Because Ideas Matter...
The faculty and staff of Butler University's College of Liberal
Arts and Sciences presents
Beer, Blood, & Cornmeal: Seven
Years of Incredibly Strange Wrestling
by Bob Calhoun, ECW Press, 2008
Reviewed by J. Rocky Colavito
Mickey Rourke's Oscar-nominated performance
in The Wrestler offered a glance into the lives of "minor league"
professional wrestlers, and Calhoun's book sustains the gaze over
the birth, rise, and inevitable fall of one such organization that
employs them. Based out of California, Incredibly Strange Wrestling
featured wrestlers you've never heard of (Macho Saquatcho, El Pollo
Diablo, and Count Dante, Calhoun's wrestling persona), and yet
managed to make a name for itself among those populating the
fringes of California culture.
Calhoun meticulously presents the life and times of this
promotion, taking us behind the curtain to see the machinations
that shape wrestling shows, and the camaraderie and fraternity that
develops among the players in this grand game of sports
entertainment. We see the fast paced development of matches to
accommodate no-show talent, the use of pharmaceuticals to treat
injuries, and the clashes both in and out of the ring.
Calhoun intricately traces the developmental trajectory of the
promotion, and though the promotion's flame out comes as little
surprise, it still saddens us because of how well we have come to
know the players. What's most arresting is seeing how the life
takes control of Calhoun, and how he ultimately has to cut his
losses and get out before he loses himself entirely to it (but not
without some wistful thinking).
Well-illustrated with lots of photos of wrestlers both in and
out of character, the book gives readers a look at a formerly
shadowed part of non-mainstream culture. Highly recommended.
- J. Rocky Colavito is professor of English and Director of
Writing Programs at Butler University.