Did you know that April 23, 2024, is Canada Book Day? It’s celebrated on the same day as World Book and Copyright Day, a yearly event organized by the United Nations’ UNESCO to promote reading, publishing and the protection of intellectual property through copyright.

That got me thinking …

  • What are the best books about Canadian wrestlers? These are biographies, meaning the subject might have participated a bit, but in the end it’s about them, not by them. They had to have been Canadian through and through, so Andre the Giant, who lived for a time in Montreal, or the British Bulldogs with all their ties to Calgary, don’t count. And in a couple of cases, an American writer wrote the story — c’est vrai!
  • What are the best autobiographies by Canadian wrestlers, whether they used a co-writer or not? These are the books with all the “I did this” and “I saw this.” There are inherent biases in autobiographies, of course, as it is one person’s take, but, man, don’t we all love to read ’em?

I’m purposefully not including books that cover more than a single entity, so that eliminates the best wrestling book of them all, Drawing Heat, by London, Ontario, author Jim Freedman, and even all my books.

This is by no means more than a personal take, and I have been upfront where necessary, since, you know, I’ve written a few. I’ve also leaned heavily on Canadian Bulldog’s Top 50 Wrestling Books on Bulldog’s Bookshelf, as compiled at the www.merchandiseandmemories.com website, and I cite him where necessary. Any links take you to a story or review from the SlamWrestling.net website, or, in a few cases, to merchandiseandmemories.com.

And, I must have missed some! Drop me a line and let me know at goliver845@gmail.com



Colt Baird Toombs and Ariel Teal Toombs pose post-interview with their book in October 2016. Photo by Greg Oliver.

Rowdy: The Roddy Piper Story by Ariel Teal Toombs and Colt Baird Toombs, Random House Canada, 2016 (#17 on Top 50 Wrestling Books), Random House Canada,  2016
Canadian Bulldog: WWE Hall of Famer Rowdy Roddy Piper had written an autobiography (In The Pit With Piper), but began writing this book before his passing in 2015 to make for a more accurate and balanced portrayal of his career. Piper’s children Ariel Teal Toombs and Colt Baird Toombs released Rowdy in 2017, attempting to explain the first book while also interviewing Hot Rod’s contemporaries to make for the definitive picture of his career.

Broken Harts: The Life and Death of Owen Hart by Martha Hart with Eric Francis, M Evans & Co, 2004 (#50 on Top 50 Wrestling Books)
Canadian Bulldog: Part biography and part love story, Owen Hart’s widow Martha Hart wrote about her late husband’s tragic demise in this 2004 book. While it is negative towards the Hart family, Vince McMahon and wrestling in general, Martha is able to show us the side of Owen that was a great father and husband.

Mad Dog: The Maurice Vachon Story by Bertrand Hebert and Pat Laprade, ECW Press (#38 on Top 50 Wrestling Books)
Canadian Bulldog: Written in 2017 by Bertrand Hebert and Pat Laprade, this book delves into the unusual life of WWE Hal of Famer Mad Dog Vachon, a feared grappler in his native Quebec who began with a rough upbringing and even found his way to the 1948 Olympic Games before pursuing a career that led him to the AWA World Championship. (Greg’s note: There is a French-language version, simply titled Maurice “Mad Dog” Vachon, published by Libre expression in 2015.)

Sailor White, Dave Elliott, Jesperson Pub, 1994
This biography written by Dave Elliott came out in 1994 and is tough to find, as it was put out by a small publisher in Newfoundland and Labrador. It’s a brutally honest book which addresses the drug issues that Ed White faced, and so much more. As much as I liked it, it’s tough to say it’s worth the $100+ you might have to pay for a copy.

Steve Verrier with his book on Gene Kiniski.

Steve Verrier with his book on Gene Kiniski.

Gene Kiniski: Canadian Wrestling Legend by Steven Verrier, McFarland, 2019
With the cooperation of the family … and a generous helping of my own interviews with Big Gene … Steve Verrier brought back to life a true Canadian icon.

