An entirely different book by Jack Brisco, called "Brisco: The Life and Times National Collegiate and World heavyweight wrestling champion Jack Brisco" (www.jackbrisco.com), was just released a few weeks back.
The similarities are this.
Brisco and Anderson were two of the biggest and most memorable
wrestling stars in the Southeast during that period. Both had
ownership interest in Georgia wrestling in the early 80s when it
was the first weekly program that had something of a national
following. Both wrestled amateur before turning pro. Both
idolized Lou Thesz and Danny Hodge, which was a common theme in
both of their books. And even in their 60s, both still do today.
Brisco, is the opposite. With the exception of Nashville-based promoter Nick Gulas, who few have anything positive to say about, and Dory Funk Sr., the father of his greatest ring rival, Brisco has little bad to say about anyone. Brisco's book is more like the kind of a sports book you'd have read in another generation. It comes off as the life story of a Spartan athlete.
when talking about Vince McMahon and modem wrestling, has
nothing negative to say. When comparing it to the more wrestling
based and realistically presented product that he was one of the
best ever at, he says the current product is neither better nor
worse, just different, and he has great respect for the top
story of Brisco's pro wrestling career, both his most famous
storyline and in real life, was that the chase was probably more
important than the capture.
And it was of the same thing, the NWA world heavyweight
title, which was the ultimate in the business during the 70s.
Brisco grew up poor. He was the third of six children, real name Fred Joe Brisco. His father deserted the family when he was young, and his mother worked as a waitress. His sisters grew up with his aunt because his mother couldn't afford to raise them, and he and Jerry grew up together.
book describes his stardom in sports from junior high, through
college, and his transition to pro wrestling. Brisco was a huge
fan of pro wrestling as a child, idolizing Thesz, to the point
he dedicated his book to both his own wife Jan and to Thesz. The
book goes through college, and what he called, to this day, the
toughest decision of his life as a
senior in high school. Brisco was an all-state
fullback, as well as a high school state champion wrestler. He
had a full football scholarship to the University of Oklahoma
for football, from legendary coach Bud Wilkinson. The team had
won several national championships in previous years, including
a record setting 47-game win streak just a few years earlier. He
also had a scholarship offer from Oklahoma State for wrestling,
which had won five of the previous six national championships.
Football was higher profile, and Oklahoma was where Hodge went.
He could have done both sports at Oklahoma, and if he had tried,
would have been a teammate of Bill Watts and Dale Lewis on the
Sooners wrestling team at the time. He decided to concentrate on
being the best at one as opposed to tying to wrestle after
football season. Ultimately, he made the decision to go to
Oklahoma for football, because it was impossible to say no to
Bud Wilkinson after he'd come to his home and flown him to the
school. And then, after signing his letter of intent, he changed
his mind again. As a high school senior, his goal in life was
not to play in the NFL, but to be the world heavyweight pro
wrestling champion, and so he went to Oklahoma State. It's a
decision he doesn't regret, since he was very successful as a
pro wrestler. But it isn't as if, early in his career when he
got a $12.50 payoff from Nick Gulas, or when he worked the
Amarillo territory, where he wasn't ready to chuck it all and
return to college, and consider himself foolish for getting into
the wrestling business.
at Oklahoma State for his junior and senior years, he worked a
janitorial job at a nearby office building every day after
practice to support his family. In two years wrestling at 191
pounds at Oklahoma State, Brisco lost one match, to Harry Houska
of Ohio, in the finals of the 1964 NCAA tournament.
Brisco pinned all but four opponents in his senior year,
finishing his career by pinning Dan Pernat of Wisconsin to win
the NCAA title. Even after winning the NCAA championship in 1965
and being a local celebrity, he was cleaning toilets every
the time, his hero was Hodge, who was the top wrestling star in
Leroy McGuirk's wrestling territory, an expansive territory
geographically similar to what later became Bill Watts'
Mid-South Wrestling in the 80s. Hodge and Thesz were his
childhood idols. When Brisco started wrestling as an amateur in
1954, Hodge had already gone to the Olympics and was on the
verge of being one of the all-time sports legends in Oklahoma.
