Believe it or not, there are hundreds upon hundreds of wrestling books out there... including but not limited to an e-book by yours truly. In fact, many of the books on this list are fully reviewed on Bulldog's Bookshelf.
Strangely enough, there were hardly any books about the squared circle until twenty-odd years ago when former NWA World Champion Lou Thesz published his autobiography "Hooker" in 1995. The Attitude Era brought about a brand new series of wrestling authors -- several of whom even made the New York Times Bestseller List.
Of course, there aren't just wrestling personalities publishing books; everyone from former announcers to current journalists have come up with unique and innovative ways to tap into the still-active genre.
In ranking the Top 50 Wrestling Books, Wrestling Merchandise & Memories looked at a variety of factors, including:
How much impact did the book have on the professional wrestling community?
Is the book still cited today by wrestling fans and historians?
Does it appear to be a fairly accurate account of their career (as opposed to being written in kayfabe, which some are) or largely fictitious accounts of history?
Does the author use the book to fuel personal grudges, or do they attempt to put things in context?
We also excluded books that I, personally, haven't read before (it would be hard to judge, otherwise) and books by wrestling personalities that have nothing to do with their wrestling career (Mick Foley, for example, has written fiction novels).
Ready? Here we go!
Broken Harts: The Life and Death of Owen Hart
Part biography and part love story, Owen Hart's widow Martha Hart wrote about her late husband's tragic demise in this 2004 book. While it is negative towards the Hart family, Vince McMahon and wrestling in general, Martha is able to show us the side of Owen that was a great father and husband.
Kayfabe: Stories You're Not Supposed to Hear From a Pro Wrestling Production Company Owner
Written in 2017 by Kayfabe Commentaries host Sean Oliver, this book details some of the craziest wrestling stories out there, including how he cajoles top stars into spilling their guts in a shoot interview -- and some where that doesn't quite happen as planned.
Booker T: My Rise to Wrestling Royalty
The 2015 sequel to WWE Hall of Famer Booker T's "From Prison To Promise" (which featured very little wrestling commentary), the second book written by Booker and Andrew W. Willliam Wright takes a look at Booker's legendary career, including stops in WCW, WWF and all points in between. The former King Booker has a lot to say in this volume.
Rope Opera: How WCW Killed Vince Russo
Whether you love Vince Russo or can't stand him, his 2010 biography that looked at his role in the Monday Night Wars is required reading. Russo is an entertaining writer (much moreso than in his earlier book "Forgiven"), and talks openly about his struggles in the business and why critics despise him so much.
Follow the Buzzards: Pro Wrestling in the Age of COVID-19
Keith Elliot Greenberg followed up his book Too Sweet: Inside the Indie Wrestling Revolution with a book that explained how the wrestling industry adapted to the unusual challenges of operating during the global pandemic. The story ties together world political events with the ups and downs of the wrestling business in 2000.
Terry Funk: More Than Just Hardcore
The autobiography of WWE Hall of Famer Terry Funk (written by Funk and Scott E. Williams) was published in 2012 and tells the story of a grappler who has been involved in many different territories and eras over a period of several decades. The Funker also talks about his second career in Hollywood and the evolution of brawling.
Mad Dog: The Maurice Vachon Story
Written in 2017 by Bertrand Hebert and Pat Laprade, this book delves into the unusual life of WWE Hal of Famer Mad Dog Vachon, a feared grappler in his native Quebec who began with a rough upbringing and even found his way to the 1948 Olympic Games before pursuing a career that led him to the AWA World Championship.
Cross Rhodes: Goldust, Out of the Darkness
Written in 2009 by Dustin Rhodes (a/k/a Goldust), this autobiography tells the story of an up and coming wrestler trying desperately to escape his famous father's shadow. When he succeeds, Goldust develops a series of life-threatening issues and setbacks, yet makes his way back to the ring in an inspirational tale.
Killing the Business: From Backyard to the Big Leagues
The tag team autobiography of Matt and Nick Jackson (The Young Bucks) looks at their lifelong love affair with professional wrestling, which included how they broke many traditional rules to become a top independent tag team and went on to help create All Elite Wrestling.