George Gordienko: Canadian Wrestler, Artist, and Renaissance Man by Steven Verrier, McFarland, 2022
Whereas Gene Kiniski had massive success, in pro wrestling George Gordienko sort of shot himself in the foot with ties to the Communist Party. Verrier does his best to sort out the fact from fiction, and there’s a generous helping of Gordienko’s days as a celebrated artist.

AN OBSERVATION: There are plenty of Canadian stars without biographies, and as I started compiling, I thought I’d find more that fit this category.


There are quite a few autobiographies of Canadian wrestlers, but oddly, not one by a woman, at least to my knowledge. LuFisto had started on one — which I know, since it was with me — but it has since been put on the backburner; it would be appropriate that someone like her would be a trailblazer on the book front too. I also broke them down into two categories, as books published by a mainstream press, even if they are now out of print, will always be easier to find than self-published books, or, in a couple of cases, books that were completely pulled out of circulation.


Straight From The Hart by Bruce Hart, ECW Press, 2011
This is Bruce being Bruce. He has a wonderful mind for the business of professional wrestling, but a bit of a skewed view of his place in it.

Bertrand Hebert and Pat Patterson at the Montreal launch of their book "Accepted" in August 2016. Photo by Mike Wyman

Bertrand Hebert and Pat Patterson at the Montreal launch of their book “Accepted” in August 2016. Photo by Mike Wyman

Accepted: How the First Gay Superstar Changed WWE, by Pat Patterson with Bertrand Hebert
As much as is in Pat Patterson’s autobiography, I came away feeling like there could have been more. He was such a key figure in so many moments in WWE history behind the scenes, there could have been a book just on booking and match planning.

“Is That Wrestling Fake?” The Bear Facts by Ivan Koloff with Scott Teal, Crowbar Press, 2007
Scott Teal has worked with some of the greats, putting out their memoirs. This one isn’t as top-notch as the ones with Stan Hansen, Don Fargo or JJ Dillon, but it’s fine. Even in my own dealings with “Uncle Ivan” he wasn’t always the most forthcoming interview.

Meredith Renwick and Dewey Robertson.

Meredith Renwick and Dewey Robertson.

Bang Your Head! The real story of The Missing Link by Meredith Renwick and Dewey Robertson, ECW Press, 2006
With this one, I have to put my biases up front, as Meredith Renwick is my wife. She is not, however, a wrestling fan. Dewey approached me about writing his book, and I declined, but said my wife was a writer too and had just finished a book project with the City of Toronto. They met, she liked the story, and embarked on a journey that was pretty crazy and rocky. Dewey was a Character with a capital “C” but the book doesn’t necessarily reflect that. It’s a straightforward read in many ways, and since she wasn’t a hardcore fan, much more approachable for non-fans, which was the goal. Dewey was aiming to reach people about his struggles with drugs, especially marijuana. Unfortunately, he died from cancer a little more than a year after publication.

The Three Count: My Life in Stripes as a WWE Referee (#47 on Top 50 Wrestling Books)
Former WWF/E referee Jimmy Korderas is a recurring analyst on Canadian television and radio these days, and does a great job in this 2013 autobiography of relaying some tremendous behind-the-scenes stories. Well written and funny to boot, Korderas provides a unique perspective into some major moments from the wrestling business. (Greg’s note: ECW Press asked to read this ahead of time, and I was able to suggest to Jimmy and the publisher some of the things that I still wanted — like more stories about the characters who hung around Maple Leaf Gardens — and Jimmy delivered.)

Pain Torture Agony by Ron Hutchison, Crowbar Press, 2019
Ron Hutchison, who studied journalism at the former Ryerson Polytechnic Institute, so knows how to write, but it took Scott Teal to get his work out to the public. It’s as much about training wrestlers like Edge, Christian and Trish Stratus as it is his modest in-ring career.

Adam Copeland on Edge by Adam Copeland, Gallery Books, 2005 (#25 on Top 50 Wrestling Books)
WWE Hall of Famer Adam “Edge” Copeland wrote this book while he was out with a neck injury in 2004 and does an incredible job explaining his early career, with experiences ranging from winning a newspaper contest to competing on frozen native reservations to being hired by WWE. Had it captured Edge’s entire legendary career, this may have been a top five book!

