Drawing Heat the Hard Way: How Wrestling Really Works.
By Larry Matysik.
Published by ECW Press.
Released June 4, 2009.
257 Pages, paperback.
Larry Matysik, a highly respected author within the circle of professional wrestling from the releases of his two previous works; Wrestling at the Chase and Bruiser Brody: The Triumph and Tragedy of Wrestling’s Rebel. Growing up as a fan in the St. Louis area finding work with Sam Muchnick the legendary promoter and chairman of the National Wrestling Alliance. At the age of 16 Matysik would from that day forward be involved with wrestling in one form of another leading him to compose his third book.
Possibly the most frustrating, thought provoking, addictive wrestling book I have read in quite a while. Within the first few chapters I found myself smiling at what Larry Matysik had to say before getting angry at something I didn’t agree with and finally laughing at his almost mischievously funny comments. Matysik provides a well balanced comparison between wrestling of the 60′s & 70′s in St. Louis with the late 80′s up until time of writing for the World Wrestling Federation / WWE. Looking into the booking philosophies, what the announcers are there for, how matches are put together, the evolution of wrestling from the 60′s onwards. This was the only major disappointment with Drawing Heat the Hard Way, I expected an open look at the industry as a whole including the major territories including Japan & Mexico with glimpses into the real psychology to why the angles and companies worked, not a concentrated look analysing the differences and/or similarities between St. Louis and WWE. In hindsight it makes perfect sense for the book to be written in this manner, who better to compare possibly the untouchable territory (Whilst under Muchnicks control) and today’s WWE than someone who worked for both promotions and has a close friendship with Dave Meltzer, Larry Matysik. Although I did not agree with everything Larry speaks of in the book, he explains the logic behind it and leaves you understanding where he is coming from even if you don’t fully agree. This is very much a book that is open to debate, by no means is all of it set in stone, there could be mass debates for hours every day over the best way to promote wrestling. Furthermore the heated discussions that could stem from comparing old to new, a subject Matysik covers very well and for the most part objectively in the book, could take up more time than wrestling has had on the air waves of television since it’s conception. Yes, at times it feels like Larry is spitting acid towards Vince McMahon, but as previously commented within seconds he is neutralising with a just as intriguing alkaline argument for McMahon.
Overall Drawing Heat the Hard Way was a very enjoyable read. Through all the range of emotions it made me feel, the thoughts it provoked, the valuable insight into two of the greatest promotions ever created along with occasional references to other territories for the whole respect Larry’s opinion. However, due to a few small factual errors which did for me personally make me doubt how trustworthy some of the content was, but thankfully due to the nature of the book specifics on events are not entirely necessary. Although it is clear that for Larry Matysik the old was more entertaining than the current product, this does not hinder him in being able to portray his accounts fairly in any way. I wouldn’t say this is a must read and it is not in the same league as Wrestling at the Chase or Bruiser Brody, but for anyone interested at looking into how the heart of the NWA evolved into the WWE, this is an interesting read. Anyone seeking basic knowledge on the inner workings of the wrestling world would also find this book interesting. If you happen to be in a wrestling fan club with a book debate this book would be an excellent topic. Anyone looking for a psychological look into the reasoning behind professional wrestling will be disappointed. Many people will agree with the majority of the points Matysik makes, many will disagree, and many more will be like myself and will appreciate the good and bad of both new and old forms of professional wrestling, a point Matysik himself makes.
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