The Pro Wrestling Hall Of Fame: The Storytellers (from The Terrible Turk To Twitter) by Greg OliverThe Pro Wrestling Hall Of Fame: The Storytellers (from The Terrible Turk To Twitter) by Greg Oliver

The Pro Wrestling Hall Of Fame: The Storytellers (from The Terrible Turk To Twitter)

byGreg Oliver, Steven Johnson

Paperback | August 6, 2019

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The legendary storytellers worthy of a spot in the pro wrestling hall of fame

You can't escape pro wrestling today, even if you want to. Its stars are ubiquitous in movies, TV shows, product endorsements, swag, and social media to the point that they are as much celebrities as they are athletes. Pro wrestling has morphed from the fringes of acceptability to a global $1 billion industry that plays an everyday role in 21st-century pop culture.

In this latest addition to the Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame series, Greg Oliver and Steven Johnson explain how the sport's unique take on storytelling has fueled its remarkable expansion. Hundreds of interviews and original accounts inform this exploration of the imaginative ways in which wrestlers and promoters have used everything from monkeys to murderers to put butts in seats and eyes on screens. From the New York City Bowery in the 1890s to a North Carolina backyard in 2017, readers will encounter all manner of scoundrels, do-gooders, scribes, and alligators in this highly readable, heavily researched book that inspires a new appreciation for the fine (and sometimes not-so-fine) art of storytelling.

A Virginia-based writer and editor, Steven Johnson has won more than 20 regional and national awards for his reporting on a variety of stories. He wrote his first wrestling magazine story in 1973 and contributes to SLAM! Wrestling and other publications. Greg Oliver is the author of 14 books and counting, and the producer of the long-r...
Title:The Pro Wrestling Hall Of Fame: The Storytellers (from The Terrible Turk To Twitter)Format:PaperbackProduct dimensions:304 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.74 inShipping dimensions:9 × 6 × 0.74 inPublished:August 6, 2019Publisher:ECW PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:1770415025

ISBN - 13:9781770415027


Read from the Book

Here we go, Jim Cornette thought. The manager was standing on the apron of the ring in the Richmond Coliseum, an early '70s construct with the interior décor of a UPS warehouse. Cornette draped his left arm around Owen Hart's neck, trusty tennis racket in hand in case he needed to swat a few overexuberant fans. Across the ring, Shawn Michaels was lying face down, left arm shielding his face. A minute before, Hart had nailed Michaels with a kick to the side of the head. The Heartbreak Kid responded spectacularly by sending his foe to the arena floor with a clothesline, then flipping himself over the ropes to get back in the ring. He preened for a few seconds, put his right hand to his right temple, and collapsed as though he'd been flattened by some GIs. Which he had been five weeks earlier. Michaels got the snot kicked out of him outside Club 37 in Syracuse, New York in the early morning hours of October 14, 1995. While WWE claimed ten vicious thugs attacked Michaels without provocation, most accounts say he was in a less-than-coherent state and had been hitting on the wrong woman. Michaels staggered outside to a car and passed out in the front seat when the tough guys - five is a commonly accepted number - dragged him to the ground, stomped on his face, and shoved his head into the bumper. The assailants nearly ripped off his right eyelid; Michaels said he didn't recall the assault and declined to press charges. Unable to wrestle in the aftermath of the beatdown, Michaels forfeited his Intercontinental championship to Dean (Shane) Douglas a week later. But the fallout from the Syracuse incident was just starting. Maybe Michaels could fool the fans and create a little water cooler buzz in the pre-Internet days by fainting dead away in the middle of a match. "It was my idea and the reason for it was we had played up so much about Shawn's concussion and there was a lot about this post-concussive syndrome," WWE producer-turned-podcaster Bruce Prichard said in 2018. In wrestling jargon, it is called a "worked shoot," an angle that has some basis in real life but is engineered to trick an audience. It is a script that seeks to come off as unscripted by preying on fans' knowledge of events like the one-sided skirmish in Syracuse. To be sure, Michaels' collapse was hardly the first fictional wrestling blackout. Just a few months after brothers Mike Von Erich committed suicide and Kevin Von Erich legitimately passed out in the ring, their father-promoter Fritz collapsed on Christmas night 1987 in Dallas and was "critically hospitalized," according to the promotion, which tried to pass off the flop as another Von Erich family tragedy. The Michaels faint - call it the Richmond Swoon - had more going for it, though. Unlike Von Erich's caper, it occurred in primetime on Monday Night Raw in front of about 2 million viewers. It was the first worked shoot angle of the three-month-old Monday Night Wars, competing directly against the marquee matchup of Hulk Hogan versus Sting on WCW Monday Nitro. And it opened the doors to a flood of worked shoots that continued for years as creative personnel spent considerable time trying to outsmart their smartest fans. "It became, 'We've got this television show and we've got to outthink the guys who are doing the analysis,' " said Bruce Mitchell, a columnist for the Pro Wrestling Torch. "They got farther and farther off the track of what they were doing, which was to draw people to watch television."

