Sports fans undoubtably get a kick out of reading about their favorite athletes.
Tales of sports superstardom usually revolve around a humble upbringing, tough trials and an ascension from the little leagues to the big time. Athletes tend to tell their own story as they experienced it through quality autobiographical accounts. Wrestling fans have become accustomed to getting the nitty gritty about Hall of Fame talents, current greats and retired Superstars. It seems like a new wrestler autobiography drops every couple of weeks, doesn’t it? In order to keep track of the best ones, this list was made. These books offer up entertaining depictions of wrestlers and the reality of everything they experienced in such a cutthroat industry.
Simply put, these are some of the best wrestler autobiographies you need to read.
Booker T: My Rise To Wrestling Royalty
“CAN YOU DIG IT, SUCKA?” *cues iconic theme music* When Booker T.’s tune hits those loudspeakers, fans award him with the adoration and respect he deserves. His first book detailed a man who was forced to grow up fast, adopt a life of crime, pay for his mistakes and capitalize on a second chance at life. The continuation of his tale comes courtesy of Booker T: My Rise to Wrestling Royalty. For those who wanted to learn more about Booker’s extended runs in WCW and WWE, this book was made especially for you all. Booker speaks on his legendary run with Harlem Heat, anecdotes about his time spent alongside Sherri Martel, his breakout singles career, his late WWE run etc. In between all that, he details the struggles of raising his son, finding the love of his life and the tumultuous relationship him and his brother had to work through. This sequel does a commendable job of finishing off the incredible career of one of the finest African-American wrestlers.
Accepted: How the First Gay Superstar Changed WWE Hardcover by Pat Patterson
Pat Patterson remains one of the most significant Superstars to ever lace up a pair of boots. He’s the mastermind behind the Royal Rumble match, the inaugural Intercontinental Champion and one of the funniest personalities to star during the Attitude Era. Pat’s autobiography is a wonderful tale that delves into his life as a gay man dealing with a world plagued by homophobia. Pat and Bertrand Hébert’s storytelling skills are excellent here due to how they detail Pat’s influence inside and outside the ring. This legendary figure speaks on the ills of the industry during his heyday, the special relationship he shares with the McMahon’s and stories revolving around legends such as Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels, The Rock and Daniel Bryan. Accepted: How the First Gay Superstar Changed WWE is not only a great book for wrestling fans, it’s also a satisfying read for members of the LGBTQ community. By the way, you can watch a documentary about Pat Patterson himself below.
Yes: My Improbable Journey to the Main Event of WrestleMania by Daniel Bryan
Hardcore WWE fans may just know Daniel Bryan for his rise to fame as the starter of the YES! movement. But wrestling aficionados know all about his days as the indy legend known as the “American Dragon” Bryan Danielson. Yes: My Improbable Journey to the Main Event of WrestleMania breaks down Bryan’s road to him realizing his dream at WrestleMania 30. It’s amazing to see just how tough it was for someone of Bryan’s stature to make it to the main stage. Bryan speaks on his training with Shawn Michaels, his tours to Japan alongside Lance Cade, his strong run on the independent wrestling scene and the highs/lows of his WWE tenure. In between each chapter are anecdotal notes that express his feelings going into WrestleMania 30. Check this book out to get into the head of one of the best technical wrestlers of all time.
Is Wrestling Fixed? I Didn’t Know It Was Broken: From Photo Shoots and Sensational Stories to the WWE Network, Bill Apter’s Incredible Pro Wrestling Journey
Instead of offering an autobiographical take from a renowned wrestler, this book offers an inside look at someone who covered wrestling from the outside. Bill Apter is the most prolific journalist to ever cover the wild world of professional wrestling. His name and works are attached to publications such as The Wrestler and Inside Wrestling, plus old school NWA fans should remember his PWI Scouting Report on Best of World Championship Wrestling. Apter chose to cover his wild life through this amazing autobiography. His memoir gives fans an inside look at his meetings with greats such as Bruno Sammartino, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair, Jerry “The King” Lawler etc. Apter has covered damn near every era of professional wrestling, which is why his stories about covering each one are so fascinating. And the photos? They make this book all the more better.
