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Posted in: Doctor's Orders
Doctor's Orders- The WrestleMania Era: The Book of Sports Entertainment On-Sale Now (The Doc's 1st Book!)
By The Doc
Nov 29, 2013 - 12:16:37 AM

I have been writing for LOP since 2004. I was in college, at the time, taking summer classes. One Thursday night after Smackdown, I read the LOP recap and was surprised to see that the "reviewer" position was coming available. That evening, I wrote a sample review and emailed it to Calvin Martin, LOP's owner. I got the job. For the next few years, writing Smackdown, Raw, ECW, and WWE PPV reviews became an awesome outlet for me. When I transitioned to columns several years ago, it really drove forward my journalistic hobby. Three years ago, I sat down and had a conversation with my wife that yielded the decision for me to write this book, accomplishing a dream that never would have even have been dreamt were it not for writing for LOP. I love this website. It has been an incredible addition to my life this last decade, perhaps most importantly because I get to interact with wrestling fans from all over the world. If it were not for your readership and the discussions that we have through this column, there is no way that I would have thought to write a book about pro wrestling. I want to thank you all for your reads, feeds, and (hopefully) support of this book :-), and I also want to give a public, LOP thank you to Calvin (even though he gets one in the book).

So, here's the deal. Advertising for the book does not begin until WrestleMania season gets officially underway - not for a good while, still. However, I really wanted to make it available for my readers, first. I have made it possible for you guys that want to get it to do so. Just click on the link at the bottom of this column. I would love to get your feedback once you've read it. Thus far, it has been called everything from "Bold and engaging" by one popular editor in the wrestling publishing genre to "Analytical, clever, and comprehensive" by others. I think you will really enjoy it. From my perspective, this was a massive undertaking. You know how I like to dissect a topic. Well, this topic was the greatest wrestlers of the last 30 years in honor of WrestleMania XXX. The book gave me the freedom to write my tail off and hold nothing back. I have always tried to give you something before WrestleMania every year to get you as hyped as possible. This book was the ultimate way for me to do that for Mania 30.

To share the vision of the book with you, I have included my prologue below.


Professional wrestling has never been as popular as it has been over the last thirty years. Beginning with Hulk Hogan’s rise to the top of the industry and the advent of WrestleMania, it found a place in the pop culture lexicon that made it a widely accepted, albeit still controversial, form of sports entertainment. The WWE (formerly the WWF) has led the way, making the business as much about theatricality as it is about simulated combat and expanding their viewership in the process. Subsequently, a generation of fans has grown up with pro wrestling as one of their pastimes, watching the likes of Hogan, “Macho Man” Randy Savage, Ric Flair, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, The Rock, and John Cena excel in the wrestling ring.

Wrestling’s growth has paralleled the rise of the media’s obsession with sports. Football, basketball, baseball, soccer, and wrestling fans enjoy greater access than ever before to their favorite teams and superstars through television and the internet. Increased coverage has brought more in-depth discussion, creating a network of enthusiasts who are as much critics as they are devotees. Sports analysis is no longer water cooler talk, but a burgeoning profession legitimized by college degrees. Be it as diehard supporters of respective sports enjoying educated conversations about player legacy, zone defensive schemes, and the ideal offensive formation or be it as an employed statistician whose job is to categorize the best of all-time, find the right point guard for the pick-and-roll, and identify Wins Above Replacement Player, we have become a sports world obsessed with analytics.

The WWE product is more globally visible than ever. They currently broadcast their weekly programming, Monday Night Raw and Friday Night Smackdown!, and their monthly pay-per-views in one hundred fifty countries and in thirty languages. Websites that cover pro wrestling such as The Pro Wrestling Torch, Figure Four Online, and Lords of Pain (LOP) each draw tens of millions of people every week from around the world. Much like ESPN, Fox Sports, and others, these sites provide news, results, and insider reports. The thirst for a constant stream of information is as strong amongst wrestling fans as it is for any sport or entertainment avenue. I know that better than anyone, being one of those rabid diehards, myself. I started watching wrestling with my grandfather when I was two years old, but my introduction to online coverage while an eighteen year old undergraduate turned my weekly television habit into a daily obsession. The same could be said of college football and pro basketball, but there was always something about pro wrestling’s combination of athletics and drama that made it a higher extracurricular priority for me.

In my early college years, I began writing television recaps of WWE shows for LOP as a hobby, later writing full-fledged critical reviews while going through professional schooling to become a doctor. Writing was my therapeutic outlet to escape from the mental rigors of the real world. During the same period, I took a strong interest in analytics, particularly as it pertained to the NBA. When I transitioned to writing subjective columns for LOP, I followed the lead of my favorite basketball writer, Bill Simmons, in combining my interest for hyper analysis with the sport that I covered. Simmons proceeded to take his analytical approach and create a list of over ninety of the greatest to have ever played in the National Basketball Association. His amazing work, The Book of Basketball: The NBA According to the Sports Guy, was the ultimate fan account of pro basketball history. Inspired, I set out to write the modern pro wrestling equivalent.

I developed a methodical criterion to support my personal observations of nearly thirty years of fandom in order to definitively answer the question as to which wrestlers belong in the debate for the greatest of all-time. Wrestlers are both athletes and entertainers. They are trained to perform intricate sequences of grappling holds, throws, high risk balancing acts at often great heights, and hand-to-hand combat that all looks and sounds legitimate without intentionally hurting their opponent. It is dangerous. For a living, they put their bodies at risk, landing as safely as possible on thinly padded wood, off ladders, on concrete, through tables, and on/off steel platforms. Yet, to be given the chance to achieve the most success, they must also be able to establish an emotional connection with pro wrestling’s audience. Wrestlers have to be actors capable of playing a character that is often an extension of their own personality to make the people care about the stories that they tell on the 20’X20’ canvas.

While analytically reviewing and celebrating the “WrestleMania Era” dating back to the early 1980s, I spent countless hours researching, formulating, and categorizing the matches, the interviews, the main-events, the pay-per-view buyrates, the television ratings, and the championships won. In order to be considered the greatest, a wrestler had to be able to convince viewers, either through verbal communication or body language, that his match was worth seeing. If he got the people in the door, then he had to deliver something worthy of critical acclaim in the ring to give the paying customers a show worthy of attending/viewing again. Then, it came down to how many people actually came through the door or watched the show from home. Success at the box office is a must. Since the business is not immune to economic shifts, however, it would have been remiss to ignore the longevity of some tenured headliners who stayed in the main-events through years of fiscal thick and thin. Finally, one of a wrestler’s primary goals is to achieve championship gold, so title reigns were also assessed.

A five-tiered breakdown shaped the definitive list. Through a formula (to bridge the gap between eras) for championships won, a scale for main-events and headlining matches to account for longevity, a compilation of television ratings and pay-per-view buy rate data for financial success, a wrestler scoring system to reflect physical attributes and microphone skills, and a film critic-like star rating scale to account for performance, I have named the “Greatest Wrestlers of the WrestleMania Era.”

To purchase the book, click The WrestleMania Era: The Book of Sports Entertainment

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