Hitman: My Real Life in the Cartoon World of Wrestling by Bret Hart, Random House Canada, 2007 (#9 on Top 50 Wrestling Books)
WWE Hall of Famer Bret Hart’s 2007 autobiography was transcribed from decades of audio tapes he’d recorded while on the road. The result is an comprehensive, candid and well-written look at The Hitman’s legendary career.

The Best In The World At What I Have No Idea by Chris Jericho, Berkley, 2014 (#8 on Top 50 Wrestling Books)
The third of Chris Jericho’s autobiographies, Jericho (with Peter Thomas Fornatale) looks at his successful 2007 WWE run, mixing in tidbits from his life outside the ring as well as documenting heated arguments he’s had with the likes of Vince McMahon.

Undisputed: How to Become the World Champion in 1,372 Easy Steps by Chris Jericho, Grand Central Publishing, 2011 (#4 on Top 50 Wrestling Books)
The second Chris Jericho autobiography is written by Jericho (with Peter Thomas Fornatale) in 2011, covering his first full run with the World Wrestling Federation. The run didn’t end up going as smoothly as fans would believed, which makes for an eye-opening and entertaining read.

A Lion’s Tale: Around The World In Spandex by Chris Jericho, Grand Central Publishing, 2007 (#2 on Top 50 Wrestling Books)
With Chris Jericho’s first three biographies placed prominently on this list, Jericho’s debut offering (along with Peter Thomas Fornatale) in 2008 takes us literally all around the world as Jericho attempts to build a reputation in professional wrestling before landing his dream job in the WWF (at the end of this book). A Lion’s Tale is both hilarious and informative.

Battleground Valhalla: The Story of Finnish Wrestling Pioneer Michael “StarBuck” Majalahti by Michael Majalahti and Scott Teal, Crowbar Press, 2017
This is a long book for someone few in North America know much about, but it is truly a unique story about a Canadian who became a wrestling star in Finland.


Soulman: The Rocky Johnson Story by Rocky Johnson with Scott Teal, ECW Press, 2019
Again, being upfront, Rocky Johnson and I had a contract for me to write this book and then, as the kids say, he ghosted me. Scott Teal honorably paid me a small amount for all the work that I had already done and then proceeded to be screwed over by Johnson in so many ways, including financially. The book was pulled for a couple of reasons, but the main one was that Rocky had lied, saying that his son, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, had approved of the foreword. Rocky and lies were a longer lasting tag team than Rocky and Tony Atlas.

Angelo Mosca at his book launch. Photo by Greg Oliver

Angelo Mosca at his book launch. Photo by Greg Oliver

Tell Me To My Face by Angelo Mosca with Steve Milton, Lulu, 2011
Even recently in a Facebook group, someone had noted they didn’t know that Angelo Mosca, one of the most famous football players in CFL history, had written a book. The publisher was Lulu, which is owned by Bob Young, who also owns the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, so you can see the connection and why Mosca went with a benefactor. What it didn’t do was get the book into a ton of hands. The news that Mosca was partly African-American did make the rounds though. (Note, I know he was born in America, but I’m counting him on this Canadian list. Tell me to my face why I’m wrong!)

You’re Gonna Hurt Yourself by Ben Nelson Creed, Self-published, 2016
“Bomber” Nelson never made the big time, but rubbed shoulders with lots of names, especially while training at the New Japan Pro Wrestling dojo when it was in Japan. This is self-publishing at its best.

Diana Hart book

Under The Mat: Inside Wrestling’s Greatest Family by Diana Hart with Kirstie McLellan, Fenn Publishing Company Ltd., 2001
Kirstie McLellan later became a publishing industry in and of herself, and I did a lengthy interview with her for the Society of International Hockey Research back in 2018. But at the time, she was relatively new to publishing. This book with Diana Hart wasn’t long after Owen Hart fell from the rafters. It contained enough information that upset various people — most notably Owen’s widow Martha — that it was pulled from shelves. It turned out that the book had never really been pored over by lawyers. McLellan Day told me it was a learning experience, and is still friends with Diana Hart, who has moved into writing romance novels set in the world of pro wrestling. “I loved working with her. I guess, I’ve moved on to work with other companies like Harper Collins and Penguin-Random House, and their professionalism,” considered McLellan Day. “What they taught me is that when you write a book, you have to be very careful to make sure that you have proper legal representation and that is that it is vetted properly.”