Looking at the Lights: My Path from Fan to a Wrestling Heel by Pete Gas
Attitude Era greats such as The Rock, Steve Austin, Chris Jericho, The Hardy Boyz, Mick Foley and others have all written great tomes over the years. Another one just released from another Attitude Era personality that some fans may have a hard time remembering – Pete Gas. Pete just happened to be a member of one of the more fun stables to spring up during the late 90’s – Shane McMahon’s Mean Street Posse. Gas’ book, Looking at the Lights: My Path from Fan to a Wrestling Heel, is a story about a man who was forced to prove himself amongst a locker room full of the best talent in wrestling at the time. Pete talks about everything that impacted him – his longtime friendship with Shane McMahon, his Mean Street Posse days and the craziest moments he experienced in the ring. With a foreword from both Edge and JBL, Pete’s autobiography is a deeper look into the madness of the Attitude Era.
Crazy Is My Superpower: How I Triumphed by Breaking Bones, Breaking Hearts, and Breaking the Rules by AJ Mendez Brooks
The artist formerly known as AJ Lee may have had a short run on the WWE main roster, but she’s been through hell and back. While her book offers some insight into her wrestling career, it mostly delves into her dealing with a mental illness (Bipolar Disorder). Ms. Mendez expresses her vulnerability through a few jokes here and there, but she makes sure to detail the seriousness of her condition. As a female wrestler, AJ Mendez was forced to deal with the type of trials and tribulations her male counterparts didn’t have to endure. She speaks candidly about those trials while also showing love to her best buddy and lover – Celeste “Kaitlyn” Bonin and Phil Brooks aka “CM Punk.” There may not be a ton of stories about her wrestling background here, but it still manages to offer an interesting look into the superhero stylings of AJ Mendez.
Best Seat in the House: Your Backstage Pass Through My WWE Journey by Justin Roberts
Justin Roberts is one of the more familiar ring announcers WWE fans became used to during his tenure. You’d think the autobiographical escapades of a wrestling announcer wouldn’t be worth reading. But in this case, you’d be wrong. Justin is an interesting individual with a backstory that revolves around his the love/hate relationship he shared with WWE talent. I’m sure you’ve gotten a hint of the bullying he was forced to endure from the infamous John “Bradshaw” Layfield, which is a portion of his journey that’s covered here. Justin speaks on everything that makes working for WWE a dream/nightmare – getting to call out the names and hometowns of Superstars, enduring grueling road trips, making kids’ dreams come true, dealing with backstage politics etc. This candid tale is an eye opener for those who think WWE is nothing but rainbows and cotton candy.
Rowdy: The Roddy Piper Story
Roderick Toombs aka “Rowdy” Roddy Piper sadly left this world in 2016. Before his passing, the “Hot Rod” was in the process of putting together an all-encompassing autobiography about his life. Due to his death, his two kids went out of their way to finish the epic story of their Hall of Famer father. The book peers deep into Roddy’s life – his tough childhood, wrestling territory days, stints in Hollywood and more. His children also offer some insight into how they viewed their legendary father, which offers some fresh viewpoints from the people who loved him most. Rowdy: The Roddy Piper Story does right by one of the greatest pop culture icons to ever grace the squared circle.
Bobby the Brain: Wrestling’s Bad Boy Tells All
Anyone who got a good laugh out of the commentary routine from WWE’s Golden Era probably loved to hate Bobby “The Brain” Heenan. Heenan had a penchant for throwing in some of the funniest verbal jabs ever heard, plus he stood out even more for his masterful managing skills. Bobby chooses to open up about his hardships and triumphs in this incredible autobiography, Bobby the Brain: Wrestling’s Bad Boy Tells All. This book offers a deeper look at the wrestling scene that thrived during the 60’s and 70’s, his complete disdain for WCW and the wildest tales revolving around fellow wrestling legends (Andre the Giant and Dick the Bruiser comes to mind). Heenan even delves into his battle with cancer and the search for his extended family. Bobby is just as entertaining in this book as he is on the mic.
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The Last Outlaw by Stan Hansen
Stan “The Lariat” Hansen may not be a recognizable name to younger fans, but older followers of the sport regard him as a legend. He’s the wildman that broke Bruno Sammartino’s neck in Madison Square Garden. He’s the most controversial American Wrestling Association Champion the company’s ever had. And his All Japan Pro Wrestling run puts him high on the pedestal of Japanese wrestling luminaries. Hansen’s autobiography tackles all those parts of his life in full detail. When he gets into his West Texas State football days, Japanese wrestling tours and classic backstage ribs, you’ll find yourself enamored with Hansen even more than before. Hansen’s name is connected to greats such as Kenta Kobashi, Vader, Bruiser Brody and even more personalities who impacted him throughout his career. The Last Outlaw is a must-have for fans of the glory years of AJPW.
