Synopsis: The biography of one of wrestling's longest-enduring grapplers, former NWA and ECW World Champion and WWE Hall of Famer Terry Funk.
I'll tell you something about Jerry Lawler - Lawler, right now, could step into a WWE ring, get on the microphone and cut as good a promo as the top 10 percent. Lawler could get into the ring and work as well as the top 10 percent, if he wanted to, and he can also throw a better punch than 99.9 percent of anyone working today. I worked a show in 2004 with Lawler, and he hadn't skipped a beat.
To be able to survive in Tennesee for as long as Lawler's been able to, you've got to be awful sharp. Hell, Cactus Jack should have taken Lawler as his mentor, instead of me - Mick probably would have ended up owning the wrestling business!
What do Terry Funk, Dory Funk Jr., Jerry Lawler, Dusty Rhodes, Verne Gagne and Vince McMahon have in common? Besides the fact that all of them wrestled at an age where they should probably be working on their golf swing at a retirement home in Florida, each are former World Champions who have done it all in the industry, from commentary to wrestling and from booking to promoting.
It's a rare breed, and Terrible Terry is arguably the wildest of that bunch (although Gagne did have some crazy electrified barbed-wire matches in his day). Which makes it all the more surprising how humble Funk comes across in More Than Just Hardcore.
It's hard to fathom that the rational, grandfatherly voice throughout the book is the same guy that moonsaulted off of ladders in ECW and shouted "MAH EYE! LAWLER, MAH EYE!" from an empty arena in Memphis. And whether that's because The Funker has slowed down in his old age or because the Texas Outlaw shtick was a gimmick, it makes for a great contrast.
Having tangled with everyone from Andre The Giant to Sabu, from Bret Hart to Giant Baba, from Ric Flair to Bruiser Brody, and from Stone Cold Steve Austin toAbdullah The Butcher, Funk tells a rolling history of the past 40 years of wrestling. Even on today's wrestling scene (or at least up until the book was published in 2006), Funk comes off as a contemporary because of his knowledge of what works and doesn't in the ring.
There are crazy road stories (including the requisite Dick Murdoch tales that would cause Charlie Sheen to say "Dude, you need professional help"), legendary matches against Rhodes, Hulk Hogan and Harley Race, and recollections of in-ring clashes with his good friend Mick Foley and even his own brother Dory (a/k/a "Dunk"). On top of that, he discusses acting in films such as Road House and Paradise Alley, and television shows such as Quantum Leap.
Funk and co-writer Williams have a subtle sense of humor and Funk isn't afraid to laugh at himself, making fun of his many retirements over the years. Apart from a few subtle digs at the likes of Flair and , The Godfather of Hardcore doesn't feel the need to "settle scores" in his book by callinig old opponents out.
On top of that, Funk describes the love he has for his daughters and long-suffering wife. It's a nice touch and you don't see that often enough in wrestling.
The only thing I would have liked to have seen was Funk account for his last two (or, knowing The Funker - his most recent two) big matches, that being the Hardcore Homecoming match in 2005 and One Night Stand in 2006. Obviously, the timing of the publication prevented that from happening -- I'm just saying it would have been interesting to read about.
Rating: Oh Hell Yeah! Not the absolute best wrestling book I've ever read (that one may be on it's way to the Bookshelf soon, though), but there's definitely enough here for any serious wrestling fan over the past half-century, written in a surprisingly clear and light-hearted manner.
More Than Just Hardcore
Terry Funk (with Scott E. Williams)