Corrigan’s Corner: A Q&A with Pro Wrestling FAQ author Brian Solomon
Brian Solomon has “toasted champagne cocktails with Ric Flair all night in Manchester, England; hung out in ‘Classy’ Freddie Blassie’s basement while wearing his house slippers; and once got stuck in a limo with Vince McMahon for three hours and lived to tell the tale.”
I was lucky enough to hear that tale while chatting with Solomon for an hour regarding his new book,PRO WRESTLING FAQ. Covering the carnie origins to modern day sports-entertainment, Solomon’s tome is the definitive guide to everything one must know about the history, athletes, and appeal of professional wrestling.
John Corrigan: With so much material covered, was there anything you had to cut from the book?
Brian Solomon: “I cut a total of about seven different chapters. I was going to do a chapter on, I’m a little biased, but the history of wrestling magazines. I was going to do a chapter on some of the more well-known wrestling arenas around the world. Also kind of a glossary of moves, something on wrestling books, wrestling movies, all that merchandise kind of stuff. And getting into all the different pay-per-views. But I had to decide what people wanted the most in there.”
JC: I’m glad with what you stuck with especially the chapters on the early days of professional wrestling. Before you began researching, how much of the early 20th century history did you know?
BS: “Well, thank you. Ever since I was a teenager, I was fascinated by the whole history of the business. And if you were following the stuff I did when I worked for WWE, you could probably tell I was one of the more historically minded writers they had. So I’m not going to sit here and say that everything in that book was off the top of my head, but I will say one of the reasons it took such a short amount of time to write is because I did have a lot of information that I already knew. So the process became just verifying that information.
Along the way I did find out things I never knew about and some of those things came from the interviews I did with just amazing people. Mike Chapman, he’s the number one authority on people like Gotch and Hackenschmidt and Joe Stecher, it was fascinating to pick his brain.”
JC: What was your favorite chapter to write?
BS: “It’s funny that you mention how much you love the Gotch/Hackenschmidt chapter because that was probably my favorite one to write. That might be why you like it so much because my passion for the subject really came through. I was so interested in portraying this rivalry between these two guys that I put so much effort into it. I even had a detail in there about how Frank Gotch on the night before his big rematch with Hackenschmidt in 1911 when he’s defending the title at Comiskey Park…well, the night before he went to Wrigley Field and caught a baseball game there. So I went through the effort of finding out who the hell played there on that night in 1911 and found out it was a double header.
In my head, I wanted this chapter, this whole book really, to read and sound as if it was a Ken Burns documentary. I loved doing that part, and I don’t want to say enjoyed because it’s morbid in a way, but I was really fascinated by the chapter I did on some of the scandals in the business. I didn’t want to make the whole book like that because I wasn’t trying to sensationalize and cash in all this negative crap, but you can’t do a book on all of the wrestling business and not touch on some of the scandals. It’s the stuff that’s urban legend in wrestling history and some fans may have never heard of it.”
Read the rest of Part I here
Read Part II here
Read Part III here