Saturday, March 6, 2010

National Wrestling Alliance: The Untold Story of the Monopoly That Strangled Pro Wrestling

Author, Ghost Writer, Editor: Tim Hornbaker
Publisher: ECW Press
Released: 5/07

The Good
Tim Hornbaker’s book on the history of the NWA is perhaps the most comprehensive on pro-wrestling that will be written. He essentially tells the story of pro-wrestling in much of North America and even Japan over the last hundred years. While this could have been narrower in scope, Hornbaker took liberties to be more far-reaching and almost encyclopedic in approach. The main thread is detailing the formation of the Alliance, its developments, its challenges from “outlaw” promoters and even the U.S. government, the decline of the Alliance and the stories of all the players. The immense amounts of information make this superior to Chokehold and Sex, Lies and Headlocks, which had similar goals. Hornbaker has chapters dedicated to “Strangler” Lewis, Toots Mondt, Sam Muchnick, Fred Kohler and Lou Thesz, which all relate to the NWA story through fascinating mini-bios. He also has thorough pieces on numerous key pro-wrestlers who often doubled as bookers and promoters. Perhaps more interestingly, Hornbaker covers nearly everyone who has ever been an Alliance member, which are stories seldom told because they were often not performers or that aspect of their career is not told. This book is a must-have for the pro-wrestling historian. 

The Bad
Tim Hornbaker’s book is as extensive a book on pro-wrestling history as there is on the market. In just over three hundred and fifty pages, he shoehorns an amazing amount of detailed information. Unlike the history in books like Pain and PassionDeath of WCW and some autobiographies by wrestler/promoters, Hornbaker’s writing style is more substance over style. The complaints of a friend who felt the boringness of this book had overshadowed all the great information inside were convincing. This is not a “fun” read, the two lawsuit chapters are, in fact, largely dull, despite their importance. However, just as one would not read an encyclopedia from cover to cover, so is the case here. This book is a phenomenal resource and a lackluster pleasure book. 

The Rating: ****3/4

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