Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Book Review: Brody by Larry Matysik & Barbara Goodish

People may complain about the current era of pro wrestling in terms of the product being put out by WWE, TNA and others, but this era is noteworthy for a new value placed on the history of pro wrestling. This era, having been launched by the success of the A&E special The Unreal Story of Professional Wrestling, and by Mick Foley's first best selling book, has produced a rash of wrestling books and some unique looks into the people and events that have shaped this industry we call professional wrestling.

Brody, by Larry Matysik and Barbara Goodish, is the story of the late, great Bruiser Brody (real name Frank Goodish). Brody, who murdered in a dressing room in Puerto Rico in 1988, was one of the top stars in the history of the mat game - a fiercely independent bear of a man, who was highly intelligent both in and out of the ring, as well as being a great friend, father and husband.

Brody is a fascinating and compelling book on many levels. The book chapters are written alternately by Matysik (the protege of the late NWA founder and St. Louis promoter, Sam Munchnik) and Barbara Goodish (Frank's widow). A balance is struck between Bruiser Brody and he what he meant to pro wrestling and Frank Goodish and who the man was behind the character of Bruiser Brody. The result of this choice is a book that is as informative and thought provoking as it is tragic and compelling.

One of the most fascinating aspects of the book is the discussion of the what the wrestling world was going through in the mid to late 1980's and the total upheaval of the pro wrestling business as Vince McMahon began his national expansion of the then WWF, and the world that was then called "independent wrestling."

Bruiser Body was an icon and an idol for many who were in the wrestling business during his sadly curtailed career. I remember my dear friend, the late "Boston Bad Boy" Tony Rumble speaking in reverential tones about Brody and what a great friend he was and what a great credit to the business he was.

Brody, who made his greatest impact as a star in Japan, was not really a part of the great national TV era of the 80's. The book speculates on what might have happened had Brody lived longer. It is a shame that younger fans who did not live in the territory era, did not get the chance to experience Bruiser Brody and understand his impact first hand, and another reason that this book is such a treasure.

Brody is one of the greatest wrestling biographies ever - brilliantly written, emotionally charged and a fitting tribute to a pivotal figure in the annals of professional wrestling.

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