The pro wrestling business is not a sport or form of entertainment. It's an amalgamation of both. So introducing this crazy world that we all love to someone who has no idea can be challenging. Or what if you're a new fan who needs to catch up on decades of history?
Enter wrestling journalist and radio/podcast host Bryan Alvarez's 100 Things WWE Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die," out now. With a foreword written by Lance Storm, the book takes readers through the roots of WWE including all the major players and moments, good and bad, that lead to the sports entertainment juggernaut becoming what it is today.
Alvarez, a former wrestler in his own right, recalls spending an afternoon coming up with a list of 105 based on the suggestion of publishers Triumph Books. From there, he received feedback from friends to make sure there weren't any glaring omissions. The longtime "Figure Four Weekly" newsletter editor and publisher tried to put himself in the shoes of the common fan, thinking about what they also needed to experience. He is ultimately satisfied with the finished product.
"When we first started talking about doing the book one of the first things they asked me was what I thought the audience should be. In the sense of if they should market this to a wide adult audience or if it was going to be a book for kids. The main thing they were asking about was the Hulk Hogan deal and if you're writing about Hulk Hogan and writing a book for kids, you're not going to write about his sex tape or his racial tirade," he explained.
"To me, it was like, 'Listen, I'm going to write this for adults. I really want this to be a book where if you're a subscriber to 'The Observer' website, you probably aren't going to learn a ton of new stuff from this book. But if you need a reference book, this is going to be a history book about WWE. There is going to be stuff in there where I wrote very personal stuff about Chris Benoit because I knew him. So, there is stuff in there that has never been published before like the letter he wrote to me after Eddie Guerrero died.
"If you're a super hardcore fan, guaranteed there will be something in there you didn't know, but there is not going to be a lot. If you are a casual fan, I feel like you can learn what you need to learn about WWE from reading this book even if you're not a hardcore fan. I told them I'm going to write this for adults and write about the sex tape and everything, but I will have no profanity in this book. And if a kid wants to read this book, there is nothing in this book that is going to be scandalous. It's going to be the facts of what happened… If a kid reads something about Bill Clinton, there is probably going to be something in there about the dress. So, these are just the facts that happened. I'll write it in a professional way, but try to get all of it in there."
Alvarez realized while writing the Benoit chapter that he had blocked this time out his mind. This meant going back to his archives, pouring over research and reliving one of the darkest periods ever. However, it's the nature of the beast and part of the territory that comes with being an author of history. By the same token, there are some fun parts as well. Those who have followed Alvarez's work will enjoy how he got his start and the journey that followed.
"I don't think anyone in the world would want to read the autobiography of Bryan Alvarez, but i had a hundred things to write about," he said. "Honestly, if you are a WWE fan you should subscribe to The Observer site. If I didn't write the book, I would say the same thing. It was an opportunity to answer all these questions that people had...And in doing that I can tell the story of why I decided to start doing this, how I started out as a wrestler first and got into this and got out of it and into it again. It's a look at everything.
"I get letters all the time from people who say they are in college for journalism and how to get into wrestling journalism. I don't have a good answer because I know how I did it in 1995. How do you do it today and be successful today? It's very hard, but I thought that maybe telling the story and that I didn't just get lucky. I got lucky in a lot of different ways, but there was a lot of hard work involved. There was a lot of people who helped me along the way. I just thought it would be a fun chapter for people to look at for people who might want to start their own business or have a goal in life and want to do something. It's a one chapter of how to do it if you really want to do something."
Alvarez loves his job, but the dedication can be draining. He has found a delicate balance between the hours of producing audio and written content with important family time as a loving husband and dad.
"Every day in my life is timed out basically," Alvarez said. "I wake up at a specific time and put aside x amount of time for my family in the morning. Then I go to work. Then I put aside a little more time in the afternoon. Then I go to teach jiu-jitsu. Then I put aside an hour for bedtime. Then once my daughter is in bed, I either teach another jiu-jitsu class or I get to work. Most of my work is done in the evening with the exception of Wrestling Observer Live at noon.
"The vast majority of what I do is in the evening. Sometimes we'll have the opportunity and Dave will call and say I can get such and such an interview at 6 p.m. on this day. I tell him I can't do it. I have very specific windows I'm with my family and the other specific windows are when I'm working. Those are my two windows. It's very regimented. Sometimes things don't work because it doesn't fall into a window."
He doesn't see quitting the profession. Yes, even these days when his patience is tested watching three hours of "Monday Night Raw" and two hours of SmackDown Live on Tuesdays. The question is when the time comes to passing the proverbial torch, would maybe his daughter Paisley be next in line?
"She watches no wrestling, but she does love to talk into the microphone and listen to me play it back," he said. "She is probably going to do a podcast. I don't know if it will be a wrestling podcast."
Alvarez's full interview with Wrestling Inc aired as part of Thursday's episode of our WINCLY podcast. It can be heard via the embedded audio player at the bottom of this post.