Cheating Death, Stealing Life: The Eddie Guerrero Story
Published shortly after Eddie Guerrero's death in 2005, this book was initially meant to be another in a long line of "rehab gone well" stories. The book, written by Guerrero and Michael Krugman, demonstrates his courage to perservere and become a better athlete.
There's Just One Problem... True Tales From the Former, One-Time 7th Most Powerful Person in WWE
The literary debut of former WWE head writer Brian Gewirtz is filled with interesting backstage insights on everyone he worked with, from The Rock to Vince McMahon.
The Road Warriors: Danger, Death and the Rush of Wrestling
Written by Joe Laurinaitis (Animal) and Andrew William Wright, this book covers the story of the legendary Road Warriors. The biography is more honest than many others, honoring the team's legacy while also being up front about their downfall.
Benoit: Wrestling With The Horror That Destroyed A Family And Crippled The Sport
Published in 2007, this book was a series of magazine-length essays, written by journalists Steven Johnson, Greg Oliver, Heath McCoy and Irv Muchnick. They all dealt with the Chris Benoit tragedy, but approaching the subject in four very different ways.
Crazy Like A Fox: The Definitive Chronicle of Brian Pillman, 20 Years Later
Published in 2017 by Liam O'Rourke, this book does a tremendous job of telling fans about the extraordinary career of Brian Pillman, which was cut short in 1997 in the midst of a career renaissance.
To Be The Man
One of the mostly highly-anticipated sports biographies when it was released in 2004, this account by WWE Hall of Famer Ric Flair (and Keith Ellliott Greenberg) gives you a complete account of his iconic career. If it weren't so negative to so many of Flair's peers, this could have been among the top wrestling autobiographies of all time.
The Squared Circle: Life, Death And Professional Wrestling
Published in 2013, sportswriter David Shoemaker (a/k/a The Masked Man) takes a unique look at wrestling through performers who have passed away before their time. But instead of another book that criticizes the "culture of death" wrestling lifestyle, Shoemaker attempts to make sense of the mysteries.
The King Of New Orleans: How The Junkyard Dog Became Professional Wrestling's First Black Superstar
Written in 2012, author Greg Klein tells one of wrestling's great untold stories: the history of WWE Hall of Famer The Junkyard Dog as he rose to prominence in New Orleans during the 1980's and became the biggest sports star in the city, with JYD's popularity transcending race.
It's Good To Be The King.. Sometimes
WWE Hall of Famer Jerry "The King" Lawler's 2002 autobiography (written by Lawler with Doug Asheville) spans several decades, telling the story of Lawler's unlikely rise through Memphis and to the WWF (not to mention him leaving the company and having his life fall to pieces in 2001).
The Death Of WCW
Published in 2004 by wrestling writers R.D. Reynolds and Bryan Alvarez (and republished with new information la decade later), this book is a thorough look at the rise and fall of WCW, covering most of the high and the low points from the promotion, with dashes of good humor and witty writing throughout.
Countdown To Lockdown: A Hardcore Journal
The final of Mick Foley's four wrestling biographies, this book is set up much like The Hardcore Diaries. The story centers around Foley's adventures in TNA, leading to a PPV match with Sting and a final World Title run. While Foley was on the outs with WWE at the time, he was careful not to burn any bridges.
Controversy Creates Cash
One of the most surprising WWE-produced autobiographies out there, Eric Bischoff (with Jeremy Roberts) discusses Bischoff's rise to power in WCW, subsequent downfall and move to WWE. But the most surprising part is how humble and intelligent Bischoff comes across while telling his side of the story.
The Best In The World At What I Have No Idea
The third of Chris Jericho's autobiographies, Jericho (with Peter Thomas Fornatale) looks at his successful 2007 WWE run, mixing in tidbits from his life outside the ring as well as documenting heated arguments he's had with the likes of Vince McMahon.
NITRO: The Incredible Rise and Inevitable Collapse Of Ted Turner's WCW
This 2018 book by Guy Evans is the comprehensive book available about the rise and fall of WCW, with dozens of interviews and anecdotes never before shared about the inner workings of World Championship Wrestling.
