There are many great wrestling books that have been released in the past few years; however, Bill Apter has just set the bar higher by writing one of the best books in the business.
Apter’s Is Wrestling Fixed? I Didn’t Know It Was Broken! (ECW Press, due in October 2015) is not only filled with wrestling stories, but also a behind the scenes showing of the man himself, along with his struggles in and out of the business in a honest and entertaining way. With a 50-year career in the wrestling and journalism business, there are many tales to be told.
He writes about becoming a wrestling fan as a child, making his own fanzines to sell to people, and how his father took him to the matches in New York. His life changed in 1959 at the matches when his father purchased him a copy of Wrestling Review. The love of the photos and the articles in the magazine led young Bill on his famous journalism career into the wrestling business.
The book details the early years of working for the wrestling magazines under Mr. Stanley Weston, whose relationship through the years became that of family to Apter. Weston also published boxing magazines, in which Apter also handled the photographs. He writes how working for the magazines brought stress to him among the promoters and other wrestlers based on the magazine’s publisher deciding who was ranked higher in the ratings and who was on the cover of the magazines. Even though he was the photographer, the wrestlers and promoters put the blame on Apter. He also discusses how the rankings and Year End Awards were determined in the magazines, along with dispelling the myth about the magazine writers Eddie Ellner and Dan Shocket, who were thought to be made up pen names for Apter among the wrestlers and promoters.
Apter discusses his relationship with his family, including his father, who even helped take many photographs at the arenas, including the famous 1971 Madison Square Garden match where WWWF Champion Bruno Sammartino lost his belt to Ivan Koloff (which Apter was tipped off to earlier in the day).
There are more than just wrestling stories in the book. He does write his opinions and workings with people in the business such as Hulk Hogan, Randy Savage, Buddy Rogers, the McMahon family, and today’s stars, but there are also great stories about giving advice to future star Taz in the business, along with his early encounters with other ECW Wrestlers The Blue Meanie and Tommy Dreamer before they were known. He also talks about his relationships with people outside the wrestling world; from meeting country music stars, boxers, and celebrities like comedian Andy Kaufman. There is an emotional story about how he met country star George Strait through the late Curt Hennig.
There is so much information in the book that it is hard to cover in a small review. The layout itself is one of the best parts of the book, where the cover looks just like the cover of one of Weston’s publications, either Inside Wrestling or The Wrestler. The book is not in chronological order, which is great as a reader. Each chapter is basically random thoughts on whatever wrestler or topic that is detailed, which is refreshing, as opposed to the usual beginning to end of a writer’s life format in most books. Apter and his editors have to be commended for the originality and the flow of the book.The old saying goes, “You can’t judge a book by its cover,” but this has been dispelled with Apter’s book. Not only is the cover amazing, but the stories and the photographs are just as wonderful as the front of the book. This book is a must for any wrestling book reader, and hopefully a start of many more books by Mr. Apter.
LANCE LUMLEY is from Columbiana, Ohio, and can be found at lancewrites.wordpress.com. A big thanks to ECW Press and SLAM! Wrestling for the advance copy of the book for this review.