When you hear that someone makes a living getting wrapped up in barbed wire and thrown through a thumbtack-covered table, you might assume they’re an idiot that can’t string together two words. In the case of modern-day deathmatch wrestling legend Mad Man Pondo, you wouldn’t be more wrong, as a read-through of his autobiography Memoirs of a Mad Man will prove.
Indeed, the book is a fascinating life story that’s articulate, refreshingly candid, at times hilarious, and one that even people with no familiarity with Pondo, deathmatch wrestling — or professional wrestling at all — will be able to appreciate.
The book, co-authored with wrestling historian John Cosper (who worked with David Schultz on his book), goes over Pondo’s (real name Kevin Canady) journey from a small-town kid who loved watching wrestling to international star who’s had more than anyone’s fair share of cool experiences, both in the ring and outside of it.
Memoirs of a Mad Man quickly chronicles Pondo’s childhood and training before diving into the fun stuff. The fun stuff includes some neat stories — with lots of quotes from the participants — over Pondo’s nearly 30-year career. This includes his work in IWA Mid-South and CZW, the two promotions where he mastered the art of deathmatch wrestling, his pioneering use of staple guns in hardcore matches, and his relationship with the Insane Clown Posse, which helped him gain even more mainstream awareness and success.
That mainstream success includes a string of memorable appearances on The Jerry Springer Show, becoming a character in video games, movie roles — including co-starring with Freddy Krueger himself, Robert Englund — and even being a keynote speaker at a Juggalo Rally in Washington DC. He also writes about his countless interactions with legends and modern-day superstars (including, the lucky so-and-so, having dated WWE’s Sarah Logan!), which will be of interest to any wrestling fan, even if they’re not familiar with Pondo’s work.
That he’s been able to achieve a great deal of fame, despite not having been on a main roster for WWE, WCW, ECW, ROH, or TNA/Impact, is something pretty unique, and the book provides a neat look at the life of someone who’s inside, but just outside, of true wrestling fame. That, in and of itself, makes the book a worthwhile read. Its conversational tone — really, it’s more like you’re sitting down with Pondo listening to him tell stories (and an audiobook version would be most welcome) — makes it a fun and easy read that can be enjoyed all at once or a chapter at a time when you have some free moments. It’s a simple, but enjoyable, and really gives you a sense of who Pondo is. And that’s a Mad Man whose Memoirs made for one of the best wrestling books of the year.