Wrestling for the past 16 years as Luscious Rocky Reynolds, Aaron Madden is the first to admit that he is not a great writer. But what he does have is a knack for storytelling that has produced two autobiographies that read as love letters to his family and professional wrestling.
After reading several other wrestling biographies and autobiographies (his favorites are The Somebody Obsession: A Nobody’s Desperate Journey to Stardom by Matt Murphy and Wrestling Reality: The Life and Mind of Chris Kanyon Wrestling’s Gay Superstar by Chris Kanyon with Ryan Clark) and having a near-death experience in the ring, the 39-year-old Madden, who resides in his hometown of Titusville, Pennsylvania, decided he too could definitely write a book despite having no prior writing experience. He began to write in secret and in 2014 he self-published his first book, Luscious: The Story of Four Time NWA World Champion Rocky Reynolds.
The first book is a blunt and raw chronicle of Madden, who stands at 5-foot-7 and weighs 205 pounds, pursuing his dream of becoming a professional wrestler. From becoming obsessed with working out to acquiring his own wrestling ring to hone his skills in his parents’ backyard to fully financing a wrestling show, Madden goes to great lengths to achieve his dream.
A few pages into the book, Madden writes on his ambition: “I have never been a person to live my life day by day to see where life takes me, and I most certainly have never believed in fate. I have always had a plan and believed that things happen because you make them happen. I don’t believe in sitting around and waiting for an opportunity to come along, but in going out and making opportunities. I’m a firm believer that success is obtained through hard work. To sum it up, I believe if you really want something, go and get it!”
Just over two years into his wrestling career, Madden ends up joining the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA), becomes a promoter, wins several territorial titles (with his first championship victory memorably assisted by a guy in a pizza costume, yes you read that correctly! and wrestles then top TNA and now WWE star, A.J. Styles. But he soon discovers that the spectacular world of professional wrestling also has a sleazy side and wrestlers pay a high price to be a part of it.
After wrestling Styles, he writes in the book: “I felt a great level of satisfaction as it was evident that all my hard work and sacrifice was paying off. Just as fast as that feeling of satisfaction came, it quickly began to fade away as I began to realize all the time that had been taken away from my personal life and home as I was continuously on the road chasing this dream. I absolutely loved every night as I stood behind that curtain and heard the crowd’s excitement as they were anticipating my appearance. But once the show was over and I was driving several hours home or sitting in a hotel room alone, I was beginning to miss the simplicities of life such as waking up in my own bed or lying around the house all day on a Saturday with nothing to do. It’s those things in life that you truly don’t appreciate until they’re gone.”
Madden almost pays the ultimate price later on in his book in the aptly titled chapter: “The Day I Should Have Died.” During a four-way ladder match for the NWA World Junior Heavyweight Title, Madden decides to do a Swanton Bomb off a 12-foot ladder onto his opponents outside the ring. Madden wakes up in the hospital after landing on his head and causing a large section of his scalp to peel back. The injury also results in him losing almost three pints of blood, a stage two concussion and bruising on his brain. The doctor on call adamantly repeats to Madden that he should be dead. To make matters worse, Madden’s misfire happened directly in front of his wife who is in attendance for the show. But despite that graphic and emotional chapter, Madden admits that writing the first book brought him a lot of joy.
“The entire book was fun!” remarked Madden in a phone interview with SLAM! Wrestling. “It was actually fun to write. None of it seemed difficult whatsoever. I was getting to relive a lot of things that I did. I was reliving a lot of the trips and spending time with a lot of friends.”
He continued, “On the first book, I spent six months just by itself creating the timeline for the book because I wanted to make sure I had all the dates, times, my opponents, the towns, the different companies I was working for, the different titles I had won to make sure I had them all right and in the perfect timeline. I’d say it took another three months beyond to then roll out the entire book. And I just had so much fun doing it that after it was done, I just wanted to keep on going.”
This first book can at times be a little clunky. The eyes of a more experienced editor would have allowed the story to flow better. Sections on an ex-girlfriend practicing witchcraft and the September 11th tragedy should also have been omitted entirely as they don’t contribute anything to the story. Madden also chose to incorporate quotes from friends, fellow wrestlers and family throughout the book and while some quotes provide a unique and secondary perspective, at times they don’t enhance the story as they repeat almost verbatim what Madden has already written. But his storytelling and unfiltered observations make up for these shortcomings.
