WRESTLECRAP: The Very Worst of Pro Wrestling
by R.D. Reynolds with Randy Baer
A celebration of le crŤme de la crap in sports entertainment.
Review by Mike Rickard II
Anyone who complains about the current sorry state of professional wrestling really needs to pick up R.D. Reynolds and Randy Baerís WrestleCrap: The Very Worst of Pro Wrestling. Author R.D. Reynolds manages to unearth every botched storyline and bad gimmick from the last fifteen years, putting a humorous spin on what most people would prefer to forget (especially Vince McMahon, Hulk Hogan, Vince Russo, and the Ultimate Warrior).
While I may sound like your grandfather telling you about the ordeals of walking ten miles to school everyday through minefields, the fact remains, todayís wrestling has got nothing on the stuff documented by Reynolds. Fans may lament about the current state of the WWE and TNA but at least there are alternatives like Ring of Honor. Back in the early 90ís, you got schlock no matter where you turned. Desperate to capture the incredible success of Vince McMahonís cartoonish Rock and Wrestling Era, competing promotions the American Wrestling Association (AWA) and World Championship Wrestling (WCW) copied McMahonís formula of cartoon wrestling. Unfortunately they somehow managed to take copy everything bad about the Rock and Wrestling Era while discarding any of the things that made it appealing. As a result, you couldnít find quality anywhere. Itís a true wonder that wrestling exists today given the steady diet of crap that was fed to fans during the early 1990ís. Luckily, things got so bad that when Paul Heyman gave fans an alternative, they eagerly took it, probably saving the industry in the process. When the WWF and WCW saw what the excitement was about (the AWA had by then faded away), they copied ECW formula, shined it up, and launched the wrestling renaissance known as the Monday Night Wars.
This book isnít about the good. Itís about the bad and the ugly. The Shockmasters, the Black Scorpions, and the other things that - while better left forgotten, - are quite funny when seen in the right perspective. If you lived through this era you hopefully will be able to laugh at it. If you havenít, count yourself lucky.
You have to wonder what people were thinking when they came up with ideas like the Gobbledy Gooker or the Hunchbacks (a tag team that couldnít lose because their shoulders couldnít be pinned). Then again, history is full of ideas that sprung about long before crack cocaine entered the market. Whether itís Plan 9 from Outer Space, the Edsel, baseball in Montreal, publishing Bruce Mitchellís picture in the Pro Wrestling Torch or New Coke, people have come up with what they thought were great ideas only to see them crash on take-off. Reading WrestleCrap, one has to wonder if promoters werenít making a concerted effort to produce utter rot before the fans. Apparently some promoters have adhered to H. L. Menckenís belief that no one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public.
Whatever the creatorís intent, sometimes itís fun to look at things that are just utterly bad. Whether itís a show like Mystery Science Theater 3000, The Razzie Awards, or the Le Bad section at Blockbuster, itís entertaining to celebrate the utterly bad. One might call the achievement of such utter drivel art but in these cases the creators made no conscious effort to achieve badness. No, these creators thought they had a great idea and ran with it, oftentimes spending considerable money on expensive promos such as Beach Blastís infamous mini-movie featuring a midget planting a bomb aboard Sting and Davey Boy Smithís boat.
WrestleCrap.com is one of the funniest web sites out there. R.D. Reynolds has managed to do a spectacular job showcasing the utter shit of pro wrestling whether itís jobbers, shoddy merchandise, or shoddy matches. Material that is best reserved for the dumpster is spotlighted by Reynolds and scrutinized for everything bad about it. Every week his website highlights a not so great moment in wrestling whether itís Piledriver (The Wrestling Album II), Santa with Muscles, or the tag team known as the Johnsons (DONíT ASK!). He even breaks things down with weekly inductees into WrestleCrap including Jobber of the Week Somebody Bought This!
Reynolds starts things off to a craptastic beginning by reminiscing on one of the most foulest (some might say fowlest) low points in wrestling history- the debut of the Gobbledy Gooker at Survivor Series. Weeks before the Survivor Series, WWF announcers heavily promoted what they said would be a spectacular debut at the Survivor Series. Fans everywhere speculated as to who or what might be the surprise but no one was prepared for the arrival of what could only be described as a genetics experiment gone terribly wrong. What appeared to be a hybrid turkey/human hatched from a giant egg. Fans immediately booed the creature (known as the Gobbledy Gooker) out of the building and amazingly, Vince got the hint and the Gooker never appeared again.
Youíll find all the usual suspects and more that one might expect in a survey of all that was not right with wrestling. Reynolds presents the true superstars of schlock such as Hulk Hogan, Vince Russo and the Ultimate Warrior, but never forgets the little people like Bastion Booger, El Gigante, and Duke ďThe DumpsterĒ Droese who helped contribute to the steaming mound of WrestleCrap. Reynolds also sensibly points out that many wrestlers didnít have much choice in the gimmicks that they were given and how they did the best they could with losing hands. Nonetheless, certain individuals have made outstanding achievements in making a fiasco of the Sport of Kings as evident by chapters entitled Warrior Wisdom and Hulksterís in the House.
WrestleCrap can be appreciated by wrestling fans or people who just like to laugh at the mistakes of others. Reynolds does a good job familiarizing readers with the terminology and conventions of professional wrestling before setting up the miserable failures presented in his book. Reynolds is a fan of wrestling so while he laughs at the failures, he is not laughing at wrestling. Rather, you oftentimes feel his disgust at how promoters took an enjoyable pastime and ruined it with shoddy material.
The 269 page soft cover (complete with color and black and white pictures of some of the prime suspects) is light reading but an enjoyable trip down memory lane. The bookís only true failing is that if youíve read the website, then youíve seen a lot of the material. This is compounded by the fact that while WrestleCrap.com includes pictures, sounds, and video of all of its ďhonoreesĒ, the book just canít compare to the websiteís multimedia presentation. Thereís definitely something lost in the translation. Itís a fun read but with a price of $18.95, you might want to borrow it from a friend or the library.
Copyright © 2005 Derek Burgan. All rights reserved.