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This article was originally published in Wrestling Perspective, Volume XII, Issue #95.

Pinfall: School of Hard Knox
By Riley Matthews
Writers Club Press
ISBN 0-595-17272-5
213 pages
Order It At Amazon.Com

Let me state for the record: I don't like fiction books. If it didn't really happen, I don't care about it. But I have to admit the thought of a fiction book loosely based on the life of a professional wrestler intrigued me. 

In many ways, first-time author Riley Matthews, who spent a few years working small shows in Georgia after getting his training from Killer Kowalski, impressed me with his effort, Pinfall: School of Hard Knox. The book tells the story of Bodacious Brad Blaze, a somewhat undersized wrestler trained by a grizzled veteran at a rundown New England school who thinks he is going to make his name in the business working small shows in Georgia. Sound familiar? 

Blaze's family scoffs at his plans to become a wrestler because of his writing ability and college degree. Speaking from personal experience, getting into writing is as much a crap-shoot as getting into professional wrestling, minus the physical abuse. 

Blaze's partner, Bryan Winters, is the son of a wrestling legend and is destined for stardom in a WWF-like promotion run by the Vince McMahon-like Mel McCauley. The two immediately click and after only a few matches, they are headlining small shows. But Blaze gets frustrated that his partner is given a golden opportunity when he is signed by McCauley to revive his famous father's gimmick and he begins to feel he'll be stuck doing New England indy dates for the rest of his career. So Blaze looks up an old pen-pal, who works as an announcer for a tiny Georgia promotion and moves down there with dreams of stardom. Unfortunately, the pay is even worse in Georgia and Blaze is a lot more lonely because he left his girlfriend behind in Massachusetts. 

The book, originally envisioned as a screenplay, tells a very realistic story about life in a wrestling school and on the road for a small-time promotion. Matthews describes each character in such  detail that in nearly every case you can not only picture them in your mind, but you can say that they remind you of someone in particular in the business. 

The story gets more and more interesting with each page until it suddenly stops. Boom, it's over without any resolution or ending. Matthews envisions Pinfall as the first book in a trilogy. But the reader is left completely up in the air as to what lies ahead for the characters - some which we know will have tragic endings based on what's in Pinfall. It's as frustrating as an X-Files episode. What happens to Blaze's relationship with his girlfriend? What horrible fate is in store for Winters? Will Blaze work for McCauley's WWA? Hopefully Matthews has the answers in Parts II and III, but it would have been nice to get some resolution in the first book. 

Also, it has to be noted that Pinfall is easily the worst edited book I have ever read in my life. There had to be at least 100 typographical errors in the book. They don't detract from the story, but at certain points in the book it becomes quite distracting. Matthews told me, which printed the book, promised him they'd edit the book. They did no such thing. Regardless, Matthews puts in a solid first effort. The character development is top-notch and the book tells a fascinating and realistic story of life as a small-time sports entertainer far away from home without money and health insurance. It's a must-read for anyone foolish enough to think that life as a professional wrestler is all about fame, fortune and women. Matthews shows it's mostly about working in front of a few dozen fans risking your health for $20 and a pop. I'm sure a few wrestling school students would look for another line of work after reading this book. 

David Skolnick's articles are a regular feature of Wrestling Perspective. 

To read more of his great articles, subscribe to Wreslting Perspective today.

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This article is Copyright ©  2001 Wrestling Perspective. All Rights Reserved. This article may not be quoted, reprinted or distributed without written permission from Wrestling Perspective publishers Paul MacArthur and David Skolnick.

Footnotes/Endnotes for this article should read as follows: 

Skolnick, David, Review of Pinfall: School of Hard Knox by Riley Matthews, Wrestling Perspective, Volume XII, Number 95, (2001): 11.

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