Friday, July 29, 2011

Terry Funk: More than Just Hardcore

Author, Ghost Writer, Editor: Terry Funk, Scott Williams
Publisher: ECW Press
Released: 3/05

The Good
One of the most storied careers that reaches into more facets of pro-wrestling than perhaps anyone is that of Terry Funk. A second-generation pro-wrestler who grew up learning from the old-timers only a generation removed from the carnival hookers, Funk’s respect for pro-wrestling’s history is strong without being overly romantic. He criticizes Lou Thesz’s selfishness and the bitterness of old codgers who think the current product has nothing to do with pro-wrestling. Funk’s glory days in the US territories and All Japan are filled with funny anecdotes, astute observations and sound explanations. He is self-effacing without undermining his legacy and he gives candid comments without apology. Terry Funk seems like a man genuinely satisfied with his accomplishments and the bitterness just does not ruin his autobiography as it does others. Although he had his share of personal, physical and career-related problems, Funk does not excessively detail them. He gives pro-wrestling fans a book they want. Scott Williams channeled the Bill Watts’ story into an excellent book, but I would argue that this is better. What it lacks in booking psychology it makes up for in sharp insight into cutting promos, business shifts and stylistic changes.

The Bad
The only complaints I could make about this are the limited length. Obviously, Terry Funk’s in-ring career has spanned four decades and that could supply substantial material for a lengthy book. Heck, Mick Foley produced to bulky opuses with a career that was half that length. Funk also grew up in the business and has been involved as an owner and booker in addition to his in-ring experience. Terry Funk’s career seemed like something so massive and daunting that it could never fully be encapsulated in a average length autobiography. Scott Williams does a tremendous job, but will it satiate everyone’s appetites for territorial wrestling, hardcore wrestling and modern sports entertainment? The paying fans and pending reviews will be the best barometer of Williams’ achievement.

The Rating: ****1/2


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