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After losing my passion for pro wrestling over the last couple of years I decided to read this book to learn more about the history of the sport and those that made it great. I was not dissappointed. John Molinaro, with help from Jeff Merek and Dave Meltzergives us a well researched, comprehensive and passionately written set of mini-biographies of 100 of the greatest wrestlers to have graced the ring. The names range from modern household favourites such as Stone Cold Steve Austin and Bret Hart, to historic, almost fabled legends such as Frank Gotch. The wrestlers in this book are not limited to the United States, as readers will learn about those in Japan and Mexico that went on to become cultural icons and achieve an almost God-like status in their homelands. At one point Molinaro even suggests that Japan's technological advancement may be directly linked to the Japanese wrestling legend, Rikidozan. This book will make you smile - and maybe cry - as you learn about the rich heritage of pro-wrestling and the legacy left behind by the ring warriors that sacrificed their health, some even their lives, to entertain the fans - to entertain us.
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36 of 39 people found the following review helpful
Sloppy work18 April 2003
Thomas C. Hankins
- Published on Amazon.com
I've been a hard core professional wrestling fan (as well as a wrestler for 13 years) for 44 years. I'm not even going to argue over who belongs on the list or not and who belongs at what ranking. That's all subjective and nothing more than a matter of personal opinion. There are some VERY OBVIOUS omissions & the rankings are ridiculous on many levels, but again this is just the author's opinion.Maybe that's why the title is so hard to swallow. This work isn't even very close to living up to it's name. I have a very hard time believing that Meltzer edited this book. His work is consistantly excellent and without reproach, as evidenced by his weekly Wrestling Observer Newsletter.That's why I can't believe Meltzer had much at all to do with this disaster. This book is filled with errors and misinformation from cover to cover. Names are wrong. Many facts are in error.The old term "error by omission" is blatantly prevelant to anyone who genuinely knows their pro wrestling history.It's evident that Mr Molinaro does not. Is this a good book for a casual fans wanting to learn more about pro wrestling's history? Not really. While they may learn something about the wrestlers on Molinaro's list, there are too many important facts that have been left out. I don't know if the author doesn't know these facts, or perhaps he just glossed over them or left them out completely. This is unacceptable. Is this a good book for the longtime fan to perhaps find out some new insights into the history of the business? Definately not.If you already know your wrestling history, this book is a slap in the face. It's not even good for a laugh. It's just plain annoying.
27 of 33 people found the following review helpful
Myopic View of Wrestling History11 Feb. 2003
- Published on Amazon.com
One of the most popular oxymorons among wrestling fans is "wrestling history." Unlike baseball, football or other sports that trace their roots and superstars back to forgotten eras, wrestling writers, by and large, live in the eternal now, with wrestling history stretching as far back to when they first became interested in it. It's not that they have no interest in the past; they just cannot conceive of it. After all, it happened before they were born. And it is this mindset that dooms what otherwise is an excellent survey of wrestling, replete with photos from the library of Dr. Mike Lano, one of the sport's greatest photographers. Ric Flair the #1 wrestler of all time? Sorry, but given the standards of history, that honor goes to Lou Thesz. Thesz was not only heads and tails above Flair as a wrestler, but it was also Thesz who shaped the course of wrestling history when he became NWA champion and united wrestling promotions across the country, giving the NWA, and wrestling, a cache it had never before enjoyed. Without Thesz, it could well be argued that there would be no Flair, for without the iron hand of Thesz, there might not even be an NWA surviving into the 80's. The inclusion of Japanese wrestlers Rikidozan and Antonio Inoki to such lofty spots also shows the myopic bias of the editors. This is the fallacy of the Hardcore fan, who has been so steeped in Japanese wrestling lore so as to actually believe it. When Inoki bought the Cleveland-Buffalo based NWF in the mid-70s, he quickly put himself over as champ. He just as quickly put the promotion out of business in the U.S., for here he had the charisma of a toad. Try Strangler Lewis, the dominant champion of the 20s and well into the 30s. It could be said of wrestling that it was fake, but no one called the Strangler a faker. How about Frank Gotch, whose 1908 title bout with George Hackenschmidt was covered all over the world? One might even make a case for Joseph "Toots" Mondt, a superb middleweight who, as a promoter, devised the game as we know it today. Over 90% of the finishes and about 60% of the finishing holds came from the fertile mind of Toots. So is this book worth your time and money? Yes. For the reasons that (1) there is very little of wrestling's past ever mentioned; and (2) At the least, this book will make one think and will encourage debate. Besides, every serious fan will purchase it anyway for his or her library regardless of its faults.
