Monday, June 22, 2015

Review: "Bluegrass Brawlers" by John Cosper

Anyone who knows me knows how much I love pro wrestling. It is no longer an interest to me, and is something akin to a way of life. I have traveled to both sides of the US to see shows with like-minded friends, and spent countless dollar on T-shirts, DVDs and PPVs. I have been a fan since I was 8, more than half my life, and will be one till I die. John Cosper’s book, Bluegrass Brawlers is a book written for people like me, filled with stories about the origins of the business I love, some grand and some not quite legal, about a place, Louisville, Kentucky, that is only a few short hours away from where I live. And while I love it, and most wrestling fans will love it, it, like many aspects of pro wrestling, doesn’t have a lot of appeal to those who aren’t fans. But I, and maybe John, are all right with that. Whether or not you are a fan, you have to recognize this book as a labor of love, tracing Louisville’s wrestling history all the way back to the turn of the century, where he recreates the first advertised wrestling match to take place in Louisville, which was, shockingly, an inter-gender match. He also discusses Ed “Strangler” Lewis, arguably wrestling’s first “character”, and his various feuds with stars from the area. The real treat here are the many stories that can be found in this book, from the first night Bobby “The Brain” Heenan had in the wrestling business, thanks to Indiana’s own Dick The Bruiser. But I will admit I’m guilty of having more fun with the more recent stories involving OVW, which was once WWE's developmental system, like John Cena’s (then called The Prototype) promo about a match with a peanut butter cup, and Kenny Bolin, a manager for the company and his brushes with greatness and odd character tics (I was told off-handedly by a friend of one very funny story, which I will not divulge the details of here). If you aren’t a wrestling fan, most of the things John talks about will make little sense to you, but if you are, you owe it yourself to seek out this treasure.

Rating: 4/5

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