Book Review: I’m Sorry, I Love You: A History of Professional Wrestling by Jim Smallman

Jim Smallman explains his choice of title near the start of this book, explaining that he chose the words delivered by Shawn Michaels to Ric Flair at WrestleMania XXIV, not only for their importance in the world of wrestling, but because they serve as his own words for a passion which for years he kept hidden or denied.

smallman sorryloveyou

Smallman would later become a more outspoken fan, talking about it in his stand up and even setting up his own wrestling company, PROGRESS Wrestling. And now he turns his hand to writing about the history of the business.

The book charts the course professional wrestling has taken, going from being a real sporting contest to the sports entertainment we have today. Smallman focuses largely on US wrestling, but does take time to discuss the history in Japan, Mexico and the UK.

For wrestling fans some of this will be familiar territory- Vince McMahon’s vision in expanding and growing the WWF he took over from his family, the Monday Night Wars, the rise and fall of ECW and the Montreal Screwjob. But there is some stuff I didn’t know about, the formation of the NWA and a lot of the early years of the sport were fresh to me.

Smallman’s writing is free of pretension and conversational in tone, making this an easy read that delivers the information, along with interesting asides and informed opinion, in a way that avoids becoming dry or dull. It’s not a complete history, but Smallman never sets out to do that, instead capturing a sense of how wrestling has evolved and changed over the decades.

It benefits from Smallman’s fandom, and also his inside knowledge of the business, and he often uses this perspective to offer explanations for some of the more controversial decisions made by some promoters. I also liked that he includes various top ten lists throughout the book, explaining his choices briefly and introducing me to some new names.

It’s a good read, even if has left me with a whole list of matches and wrestlers to seek out. It might not go into great depth on the whole history, but for most fans this will give a good overview and is a good place to start learning more about the background.

Verdict: A good, short history of the professional wrestling business told in an easy, engaging way. 8/10.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.

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