From there, Brisco followed him through three NCAA titles, an
Olympic silver medal, and through his pro boxing career. At
about the time Brisco entered college, Hodge started pro
wrestling, and became the biggest star of Leroy McGuirk's
He watched wrestling religiously on TV, and would devour the wrestling magazines looking for stories on Thesz and Pat O'Connor until the local merchants would kick him out because he didn't have the money to buy them. Thesz, who was world heavyweight champion, became mythical to him. Unlike just about every college wrestling star of his era, when Brisco was asked what he wanted to do after college, he said he wanted to be a pro wrestler. McGuirk contacted him during his senior year, and sent Tim Woods, a former amateur star who worked for him, to recruit him.
The book largely talks about Brisco's struggles to get to the top, and his memory of the different territories. Those close to Brisco marvel as much at his almost photographic memory as his wrestling prowess. Even Anderson, who was not much for compliments, and ended up hating Brisco for selling his Georgia Championship Wrestling company, behind his back, to Vince McMahon, lauded Brisco and Dory Funk Jr. as having the greatest matches he ever saw. It was a belief he was hardly alone in.
help from Murdock, Brisco does a lot of detailed thumbnail
sketches of the important people, both good and bad, in his
career, from Thesz, Hodge, McGuirk, Funk Sr., Eddie Graham, Sam
Muchnick, The Funk brothers, Billy Robinson, Jim Barnett, Fritz
Von Erich, Giant Baba, Antonio Inoki, Woods, Wahoo McDaniel,
Johnny Valentine and many others. He talked about his early
career, his hatred of Funk Sr. and working the Amarillo
territory for no money and putting over Sr.'s sons. It was his
belief that he was given a huge build-up as a former NCAA
champion, and then went to every city in the territory losing
quickly first to Dory, and then to Terry, as Sr. 's way to
convince the locals that his sons, neither of whom wrestled in
college, were of a higher caliber of wrestler than a national
The book continues as he went from territory-to-territory, including stints in Australia (which included a description of a night of drinking and wrestling with Billy Robinson in a hotel as both men argued over whose style was superior, and each messed the other up in the process) and Japan, in the late 60s. He settled in Florida, where made his home and still lives today. Between the booking of Eddie Graham, Gordon Solie's commentary, and his ability and charisma, he was the prototype of a babyface for that time period, and he became Florida's biggest wrestling star.
Now 62, he was a class above almost everyone in the profession in the early 70s as an athlete. He had the looks, he came across on television as a modest and polite wrestler who let his wrestling do the talking. Even though at a lean probably 220 pounds legit, he was smaller than most of his opponents, fans didn't believe any of them could beat him, and came out weekly in the Florida towns to see them try any method possible of derailing him from his destiny to be NWA world heavyweight champion. He was such a strong character that when Paul Jones came to Florida, at Brisco's request, and Brisco put him over, Jones became an instant superstar. It was a slow, patient, and painful to his fans, road, to the top. Graham liked to build the territory around brawlers who had bloody matches, and used the guys with amateur wrestling credentials to give it what he believed was the sports credibility it needed. Brisco almost never bled during his career, even though he worked on top for years in territories where blood in main events was a staple. That was both a sign of how good he was, how much power he had, and how much respect promoters had for him to not punish him for his stance.
