Wrestling with the Devil: The True Story of a World Champion Professional Wrestler is the brand new autobiography from former WCW World Heavyweight Champion Lex Luger. Thanks to Lex and the wonderful folks at Tyndale House Publishers for our advance copy, graciously signed by the "Total Package" himself.
The book will be released on August 13th, and you can pre-order your copy, in hardcover or on Kindle, right now through Amazon.com!
When I first took my copy of Wrestling with the Devil from the mailbox, the first thing I did was peal back the layer of clear plastic and skim through the short forward – I was immediately worried. Before Lex gets started telling his story, fellow WCW alumni and TNA Hall of Famer Steve "Sting" Borden jerks the curtain with a few words of inspiration. Words about strength, overcoming personal demons, and a deep and profound faith in God that has changed their lives.
I love Sting, and was a fan of Lex, both in WCW and WWF, when I first started getting into wrestling in the '90s. Both men have great faith in their beliefs – despite my personal stance as a "hopeful agnostic", I have a Christian university education and grew up the nephew of an evangelic pastor, in a deeply spiritual and religious home. So while I respect their motivators, and can appreciate the redemptive qualities of Luger's adult story, the last thing I wanted to experience was 200+ pages of sermon.
What I want from a good wrestler-written autobiography is something similar to Chris Jericho's Undisputed. That is to say, lots of untold stories, a look behind the curtain, and a revelation of who this person is when they're not in front of 15,000 screaming fans. I'm happy to say that Wrestling with the Devil is all that I hoped it would be, and more!
Lex Luger has always been, in my estimation, and undervalued talent. That's not to say Vince McMahon or Eric Bischoff didn't utilize him when they had the chance – they very much did. Lex does a great job in this book of showing his appreciation for every booker, promoter, manager and boss he has along his wrestling career. His early connection with Hiro Matsuda is especially telling of his work ethic and accomplishments within the industry. But from a fan's perspective, a lot of his big moments (winning the title from Hogan, slamming Yokozuna, etc.) aren't really talked about a whole lot today. If this bio does one thing, it proves beyond a shadow of a doubt how important Luger has been to professional wrestling, and why he's an obvious candidate for the WWE Hall of Fame.
For the wrestling fan looking for "dirt" on his life, there's plenty to be found. The chapters about his affair with Elizabeth are chilling, to say the least. When it comes time to tell the story about the night she died, right there in the living room of the very home Luger tried to keep from his wife, it can become downright hard to read. This is a man who has struggled with some very real demons, and is as honest as a person can be about them.
For those looking for fun stories about recognizable wrestlers, there's plenty to go around. Lex goes all the way back to his wrestling roots, telling tales about Ric Flair and the Four Horsemen, building up to his days in WCW alongside Sting. There are stories of his first meetings with Vince McMahon, jumping ship to the WWF and his first babyface run. And of course, his shocking return to WCW Monday Nitro and his in-ring confrontation with Hulk Hogan (and why their heat was more real than you'd expect!).
If I had a complaint about Wrestling with the Devil, it would be that the later years seem very rushed. While the beginning of the book is filled with chapter upon chapter of Lex touring the world, playing football, there seems to be only a few brief moments on his paralysis, recovery and current whereabouts. There's actually more in the book about him coming to God, and how God changed his life, than what he's done with that since suffering the spinal stroke in 2007.
These are pretty minor complaints, and what it really adds up to is me wanting more when I finished the last page. And honestly, that's a good problem to have! Wrestling with the Devil was entertaining and interesting from start to finish, and I never felt like it was dragging in certain places, or going into too much detail in others. A great deal of that can be attributed to the book's brevity; it was quite easy to digest, and only took me about five hours to get through – I read it in a single sitting this morning, stopping only to make a pot of coffee.
Check out Lex Luger's fantastic autobiography the day it comes out. Not just because he was a great wrestler, who deserves more recognition from fans today. But because he was, and is a great man with an interesting and unique story to tell, and perspective to tell it from.
Wrestling with the Devil: ****
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