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.
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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-running SLAM! Wrestling website. He lives in Toronto, Ontario, with his wife and son.
Published: August 2019
Dimensions: 6 x 9 in.
“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
“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
“Littered with unforgettable characters and memorable moments, Oliver and Johnson have crafted a history of the support system of the industry that gives us all a precious peek behind the curtain, one that many of us have been searching for ever since we first started watching it on our television from our living room floor.” — SLAM! Wrestling
“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.” — Merchandise and Memories
“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
“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
“This tome focuses on how the in-and-out-of-ring stories have developed in the pro wrestling industry from the very early days to today. The research undertaken by Oliver and Johnson to unearth some of the earliest newspaper coverage of pro wrestling is breathtaking.” — PW Torch