Monday, 31 December 2007

Turning the Tables: The Story of Extreme Championship Wrestling - Book Review

One of the biggest news stories of 2005 has been the wave of nostalgia that has swept the wrestling business with regards to Extreme Championship Wrestling, so it’s no surprise that someone’s finally released a book about the company.

John Lister, following on from his successful Slamthology book, is that man, and his second book, “Turning The Tables: The Story of Extreme Championship Wrestling” is perfect for any die-hard ECW fan, or for people like me who jumpedon the bandwagon too late and got caught up with events earlier this year.

This is the first ever book that looks back at the history of ECW, from their beginnings as Eastern Championship Wrestling and as an affiliate member of the National Wrestling Alliance, and to the actual birth of Extreme Championship Wrestling when Shane Douglas won a tournament to crown a new NWA World Champion, and promptly threw down the belt and proclaimed himself the first ECW Champion.

It seems that almost every infamous incident here is covered in depth, from the Mass Transit incident, the Raven-Tommy Dreamer feud, the Sandman crucifixion angle, and more. Lister tells the story of ECW’s attempts to become a national promotion, securing television spots in various parts of America, moving on to pay-per-view in 1997, and gaining a national television slot on TNN, which to many was the beginning of the end for the company.

There is also a few chapters which look at the financial dealings of the company, and the list of people and companies who were owed money when they filed for bankruptcy in 2001.

Lister also looks at the two ECW invasions of the WWF, including their teaming with WCW to form The Alliance during the failed Invasion angle in 2001, and the reasons this very book was published, the wave of ECW nostalgia that has swept the wrestling business this year, Shane Douglas’ Hardcore Homecoming shows, and the WWE’s One Night Stand pay-per-view.

In conclusion - Lister’s done it again. Turning The Tables is an extremely well researched, and certainly thought provoking book, about a promotion regarded as one of the most influential in professional wrestling history, how the passion of just a few men turned something that had a cult following into a national phenomenon that challenged two international promotions, but ultimately failed because of poor financial acumens, and by growing faster than they should have. It’s a very good read, and a must for any ECW fan.