I don’t care who you are – all of us grew up with pro wrestling. The majority of us watched it and became enamored with the personalities and the action, and of course, the drama. These wrestlers helped shape our formative years, and many of them grew outside of the squared circle, leaving an impact on mainstream audiences who would tune in to just see that one person that was too big for the ring. In “The Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame: Heroes & Icons”, we take a look at who these people were and are, and see how they made it to the top and what they did to change the industry and reach such a massive audience.
“Heroes & Icons” is the fourth in the series of Hall of Fame books by these authors, the other team being the Canadians, the tag teams, and the heels. Written by Greg Oliver, who operates the Slam! Wrestling website, and Steven Johnson, long-time contributor to various pro wrestling magazines and sites, these two men have compiled a comprehensive who’s who list of wrestlers from every era, reaching as far back as the early 1900’s with men like Jim Londos and Pet Brown, and going all the way up to modern times with the likes of The Rock and Sting.
The book weighs in at a very hefty 546 pages long and could easily be used as a foreign object in a no-rules match. It features tons of black and white photos to help illustrate the tales, as well as a very small color section in the middle of the book. This book truly features so many men that have shaped the sport of pro wrestling, including such illustrious names as Billy Robinson, Lou Thesz, Dusty Rhodes, Billy Robinson, Bruno Sammartino, The Brisco Brothers, and, of course, Ric Flair, Hulk Hogan, and “Stone Cold” Steve Austin (as what books on icons would be complete with those guys?). I am fighting the urge to list every single major wrestler in this review, but trust me, all the greats are here, and even some of the more recent ones, such as CM Punk (who graces the cover of this book).
Along with biographies of each wrestler are stories on the road or in the ring about these men, often from their own mouths. To me, that is the big selling point, getting up close and personal. The stories about them also put their respective era’s into the limelight and put them into perspective in the history of things. I enjoyed reading about the super heavyweights like the Maguire brothers and Haystacks Calhoun, since growing up, the biggest heel when I was a kid (literally) was Yokozuna, so reading about the roots of this gimmick was interesting to me. It’s hard to believe, but 540 pages seems short compared to how much bigger this book could be, but then again, this is the fourth volume in a series – and who knows how many more!
I was honestly not sure what to expect when I got this book, but I was pleasantly shocked with what I received. While I initially thought this would be a book about the big boom of the wrestling world in the 80’s and into contemporary times, but instead, I got a very comprehensive book that stretched further back than I ever anticipated. I had never heard of so many of these prolific wrestlers, and I doubt you have unless you have been digging through old magazines or been hitting Youtube like a pro wrestling fiend. Men like Ruffy Silverstein, Tiger Conway Sr., Abe Jacobs, Blimp Levy, Enrique Torres, Chief Little Wolf, and so many others. This is a serious compilation for die-hard’s and a great educational resource for fans who are seriously into the sport and are ready to take their knowledge to a new level.
You can order The Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame: Heroes & Icons (Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame series) from Amazon.com for under $16, and is worth the price if you are a hardcore pro wrestling fan. I used to think I was pretty serious about my wrestling, but when I had a hard time recognizing so many of these old-timers, I think I have some real research to do. That is a good thing, though, as this book has expanded my horizons and interest in the past of pro wrestling, and made me very excited to see what happens to the future of the industry. When my only complaint is that I wish the book was longer, you know you have a winner!
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