This item is not eligible for coupon offers.

The Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame: The Storytellers (From the Terrible Turk to Twitter)

The Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame: The Storytellers (From the Terrible Turk to Twitter)

by Greg Oliver, Steven Johnson


$13.53 $19.95 Save 32% Current price is $13.53, Original price is $19.95. You Save 32%.
Available for Pre-Order. This item will be available on August 6, 2019


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 The Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame: The Storytellers (from the Terrible Turk to Twitter), Greg Oliver and Steven Johnson explain how the sport’s unique take on storytelling has fueled its remarkable expansion. Based on hundreds of interviews and original accounts, Oliver and Johnson describe the imaginative ways in which wrestlers and promoters have used monkeys, murderers, smelt, and wedding cakes to put butts in seats and encourage clicks, likes, and swipes across countless screens. As they trace the evolution of wrestling storytelling, Oliver and Johnson take readers on a winding journey from the New York City Bowery in the 1890s to a Detroit bar in the 1960s to a North Carolina backyard in 2017, meeting up along the way with all manner of scoundrels, do-gooders, scribes, and alligators. Storytellers is a highly readable, heavily researched book that will leave readers with a new appreciation for the fine (and sometimes not-so-fine) art of storytelling.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781770415027
Publisher: ECW Press
Publication date: 08/06/2019
Series: The Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame , #5
Pages: 304
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x (d)

About the Author

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.

Read an Excerpt

Here we go, Jim Cornette thought. The manager was standing on the apron of the ring in the Richmond Coliseum, an early ‘70s construct with the interior décor of a UPS warehouse. Cornette draped his left arm around Owen Hart’s neck, trusty tennis racket in hand in case he needed to swat a few overexuberant fans. Across the ring, Shawn Michaels was lying face down, left arm shielding his face. A minute before, Hart had nailed Michaels with a kick to the side of the head. The Heartbreak Kid responded spectacularly by sending his foe to the arena floor with a clothesline, then flipping himself over the ropes to get back in the ring. He preened for a few seconds, put his right hand to his right temple, and collapsed as though he’d been flattened by some GIs.

Which he had been five weeks earlier. Michaels got the snot kicked out of him outside Club 37 in Syracuse, New York in the early morning hours of October 14, 1995. While WWE claimed ten vicious thugs attacked Michaels without provocation, most accounts say he was in a less-than-coherent state and had been hitting on the wrong woman. Michaels staggered outside to a car and passed out in the front seat when the tough guys — five is a commonly accepted number — dragged him to the ground, stomped on his face, and shoved his head into the bumper. The assailants nearly ripped off his right eyelid; Michaels said he didn’t recall the assault and declined to press charges. Unable to wrestle in the aftermath of the beatdown, Michaels forfeited his Intercontinental championship to Dean (Shane) Douglas a week later. But the fallout from the Syracuse incident was just starting. Maybe Michaels could fool the fans and create a little water cooler buzz in the pre-Internet days by fainting dead away in the middle of a match. “It was my idea and the reason for it was we had played up so much about Shawn’s concussion and there was a lot about this post-concussive syndrome,” WWE producer-turned-podcaster Bruce Prichard said in 2018.

In wrestling jargon, it is called a “worked shoot,” an angle that has some basis in real life but is engineered to trick an audience. It is a script that seeks to come off as unscripted by preying on fans’ knowledge of events like the one-sided skirmish in Syracuse. To be sure, Michaels’ collapse was hardly the first fictional wrestling blackout. Just a few months after brothers Mike Von Erich committed suicide and Kevin Von Erich legitimately passed out in the ring, their father-promoter Fritz collapsed on Christmas night 1987 in Dallas and was “critically hospitalized,” according to the promotion, which tried to pass off the flop as another Von Erich family tragedy.

The Michaels faint — call it the Richmond Swoon — had more going for it, though. Unlike Von Erich’s caper, it occurred in primetime on Monday Night Raw in front of about 2 million viewers. It was the first worked shoot angle of the three-month-old Monday Night Wars, competing directly against the marquee matchup of Hulk Hogan versus Sting on WCW Monday Nitro. And it opened the doors to a flood of worked shoots that continued for years as creative personnel spent considerable time trying to outsmart their smartest fans. “It became, ‘We’ve got this television show and we’ve got to outthink the guys who are doing the analysis,’ ” said Bruce Mitchell, a columnist for the Pro Wrestling Torch. “They got farther and farther off the track of what they were doing, which was to draw people to watch television.”

Table of Contents

  • Foreword
  • Introduction
  • Chapter One — The Origins of Sports Entertainment
    • I. The Parson of Chicago
    • II. The Terrible Turk
    • III. That Masked Man

  • Chapter Two — Blood, Mud, and Smelt
    • I. The Milwaukee Dreamer
    • II. First Blood
    • III. The Trustbuster

  • Chapter Three — The Spectacles
    • I. World’s Greatest Manager
    • II. The Red Devil
    • III. The Kindest Angel

  • Chapter Four — Learning the Ropes
    • I. Carnival Rides
    • II. The Greatest Training Camp Ever
    • III. Six Degrees of Keirn

  • Chapter Five — TV Takes Over
    • I. The First Storyteller
    • II. The Professor
    • III. Return to the Front Lines

  • Chapter Six — Sideshows
    • I. The Monkey in the Ring
    • II. Bearly Getting By
    • III. Size Doesn’t Matter

  • Chapter Seven — Celebrity Jeopardy
    • I. The Great Detroit Barroom Brawl
    • II. Bridge over Troubled Waters
    • III. Delete! Delete!

  • Chapter Eight — Adventures in Storytelling
    • I. Put up Your Dukes
    • II. The Fugitive
    • III. Ready to Rumble

  • Chapter Nine — Helping Hands
    • I. Unsung Heroes
    • II. The Perennial Candidate
    • III. The Cutting of Dr. Beach

  • Chapter Ten — The Rise and Fall of the Territories
    • I. The Godfather of Wrestling
    • II. You Can’t Fight City Hall
    • III. Let Them Eat Cake

  • Chapter Eleven — Newsstand
    • I. Fake News
    • II. Puppetry
    • III. Dirt Sheets

  • Chapter Twelve — We’re Hardcore
    • I. Rung By Rung
    • II. Jawbreaker
    • III. Don’t Try This at Home

  • Chapter Thirteen — Wrestling with an Attitude
    • I. Fool Me Once …
    • II. The Magic Makers
    • III. SARSA

  • Chapter Fourteen — When Wrestling Became Content
    • I. The Write Stuff
    • II. Takeover Bid
    • III. Digital Storytelling

  • Afterword — Fifty Shades of Gray