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Book Review: WrestleCrap The Very Worst in Professional Wrestling

Mar 19, 2004 - 10:04:00 AM
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Derek Burgan, PWTorch literary critic

Book Review: WrestleCrap: The Very Worst in Professional Wrestling
By R.D.Reynolds


I clearly remember the first wrestling match I ever saw.

I was flipping through the channels one Saturday morning and stumbled upon two guys beating the hell out of each other. It wasnt long before the epic battle between Sgt. Slaughter and the Masked Superstar had me hooked on professional wrestling, an addiction I have yet to overcome. Since that time I have become obsessed with the actions in what the late Gorilla Monsoon would call the squared circle. I watched all the television shows I could and bought videotapes of the promotions that my cable company didnt carry. I devoured the worked magazines like Pro Wrestling Illustrated until I discovered the underground dirtsheets and soon became a subscriber to both the Pro Wrestling Torch and Wrestling Observer. I went to every live wresting show in my area and traveled to each Pay Per View event in the New England area.

The funny thing is, for the life of me I cant tell you my favorite matches over that time- other than the Sgt. Slaughter/Masked Superstar match which Ive never been able to track down on tape- much to my chagrin. However, I can vividly remember everything that I hated in all those years. In fact the WWFE had a pretty neat advertising promotion a little while back that centered around the theme I was there

I was there when the Four Doinks (Men on a Mission & the Bushwhackers) battled a Survivor Series team that included Bastian Booger..

I was there when the Undertaker died and rose to the rafters of the Providence Civic Center.

I was there when Lawrence Taylor, no doubt hepped up on crack cocaine, main evented a WrestleMania.

A couple years ago I stumbled upon a website named WrestleCrap and read a review of the time RoboCop saved Sting on a WCW Pay Per View and I thought, I remember that! I was quickly checking back to the website constantly, and became a huge fan of its creator RD Reynolds. He seemed to have a passion for wrestling that I admired and a talent for writing that had me coming back for more. So you can imagine my excitement when I heard the news that RD was coming out with his own book. Of course, my excitement was a bit tempered when I considered all the wrestling books, like Chynas and Pro-Wrestling for Dummies that made me embarrassed to be a wrestling fan. I mean cmon, those books were written as if the intended audience was five years old. I held out the hope that RD would rise to the occasion though, and deliver something along the lines of Mick Foleys Have a Nice Day or Dave Meltzers Tributes, books that which I would even recommend to my friends who arent the biggest fans of wrestling.

When my copy of WrestleCrap: TheVery Worst of Professional Wrestling arrived, I breathed a sigh of relief after just reading the forward by John Tenta. Yes, any book that has a forward written by a wrestler who has had such gimmicks as The Shark and Golga is a book for me.

In fact, the best part of WrestleCrap, the book and the website, is that it embraces the bad gimmicks and angles weve been subjected to as fans. Right at the start of the book RD talks about one of the biggest disappointments in my life as a wrasslin fan, that being the infamous unveiling of the Gobbledy Gooker at the first Survivor Series. I remember in the weeks leading up to that Thanksgiving Night Pay Per View, I was infatuated with what could be inside that giant egg that the WWF kept saying was going to hatch during the PPV. I, along with all my friends, was absolutely convinced that it was going to be pair of WWF Tag Team Championship belts. Dont ask me why I felt that way, I was just a stupid kid, but when that egg hatched and a dancing turkey came out I felt like little Ralphie Parker in A Christmas Story after deciphering Little Orphan Annies secret code and finding an ad for Ovaltine. I sat in stunned silence watching this goofy bird dance with Gene Okerland in the middle of the ring.

But thinking back, I cant remember anything else from that show other than the Gobbeldy Gooker. Now this event was sold on the Big Concept of teams of four WWF superstars facing off against another team, which was a truly innovative idea, one that was recently resurrected for the latest Survivor Series to much fanfare. I can not for the life of me tell you who was on any of those teams or what happened in any of the matches. However I can picture in my mind the hatching of the egg, the Gooker taking Mean Gene down the ring and even Roddy Pipers absurd play-calling of the event, trying to get across that the fans loved this Turkey when they were in fact booing him out of the building, a scene in which Reynolds accurately describes and just about puts you in the arena on that fateful day.