Brisco chase of Dory Funk Jr. for the NWA title has become
legendary. They wrestled in many different territories, often
doing 60-minute draws. The matches attained the status of being
mythical among those who grew up seeing them. While the stories
that they drew sellouts almost every time out are exaggerated,
the fact was, they did draw well in many different parts of the
country, and more so, the legend of the match was so strong that
many promoters would bring Brisco into territories that he
didn't work regularly and use him against Funk in title matches,
instead of using their local guys. From 1971 on, it certainly
appeared that Brisco was the heir apparent to replace Funk Jr.
as champion, although it was two years before the actual
decision was made. According to Brisco, he wasn't actually
approached about winning the title until just after the New Year
of 1973, by Graham. Graham told him the pitfalls, mainly the
insane travel schedule with little time off, and being asked to
do long matches, often going 60 minutes with opponents that you
had never met before, armed with little information other than a
finish given by a booker. While the style wasn't the hard
bumping style of today, wrestling that long was physically
grueling and tended to wear down the body. While some, like Ric
Flair and Harley Race, thrived on the champion's lifestyle,
others nearly went crazy on it. Unlike today, most of the NWA
world title reigns of that era ended because the champion asked
to give it up due to exhaustion, both from the schedule and from
working for promoters who for the most part, were always trying
to cheat the champion on his percentage of the house.
He explained that the title was very different from winning an NCAA title, but quite frankly, to him, it almost seemed more important. At the age of 13, he didn't see NCAA champions at the corner grocer in the magazine section, or on Saturday morning television.
Brisco said that white his name was in the running as the replacement, he was not the only candidate. Dory Funk Sr., he said, favored son Terry, although there would have to be a transitional champion in between. He said Bob Gieigel was pushing for Harley Race. After the NWA convention, the promoters settled on Brisco, with the match set for March 2, 1973, at the Sam Houston Coliseum, promoted by Paul Boesch. Houston was selected because the NWA felt for credibility, the title should not change hands in the wrestlers' home territory.
As was the rule of thumb, Brisco went all over the world, literally, doing jobs for the local stars, usually, but not always, the top area babyface, in what were known as scientific (babyface) matches for the next few months. The idea was simple. First, the local babyface would look like a bigger star having pinned a guy who was such a huge national star, since Brisco had been written up in wrestling magazines as the No. 1 contender for the world title from several years by this point. Most of the promotions were smart enough to videotape the matches and air it on television, which was a rarity in most, but not all parts of the county in those days when it came to the major matches. After Brisco won the title, the local promotion had a ready-made match that would draw big. The hardcore fans had seen with their own eyes, and those who hadn't seen were told endlessly on television, that Spyros Arion in Australia, or Jose Lothario in San Antonio, or whomever else, had pinned the world champion just a few months ago so fans were told they had a good shot at seeing a title change. The exception was in Houston, as promoter Paul Boesch booked Brisco regularly, and had him beat his top stars, both babyfaces like Lothario and Wahoo McDaniel and heels like the Missouri Mauler (with a DQ win over his top star, Johnny Valentine, since thatwas the main person he was grooming to face Brisco after he won the tide), so fans in Houston would think Brisco was primed for the title win.
Of course, March, 2,1973 is not in any record books, other than Jack Brisco beating Fritz Von Erich in Houston. In one of the most famous weeks in NWA history, on February 28, 1973, Dory Funk Jr. was involved in a ranch accident, where he rolled his truck, and suffered a bad shoulder injury. Dory Sr. provided the NWA with medical records of this, but this being pro wrestling and with the timing, at the time, few believed it. Even to this day, it's a hotly debated topic among old-timers. Brisco, in his book, is clearly skeptical, blaming it on Dory Sr., thinking Sr. didn't want his son to lose to a babyface and insisted on a screw job ending. Funk Jr. started back wrestling after the injury on May 18,1973, and six days later, lost to Race in Kansas City. Race, a noted tough guy, was put in as a shooter, so to speak, in case Funk Jr. wasn't going to do as planned, although there was never any problem.
Boesch, Brisco, and the fans at the Sam Houston Coliseum, got to witness what was in those days a rarity, a world title change as Brisco pinned Race, using a Thesz press as his finisher, in honor of Brisco's idol on July 20, 1973. It was also memorable because it was a changing of the guard. The NWA title belt that dated back to Thesz was being retired. It was replaced by the red belt (which later became the black belt) with the flags of different countries on it. This was the belt used until Jim Crockett Jr. purchased the more gaudy belt in the mid-80s for Ric Flair. The currant NWA belt held by Jeff Jarrett is a replica of the belt that debuted that night.
