Saturday, December 10, 2011

Brody: The Triumph and Tragedy of Wrestling's Rebel

Author, Ghost Writer, Editor: Larry Matysik; Barbara Goodish
Publisher: ECW Press
Released: 8/07

The Good
There are numerous pro-wrestlers who have carried a certain mystique about them and Bruiser Brody is one of those for sure. His tale is unique, his legacy is complex and his death was tragic. Like many other pro-wrestling tragedies, there was a captivating book to be written and luckily reliable sources produced it. Larry Matysik, a close friend, works with the widow of Frank "Bruiser Brody" Goodish and many of his closest friends to tell his story. Amongst those quoted are: Stan Hansen, Buck Robley, Gary Hart and Pete Ortega, who was a long-time non-wrestling friend. There is much depth in telling about not only about his achievements in pro-wrestling, but his distinct place as an "outlaw" in the 1970s and 1980s. In addition, his widow adds a personalized touch that makes the man behind the Bruiser Brody more real. This book has dimensions to it that few others do. Although it is a biography, it offers more than the vast majority of existing pro-wrestling autobiograhies out there. This book offers accurate facts, interesting quotations and good commentary. Hopefully it lays the foundation for similar biographies done in the future.

The Bad
Like Wrestling at the Chase, Matysik's stories can be scattered and disconnected from the flow of the story. Furthermore, he is not one to blast others, which seems like that may be in contrast to Frank Goodish, the shrewd businessman, and Bruiser Brody, the dominating and sometimes vicious wrestler. Matysik gives little voice to those who did not like Goodish and thus this seems like an incomplete story. The chapters by Barbara Goodish will probably bore some as they delve into her personal story, Goodish's home life and the emotions she felt and feels in relation to his murder. Although this book is solid, it lacks that element that really pulls you in and keeps you pulled in throughout.

The Rating: ****

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Bob & Brad Armstrong [RF Video Shoot Interview]

The Good
Bob Armstrong is one of the old-timers who still kayfabes and it seemed that it took getting him to sit down with his son Brad to get him to let his guard down. Although he wasn't all into using the lingo and such, he basically broke character and told the true stories behind some legendary angles and events. Bob was fairly reserved and Brad, who I think is a great interview in the shoot format, helps to keep the conversation going. There is a lot of focus on Bob's early career, how his children (specifically Brad) was impacted by his father's career and their time teaming together in Georgia and elsewhere. In spite of the usual RF Video limitations, this was really good and really informative. I think Bob Armstrong, if sitting down with the right person (Les Thatcher and the Ringside Rap crew?), could be an extremely informative and reflective interview. His statement about most territories only having a 5-year lifespan (or high period) has largely rung true when I've applied it and he had several other nuggets like that throughout.

The Bad
Brad Armstrong has already done an extensive RF Video shoot interview, so really this was more a vehicle to get "The Bullet" to shoot. They tried to include Brad, which makes sense, but you really wanted to hear about and from Bob (although Brad was much more entertaining). If it didn't happen after 1977 in the top territories, then RF Video seems not to have much information about it. Obviously, the Armstrongs run in Georgia when the cable push was changing the game is worthwhile, but the Southeastern/Continental discussion was grossly limited here. No talk of the Flame (Jody Hamilton), Ken Lucas, Buddy Colt and only a little talk of the Fullers, Jimmy Golden, Jerry Stubbs and other legendary stars of the Alabama region. This was "good," but it was really only scratching the surface.

The Rating: ****

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Icons of Wrestling: Abdullah the Butcher

Director: n/a
Distributor: TWC (The Wrestling Channel)
Released: 1/06
Featured Talent
Abdullah the Butcher, Jim Melby, Antonio Inoki, Martha Shreeve

The Good
The "Icons of Wrestling" series from TWC in Britain does some cool short documentaries on some legendary figures. This one of Abby is better than others I have seen because he is a more recent star, so they had more quality footage (including he and Hulk Hogan in New Japan, although they overplay the impact of that match). Seeing the house where he grew up, hearing from his mother and his restaurant in Atlanta made this unique. However, his views and stories about his family made this a real human story.

The Bad
At twenty-two minutes, it is difficult to really capture a career like Abdullah's. This has a long and unnecessary part about World War II, which adds something in other shows, but not this one. The lack of commentary from people keeps the scope of this narrow. The worst part however is when they call Bruiser Brody "Tug Taylor" and Carlos Colon "Calos Stalone." Despite these gross errors, they do not detract greatly from the story.

The Rating: ***