This review has been a long time coming. Partially because it took me forever and a day to finish the book. Swimming with Piranhas: Surviving the Politics of Professional Wrestling was written by former president of the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA) Howard Brody. In it, he gives a first hand account of how he managed to navigate the political backroom dealings that plague the world of professional wrestling. He goes into (with great… sometimes too great) detail his time with the NWA as well as run ins with the likes of Vince and Linda McMahon, Eric Bischoff, Paul Heyman, Tod Gordan, Dusty Rhodes and a slew of other names that true wrestling fans will know.
And that’s sort of my issue with this book. It’s “inside” the wrestling business. Like… REALLY inside. I’ve been a professional wrestling fan for more than three decades now. I consider myself a very “smart” fan insomuch as I follow not only the on air product but also the behind the scenes stuff. This book however goes into too many details even for a guy like me. I had similar issues when I reviewed Bret Hart’s Hitman: My Real Life In The Cartoon World Of Wrestling. The reason that Bret’s book got a pass and this one didn’t is pretty simple – I’m more interested in Bret Hart than I am in Howard Brody.
That’s not to say there isn’t some really interesting stuff here. There absolutely is. Some of the stories he tells, specifically when he’s talking about building companies and the dealings he has with some the Japanese promotions are fascinating. The problem is he just going into too… many… details. The other thing that’s sort of interesting, and something I give Brody credit for, is that he really does paint himself with a not so flattering brush. The overwhelming majority of this book shows Brody as a failure. I’m not sure if that was meant to garner pity or if that’s the way he actually remembers it. Either way it’s sort of a downer.
If you could get a Cliff Notes version of Swimming with Piranhas: Surviving the Politics of Professional Wrestling that was about half the length it would be a great read. Sadly this version is just grating.