11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
A Must For Any Wrestling Library!6 Jan. 2003
- Published on Amazon.com
Here are excerpts from my Jan. 5, 2002, column in the (Charleston) Post and Courier: Toronto-based journalist John Molinaro takes a bold step in attempting to rank the greatest pro wrestlers in the history of the game in his new book, "Top 100 Pro Wrestlers of All Time." Unlike many of the "best" and "greatest" lists that spread like wildfire at the end of the millennium, Molinaro's compilation has blossomed into a well-written, thought-provoking work that's sure to spark spirited debate among wrestling fans for years to come. And that's a good thing. Like many similar lists, the Top 100 is not one with which everyone will agree. Any effort to rank athletes in any sports endeavor over such a long period of time is a risky proposition at best. But Molinaro, who at age 28 is already one of the top writers on the pro wrestling scene, covers all the bases in his study, giving a detailed, biographical account of each wrestler on the list. The rankings are not solely based on the opinions of Molinaro, who was a driving force behind Canada's SLAM! Wrestling site. The list was compiled by some of the industry's leading experts, along with the assistance of several mat historians. The book is further strengthened by Molinaro's inclusion of Dave Meltzer as a contributing editor. Meltzer, longtime editor of the authoritative Wrestling Observer newsletter and author of "Tributes: Remembering Some of the World's Greatest Wrestlers," lends his considerable expertise to the effort, explaining the selection process in great detail in the foreword of the book. Serving as a co-editor was radio broadcaster/writer Jeff Marek, founder and host of the world's longest-running wrestling radio talk show, The LAW (Live Audio Wrestling), based out of Toronto. The book's strong points are many. Not only is the writing crisp and concise, but some intriguing, rarely seen photos - most from the collection of noted wrestling photojournalist Dr. Mike Lano - accompany all 100 listings. There are countless stories and first-hand accounts of the performers who shaped the wrestling business, along with bios that help put their illustrious careers into historical perspective. Molinaro's Top 100 also is a truly global ranking, since it includes wrestlers - male and female - from all over the world, representing every style of wrestling, from every major promotion. Among the criteria used in determining the rankings were professional success (including the number of titles a wrestler had won), importance to history, ability in the ring, drawing power and mainstream status achieved. Also considered were those qualities that can't be measured in numbers, such as the ability to put on a great match each night.
Perhaps the most studied and researched ranking revolved around just who was the greatest of all time, a question that has been tossed around, it seems, forever. For his consistency and longevity, along with his ability to make opponents look better than they really were, Ric Flair was unanimously chosen as the greatest pro wrestler to ever step inside the ring. It was noted that Flair put on probably as many great wrestling matches over a lengthy period of time as anyone in history, along with being considered by many to be the greatest talker the business has ever produced. This book undoubtedly will serve as fodder for lively discussion among those who follow the business. Molinaro said he expects Hulk Hogan's ranking at No. 5 to fuel the flames of the debate, but he's more than ready to defend his decision. "I don't find it the least bit controversial but I think a lot of people, especially casual fans, are going to have a problem with Hogan not being ranked No. 1 and having four guys ahead of him," said Molinaro. "To so many, he was the biggest star of all time and I think to non-fans he's the one guy they automatically associate with pro wrestling. But I just felt that Flair, for everything he's meant to the business as the best in-ring performer of all time, deserved to be No. 1. There's just no question in my mind." "Thesz, Rikidozan (No. 3) and (Antonio) Inoki (No. 4) all had much greater historical impact on the business as a whole than Hogan, and that's why they're rated higher than him," added Molinaro. "But I don't think a lot of people will appreciate that and naturally scoff that Hogan isn't No. 1." The 212-page book is beautifully illustrated with nearly 300 color and black and white photographs. Some of my favorite photos are part of a pictorial presentation entitled "Ring of Friendship," a special section that shows a number of mat legends bonding backstage at WWE pay-per-views and at Cauliflower Alley reunions.
With the recent spate of wrestling autobiographies on the market (The Fabulous Moolah, Bobby Heenan, Roddy Piper, Hulk Hogan, Jerry Lawler), this work is a refreshing change of pace. It's a must for any wrestling (or "sports entertainment") fan.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Not the top 100 wrestlers of all time18 Jan. 2005
J. S. Share
- Published on Amazon.com
While I appreciate the fact that there is such a book out there, the number of omissions is appalling. with all of the Japanese wrestlers named - and there are far too many - where was Toru Tanaka? Where was Gorilla Monsoon? Where was Dr. Bill Miller? Where was Wild Red Berry? Where was Bulldog Brower? Where was Hans Mortier? Where was Spiros Arion? I think this could have done better, although of course it's all subjective judgement.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
What is everyone's problem?16 Jan. 2006
Shaun A. Berkey
- Published on Amazon.com
Do I agree with the order of the top 100? No, not necessarily but it is not my top 100 or yours. If you don't agree and you think you know, write your own book. This book is about the 100 people he feels are historically the most important and he gives good information on wrestlers and includes American, Canadian, Mexican, Japanese, and others. Plus there are many wrestlers who were way before our time who may have paved the way for others. It gives good insight of all the wrestlers so just enjoy the book and figure out your own top 100. I liked learning about wrestlers oversees who I have either never heard of or vaguely heard of.