Some of the most interesting people on Earth are pro wrestlers. These people decide as their life’s work to entertain us with their bodies by pretending to hurt each other and doing it by traveling all over the world. Old-school pro wrestling stories are famous and have been told a thousand times, but how do modern pro wrestlers do it? How do they feel about hitting towns and accomplishing their goals? You can get a taste of this by getting a copy of “A Companion on a Road Less Travelled” by Matt Charlton, the great writer and artist whose work you might recognize from his Instagram, Twitter, and the amazing J-Crowned book series. This book has diary entries from five pro wrestlers written by the wrestlers themselves.
Matt Charlton gave the spotlight to Tom Lawlor, Royce Isaacs, Jetta, AKARI, and Bryan Keith. This collection of talent is from the United States, the United Kingdom, and Chile, and it details their thoughts on where they were going and what they were about to do. Tom Lawlor details his days at the NJPW/Stardom Historic X-Over Show in November 2022 and his match against Shibata in December. Royce Isaacs explains his whole traveling weekend and his match against Minoru Suzuki in Colorado. AKARI explains her thought process for her November match for the Pure-J title. Jetta details about her weekend wrestling for Pro Wrestling EVE’s Wrestle Queendom and explains her match and booking decisions from that weekend. Bryan Keith recounts his NOAH trial, wrestling on a show named after him, hopes for the future, and matches from that weekend.
All of the diary entries are written by the wrestlers themselves, but before each entry, you will read a summary of their careers up to this point written by Matt Charlton. If you have read the biographies from the J-Crowned series, the same level of detail is given here, from their training, championships won, and promotions. Each of the diary entries are also accompanied by Charlton’s artwork, where he chose to highlight important moments from the wrestler’s narrative. As always, these are beautiful.
Each pro wrestler’s personality shines through their diary entries, and you can’t help but smile. Be it Jetta’s weekend while solving a booking problem, Isaacs’ diet and his match with Suzuki, or Lawlor’s adventures in Japan, the stories are fun, and you get a feel of why each of them keeps doing this. While it might not be this reviewer’s preferred lifestyle, life on the road can have its good times, especially if you love what you are doing. At least, that is something that I got out of this book.
What is palpable from Charlton’s work is his love for pro wrestling and his respect for the men and women entering the ring. This is known thanks to his introduction in this book and the level of detail that he puts in to make sure that this project is respectful and fun as hell. That is something I have gotten from all of his books, which is why they are a joy to read. This is a quick read that will leave you satisfied by the end.
Charlton’s past books have focused on pro wrestling history and the memory of its performers, and while this is different, it is a nice change of pace. This is pure love and respect by giving pro wrestlers the outlet to tell in their own words a little piece of their story on the road while illustrating those moments. That is awesome, and I hope there is more in the future.