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Wrestlers Are Like Seagulls – From McMahon To McMahon by J.J. Dillion
The Four Horseman. The stable stands tall as one of, if not the, greatest group of wrestlers to ever rule their home fed. The man that kept that unit together was the fabled manager known as J.J. Dillion. Not only was Mr. Dillion a major fixture within the NWA, he also played a huge part in structuring the WWE alongside Vince McMahon in the early 90’s. Wrestlers Are Like Seagulls – From McMahon to McMahon goes over every standout moment he experienced throughout his career. Mr. Dillion started out as a referee, wrestled soon after, helped keep the foundation of The Four Horseman intact and become a fixture in the backstage area of WCW/WWE. Dillion spills the dirt on everything that was thrown his way as he fought hard to deal with such a hectic backstage atmosphere. You’ll find this book hard to put down due to Dillion’s ability to remember key events and offer insightful commentary on how to run/treat the wrestling business.
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Backlund: From All-American Boy to Professional Wrestling’s World Champion
Bob Backlund is the All-American hero who thrived as a babyface during his early days in Florida and Georgia. When Backlund eventually made his way from the NWA to the WWWF, he truly blossomed into the patriotic Superstar that fans gravitated to. Backlund and co-author Robert H. Miller team up to cover the awe-inspiring career of a man who enjoyed awesome runs in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s. Backlund pulls no punches as he takes us on a yearly ride through his run-in’s with fellow wrestlers and promoters. His memory is clearly on point as evidenced by how detailed he gets about everything he endured. Bob even goes out of his way to point out the negatives he saw during his time in the ring. Wrestling historians who were alive during Backlund’s 80’s run and fans who loved his 90’s feud against Bret Hart will enjoy every part of this magnum opus.
Second Nature: The Legacy of Ric Flair and the Rise of Charlotte
Throughout the history of professional wrestling, the sons and daughters of legendary talents have made their way into the sport. Ric Flair’s daughter Charlotte has truly blossomed into one of the most talented woman’s athletes in WWE. Flair’s championship pedigree has certainly been passed onto his daughter, who’s gone on to adopt his mannerisms and share his penchant for gold. This memoir is delivered from both “The Nature Boy” and his daughter as they detail the highs and lows of their ongoing lives. Ric’s story continues on from the close of his autobiography, so there’s a lot to learn about the road to his retirement and the death of his son, Reid Flair. Charlotte details growing up as the son of a legend and coming into her own when she finally entered the squared circle. This dual autobiography offers great insight into the unmatched Flair dynasty.
Slobberknocker: My Life in Wrestling
One of the more iconic voices in professional wrestling is none other than “Good Ol’ JR” Jim Ross. Fans of WCW’s classic days and those who look back on the Attitude Era fondly all regard Ross as an unmatched color commentator. With so much history in the business, it only made sense for him to document his eventful life. Ross recounts his early upbringing on a Oklahoma farm, the methods he took towards entering pro wrestling, insane backstage encounters with wrestling bigwigs and tales about the sport’s biggest stars. Ross also makes sure to detail his bouts of Bell’s Palsy and the ways in which he’s dealt with it over the years. JR’s name is associated with greats such as “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, Brock Lesnar and more due to his former role in WWE’s talent relations department. So there’s plenty of juicy details about such Superstars, too. Slobberknocker is a fine tale about a man who confronted his challenges head on and came out better for it in the end.
Feel free to check out the following list of non-autobiography wrestling themed books below as well:
– Mad Dog: The Maurice Vachon Story
– Sisterhood of the Squared Circle: The History and Rise of Women’s Wrestling
– Wrestling’s New Golden Age: How Independent Promotions Have Revolutionized One of Americas Favorite Sports
– Lion’s Pride: The Turbulent History of New Japan Pro Wrestling
– Shocking Wrestling Plans You Won’t Believe Almost Happened
– Bluegrass Brawlers: The Story of Professional Wrestling in Louisville
– WWE Encyclopedia Of Sports Entertainment (2016 Edition)
– NXT: The Future Is Now
– WWE: 100 Greatest Matches
– The WWE Book of Top 10s
– Unscripted (WWE)
– Four Horsemen: A Timeline History
– Crazy Like A Fox: The Definitive Chronicle of Brian Pillman 20 Years Later
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