Undisputed: How To Become The World Champion In 1,372 Easy Steps
The second Chris Jericho autobiography is written by Jericho (with Peter Thomas Fornatale) in 2011, covering his first full run with the World Wrestling Federation. The run didn't end up going as smoothly as fans would believed, which makes for an eye-opening and entertaining read.
A Lion's Tale: Around The World In Spandex
With Chris Jericho's first three biographies placed prominently on this list, Jericho's debut offiering (along with Peter Thomas Fornatale) in 2008 takes us literally all around the world as Jericho attempts to build a reputation in professional wrestling before landing his dream job in the WWF (at the end of this book). A Lion's Tale is both hilarious and informative.
The Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame: Heroes & Icons
One of several Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame books written by Greg Oliver and Steven Johnson (more volumes to follow on this list), Heroes & Icons was published in 2012 and provides informative biographies on some of the best "good guys" in the business, including many that aren't often discussed.
The Three Count: My Life in Stripes as a Wrestling Referee
Former WWF/E referee Jimmy Korderas is a recurring analyst on Canadian television and radio these days, and does a great job in this 2013 autobiography of relaying some tremendous behind-the-scenes stories. Well written and funny to boot, Korderas provides a unique perspective into some major moments from the wrestling business.
The Eighth Wonder of the World: The True Story of Andre The Giant
Published in 2020 by Bertrand Hebert and Pat Laprade, this book attempts to separate fact from fiction about the legendary Andre The Giant. Speaking with wrestlers and friends who knew the WWE Hall of Famer, the book delves into what made Andre so extraordinary in life and in death.
Dungeon of Death: Chris Benoit and the Hart Family Curse
Written by Scott Keith in 2008, this was in the aftermath of the Chris Benoit tragedy. While there isn't any evidence of a Hart Family "curse," it is telling how many people from the ashes of Stampede Wrestling ended up as cautionary tales in the world of professional wrestling.
Beer, Blood and Cornmeal: Seven Years of Incredibly Strange Wrestling
Journalist-turned-wrestler Bob Calhoun does a great job documenting his time in Incredibly Strange Wrestling, a wacky promotion based in Southern California in the early 1990s. Calhoun does a great job making sense of the insanity and crazy characters while also explaining ISW's cult appeal and punk rock attitude.
The Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame: The Tag Teams
Another Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame book by Greg Oliver and Steven Johnson, this 2005 back focuses on - you guessed it - tag teams. Although they cover the traditional tag teams many fans think about today such as The Rockers and Road Warriors, they also cover many forgotten duos from the 1950's and 1960's.
McMahon's Messes and Misses: Scandals, Shockers and Shenanigans in Professional Wrestling
Written in 2022 by our resident wrestling historian Michael W. Rickard, this book was perfectly timed for the public downfall of Vince McMahon, looking back at different scandals and embarassments from the WWE owner.
Dusty: Reflections of an American Dream
While it's tough to capture the iconic career of WWE Hall of Famer Dusty Rhodes and his legacy in a single book, this 2005 autobiography (written by Rhodes and Howard Brody) recalls his legendary run through colorful tales about his many experiences inside and outside of the ring.
Underneath The Black Hat: My Life In WWE And Beyond
The sequel to his literary debut "Slobberknocker," WWE Hall of Famer Jim Ross talks in this 2020 book about his turbulent WWE runs and relationship with Vince McMahon, and morphs into the shocking story of how JR lost the love of his life Jan in a freak automobile accident.
Walking a Golden Mile
William Regal's 2005 autobiography (written by Regal and Neil Chandler) takes you through Regal's unique upbringing, fighting as a teenager in carnivals and coming across the pond to find fame and fortune. Along the way, Regal encounters drug and alcohol issues before managing to turn things around for his family.
The Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame: The Storytellers
Our third entry in the Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame series by Greg Oliver and Steven Johnson (and the most recent in the series) talks about the lost art of storytelling in wrestling and goes through some of the unique and unusual tactics needed to build legendary wresting feuds throughout the decades.
Listen, You Pencil Neck Geeks
Published just weeks his 2003 death, WWE Hall of Famer Classy Freddie Blassie (with Keith Elliot Greenberg) wrote is an eye-opening and fun look at one of wrestling's biggest villians. Blassie isn't exactly politically correct, but his pure honesty makes for an interesting book.
