The world of professional wrestling is one that when the mainstream audience takes a peek at it, they wonder how a lot of things about it are not known. We have had a couple of those moments here in 2020 due to the pandemic and the success of the TV series “Dark Side of the Ring”. If you have ever thought that the crazy elements of this world would be perfect for movies or a TV series or a book, this is where The All-Action, Family-Friendly Wrestling Spectacular by Dean Harris comes in to fulfill that need.
This novella takes place in South Yorkshire, England. In an independent wrestling event a couple of events collide: the assassination attempt of the South Yorkshire mayor, the beating of a sexual predator, and the brutal murder of a pro wrestler trying to blow up the building and everyone in it. Sergeant Jane Mulligan and Police Constable Jake Carver are tasked to investigate what exactly happened, why, and who are the guilty parties.
The story develops with both police officers interviewing wrestlers, family of the deceased, and the wrestling promoter with twists and turns along the way, like a good old cop drama. There is a lot of humor with these personalities, especially the promoter. Sidney, the wrestling promoter, is my favorite character in the novella since he is a gruff bullshitting man that you can associate with Herb Abrams, without the funny lines or the caring parts. He is a man that knows all of the deviance and crimes happening backstage at his shows, yet he never does anything about it and at times actively supports those actions since they create controversy and that translates to his shows. The wrestlers he books are cheap, popular, and have the same questionable morality as the boss. Sidney is a wrestling fan that has no idea how to run a promotion and desperately wants to be one of the boys.
When we wrestling fans watch entertainment and see this world represented, the main complaint is that the writer did not do it correctly, or we complain that it is not real. These things happen because a lot of times the writers that get the wrestling episode on a TV show aren’t wrestling fans. In this area the book succeeds since it can be clearly seen that Dean Harris, the author, is a wrestling fan or is part of this world. The way the character talks and some of the events mentioned will be familiar, and even though there is wrestling language on it, it is not confusing for the non initiated. I have been to shows similar to the ones described at the beginning, but without the killings and deviance.
The main takeaway I had from this novella is that it criticizes the wrestling world for being quiet about its problems. It is a wrestling world that tries to police itself because they think that they can do it, but it’s not successful. A lot of the wrestlers and personalities have a different moral tone and let a lot of things pass, be it violent comments, sexual deviance or real grudges that could have been solved if someone from the outside had intervened. The need of the characters to solve their own problems and secrecy is what makes everything get out of control.
The All-Action, Family-Friendly Wrestling Spectacular is a fun cop novella that is based around a pro wrestling world that the producers of “Dark Side of the Ring” would make a whole season about. Some of the stories and personalities might sound familiar and it comments on the secrecy that this world still has under the mainstream world.