By Will Pruett
There are a ton of wrestling books in the world. If you look up the professional wrestling subject on Amazon, you’ll be overwhelmed by the result. In just 16 years since Mick Foley created a genre with Have a Nice Day, the variety of wrestling books has exploded. This is great for the genre, unless you try to read every book. At this point, we all must pick and choose the wrestlers we want to read about and read thoughts from. I tend to look at personality as the defining factor of whether or not to pick up a wrestling biography. The ultimate flaw in Booker T’s My Rise to Wrestling Royalty is a lack of personality.
In over 400 pages, Booker T manages to tell the story of his entire wrestling career. He used a convenient book-selling device by ending his previous book just before he began wrestling (Chris Jericho did a similar thing to end his first book and lead into his second). Because of this, we pick up with Booker making his way to WCW by way of Sid. We also see Booker encountering racism in wrestling and how he deals with it. If anything, this is the most compelling portion of the book. Booker T is given a horribly racist gimmick (along with his brother) and he finds a way to overcome it. It’s downright inspiring.
If the rest of the book had the kind of personality Booker showed in this portion, it would be fantastic. Sadly, the rest of the book becomes a re-telling of his career that Wikipedia could have produced in a more accurate and concise manner. Very little is added aside from a match having happened, Booker working hard, and the results of said match. It’s not necessarily bad, it’s just boring.
Booker also has added a new innovation to wrestling books: a running championship counter. The cover of the book boasts that Booker is a “35 time wrestling champion” and we learn about each one of those. The counter is a running tally appearing on the side of the page. It’s more annoying than it is innovative. There’s an odd balance in this book demonstrated here. It’s almost like the championships are listed as won or lost without the scripted nature of wrestling being involved. I’m not saying Booker denies the scripting, he just ignores it when it benefits him.
There are some insights into Booker’s personal life, but they are few and far between. I have heard that his prior book was a fantastic personal tale of triumph. This book was more about maintaining the status quo of said triumph. It doesn’t make for an interesting story, even if it is a true one.
If you’re a major fan of Booker T, you will really enjoy this book. If you’re a casual fan of Booker looking for a good wrestling read, I would recommend avoiding it. It isn’t terrible, but it isn’t interesting.