This is where RD shines, both on his website and in the book. He has the ability and charm to make the unwatchable not only engrossing, but make you immediately wish you could see on tape what he is talking about. For example, even as a huge movie buff I have never seen Hulk Hogan in the box office bomb Santa With Muscles. But after reading Reynolds account of the film in the chapter You Oughtnt Be In Pictures, I now have an undying urge to watch it. There is a certain magic to the way RD can describe even the most mundane of events, such as Hogan being attacked by goons using Styrofoam candy canes as weapons. Who would have thought that Hulk Hogan started the hardcore trend continued years later with the Nasty Boys using cotton candy against Mick Foley?

The rest of the book covers events such as the WCW mini-movies with Cheatum the evil midget, the Ding Dongs, the ventriloquist dummy Rocco, Al Snows dog Pepper and my personal favorite wrestler for reasons unknown even to myself, Nailz. If you remember, Nailzs gimmick was that of a prison convict who was out for revenge claiming that the Big Bossman was the person who put him in jail. Nailz wore a god-awful orange jumpsuit, couldnt wrestle a lick and shot the worst promos. Yet to this day I have an inexplicable love for that gimmick. RD sets up each subject and deftly segues into another so well that you sometimes wonder if there was anything good going on in wrestling at the time. From that infamous night in Hartford with the Gobbeldy Gooker to Triple H screwing a mannequins brains out, RD covers the worst that we fans have been subjected to in loving detail. Reynolds doesnt make me feel embarrassed to have put up with all this garbage, instead he makes me feel as if I should have appreciated it more when I saw it, as true WrestleCrap is just as memorable as a five star wrestling match.

Speaking of five star wrestling matches, there is probably not a wrestler alive who has been in more than Ric Flair. Recently, the WWE put together one of the greatest DVDs in the history of wrestling with many of Slick Rics best matches and angles. Flair versus Steamboat. Flair versus Funk. Four Horsmen promos. But when I was watching the discs, I couldnt help but think of the things I most remembered Flair for that werent contained on the DVD collection. I remember the Black Scorpion being unmasked to reveal Ric Flair in one of WCWs most botched angles. I remember the Flair for the Gold (think WCWs version of Pipers Pit) in which the heavily hyped ShockMaster debut consisted of a goof wearing a Star Wars stormtrooper mask covered in glitter crashing through a fake wall and promptly falling on his ass. The DVD does not have these moments, but thankfully WrestleCrap the book does.

In fact the book goes into glorious detail of stuff even Ive forgotten about, such as Val Venis being wheeled to the ring by the infamous John Bobbit after the legendary choppy choppy your pee pee segment. For those wrestling fans who were not around during the time when the Monday Night Wars were in full swing, Reynolds goes over many of the hilarious blunders WCW seemed to have on a weekly basis that led to their rapid demise. Vince Russo, the unofficial King of WrestleCrap is well represented here with an in-depth look at many of his off-the-wall ideas, such as the Jim Ross parody Oklahoma winning the WCW Cruiserweight title and Russos insane decision to book angles solely to infuriate executives in WCW.

So do yourself a favor and pick up WrestleCrap, youll be glad you did. There is nothing quite like a trip through memory lane and seeing the parts of wrestling that Vince McMahon and the rest of the industry would rather have us forget ever existed. Some may love seeing Shawn Michaels versus Razor Ramon in a ladder match while others would be content seeing Sting against Ric Flair from Clash of the Champions. Me? Im content with Arachna-man, Loch Ness and G.I. Bro. And I wouldnt have it any other way.

Derek Burgan has been writing for the PWTorch.com website for three years, most recently reviewing Ring of Honor DVDs. His hobbies include watching Troma films, creating Photomosaics of Bruce Mitchell and prank calling the Puroresu Power Hour. If you have any questions, corrections, feedback, comments or ideas, he can be reached at: derek@gumgod.com



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