World Wrestling Insanity Presents
Shoot First, Ask Questions Later
Synopsis: A look at the beginning of a shoot interview empire.
Great. Koko B. Ware just called my show little. The guy who sang Pile-friggin'-driver just did an anti-promo for "Radio Free Insanity". I thought about leaving it in anyway. What harm could it do? People would think that's funny, not a big deal, right? Ah, so many options to weigh. As I began to ponder, he went on...
"Oh, oh... I don't know, I don't know. I don't mean to say you're little. You could be big... you can be the top-rated show on your radio station right now..."
That's when I stopped pondering and decided to cut the whole mess out. It's one thing when he says my show is small. It's another when he confirms he has no idea what the show even is. All I needed now was for him to curse at me in Spanish and I'd have the best non-commercial for "Radio Free Insanity" ever!
Full disclosure: I wrote for James Guttman's World Wrestling Insanity for seven years.
As wrestling fans, we love backstage dirt: Who's jumping ship? Who's getting a push? How does so-and-so interact with such-and-such (probably quite well, given that their names are so similar)? How much of what we hear "behind the scenes" is actually a work designed to build someone's backstage rep, or detract from others?
Club WWI members have heard Guttman's interviews with everyone from Bobby Eaton to Bobby Heenan, from Jimmy Hart to Bruce Hart, and from Kevin Nash to Kid Kash. Most of the conversations are laid-back and genial, with each performer being allowed to clear up misconceptions, give their opinions on the current product and say what's on their mind.
But how, exactly, does one go about arranging these conversations? Does one just pick up the phone and say "Hey, what's up, Kamala? How do you feel about sharing your innermost secrets on an audio program being broadcast over the Internet?"
Turns out, it's not that simple. Guttman spends hours tracking down some of the industry's biggest (and some largely-forgotten) names, convincing them to talk to a relative stranger, with no compensation, to boot.
Some guests -- and ones you wouldn't expect -- are tremendous to deal with, while others -- same deal -- turn out to be jerks. Seriously, his stories about dealings with Ole Anderson and The Wrestler's Ernest Miller are enough to make someone cringe.
But the "story behind the story" is only part of the charm to Shoot First. Guttman also shares with us how much his perceptions have changed since the first World Wrestling Insanity book (and, for the record, I enjoyed that one, too, though I personally disagreed with some of the points made).
There are so many untrue perceptions of professional wrestling registered not only by the general public, but by people supposedly "in the know". This book helps to set the record straight. This is especially helpful in situations like 2007's Benoit family tragedy, where, as a fan, you're just not sure what to believe after a while.
Instead of shying away from the topic like some, or profiting from it like others have, Guttman tackles the issue head on, speaking to people who knew Chris Benoit and didn't try to sensationalize the issue.
Rating: Transitional Champion. An interesting collection of comments from 100 wrestlers in here, some really funny stories, and analysis of the wrestling business you won't get elsewhere.