Madden released his second, self-published autobiography, Abusive Relationship: My Attempt to Escape From Professional Wrestling in 2016. In this book, Madden has decided to leave professional wrestling because of the toll it has taken on him mentally and physically and more importantly, so he can have more time with his family which along with his wife now includes two young daughters. The black and white cover photo for the book is striking in its portrayal of a slouching Madden, alone in a wrestling locker room looking tired and worn. No glamour. No glitz. Just his wrestling boots and empty water bottles surrounding him.
“When you are a fan of professional wrestling, all you see is what is on the outside of the locker room curtain,” explained Madden when asked about the photo. “You just see all the lights, the big show, the fans, all the loud music, the pyro, stuff like that. But what fans don’t know is on the other side of that curtain when you get into that locker room, professional wrestling is at times one of the most dirty, scummy, rotten businesses out there. It (professional wrestling) is derived from the carnival. So it’s got a great past of guys having big egos, promoters trying to rip off the talent as much as they can, pay them as little as possible and make as much as they can.”
He added further: “What I was trying to show with that cover is just the physical abuse after years of doing professional wrestling has begun to set in.”
The second book consists of Madden journaling after a wrestling show with a poster of each show included to mark each chapter. Madden repeatedly writes, “I need to get out of this business,” while admitting he isn’t sure how to or if he truly wants to. On the book’s back cover, Madden’s dilemma is compared to “a beaten woman who repeatedly returns to her abuser, Aaron discovered that he was trapped in his Abusive Relationship with professional wrestling.”
He writes early on in the second book: “Now I know what you are thinking, ‘If wrestling is destroying your body, then just get out of it.’ Easier said than done! Take a moment to just try to understand this. I have loved professional wrestling since I was a kid. I dreamed and desired to one day become a professional wrestler. When I decided to take this dream seriously and pursue it, I worked hard and trained my ass off to get myself to where I am today. And for the past fifteen years I have come accustomed to standing in the center of the ring and entertaining wrestling fans. That feeling I get while I’m in the ring is like a drug that I’m constantly chasing just to get my fix. To sum it up, when you spend a large portion of your life trying to accomplish a dream, it is hard to walk away from it after you have finally reached it. And this is the mental hell that I battle with every time I head to that ring today.”
“Writing the second book was obviously a completely different layout,” described Madden. “In the first book I was recalling how I got into professional wrestling. In the second book I was actually writing at that moment and I was trying to find a way therapeutically to get myself to leave professional wrestling. I kind of thought that if I journaled how I was feeling after every show, what I was going through, stuff like that, it would kind of help me be able to leave the business easier.”
Although the diary layout of the book can get repetitive, Madden has further developed both his storytelling skills and flair for describing matches, giving readers an excellent play by play each chapter. The layout and pictures are of better quality than the first book, but the book would have benefited from a more thorough proof reading which Madden himself admits to. Readers will keep turning the pages for Madden’s ultimate backstage pass to the world of indy wrestling and to find out if he does indeed quit wrestling in the end.
So it must be asked, was Madden able to successfully retire from professional wrestling?
“I’ve kind of ‘Terry Funked’ it just a bit,” Madden admitted with a laugh. “You know Terry retired and came back six or seven times. But right now what I do just to get my fix, I still do about four to six shows a year and those are shows that are close to home. Also I make sure that I only take shows that I can take my daughters to now. Because if I’m going to do a show, I try to make it a memorable thing for them.”
Along with a lessened wrestling schedule, Madden is an avid collector of indy wrestling t-shirts, works full-time as a police officer and is also a competitive bodybuilder. Madden feels he has exhausted the autobiography genre, but he would consider writing a fiction book in the future. He hopes that readers of his books will take away the message of the importance of simplicity.
“Enjoy the simplicities of life!” exclaimed Madden. “That is what I have learned through my life and especially with professional wrestling being involved in my life. Just like any other professional wrestler when you have the dreams to become a professional wrestler, you want fame, you want to go make it on television, you want to be known. As I was actually thinking that and trying to get there, I was beginning to realize how much time and work and everything I had to put into it. I had no time to just sit back and breathe. I was really starting to miss that, miss the simplicities of life. Now in my life the greatest thing that I love doing is just sitting on my porch drinking a cup of coffee while my kids are out playing or my wife is over at the barn with her horses.”
Both of Madden’s books are available on Amazon. Autographed copies are available by contacting the author.