Shrapnel of the Soul and Redemption by Pepper Martin and Penny Lane, Page Publishing, Inc., 2016
Like Howard “Pepper” Martin himself, this book is a bit long-winded. Not only does it delve into his wrestling days, but old-school Hollywood too. Pepper always loved telling stories of the likes of John Ford, Woody Strode and even beating up Superman (Christopher Reeve) in Superman 2.

Deepak Massand: An Autobiography by Deepak Massand
In a world before it was easy to be a self-promoter on social media, Deepak Massand was ahead of his time. He milked his short time in and around wrestling into become a very minor name in and around Montreal, and this book, self-published not long before his death, is, hmm, a character-study.

When Wrestling Was Real (volumes 1-3) by Paul “Butcher” Vachon, self-published; Wrestling with the Past: Life In and Out of the Ring by Paul “Butcher” Vachon, self-published, 2012.
Butcher Vachon wrote these books himself, and I helped with a couple of them as far as editing and sourcing photos went. The three volumes of When Wrestling Was Real cover a lot of ground and are quite fascinating, especially his time overseas in India. The idea with Wrestling with the Past: Life In and Out of the Ring was that it was one volume, so it’s more accessible. Butcher mainly sold these through the mail and in person at flea markets and wrestling conventions, so good luck hunting them down now that he’s gone.


There is little doubt that Quebec was way ahead of the rest of Canada when it comes to celebrating its wrestlers, with four of these books published before the wrestling book boom brought on by Mick Foley’s first bestseller. Since I was in French Immersion until Grade 12, and then did some work in Quebec when Sun Media was purchased by Quebecor, I have somewhat made my way through these.

Johnny Rougeau book

Johnny Rougeau by Johnny Rougeau, Les Editions Quebecor, 1983
If anything, wrestling fans will be disappointed by this memoir from Johnny Rougeau, written shortly before his death, because there’s so much hockey and politics in it … but that was fine with me.

Une vie de chien dans un monde fous by Mad Dog Vachon with Louis Chantigny, Guérin Littérature, 1988
The accident in Nebraska where Mad Dog Vachon lost a leg actually made him a bigger celebrity in Quebec, and this book was one of the results of that renewed fame.

Little Beaver: Un nain dans l’arène de la vie by Lionel Giroux, Quebecor, 1979
Wrestling bookshelves have very few tomes by little persons, and this book by Little Beaver, one of the first of the “midget” wrestlers, is a look into a life, not just wrestling.

Yvon Robert: Le Lion du Canada français; le plus grand lutteur du Quebec, Pierre Berthelet, Publistar, 1999
As iconic a person as there ever was in Quebec, this is an epic biography (so technically belongs higher up in this article), with few stones left unturned.

Hommage aux célèbres frères Baillargeon by Réjean Lévesque, La Plume D’Or, 1997
Again, a biography and not an autobiography, this book on the Baillargeon brothers — and their sister — coulda, woulda, shoulda been a lot stronger and longer.

L’histoire de la lutte par Jacques Rougeau père & fils, Les secrets les mieux gardés enfin révélés by Jacques Rougeau Jr., Les Éditions de la Francophonie, 2011
Not the in-depth look into the Rougeau family that you might expect.


These didn’t fit into the autobiography section, but they are by Canadian wrestling personalities.

Killer Pics: A Collection of Images from a Pro-Wrestling Legend by Walter “Killer” Kowalski, Colin White & Laurie Boucke, 2001
Killer Kowalski was mean in the ring and took a mean picture. It’s part travelogue too.

Messy in the Kitchen: My Guide to Eating Deliciously, Hosting Fabulously and Sipping Copiously by Renee Paquette, Permuted Press, 2021
While I don’t actually own this one, we have a great interview with Renee and I know that some personal anecdotes are in it.