He went into detail on his favorite challengers when he was champion. While his run with the title was both lucrative, and at times, frustrating, since not all promoters were good with paying off (he singled out Muchnick, Roy Shire, Don Owen, Jim Crockett Sr., and Paul Boesch as the ones he liked to work for-although in other parts of the book did mention he didn't like going to Oregon, considering it a poor territory). He mentioned a period where he refused to work for Fritz Von Erich over an argument about trans reimbursement. And even though he was his sponsor to be champion and the promoter who really put him on the map as a superstar, he was hardly fond of how Eddie Graham paid.
was also the first NWA champion to do what later became popular,
the one-week title change. The book describes his negotiations,
Sam Muchnick's feelings on it, and how he and Muchnick had a
major disagreement when it was over, and it wasn't what you
would think. The $25,000 bonus for droppng the title was
probably among the biggest payoffs anyone had received in modem
wrestling. Brisco, who was the top man in the business at the
time said he'd never made more than $2,600 for a match. He also
talked about his attempts to put together a title vs. title
match against then-WWWF champion Bruno Sammartino in Atlanta,
which he and Sammartino both agreed to, but politics blocked it
in the end, which Brisco surmised was because Vince McMahon Sr.
was afraid that since the match was in Brisco's territory, that
word would get out if Sammartino was booed in the big match.
Brisco went into detail praising his favorite opponents from
that period, and the list won't surprise many, as they were
similar to the thoughts of most of the top wrestlers of that era
Brisco asked out as early as the spring of 1975, just before the two-year mark. The N WA was reluctant to make the change, even though Terry Funk had been promised the title. Brisco was drawing well, and they liked presenting the world champion as someone who was a legitimately great wrestler. In fact, when Brisco beat Race for the title, Don Owen sent Sam Muchnick a letter saying that, using the value structure of a generation earlier, that finally the NWA had picked a champion where we don't have to fear for a double-cross. It wasn't until Brisco no-showed the NWA convention later that year to go boating on a lake that they took his wanting out seriously. I don't know if any champion in history had no-showed the convention, and it wasn't long after that where the arrangements were made to get the title from him. On December 10, 1975, in Miami Beach, he dropped the title to Funk in what was, by the standards of the time, an all-time classic match. In what was very rare at the time, the tape of that match circulated almost nationwide, and it had to have been the most widely viewed match of its time, other than Chris Taylor's appearance early in his career or Muhammad Ali's exhibitions, because they aired on ABC's Wide World of Sports. I can even recall watching it on the San Francisco TV a few weeks after it happened, and everyone was in awe, because it was a different style of wrestling, and we'd never seen anything like it.
While Brisco wrestled for nine more years, it was some 251 pages into a chronological 263-page book when he lost the title to Funk. It's clear the rest of his career wasn't nearly as important to him as the quest and the time on top. The most important thing he's known for after that period was when he and Gerald orchestrated the sale of Georgia Championship Wrestling to Vince McMahon Jr. in 1984. At the time, the pair held the NWA world tag team titles working for Jim Crockett Promotions, working a program with Wahoo McDaniel & Mark Youngblood.
When the big Georgia wrestling war started in late 1972, Eddie Graham, the strongest power in the Southeast who controlled much of the top talent because Florida was thriving, convinced the promoters that to keep the biggest draws loyal in a wrestling war, they should be cut in with points. At the time, Bill Watts, Brisco, Buddy Colt and Tim Woods were given stock. Colt ended up getting out, and eventually, Gerald Brisco and Alan "Ole Anderson" Rogowski had bought in. This gave McMahon Jr. the national time slots on Saturday and Sunday nights on TBS, to go along with USA Network, giving him all the key national TV outlets at a time when the tide of wrestling power turned in his favor. Brisco talked about his reasons for doing so, largely that one owner, Jim Barnett (in 1982 when the company was loaded with talent) didn't want to use the TV to promote nationally, which the Brisco brothers thought would make them the most profit, particularly when they proved the Georgia brand could draw.
