There are a lot of wrestling books out there. Nearly every major star has at least one biography, there are history books aplenty, and I even have a book dedicated to one championship belt (not that championship itself, the actual belt). But there are very few books that do a great job of covering the world of independent wrestling. Too Sweet: Inside The Indie Wrestling Revolution by Keith Elliot Greenberg fills that gap nicely.
The book highlights different independent promotions and regions as it talks about the independent wrestling boom that grew over the last 15 or so years. The book starts with Joey Janela before All In, which is fitting as All In was the most significant event in independent wrestling history, and Janela has been one of the more important figures in championing the independent scene. A lot about how All In eventually lead to AEW is also discussed.
All of that info is largely known, though, and what I really enjoyed is learning the stories of indecent promotions and wrestlers across the globe. While I try to keep up on the larger wrestling world, my main focus has always been Southern California’s wrestling scene, so I found the background information on places such as AIW and Pro Wrestling EVE fascinating.
There is also stuff in the book dedicated to things like Pro Wrestling Tees and Fite TV. Forces that the independent wrestling boom wouldn’t be possible without.
As far as Southern California goes, the book actually has two chapters devoted to it. One focuses on the region as a whole, and one more narrowly focused on Pro Wrestling Guerrilla.
Taken together, the two chapters, as well as the larger book as a whole, which has quite a bit more SoCal related tidbits sprinkled throughout (Did you know David Marquez of Championship Wrestling from Hollywood hates the term “indie wrestling?) give a pretty good overview of the SoCal wrestling scene of the last 20 years. Obviously, not everything could be covered, as an entire book could be devoted to this region alone, but it hits most of the important parts.
XPW, EPIC, Revolution Pro, EWF, WPW, and even Freddie Valentine’s ACW are all discussed and more recent developments such as Santino Bros. and Ground Zero. Wrestlers such as B-Boy, Jake Atlas, Jungle Boy, and Joey Ryan are all profiled. The Hot Tub Guy Shawn Scoville even has several paragraphs dedicated to him.
I should mention that the book was written pre-Speaking Out, and wrestlers who were accused of pretty awful things in that movement are featured in this book. Though, even if the book had been written after, it would be impossible not to devote a decent amount of space to them. There is no question Joey Ryan was one of the biggest stars on the independent circuit, and you really can’t accurately tell the story up to 2019 without talking about him. Though hopefully, an updated version will eventually be released to address 2020 and beyond. But I digress…
The chapter on PWG covers the EPIC incident that ultimately led to PWG’s formation and offers a good overview of its history. Excalibur is heavily quoted for this section and even manages a good Legion Larry anecdote.
Overall, aside from a misquote of Excalibur’s catchphrase about every week “Earth week,” I didn’t find anything incorrect about the Southern California section and was pleasantly surprised that things that are relatively obscure such as ACW’s alligator match or WPW drawing 1000 were included. (I should also note in the interest of full disclosure that I am quoted a number of times in the book).
As I mentioned, the book is a good overview of the independent wrestling scene and the boom period up to 2019. It doesn’t go super in-depth history-wise, but that’s understandable as the book would have to be 3000 pages instead of 300. I’m sure there will be people from some regions who feel they were slighted by not getting covered, but that is unavoidable. In my opinion, the one knock on the book was there wasn’t enough on women in independent wrestling.
As a huge fan of independent wrestling, I really felt like this book was written for me. I sat down and read it cover to cover in one sitting. Then I reread it. I would easily recommend this book to anyone else who is a fan of the independent wrestling scene (which is probably most people reading this site) or anyone who wants a look at what wrestling is outside of the WWE.
Too Sweet: Inside The Indie Wrestling Revolution by Keith Elliot Greenberg is available now on Amazon (affiliate link), on audio book via Audible, and in stores.