ Roddy Piper and â€œNature Boyâ€ Ric Flair. They begin the section with the reminder that their list is not a scientific top 20 and their top guys are not the one and only list, which I have to say has some interesting omissions (like â€œSuperstarâ€ Billy Graham who was a revolutionary of the 60â€™s & 70â€™s.)
Along with those extensive bios, they also group wrestlers into: the next five, the pioneers, the madmen, the egoists, the monsters, the technicians, the connivers, the tough guys and the foreigners. In those sections you will find some of your and my favorites (mine include Ric Flair, Jeff Jarrett, Tully Blanchard and â€œMillion Dollar Man â€œTed DiBiase) as well as stars your parents and grandparents grew up watching on a regional and national level. Mixed into the bios are some stories or legends that are brought to light after several decades of being told in locker rooms and on car trips to the next town including the world famous Jerry Lawler-Andy Kaufman battle. This is a great book and I cannot wait to see what Oliver and Johnson have in store for their installment in the series.