Just mention the name
Brisco to any serious wrestling fan, and it instantly conjures
up images of greatness.
"Brisco - The Life
and Times of National Collegiate and World Heavyweight Champion
Jack Brisco" traces Brisco's storied wrestling career, from
three-time state high school champion to NCAA champion at
Oklahoma State, to two-time champ in the pro ranks.
The fact that mat
historian and co-author Bill Murdock not only brings Brisco's
fascinating stories to life, but captures the essence of that
important time period in the wrestling business, makes the read
all that more engaging.
The rich history of
professional wrestling oozes throughout the pages of this
grappler's tale, as readers get a ringside ticket to some of the
watershed events that helped shape the industry as it moved from
the days of territorial wrestling toward the era of sports
Of course, a book about
Jack Brisco wouldn't be complete without an extensive discourse
on Dory Funk Jr., Brisco's bookend in one of the greatest
programs in wrestling history. On that count the narrative
delivers in spades.
"Brisco" is a
must for any serious wrestling fan. Readers get a special look
at one of pro wrestling's greatest periods, the '70s, when names
like Brisco, Funk and Race ruled the wrestling universe. And
they get to see it through the eyes of one of the true greats.
by William Murdock as told to him by Jack Brisco, Brisco is a
300-page biography on the life and career of two-time NWA World
heavyweight champion and former NC AA champion Jack Brisco. I
grew up watching wrestling just after the Brisco era so his time
as champion was something I always heard about in retrospect.
Only in recent years by way of videotape (I gotta put a plug in
here for WrestlingClassics.com as the place to get Brisco
videos) have I had a chance to see Jack Brisco in action. I also
knew he was one of the biggest inside players in wrestling
history based on he and brother Jerry's sale of their Georgia
Championship Wrestling stock to Vince McMahon in 1984.
I really enjoyed this
book, it was a quick easy read, but with a lot information, much
of which I had not known previously. If you have never saw the
shoot interview tape offered by Wrestling Classics with
Jack Brisco, I would suggest watching it; either before, or
after reading the book as I think they compliment each other
very well. One thing I respect about Jack Brisco is he comes
across as a very honest guy. He doesn't go overboard trashing
people he feels did him wrong, but doesn't shy away from saying
what he thinks about them either. He makes no bones about the
fact that he did not care for Dory Funk, Sr. at all. He makes
this quite clear in both his shoot interview and book. I never
really understood why in the shoot interview, I thought it was
inferred that it was because he worked against Jack getting the 1STWA
World title from Dory Funk, Jr., but the book makes it clear
that it dates back to early in Brisco's career when Funk Sr.
used Brisco to put both Dory Funk, Jr. and Terry Funk over in
short matches while exploiting Brisco's collegiate career. Years
later Brisco feels that Dory Funk, Sr. derailed him getting the
NWA World tide from Dory Funk, Jr. by staging an accident at the
Funk Ranch which was covered in the news stand magazines at the
time. Brisco still seems to think to this day that the accident
never happened and it was just a work to keep Brisco from
getting the title. Brisco makes a pretty convincing case too I
I wish the book would have gone into more detail about the infamous “Black Saturday” sale of his stock to Vince McMahon which resulted in WWF replacing Georgia wrestling on TBS for a very short time.
Still, there were enough behind the scenes details to get Brisco’s side of the story. It turns out it wasn’t all about the money, now was it all about Ole Anderson skimming money from the others, but the primary cause for he and Jerry Brisco selling to McMahon was a difference in promotional philosophy between Brisco and Jim Barnett. Georgia, by way of national exposure on TBS, was pulling in good ratings in The Sheik's old Detroit area, so Georgia wrestling began promotion some shows in that region, according to Brisco it was his idea to try to expand nationally to cities where Georgia Championship Wrestling had good ratings. Barnett didn't want to step on the toes of any other promoters in the NWA cartel, but Brisco pretty well seemed to hate The Sheik and recognized that any of the other promoters would put the screws to Barnett if they were in a similar position, so it lead to a falling out between the two. That, compounded with Ole Anderson skimming the books and taking money from the promotion, lead to he and Jerry conspiring with Paul Jones and Jerry Oates, to gain control of the company and sell it McMahon. According to Brisco he and his brother were able to obtain 52% of the stock in the company. Ole Anderson, at the same time, was also trying to gain control of the company through a deal with Fred Ward, but Ward stalled and this gave the Brisco brothers the time they needed to finalize a deal and wound up with 52% of the company which they sold to McMahon.
