“Too Sweet: Inside the Indie Wrestling Revolution” is a document of what makes indie wrestling great and a draw with the fans. Author Elliot Greenberg tries to capture as much as he can to explain the phenomenon of indie wrestling and how it paved the way for “All In” back in September 1, 2018, and the creation of All Elite Wrestling. It is an overview of the most important promotions and has interviews with some of the biggest stars of the scene.
Indie wrestling fans might be wondering how much it captures of the scene and how much is written of the most important promotions. I can happily say that the big ones you are thinking of are here, but it goes much further than that, which is why I think this book is successful. It goes beyond modern indie wrestling, and it also talks about the fandom and business created around it. It focuses on the U.S., Canada, and the UK.
Rather than give a complete history of each wrestling company, a task that would make a thousand-page book, Greenberg gives a summary of how the company started, who the stars are, and which moments were important in the success of the promotion. The creators of all the promotions are interviewed, and you get the important lineup of ROH, PWG, GCW, PROGRESS, and RevPro, but also indies that aren’t covered much like Pro Wrestling: EVE in the UK and IWS in Canada. The profiles and interviews about these companies are deep enough that they can be used as a guide. They get to interview the founders and some of the stars, from big to lesser-known indie wrestlers.
“Too Sweet” goes all the way back to the ’60s to start its indie wrestling tour with All-Star Wrestling with Antonino Rocca in New York. Another important one mentioned is the National Wrestling Federation (NWF) which had a great roster and famously Antonio Inoki captured their belt and brought it to Japan, which survived in the country long after the promotion folded. Also included is the International Championship Wrestling (ICW) created by Angelo Poffo to highlight his sons Randy and Lanny Poffo. These were promotions that were constantly threatened by the NWA, but they helped highlight the usefulness of indie wrestling in creating future stars and an intimate environment for the fans. Obviously, a trip to the past can’t be complete without a visit to ECW and all that was spawned thanks to it, like XPW, CZW, and backyard wrestling.
I found some of the most interesting stories when the book went out of the U.S. For Canada, it explains the treacherous “death tours” in the Inuit communities in Manitoba, which has that name due to the extreme weather and lack of amenities on the road. This topic has been written about before, the most famous one by Chris Jericho in his first book. You’ll also find the birth and success of International Wrestling Syndicate (IWS), whose most famous graduates are Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens. While IWS was successful, it was at the expense of Jacques Rougeau’s Les As De La Lutte, which focused on family-friendly wrestling and part of the reason why it closed was due to Rougeau sons’ deciding not to wrestle anymore.
Over in the UK, it tells the story of how wrestling started in the area, World of Sports and the creation and rise of PROGRESS and Revolution Pro Wrestling on the scene. There is a big profile on Pro Wrestling: EVE, a women’s wrestling promotion and the revolution they created due to their ideals and honesty and love for the fans. While you get the overview of how rich the scene was in the UK, yes, the topic of the WWE invasion and its effect on the scene are a chapter. In Germany, you get the story from WXW, another WWE affiliate in the region.
In the U.S. you get the usual suspects: the story of ROH, PWG, GCW, and Chikara. Elliot Greenberg sat down with each founder and owner to get the story of each promotion and their philosophies. From the beginning of ROH as a super indie, controversies, their TV debut, and the MSG show. PWG is explained by Excalibur and he explains the appeal and why it keeps being the way it is. There is a chapter dedicated to the different spaces that Chikara and GCW have on the indie scene and what makes them so unique, with explanations on some of the stories they have produced to capture fans’ attention.
Alongside the promotions, you get the stories of how Pro Wrestling Tees started with a partnership with Colt Cabana that grew up to the T-shirt empire it is today. You also get the stories of the conventions and, most importantly, the famous WrestleMania Weekend, with the tons of shows and the tired wrestlers. The author personally went there to see some of the shows, one of them being Evolve, another promotion that has a small profile. Outside of wrestling you also get the story of Being The Elite and how they created storylines that crossed to other promotions and eventually AEW.
The book led all of this up to the creation of All In and AEW. You get detailed profiles of the night of All In, the night of AEW Double or Nothing, and some of the participants of those events. An emotional section is the story of Joey Janela, Jungle Boy, and Marko Stunt saying goodbye to GCW to start in AEW. You can find profiles on Cody, the Young Bucks, and Kenny Omega, a snapshot from their beginning, their time in the BULLET CLUB in NJPW and ROH, and why they decided to be part of AEW. In these profiles, I would only complain that it goes too deep into the storylines surrounding them, so if you saw the BULLET CLUB infighting in real-time, you already know what happened in the storylines.
“Too Sweet” is a great dive into indie wrestling. I personally would have loved to read about more promotions, but it probably would have gone too far off the intended goal of showing how the revolution led to All In and the success of current and former indie wrestlers. There are profiles from the biggest indies and it is a really easy and entertaining read. Add in the interviews with wrestlers like Joey Janela, Gage, Shane Helms, Marko Stunt, the members of the Elite, and more, and you get great sections in the chapters. I don’t think indie fans will be disappointed, and it is a great guide to those that want to learn about this topic.
The only thing I would add is a recommendation to watch indie wrestling. Seek it out, something will inevitably catch your attention. The biggest thing I got out of the book is a desire to seek more indie wrestling from the past and present.