Bruiser Brody by Emerson Murray

(Today marks the 25th anniversary of pro wrestling legend Bruiser Brody’s fatal stabbing; the following is a book review on his biography originally posted to my old blog back in 2008.)

When you think of outlaws who lived by their own rules in the world of pro wrestling, you’ll probably think of someone like Steve Austin, raising hell and making life miserable for Vince McMahon.  Or maybe the New World Order, hellbent on taking over WCW by any means necessary.  Those were great angles, but that’s just what they were-angles.  Just storylines meant to attract viewers (which those angles did).  But there is one wrestler from the past who indeed played by his own rules, not just in front of the camera, but in his behind-the-scenes business dealings as well.

That man is Frank Goodish.  Best known by his wrestling name, Bruiser Brody.

Brody is the subject of the book, aptly titled Bruiser Brody, by Emerson Murray.  Murray is listed as the author, and is definitely the brainchild of the book, but Brody’s story is told through the eyes of the people he met in his childhood, football days and eventually his wrestling career.  The fact that Brody was a very controversial figure in the business comes through very clear, as you get a lot of differing viewpoints on what kind of a man Brody was.

Most concede that Brody, when he wanted to, was one hell of a worker.  Primarily a brawler, his style is considered a precursor to the hardcore wrestling epitomized in the old ECW and by the likes of Mick Foley.  It is mentioned that Brody, due to his extensive Japanese experience, could work a technical style when he wanted to, evidenced in the book by a classic 1-hour match he had with Ric Flair.  It’s also conceded that Brody was a really big draw.

And that’s where the agreements cease.

From the pro-Brody point of view, you hear about a man who would not allow a promoter to use and abuse him.  They say he was an honest man who expected the same from those he worked with.  He was viewed as a locker room hero for sticking up for himself and fighting for every dollar he was worth.  The wrestlers loved working with him, as they were guaranteed big payoffs when they wrestled Bruiser Brody, thanks to his drawing power.

From his critics, you hear about a man who went into business for himself on numerous occasions.  His word was of no value.  He would come in and try to change matches in order to make himself look good, regardless of whether or not it was good for his opponent, or the territory he worked in.  He had no problem screwing over promoters, as evidenced most blatantly by a particular deal he made once with Antonio Inoki.

Because of the diverse opinions people in the business have of Bruiser Brody, allowing other people to tell the story instead of one author proves beneficial.  While sometimes the narrative gets choppy, for the most part this style of storytelling enhances the book, because it’s very clear Brody was a complex man, and you can’t objectively get the true story of a complex man through one set of eyes.

Lots of great stories in here, with great pictures that showcase his hardcore style.  Of course, Brody’s story ends tragically, with his murder in a Puerto Rico locker room by a booker.  And just like his life, his murder is surrounded with controversey, as more than one person says Brody brought his death upon himself.

This book does an extraordinary job in telling the story of one of professional wrestling’s most fascinating careers.  If you’re a pro wrestling fan, I highly recommend this book.  I don’t know how fast this book sells, but only 1000 copies were made, and my copy is # 639.

Available for purchase here.


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