Jack Brisco's version of the NWA title win over Dory Funk, Jr. which never happened goes likes this. Brisco had been going all over the country losing to each region's top star to set up his title run as a way to have a top contender in each area when he became champion. Brisco was losing all over the country and was set to get the world title from Dory in Houston, Texas on March 2,1973. The week of the scheduled title change Brisco was getting out of the shower after a match in Miami when Eddie Graham, who had been the backer for Jack to get the title, told him that Dory Funk Sr. had called him and told him that Dory Jr. has been injured in an accident at his ranch and wouldn’t be wrestling against him in Houston. Brisco flew the next day to Houston anyway where he wrestled Fritz Von Erich in the main event.
Brisco had been calling this from a work to start but the Funk’s claimed it was legitimate and even had The Wrestler magazine do a photo spread showing Dory Jr. in the hospital. At the same time Dory Sr., according to Brisco, called all the promoters and them that Dory Jr. was not going to drop the belt to a babyface Brisco, but would agree to drop it to Harley Race. On May 24, 1973 Race went over Dory Funk Jr. for the title. Surprisingly, Brisco doesn’t seem to hold any animosity toward Dory Funk Jr., bur toward his father Dory Funk Sr.
Jack Brisco was born Sept. 21, 1941 in Oklahoma City, OK. Jack's birth name was actually Freddie Joe Brisco, but his Grandfather didn't tike that name and called him Jack, which stuck. Jack Brisco's father wasn't much of a presence in his life, Brisco tells in the book that he walked out of his life when he was 9 years old and he only saw him once after that. Aside from Jerry Brisco, Jack also had two older brothers, Gene and Bill.
Jack Brisco began wrestling in the eighth grade and was not only a stand out wrestler in high school, but an All-State and All-Conference football player too. Amazingly, Jack Brisco won the state High School wrestling championship his sophomore, junior, and senior years. He was obviously recruited by both Oklahoma and Oklahoma State, but he was recruited by Oklahoma mainly for football, but Jack wanted to wrestle so after signing with Oklahoma to begin with he changed his mind and ultimately went to Oklahoma State.
Brisco was limited being a freshman to how much he would compete, but did win two tournaments his freshman year and met future pro wrestler Jim Raschke (Baron Von Raschke) in one of them. Raschke was a senior at the time at the University of Nebraska.
Brisco broke into professional wrestling another former NCAA
champion Leroy McGuirk (who won the championship in 1931).
McGuirk was now blind from a car accident and a promoter whose
territory was struggling. McGuirk, along with Tim Woods trained
Brisco for pro wrestling along with help from veterans Treach
Phillips, Mike Clancey, Ike Easkins, Danny Hodge, and others.
Jack Brisco cites his pro debut as being on June 5, 1965 in
Oklahoma City defeating Roger Barnes, who would go onto late
fame and an NWA World championship under another name, Ronnie
As with most auto-bios, this one starts out with Brisco's early years, paying close attention to his amateur career in high school and college. As it continues to move through his early years in pro wrestling, and onto his reign as the NWA Heavyweight championship, we get a good glimpse of who Jack Brisco was.
