Welcome to the world of marks and smarks, typical categories of professional wrestling enthusiasts, per a new book debuted by Jeremy Housewright titled For The Love Of The Show: Wrestling Fans Tell Their Stories.
Professional wrestling is the most fan-centric sport around, declares Jeremy, a St. Louis native and fan since he was 5 years old of these entertaining, athletic bouts, along with his grandfather. "Everything that happens in the ring is meant to generate a reaction from attendees. Professional wrestling is bigger than it’s ever been right now, and my book shows why fans love its artform," he says.
He adds he remembers crying when King Kong Bundy crushed Hulk Hogan in a steel cage for a WWF Saturday night match .
Sports fanatic, middle school English teacher and music editor for ReviewSTL Jeremy says his book covers wrestling fans who claim their lives were transformed by the sport. "Some have modified their bodies, while others have decided to venture into the artform. You've heard the stories of wrestlers we all love to cheer and hate, but what about the fans? These stories are for the fans by the fans."
Part of the appeal and dedication to pro wrestling comes from the fact that like talented stunt performers, wrestlers execute feats of strength, fly, perform acrobat moves and collide dangerously with each other and the floor, all while staying in character. However, unlike stunt performers, wrestlers perform these contests in one take, before live audiences.
"What attracts fans to a predetermined, choreographed form of entertainment? Why is pro wrestling now one of the most popular forms of entertainment in the world?" poses Jeremy. "Some of the stories in the book are outlandish. Some are inspiring. Some will surprise readers."
Fans interviewed for the book, says Jeremy, include a longtime pro wrestling fan, Jon Gray, who shares his story of wanting to referee pro wrestling matches. Jeremy says 16-year-old Izzy Moreno has been a wrestling fan her entire life but is now becoming a pro wrestler. Kyle Scarborough is a well-respected tattoo artist from Washington, Missouri, who turned his fandom into an opportunity to design one of the more memorable wrestling masks in the last 25 years. Curt Gannon, also a fan of pro wrestling, talks about the drive to succeed on the independent scene. Justin Deming shares his story about getting a life-size replica tattoo of the WWF winged title belt. And finally, read about the story of Derek Baker, a 26-year-old wrestling superfan with Down Syndrome who has become a social media sensation from St. Louis with more than 3 million followers on TikTok, due to his passion for pro wrestling.
Jeremy received his doctoral in education leadership in 2019 and has worked in area schools for the last 16 years. He now lives in St. Clair, Missouri, with his wife, Sarah, and their English bulldog, Gertrude.
His book is available locally at Barnes & Noble stores, as well as online from Amazon and Kindle.
"Coming up with a title for the book was a struggle because with that title, you think of baseball. The title kinda' came to me because it's a show, and it's about putting on a good show. So many fans have a strong love and passion for wrestling, it sets the tone," Jeremy concludes.
No self-respecting professional wrestling article from this metropolitan area would be complete without mentioning Wrestling at the Chase, a pro wrestling television series of local and national historical importance. It was recorded in St. Louis for KPLR-TV, Channel 11, and aired from May 23, 1959, to Sept. 10, 1983.
Jeremy Housewright is a former lifestyle editor for The Alestle at SIUE and freelancer for the sports department of the Suburban Journals. He's reported on the St. Louis Rams, Blues, STL SC and Battlehawks while also covering concerts, comedy shows and various other forms of entertainment for ReviewSTL.com.