Professional wrestlers are always storytelling in the ring, so why wouldn’t it translate well into a book? While not all wrestling autobiographies are riveting, articulate or all that revealing, there are several wrestlers who were able to intrigue us and let us dive into the interesting life they have led.
The fact that a wrestler is traveling from 250 to 300 days a year leaves room for many great stories, some scary, some humorous and some just plain weird. Their stories also really help you appreciate the amount of sacrifice the performers put in and take you through the hardships they’ve gone through to reach success. Some have more interesting stories than others, and some can just recount them better.
What separates the good from the great in wrestler autobiographies is usually one simple factor; did they write the book themselves, or was it ghost-written? Even without looking on the cover, reading a page or two will usually give it away. If you love pro wrestling and are looking for a good read, here are the 10 wrestler autobiographies worth checking out.
10) The Rock Says… (The Rock)
One of the only books on the list that’s not solely written by the man himself. The Rock Says… was co-written by Dwayne Johnson and Joe Layden. It was published in 2000 and debuted at #1 on the New York Times Bestseller list. It remained on the list for several weeks, as The Rock was arguably the most popular WWE Superstar at the time of its release.
Growing up in two wrestling families, his father being Rocky Johnson and his mother’s side of the family known to fans as the Maivia/Anoa’i family, he had wrestling all around him growing up.
It makes you like The Rock even more. To think, at one time he went undrafted by the NFL, then was cut from the Calgary Stampeders practice squad. At one point, he was 23 years old and had just seven dollars to his name. That’s when he called his father to bring him back home and train him to be a pro wrestler. The Rock explains that when he saw his football career was over, he realized wrestling was his true calling.
Though his father was against the idea of his son Dwayne wrestling, due to the fact that despite wrestling for over 20 years himself, Johnson didn’t have much to his name, he trained his son and got him a tryout match watched by Pat Patterson. The Rock rose quickly from there, perhaps the fastest rise of any wrestler in history.
The Rock also writes some chapters in character, which you’ll either find hokey or awesome.
The book ends midway through 1999. FYI, The Rock is releasing a second autobiography later this year.
9) Walking a Golden Mile (William Regal)
William Regal’s book has a different direction than other books, which allows it to stand out. He goes into detail more on wrestling in Europe in the 1980s, rather than the familiar North American wrestling stories we’ve heard in other books.
He also recalls his drug use and how quickly it can consume someone. This of course, was in the ’80s where drug use was a real epidemic in wrestling.
He also writes the book in the Queen’s English, but don’t worry, there’s a glossary translating it for you to American English.
He also takes us through his near fatal heart problem and how he was able to come back to the ring and enjoy a successful career in the WWE, still going today.
8) The Hardcore Diaries (Mick Foley)
This is Mick Foley‘s third autobiography and this tale gives us a look at when his in-ring career with the WWE was reaching its end.
The book is chock full of hilarious anecdotes. At the point of writing this one, Foley really began mastering his writing craft and knows how to say something without saying something, showcasing his quirky, witty and charming self.
His story about Triple H noticing AC/DC’s Brian Johnson’s, um, well, it rhymes with happiness, and pointing it out to Foley and the Big Show leaves you rolling over. We also find out that Vince McMahon is by far the worst dancer on the planet.
Foley describes pitching ideas to WWE creative and how frustrating it can be. If you want some great inside stories, Foley has them for you.
7) Controversy Creates Cash (Eric Bischoff)
Say what you want about Eric Bischoff, but the fact is, he did manage to compete with Vince McMahon and push the WWE to the brink of extinction. In fact, if it weren’t for Bischoff’s aggressiveness, we wouldn’t have gotten to witness the Monday Night Wars, which was the greatest time of wrestling programming in history.
Bischoff explains his rise to the top of WCW, how he went about making the necessary changes to make WCW profitable and how he dealt with talent. He explains how he scouted and brought in an influx of lucha libres and Japanese wrestlers, as well as past WWE stars.
We usually only hear the negatives about Bischoff, but this book allows us to see things from his perspective. After reading the book, you might find yourself disagreeing with Bischoff on many ideas, but you won’t think of him as such a bad guy anymore.
6) Cheating Death, Stealing Life: The Eddie Guerrero Story
The posthumous release of Cheating Death, Stealing Life generated a buzz at the time of its release and it’s perhaps the most bittersweet wrestling book you can read.
We all know Eddie Guerrero passed away at the young age of 38 due to heart problems, seemingly stemming from his history of drug and alcohol use.
This book takes you through his journey of growing up in a wrestling family, beginning his career in Mexico, then taking it to WCW and finally to the WWE. His drug problems got the best of him and he was fired from the WWE in 2001, which finally got him to clean up his life.
Guerrero was sober for the last four years of his life and all of his hard work culminated in winning the WWE title at No Way Out 2004. Once you’ve read his entire story of redemption, go back and watch that moment and try not to get teary-eyed. It’s not the best written book on this list, but the bottom line is, this book stirs your emotions.
