In modern professional wrestling, the really compelling shows start with what they call a “cold open”–they skip the theme song, skip the mere formality, and get right to the meat. So let me try to do that here:
This is a book about dead wrestlers.
It was supposed to be, anyway. But along the way, it became a history of professional wrestling told through the stories of people who made the myths and who thereafter died.
These are first five sentences of David Shoemaker’s excellent book The Squared Circle: Life, Death and Professional Wrestling. Like the melodramatic television show opening that he references, these lines hit hard like a pot of bootleg Thai coffee. It feels morbid, slightly disrespectful and very, very bold. So much so that it’s easy to forget just how true those first few words are through this tremendous read.
The subject matter, at first glance, seems morose, almost insulting. Is this just a collection of stories on the tragic manner in which these professional wrestlers left the Earth far before their time? Is this just a gross exploitation of men stricken with the disease of addiction while maintaining a facade of physical strength? The immediate reaction couldn’t be further from the truth.… Read more...