Thursday, July 31, 2008

Don't let your babies grow up to be wrestlers

When people think of exploitative industries, the first that comes to mind is generally porn. According to Matthew Randazzo V in his Ring of Hell: The Story of Chris Benoit; the Fall of the Pro Wrestling Industry, one should think of pro wrestling in the same light. He portrays a world in which sadism, substance and steroid abuse and self-inflicted torture are not just tolerated but celebrated. Ranging from Canada's Hart House, with its Dungeon, to the yakuza managed New Japan Pro Wrestling league to the mania of the American wrestling scene, the book is a story of degradation where some, like Hulk Hogan, manage to make millions, while others die in their thirties from the physical and drug wear.

The relatively small Chris Benoit, who Randazzo portrays as both a cruel sadist and maniacally driven was about as small as someone could be and still work in pro wrestling. Of course he became an avid steroid user, and as was well publicized, he killed his wife and young son, using the skills he learned in the ring. The book though isn't a true crime book. The focus of the book is not Benoit's crime, which gets only a few pages, but the crimes of the industry as a whole.

Wrestling fans will likely either eat up the large amounts of industry gossip or be repulsed at the depiction of their favorite form of entertainment as a cesspool. Non-wrestling fans will find more reasons not to watch or attend matches. Befitting the topic, the language in the book is more than a little rough, so be warned.

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