Table of Contents

  • Foreword

  • Introduction

  • Chapter One - The Origins of Sports Entertainment

    • I. The Parson of Chicago

    • II. The Terrible Turk

    • III. That Masked Man

  • Chapter Two - Blood, Mud, and Smelt

    • I. The Milwaukee Dreamer

    • II. First Blood

    • III. The Trustbuster

  • Chapter Three - The Spectacles

    • I. World's Greatest Manager

    • II. The Red Devil

    • III. The Kindest Angel

  • Chapter Four - Learning the Ropes

    • I. Carnival Rides

    • II. The Greatest Training Camp Ever

    • III. Six Degrees of Keirn

  • Chapter Five - TV Takes Over

    • I. The First Storyteller

    • II. The Professor

    • III. Return to the Front Lines

  • Chapter Six - Sideshows

    • I. The Monkey in the Ring

    • II. Bearly Getting By

    • III. Size Doesn't Matter

  • Chapter Seven - Celebrity Jeopardy

    • I. The Great Detroit Barroom Brawl

    • II. Bridge over Troubled Waters

    • III. Delete! Delete!

  • Chapter Eight - Adventures in Storytelling

    • I. Put up Your Dukes

    • II. The Fugitive

    • III. Ready to Rumble

  • Chapter Nine - Helping Hands

    • I. Unsung Heroes

    • II. The Perennial Candidate

    • III. The Cutting of Dr. Beach

  • Chapter Ten - The Rise and Fall of the Territories

    • I. The Godfather of Wrestling

    • II. You Can't Fight City Hall

    • III. Let Them Eat Cake

  • Chapter Eleven - Newsstand

    • I. Fake News

    • II. Puppetry

    • III. Dirt Sheets

  • Chapter Twelve - We're Hardcore

    • I. Rung By Rung

    • II. Jawbreaker

    • III. Don't Try This at Home

  • Chapter Thirteen - Wrestling with an Attitude

    • I. Fool Me Once .

    • II. The Magic Makers

    • III. SARSA

  • Chapter Fourteen - When Wrestling Became Content

    • I. The Write Stuff

    • II. Takeover Bid

    • III. Digital Storytelling

  • Afterword - Fifty Shades of Gray

Editorial Reviews

"It's always been about the storytelling for me. It enhances everything. Tiger Woods winning the Masters again? Meh. Tiger making a long-awaited, seemingly inconceivable comeback? Magic. Pro wrestling, at its best, needs a compelling story, and because of what it is, it has a vast palette. People always ask me how I can love wrestling so much. I always respond asking if they like movies, and what's the difference? There isn't one. It's storytelling. And now I can give them a book to explain it all." - Spencer "Spenny" Rice of Kenny vs. Spenny"In my pro wrestling career, I've never been around two more educated and dedicated historians than Greg Oliver and Steve Johnson, who I deeply respect. They've created another must-read book that I hope you'll enjoy as much as I have. The Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame: The Storytellers is a brilliant read." - Jim Ross"The writing is easy to understand; telling the events with interviews woven in to where it is entertaining and a history lesson combined, without a ton of facts and dates cluttering up the pages." - Lance Writes blog"Overall Rating: Oh Hell Yeah! This is a book that has tremendous re-read value, as each chapter is chock full of several unique, interesting and well-written stories. You're guaranteed to come across at least a few anecdotes that almost all fans have never heard of before and hopefully, you can learn a new thing or two about the squared circle while reading this." - Bulldog's Bookshelf blog