Is Wrestling Fixed?
I Didn't Know It Was Broken!
Synopsis: A collection of unique stories about covering the pro wrestling industry from one of its most prominent reporters.
Savage was quickly walking down the corridor with Miss Elizabeth, heading toward me. I smiled, held the plaque in the air and looked him right in the eye and said "I've been waiting weeks to present this to you, my friend." He took the plaque from my hand, glanced at it and slammed it into the concrete wall repeatedly - smashing it. Then he tossed it a few feet and looked me in the eyes, saying nothing. He was seething and looked like he was going to do to me what he had just done to the plaque.
Sullivan stood between us now, and Savage looked at him, pointing his finger in Sullivan's chest and then in mine, and bellowed, "The two of you, come with me!" The other wrestlers in the corridor and Miss Elizabeth were dead silent. It appeared that I was perhaps headed to my execution as Savage led me and Sullivan to a dark, dingy backstage closet. There was barely enough room for the three of us. Sullivan was positioned between us.
Looking totally irrational, his eyes a fiery red and the smell of beer on his breath, he said to me, "You piece of crap. You mean nothing to me. Your award means crap to me. I came to your house last year and met your little kids and your wife. They mean crap to me too."
Bill Apter is a name that any serious wrestling fan knows. For decades, he was the voice of Pro Wrestling Illustrated and other newsstand wrestling magazines. After that, he lent his talents to WOW Magazine in the early 2000s and the groundbreaking website 1wrestling.com. Plus he did an interview with Canadian Bulldog's World last year -- so you know he's cool!
After nearly 50 years of covering the industry and interacting with everyone from Sammartino to Cena, Apter published a book of unique tales and experiences that literally no one else could have penned - they would have had to walk a mile in his shoes, so to speak.
Is Wrestling Fixed? I Didn't Know It Was Broken! was a no-brainer for me to pick up, both as a serious wrestling fan for over 30 years, and as a former reporter. Thankfully, I wasn't disappointed in the least.
Apter is able to really peel back the layers and explain what goes into wrestling journalism. Sure, the magazines keep (or at least, kept) kayfabe, but that didn't mean that he could write whatever he wanted. There were very real interactions with wrestling and promoters, some of which embraced the coverage and some that had a love-hate relationship with the magazines (and by proxy, with Apter).
This alone is reason enough to recommend the book, but so much more is packed into it. Apter describes the various personalities at the so-called "Apter Mags" (and contrary to popular belief, the other writers DO exist, as we found out when we interviewed Eddie Ellner earlier this year!), how they all worked together, and even what many of them went on to accomplish later in life.
There are incredibly colorful stories in here about Apter's fascinating interactions with Hall of Famers such as Hulk Hogan, The Von Erich Family, Bruno Sammartino, Mr. Perfect, Dusty Rhodes, Randy Savage (see the excerpt at the top of this page), Ric Flair, Jerry Lawler (who wrote the book's foreword) and Shawn Michaels. Plus he has stories on Triple H, Vince McMahon... even The Blue Meanie, and all of them are ones most fans won't ever have read about before.
Perhaps the most intriguing story to me was how Apter "jumped ship" to WOW Magazine, a slick publication that offered him a contract and more money than he'd ever been paid before. While he struggled with leaving the family of magazines he'd worked at for 29 years, it was clear he had no choice but to take the new opportunity. But the fallout (including reactions from Linda McMahon and others) is quite fascinating and definitely needs to be read.
Apter's Jerry Lewis style of dad humor is also a nice touch (as evident in the book's title). The jokes and goofy photos make the narrative that much more intriguing. You quickly feel as though you've know Bill Apter your entire life and could sit down and have a beer (sorry... soda) with the guy.
Overall Rating: The Best There Is, The Best There Was, The Best There Ever Will Be. This has quickly become one of my favorite wrestling books out there, and I have consumed at more than 50 of them by conservative estimates! It's a fun and informative read about not only wrestling history, but someone who helped to shape the industry in many ways.