There's some good information within the book as Brisco leads us through his career... some interesting back story info that I hadn't heard before. Overall, it's a good read and well worth obtaining for any old-school fan. My only complaint, if it can be called a complaint, is that the events leading up to Black Saturday seem a bit... brief. More in-depth detail on what happened would have made it more interesting. Brisco was an important figure in this deal and surely more detail could have been relayed.... Ole certainly had a lot to say about the situation in his autobiography.
any case, fans of the KM era of wrestling should get their hands
on this book. Definitely recommended.
first time I saw Jack Brisco wrestle, it was on a rare L.A. TV
appearance shortly before he won the NWA title in 1973. I was 10
years old, a novice wrestling fan, and two things immediately
impressed me about him: how quick he was in the ring compared to
the other L.A. wrestlers (the only wrestler in L.A. who moved at
his pace---at least through this ten year old's eyes!--- was
journeyman Raul Mata), and how cool it was to see such a pure
athlete with long hair! Obviously, I had little understanding of
the wrestling biz and the art of working a match, so I could
only sum up Jack Brisco by saying "He's way cooler than the
Throughout the years I became better equipped to describe why Jack Brisco was way cooler, and I had great respect for him. Along comes the book "Brisco: The Life and Times of National Collegiate and World Heavyweight Wrestling Champion Jack Brisco," and now I have even greater respect for him.
is one of those books that is a good read whether you are a
die-hard wrestling fan or a reader who knows nothing about the
pro wrestling business. The catch-phrases and details of the
business are explained without going over the novice's head.
The book is told in the first person with Bill Murdock as editor. Jack Brisco presents himself as very confidant in his skills, but never goes over the line as a braggart, but as a team player. The list of people he credits with molding him into a successful wrestler, businessman and person is vast. He describes his counterparts honestly, neither deifing or trash-talking wrestlers and promoters. The first example that jumps into my mind is his description of the late Eddie Graham. He credits Graham as giving him his most important boost in his professional career, and his stubborn campaigning to crown Brisco as the next NWA Heavyweight Champion. On the flip side, he made no bones about Eddie pocketing more than his lion's share of his profits, and paying the wrestlers less than they deserved.
One of the most moving accounts of people he credits with helping his way up the success ladder comes when he speaks of Joe Scarpa AKA Jay Strongbow. Scarpa took Brisco under his wing like a father. He not only stood up for Jack when wrestlers messed with him, but he also dished out tough love when Brisco was acting out of line. He taught him the art of being a babyface (the hero--- there's more to it than non-wrestling fans realize) and the "babyface comeback."
The first thing that pleasantly surprised me in this book came when Mr. Brisco spoke glowingly of Haystack Calhoun. While I have always been a fan of the ace amateur wrestlers and/or shooters, I was always turned off by their closed-window view of what pro wrestling should be. Case in point are two other excellent books, "Hooker" by Lou Thesz, and "Pure Dynamite" by Dynamite Kid, where the authors often sounded dismissive of wrestlers who were not 100% athleticism. I do not mean this to disrespect Lou Thesz or Dynamite Kid, but merely to point out that pro wrestlers are, and always have been, a diverse group of performers, and that the gimmick wrestlers are part of the business. Obviously, he did not laud Calhoun for his wrestling ability, but for his ability to get the fans jazzed when his 600+ frame was about to squash the ring's villains. Brisco also described Haystack Calhoun's optimistic nature and his willingness to spend time giving autographs for the fans. I know I'm probably driving this point into the ground, but it is awesome to see a serious wrestler like Brisco to take note and point out the contributions of a "gimmick wrestler."
Brisco describes in detail the complexities of a business many non-wrestling fans see as simple, from the politics wrestlers have to practice and endure to dealings with uncouth promoters. Like Lou Thesz did in "Hooker," Brisco tells in great detail the stressful schedule he endured after becoming NWA Heavyweight champion, always keeping up on flight schedules, finding time to keep in shape on top of the travel, and racing from state to state to make a title defense. Brisco's best told travel fiasco in the book has got to be the disastrous flight to Alabama when one of the landing gears would not work, and the pilot's Neanderthal attempt to repair in front of the passengers!
This is definitely on my "top 5" list of books on pro wrestling.