In his new book, For the Love of the Show: Pro Wrestling Fans Tell Their Stories, Dr. Jeremy Housewright gives fans a chance to tell their own stories related to wrestling, including everything from a man who got a life-size replica of a championship belt tattooed around his stomach and back, to a life-long wrestling fan who pursed her dream and ultimately reached her goal of being in the ring and wrestling.
A journalist and educator by trade, Housewright got his degree from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, then moved on and completed his doctorate in Education Leadership from Missouri Baptist University. Housewright’s love for wrestling first began when he was a child in Columbia, Illinois, which is right on the border between Illinois and Missouri. He would go and watch house shows with his grandfather to see Hulk Hogan perform at the Kiel Auditorium in St. Louis, Missouri.
The Hulkster was his favorite wrestler at the time. “I was always a big Hogan fan. That was my guy. So he [grandpa] would always take me over there for house shows. WWF would come to town on a Friday or Saturday night. And we would go just to see Hulk Hogan,” said Housewright. “I always enjoyed going to those ones, I never forgot those shows as a kid even though they weren’t anything special. They were just really house shows, but they meant a lot to me.”
Years later, Housewright was there at WrestleMania 30 in New Orleans, when Brock Lesnar ended The Undertaker‘s storied undefeated streak, making the Deadman’s record at Mania 21-1. Seeing the emotional reaction of the crowd struck a nerve with Housewright and the memory stuck with him. Then, while attending WrestleMania 33, Housewright met a Canadian named Joey and they instantly became good friends, with Joey even travelling to Kansas City to visit Housewright after Mania was over. Then, the final event that really spurred the idea for the book was the inaugural All-In event in Chicago where Housewright met two fans from LA, and after becoming buddies with them, they began to travel to shows together as well.
“I started thinking about all these different people I’ve met just because of pro wrestling, and the friendships I’ve developed, how close friends we are, and how we never would have met if it wasn’t for pro wrestling. And I thought there’s got to be other people out there with better stories than that, on what wrestling has meant to them. So I just kind of started searching around, asking around, and lo and behold, I was able to find more than enough people to create the book,” said Housewright.
Because there are so many wrestling fans all across the globe, Housewright faced a daunting task — who to choose so the book didn’t end up as large as a dictionary. He sorted through the stories and was able to find what he was wanted: “I was looking for something that was entertaining, that would interest people and that would interest people outside of wrestling. Because I knew that wrestling fans would probably be interested already. And the key for me is reaching those non-fans of pro wrestling. You know, so that’s so I was looking for some stories, you know, with some inspiration. And that showed that wrestling really did have some type of positive effect on these individuals’ lives.”
Apart from the submissions he received, Housewright also had a few people he wanted in the book that he reached out to himself. Derek Baker, a social media sensation with Down Syndrome who has blown up recently due to his dedication and love for WWE, was one such person. Housewright’s uncle also had Down Syndrome, and so he is always looking for ways to help those who are affected by disability in any way.
A couple more that stood out were Izzy Moreno, a fan who turned her passion into a reality and became a wrestler herself, and Kyle Scarborough who created the iconic Fiend mask for Bray Wyatt when he debuted his new character. The Scarborough story stood because as he was compiling the book, Bray Wyatt died, and so he had to change the story. Scarborough was also gracious enough to include a text chain between himself and Wyatt on the night of The Fiend debut, and Wyatt was one of Housewright’s favorite recent wrestlers.
Though the book of stories is meant to engage and entertain the audience, Housewright also has a message that he wants readers to take away from the book, especially those that don’t consider themselves to be wrestling fans.
“Pro wrestling fans get a bad rap at times. I have a doctorate and when I tell people I’m a pro wrestling fan, they look at me like I’m crazy. My wife makes fun of me for it, you know? But I want people who aren’t fans to realize that pro wrestling fans are no different than anybody else. We all may wear black T-shirts. But it can be anybody. You can be a doctor, lawyer, teacher, it’s for everybody,” he said.
Housewright also compared the passion that WWE fans have to fans of other sports entertainment. “It’s no different than going to an NFL game, or an NBA or MLB. Those fans are just as passionate. They live and die with what their teams do. And it’s kind of the same at wrestling.” (And, since Housewright is a Kansas City Chiefs fan, he is in a happy place these days.)
There is a sequel in the works already, as there were stories he was unable to include in the first book. One story was about a teacher from an underprivileged school in New York who had started an after school club where students watch and talk about the history of wrestling. The club has had the likes of Swerve, Sasha Banks, and Mark Henry show up to talk with them. The club was also selling popcorn in efforts to go and see WrestleMania this year, and when Cody Rhodes heard about it he announced he would be paying for hotels and tickets so that the kids can experience WrestleMania. Housewright said he was ready to hold up the release of the book to get this story in, but ran out of time and had to settle for getting into the next book. Another story was a referee from St. Louis, who worked for an indie organization and started the St. Louis Wrestling Hall of Fame, who has seen it all and has a plethora of stories to contribute to the sequel.
Once he was done compiling and editing the stories into a book, Housewright then faced one final challenge to get the book out: publishing. Housewright said he reached out to a few publishers but the money that they wanted to publish the book was too much for Housewright, and so he decided to publish the book himself, using connections he had made throughout the years to edit, format, and get the book out there.
The biggest challenge of publish a book by himself? Promotion of the book and where it is being sold. So far, all promotion of the book has been done by Housewright himself on many podcasts and in interviews, and he is still fighting to get the book into Walmart as it is only currently available on Amazon and at Barnes and Noble. Housewright also brings copies to indy shows he attends.
For the Love of the Show is a book for wrestling fans and non-wrestling fans alike. It can ignite a new passion for wrestling for those looking to have experiences and make stories like the ones in the novel for those that aren’t fans, and can reignite passion and remind fans why they love wrestling so much already.