Wrestling at the Chase: The Inside Story of Sam Muchnick and the Legends of the Sport by Larry Matysik
ECW Press, 2005
Wrestling at the Chase is a nice little memoir of old time professional wrestling the way it was supposed to be...back in the days with tough, realistic matches, and big, mean, but realistic looking, fighters. Back in the day there were strong storylines that did not often cross over into the phony or unbelievable.
Back in the day, St. Louis, under promoter Sam Muchnick, was one of the many loci of professional wrestling. It was a regional promotional system that was held together in the National Wrestling Alliance before Vince McMahon came along and ruined the sport.
Here we get the real stories behind legends that wrestled not only in St. Louis, but across the NWA spectrum.
The ill-fated Von Erich clan, Jack Brisco, Dory Funk, Jr. and his brothers, including the wild Terry Funk, the oddball Bulldog Bob Brown, Rocky Johnson (father of The Rock), Macho Man Randy Savage, Andre the Giant, Bruiser Brody, Harley Race, Ric Flair, Dirty Dick Murdoch, and others. It was a time when professional wrestling seemed real. And sometimes it was.
Pity the poor rookie that went into a match and didn't "sell" for the star. Sometimes, they really did get beaten up.
This book harkens back to an era when the sport was fun. Sure, it was really a carnival-like atmosphere, but it was a real show.
The last part of this book discusses the monopolization of the sport by Vince McMahon, Jr.
The regional promotions made money but they never generated great wealth. Many of the regions catered to one big city but really depended on very small venues in rural areas to survive. This was not in the day of huge TV contracts and, in fact, often TV didn't pay the promotions at all; the promotions used TV to sell live shows.
Being in New York and having a cache of cash and one of the largest media markets in the world, Vince McMahon destroyed what professional wrestling was all about.
The author, Larry Matysik, attempted his own promotion but had limited success and ultimately got out. McMahon had too many resources and some old stars who started a rival promotion were too political and out for themselves to thrive.
So, Matysik harkens back to the day when Sam Muchnick and St. Louis wrestling was one of the true last bastions of the sport.
For those who like wrestling history, this is certainly an interesting, nostalgic read.