A walk-through wrestling history, starting with the founding fathers such as Ed “Strangler” Lewis and the incomparable Lou Thesz, to modern-day masters such as Daniel Bryan and Kurt Angle.
The Wrestlers’ Wrestlers spotlights elite performers and analyzes exactly what made them your favorite wrestler’s favorite wrestlers. Authors Dan Murphy and Brian Young interviewed more than 40 in-ring veterans, historians, referees, and promoters to get a unique insider’s look at the people who have made a lasting impact on the world of professional wrestling. It offers a special peek “behind the curtain” and a rare look into the top stars’ thoughts on their peers, their influences, and their personal favorites.
The Wrestlers’ Wrestlers is a history of professional wrestling but also a tribute to the frequently misunderstood art itself. Featuring stars of the 1920s to today, this essential read deserves a prominent spot on the bookcase of every fan and historian.
A “Wrestlers’ Wrestler” is a competitor who has earned the respect of his peers in the locker room for his dedication, professionalism, work ethic, and mastery of the craft of professional wrestling.
To compile this book, we turned to the wrestlers themselves. We interviewed more than 50 wrestlers, representing more than a half-century of experience in the business. After all, who can better identify a “wrestlers’ wrestler” than the wrestlers themselves? These are the men who have dedicated their lives to the art of professional wrestling. Writers, historians, fans, and others may have their own opinions, but as much as possible, we went straight to the experts and asked a series of wrestlers who they most admired and considered to be true “wrestlers’ wrestlers. ” Some writers and historians were willing to add their expert perspective as well.
We also relied heavily on the written words and primary sources left from wrestlers who have passed, such as Lou Thesz’ seminal book, Hooker. Thesz may have pulled his punches in the ring, but he certainly held nothing back in his autobiography.
This book is an opportunity for the wrestlers themselves to define the term, to tell their stories and to discuss who they feel are the wrestlers who deserve recognition. This book is not intended to be solely for the fans and historians, but it is also for the boys. It is our attempt to preserve an oral history straight from the sources; a unique insight to this business, told by those who lived and continue to live it. It is an attempt to recognize the masters of the craft of wrestling from a wrestler’s perspective, while maintaining the objectivity of an outsider.
Naturally, if you ask multiple wrestlers their opinion on a given wrestler, you’re going to get a wide range of responses. Old grudges die hard, after all. And, as it is with actors, musicians, and artists, taste is subjective.
The responses received were varied. Some wrestlers identified a true “Wrestlers’ Wrestler” as the one who was able to draw the biggest crowds and make the most money. They were the ones who brought the fans into the buildings, night after night. If that was the sole criteria, Hulk Hogan, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, The Rock, and Bruno Sammartino might be our Mount Rushmore.
Others talked about the “carpenters,” the undercard craftsmen whose job was to make their opponents look like a million bucks. And others named wrestlers who had the skill, the athleticism, the technical ability, but simply never got the proper “push” because they weren’t in the right place at the right time. After all, you can’t built a good house without good carpenters.
“That phrase ‘A Wrestlers’ Wrestler,’ I think, stems from the term ‘a comic’s comic,’” said Colt Cabana, a former NWA heavyweight champion who has dabbled in stand-up comedy. “The comic’s comic may not be the best comic as far as a money-making tour, but all the other comics will be in the back of the room watching him because they have to watch him. He’s that good. A Wrestlers’ Wrestler, the wrestlers in the back will always want to watch that person’s matches because they really appreciate the nuances of their wrestling. ”
“A Wrestlers’ Wrestler is someone who is able to engage the crowd and can blend with any other wrestler and their style,” offered Sinn Bodhi, who wrestled as Kizarney in WWE. “A Wrestlers’ Wrestler can be put in the ring with just about anyone and make a good match. It’s someone who is able to direction-change.