Book Review: "Wrestling's 101 Strangest Matches" is a good, fun read

"Wrestling's 101 Strangest Matches" by Oliver Hurley has largely flown under the radar, but not for lack of quality.  It's a fun book that tells a bunch of interesting stories that a lot of fans may not be familiar with.  Written by Powerslam Magazine writer Oliver Hurley, published by Pitch Publishing in the U.K., and distributed in the U.S. by Trafalgar Square Publishing, this book is about exactly what it says on the tin. 101 pro wrestling matches where weird stuff happened are profiled in detail.  Super hardcore fans who religiously read the Wrestling Observer Newsletter, have gotten into tape/DVD trading, post on message boards with a lot of nostalgia discussion, etc. may be familiar with a lot of the stories, but most wrestling fans won't be.

I'll get my one complaint out of the way: The formatting doesn't work at times.  This hardcover book's footprint is 7.5 by 5.1 inches (comparable to a mass market paperback)  but looks like it was intended to be in a larger formats.  Being a full-color hardcover full of photos with all of the pages being thick slick paper, it looks...wrong at that small size.  The text is usually fine, except for few faux handwritten pages, which can be pretty hard to read.

That said, for the most part, it's not an issue.  It's a fun, well-written book and the layout enhances it for the most part.  Hurley does a great job explaining everything about the match for those not familiar with the participants, promotions, stipulations, etc.  Also, to be clear, this book is not just about weird and wacky stipulations.  Hurley covers riots, unplanned finishes, equipment mishaps, odd gimmick finishes, wrestlers shooting on each other.

If these stories are new to you, you're going to have a lot of fun using it as a reference for looking up interesting wrestling videos online on YouTube, DailyMotion, etc.  Not all of the matches discussed in the book were recorded, but plenty were, and some, like the Buddy Wayne vs Buddy Rose match where the ring breaks, first got widespread attention from showing up online.  Others, like The Rockers' subsquently overturned WWF Tag Title win over The Hart Foundation, were infamous for years but only became available on video recently.

The book is on the short side at 181 pages including a few blanks at the beginning, but given the presentation and relatively low price of $14.95 retail and $10.79 at Amazon, it's not a bad deal at all like Brock Lesnar's book is.

There's not much more to say.  It's a great introduction to wrestling folklore from all over the world.  If you want to start diving into some of the more entertaining stories throughout history, this is a great starter kit.  Recommended.

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