Too Sweet: Inside the Indie Wrestling Revolution
Keith Elliot Greenberg
ECW Press, 2020
Independent wrestling has gotten huge in the last couple of years, but why? New Japan, Ring of Honor, and Impact have been low level competition to the WWE for years, but it seems the last few years they have been gaining steam, along with the local indie federations that are littered throughout the country and world.
Greenberg looks into many of the United State indie federations and how they started to take off. It’s a good, historical look at small-time wrestling. You get everything from Joey Janela, Nick Gage, and Joey Ryan to the biggest indie show in wresting history, All In. The books packed full of information and gives a little insight into the life of the indie wrester; from the travel horror to the little pay, from wrestling in front of 50 people to thousand plus venues.
The book gives a lot of attention to both AEW and Bullet Club, which both had a hand in independent wrestling taking off. You also get a lot of info on Janela, Cody Rhodes, and Jeff Jarrett. You see the beginning of the big boys the NWA, WCW, and ECW; you see the emergence of the new wave of Game Changer Wrestling (GCW), CHIKARA, and Pro Wrestling Guerilla (PWG). You get a look at international federations as well.
An added bonus is the book contains pictures of many of the wrestlers mentioned. It’s interesting because you get to see guys like Keith Lee, Lio Rush, Sami Zayn, Walter (Gunther), and more before they were stars.
It’s not a perfect book. Much of the book is jumping from promotion to promotion and feels choppy at times; Greenberg would be better off hitting the different promotions while painting a bigger picture. Instead, you get the history of AWA, then switch to GCW in the next chapter; there is no cohesive story bringing it all together.
There is also a big issues with some of the wrestlers involved with the book. Wrestling got hit hard by the Speaking Out movement, and a lot of those wrestlers are featured in the book. Joey Ryan, Jimmy Havoc, Marty Scrull, Dave Crist, David Starr, and Michael Elgin were all guys mentioned in various degrees and were all named as creeps. Mike Quackenbush, the owner of CHIKARA, was labeled an enabler for the creep behavior; CHIKARA closed up shop shortly after wrestlers refused to work for the company. Saraya Knight (mother to AEW’s Saraya) was accused in the UK of abusing trainees and colleagues, leading to her retirement from the industry.
While the book was released in 2020, shortly before or right as the Speaking Out movement happened, it would have served Greenberg well to note this as a post-script in the book (he does touch on it in his follow up Follow The Buzzards, but it’s too late for the criticism already online).
Even with the choppiness of the chapters and the questionable wrestlers featured, the book was very enjoyable. As a independent wrestling fan, the book had a ton of information and enjoyable. So much so, I’m reading Follow The Buzzards now (look for the review in a few weeks).
Rating: 4.5 out of 5; the chapters can be distracting, but it was a quick read with a lot of good information.