I finished My Life In Wrestling by Gary Hart last night, and it's without a doubt one of the best wrestling books ever written. It's 440 pages of quality content, with normal sized font and no filler. I honestly wouldn't have minded even more pictures because there are some that capture eras of Hart's career of which there isn't a lot of video footage. While some of the chapters are on the short side, including one particular chapter that is one of the more hilarious of any book I've ever read, this is still the most thorough and info-packed wrestling autobiography I've read next to Hitman. Without giving too much away (this is really just scratching the surface), some highlights include:
-Abdullah the Butcher regularly dipped his pizza in milk before eating it. -Paul Boesch once wanted to book the finish to an Andre / Race match where Andre slipped on a pencil and got counted out, and he'd exclaim on commentary something like "Who would have thought a mere pencil could fell a mighty giant?!" This idea was of course shot down by everyone involved. -David Manning was a gambling addict who once lost something like $10K in WCCW cash in a briefcase in his trunk most likely due to loansharks breaking into his car. -Rick Hazard getting stabbed 17 times by the Yakuza when he was along for the ride with Kevin Von Erich for some Japan dates. -Jim Hellwig was originally going to be proposed the "Big Van Vader" gimmick but it was right at the time he signed with the WWF, so Leon White got it instead.
I mean you could go on and on, Hart had a mind like a steel trap and recalls each part of his career with impressive detail. He does recall some stuff incorrectly, such as the finish to the Kerry / Flair steel cage match (he states it was a pinfall instead of a ref stoppage), but I'd be inclined to believe the majority of the stuff in this book because Hart comes off like a straight shooter and one of the few legitimately decent guys in the business from his era. Which is especially impressive when you consider he was a punk kid from a broken home, who grew up on the streets of Chicago and ran with the mafia as a young man.
He does have it out big time for Ken Mantell, giving him absolutely no credit for his run as booker after Hart left Texas in 1983. Based on what I've seen and what Hart writes here, I would agree he's a better booker than Mantell, but he also trashes some stuff that Ken did that I liked a lot. Sunshine managing Kabuki during his face turn, and the Dynamic Duo wearing masks after having their heads shaved, I thought were both good angles but Hart writes them off as much because Mantell booked them as anything. The latter was was reused by CM Punk quite effectively, and Hart himself mentions similar stuff he booked a few different times. And while Hart does credit Garvin & Sunshine as being a good duo Mantell used during his tenure, he gives Mantel no credit for the feud between Garvin and Chris Adams centered around Sunshine, which is one of my all-time favorites and was exceptionally booked.
These are really the only things I didn't agree with in the book, and Hart does make lot of good points about Mantell and the guy sounds like he was a real dick. Either way, this has dethroned "A Lion's Tale" to become my favorite wrestling book of all-time and I highly recommend anyone who is interested at all pick it up while it's back in print.