The Squared Circle by David Shoemaker was released in 2013, and it examines the careers of deceased professional wrestlers. Not exactly the most uplifting premise, yet the author tackles different eras, promotions, and grapplers with aplomb. Almost all of the big-name wrestlers who are no longer with us are featured in this book, including Chris Benoit, Owen Hart, Brian Pillman, and more.
Other wrestlers are included as well, such as the Ultimate Warrior. Little did the author know that less than a year after this book was published, the Ultimate Warrior would shuffle off his mortal coil.
What makes The Squared Circle appealing is also its downfall. It’s a collection of brief biographies of important players in professional wrestling. By employing this approach, the author could only go so deep on each combatant. Think of it as an appetizer sampler you’d get at a restaurant. You get to taste multiple types of food, but you might be left wanting more of a specific dish.
Despite its minimal shortcomings, The Squared Circle is a great read. My favorite parts were those about the classic era of wrestling, long before Hulk Hogan and the WWF. Reading about Lou Thesz, George Hackenschmidt, and Frank Gotch was way more interesting than the chapters devoted to the eras of wrestling I lived through. I appreciate the space devoted to the origin of what was once a sport, and how the author documented its transformation to sports entertainment.
At 607 pages, there’s a lot to enjoy here. I also recommend checking out the audiobook version on Audible, which clocks in at 10 hours and 55 minutes. I opted to listen to the audiobook version rather than read it on my Kindle. The narrator has a pleasant and commanding voice, and I thought his delivery was compelling — even though he mispronounced several names and phrases throughout the audiobook.
There are many great wrestling books to enjoy. From autobiographies to coffee table books officially licensed by WWE. As a fan of “this great sport” — you Tony Schiavone fans know what I’m talking about — I try to read them all. This is one of the best wrestling books available because it provides a nice overview of an art form that has existed for well over 100 years, and it does so in a way that is highly entertaining and easy to digest.