5) Undisputed: How to become the World Champion in 1,372 Easy Steps
The next five entries are from a total of three authors.
We start with Chris Jericho‘s second autobiography, Undisputed, which picks up where his first book left off, right at his WWE debut.
This book takes us through his first run in the WWE, from 1999 to midway 2005, where he took a two-year break from wrestling.
Jericho explains how difficult it was for him to adjust to the WWE style and how he was quickly humbled after stepping through the door. He discusses some backstage problems he had early on in his WWE career. He has some great Pat Patterson anecdotes as well.
He also devotes part of the book to talking about his career as the lead singer for Fozzy and that being a rock star was a dream of his, as well as being a wrestler.
4) Foley is Good: And the Real World is Faker than Wrestling (Mick Foley)
Mick Foley likes to point out, he doesn’t feel comfortable with his fans saying “Foley is God” but he does like to think, “Foley is Good!”
Unlike his first book, Foley tackles more of the current issues (back in 2000) surrounding wrestling, its controversy, and he goes into more detail than ever on his “I Quit” match with The Rock at Royal Rumble 1999.
It’s more of a series of memoirs, whereas his first book chronicled his whole life, but this portion of his life still is rather interesting.
Oh yes, and there’s still plenty of Al Snow jokes.
3) Have a Nice Day: A Tale of Blood and Sweatsocks (Mick Foley)
The book that started it all, not just for Mick Foley, but for wrestling autobiographies in general. Foley insisted on writing the book himself, as he was offered a ghost writer, but instead opted to take the time and show that wrestlers aren’t just mindless muscle heads (not that anyone would ever mistake Foley for that).
Either way, Foley’s Have a Nice Day hit no.1 on the NY Times Bestseller list and earned praise from wrestling and non-wrestling fans alike. He knows how to entertain both groups, using his wit and self-deprecating humour. Not to mention, his dozens…. and dozens of Al Snow jokes.
He also explains why he walked out of the WWE in protest of the Montreal Screwjob, but had to go back due to contractual obligations as well as pleas from Bret himself to think about his family first.
He goes through his journey of winning the WWE title, something he thought he could never dream of, given his non-traditional champion profile.
Foley is unquestionably the pioneer of wrestling books and before you read any other wrestler autobiography, start with this one. It’s a good measuring stick.
2) A Lion’s Tale: Around the World in Spandex (Chris Jericho)
This and Have a Nice Day were too close to decide, so the tiebreaker is the two wrestlers’ head-to-head records in the ring, in which Y2J is undefeated!
This book makes you ask yourself, is there anything Chris Jericho can’t do?
He’s one of the best wrestlers of all time, a great rock n’ roll singer and one hell of a writer. Chris Irvine (Jericho) actually does have a journalism degree, which might explain his advanced writing ability, despite this being his first book.
He has no shortage of great stories. This book goes through his hardships, travelling around the world, learning the Japanese style of wrestling, Mexican, German, UK, Canadian and finally the American style, which led to him getting a job in ECW and later in WCW. He explains that he’s part of a dying breed, which is wrestlers who had to hone their craft by travelling around the world, rather than being developed by WWE from the beginning.
Jericho has many funny stories and knows exactly how to deliver them for the highest amount of impact and entertainment.
The book also leaves you with a great ending and perfect opening for his second book. It ends with the Y2J countdown to his WWE debut.
1) HITMAN: My Real Life in the Cartoon World of Wrestling (Bret Hart)
He isn’t the least bit shy to share his opinions on other wrestlers and his own family members. He goes through extensive detail about his road life in his 20+ years as a wrestler. He recounts how difficult it was being away from his family, how WWE wrestlers handled life on the road in the ’80s, the era of the party animals of wrestling, how drugs and alcohol led to the downfall of so many and how he struggled to be a faithful husband. He’s no saint in this book, but you sure appreciate his honesty and find yourself sympathizing with him the whole way.
He goes through his Stampede Wrestling days, his 14 years in the WWE and finally his disappointing run in WCW. A portion of the book then goes into his retirement, dealing with the tragedy of his brother Owen’s death and overcoming a stroke he suffered in 2002.
Some may call him bitter after reading this book, which was released in 2007. He says at the end of the book that he will never forgive Shawn Michaels for what he did and that he would never go back to the WWE. Well, that part could use an update, but as mentioned earlier, Bret wasn’t holding anything back in this masterpiece of a book.
Bret has also said that writing this book helped get everything off his chest and was a big reason why he was then able to bury the hatchet and go back to the WWE.
He talks about the difficulty of following Hulk Hogan as the face of the WWE, the constant obstacles he faced, and yes, plenty on the 1997 Montreal Screwjob.
From front to back, it’s still the best wrestling story ever put to paper.