Adam Copeland on Edge
WWE Hall of Famer Adam "Edge" Copeland wrote this book while he was out with a neck injury in 2004 and does an incredible job explaining his early career, with experiences ranging from winning a newspaper contest to competing on frozen native reservations to being hired by WWE. Had it captured Edge's entire legendary career, this may have been a top five book!
The 2021 autobiography of Jon Moxley (a/k/a Dean Ambrose in WWE) was an eye-opener in that it gave wrestling fans an up-close look at the usually quite private wrestling star. He details his rise through the independent ranks to his break in WWE, right through his debut in AEW, all written in a no holds barred style.
Pure Dynamite: The Price You Pay For Wrestling Stardom
Published in 2000, Dynamite Kid Tom Billington's foray into the literary world takes a very dark and sinister edge at times. Having said that, it also serves as a cautionary tale for those who sacrifice their bodies for very little payoff, night after night.
Is Wrestling Fixed? I Didn't Know It Was Broken!
Written by veteran wrestling journalist Bill Apter in 2015, this autobiography looks at pro wrestling through a unique lens, as Apter had to make everyone from Andy Kaufman to Hulk Hogan larger than life in order to publish a series of newsstand wrestling magazines that have become lovingly known as "The Apter Mags."
Rowdy: The Roddy Piper Story
WWE Hall of Famer Rowdy Roddy Piper had written an autobiography ("In The Pit With Piper"), but began writing this book before his passing in 2015 to make for a more accurate and balanced portrayal of his career. Piper's children Ariel Teal Toombs and Colt Baird Toombs released Rowdy in 2017, attempting to explain the first book while also interviewing Hot Rod's contemporaries to make for the definitive picture of his career.
The Hardcore Diaries
The third of four autobiographies from WWE Hall of Famer Mick Foley (he also wrote two fiction books and several children's stories), this 2007 book looks at Foley's angle teaming with Edge for WWE's second ECW One Night Stand PPV. While the period covered is brief, it reveals a lot about WWE's backstage politics.
Bobby The Brain: Wrestling's Bad Boy Tells All
WWE Hall of Famer Bobby "The Brain" Heenan is one of the most original people in wrestling, and this 2002 biography (written by Heenan and Steve Anderson) shows why. Heenan is hilarious here, recalling an iconic career.
Foley Is Good: And The Real World Is Faker Than Wrestling
The second of Mick Foley's four wrestling biographies, this is almost two books in one. The first half covers the end of Foley's active WWF career, while the second half sees Foley doing in-depth research on special interest groups that criticize pro wrestling.
Hitman: My Real Life In The Cartoon World Of Wrestling
WWE Hall of Famer Bret Hart's 2007 autobiography was transcribed from decades of audio tapes he'd recorded while on the road. The result is an comprehensive, candid and well-written look at The Hitman's legendary career.
Pain & Passion: The History Of Stampede Wrestling
Journalist Heath McCoy wrote a comprehensive look at the Stampede Wrestling territory and the entire Hart Family in this 2007 book. McCoy is botht fan and critic of the Harts, and the conflict is what makes this book so readable.
Sex, Lies & Headlocks: The Real Story of Vince McMahon and World Wrestling Entertainment
Written by journalists Shaun Assael and Mike Mooneyham in 2004, this book is as close as one will get to a mainstream book on the wrestling industry. This book follows the McMahon family from humble beginnings to being media juggernauts.
Slobberknocker: My Life In Wrestling
The debut biography by WWE Hall of Famer Jim Ross (with Paul O'Brien), published in 2017, is a wide-ranging story about someone who followed wrestling his entire life, moving from referee to announcer to one of the influential powerful talent scouts in the entire industry. Mixed with a dry sense of humor, JR shares a tremendous life story.
Have A Nice Day: A Tale Of Blood And Sweatsocks
The wrestling book that spawned hundreds of others, this is WWE Hall of Famer Mick Foley's literary debut, published in 2000. We read in painstaking detail how Foley interacted with family, friends, trainers, wrestlers and even Vince McMahon. Mixing tons of detail and a hearty sense of humor, this remains the gold standard by which other wrestling books should be judged.