Reviews

(Please let the author know about any coverage of the book you see.)

From About.com

By Eric Cohen

Guide Rating - ****1/2 (of *****)

One of the top stories of 2005 is the rebirth of ECW. 2005 was littered with new DVDs and events extolling the memory of this great promotion. The best of all the ECW related merchandise in 2005 was saved for last. Turning the Tables by John Lister is the first book ever published about ECW.

Background

I have to admit; if not for ECW I probably would have stopped watching wrestling in the mid 90s. ECW was a radically different promotion than what was available at the time. It was designed to give the fans what they wanted without insulting their intelligence. This book honors the memory of ECW in that sense. Unlike other ECW DVDs recently released, it does not try to rewrite history to make any particular wrestlers or promotions look good.

This book made me relive the glory days of the promotion. If you never experienced ECW, the author describes the action in such a way that you feel as though you were there. The information provided by the author can be appreciated by both the newbie to ECW and the long time fans. The detail of information provided by the author is unmatched by any other wrestling book.

Giving all sides of the story

Unlike many books that only give the authors view of a controversial subject, the author gives the opinions of all those affected by the event and allows the reader to draw their own conclusions. The best examples of this are the Mass Transit incident and the mole story.

Does the book have any problems?

The only problem with the book is that since the author is from England, some of the spelling and formatting of dates are in the British English style. In an odd way, this kind of gives class to a company where that word has never been associated.

Overall Recommendation

If not for the some of the mature themes ECW was notorious for, I would have had no problem putting this in the upper half of my 2005 gift guide. If you are a former fan who wants to chant ECW one more time, you must buy this book. If you are new to wrestling and are wondering what all the fuss about ECW was about, this is the best place to start your journey. Recommendation: Buy with parental consent.

From 411Mania.com

By Mike Hamflett

A couple of months ago on this fair site we call 411, there was an absolutely awesome column posted by Michael Weyer. In it, he discussed the various bits and bobs of ECW gubbins that had landed to cash in on the return of the once-wonderful company. Naturally there was a feast of goods, ranging from lovingly crafted novels to unofficial and uncensored DVDs, giving every other possible insight into ECW just to cover the ones the WWE-based one missed out. What's funny is that there exists quite a divide between the two sides of the ECW story. On one side of the fence, comes the WWE's version of events. Admittedly, its way, WAY better than Vince's twisted and banal take on the history of WCW, but it is still littered with historical holes and political spins that sugar-coat a lot, and WWEise the rest. However, the opposing end is not much better.

See, as much as people love to murder the WWE's treatment of ECW, the same amount of people chose not to shit on the other side's word. Led mainly by the ever-mouthy Shane Douglas, and the decidedly under-mentioned Tod Gordon, those who oppose the word of Vince McMahon go way WAY too far in attacking his version of events. Bottom line is, there is A LOT of the Titan side that is a true and fair recounting of events, just like with the Douglas end of things. But for some reason, Spike Dudley has to tear up an ECW contract live on air, while Rhino burns the World Title on TNA TV. Vince has a habit of being a total asshole about things he doesn't like, but others sink just as low when they react in such ways. Eric Bischoff has been raped of his pride repeatedly, but understands that he has really won this battle of their endless war – he sits at home and takes money out of Vince's pocket because they don't have anything for him. Who's the stupid one there?

Anyway, the point is, there was no middle ground in sight between the war of…well, who said they knew more about ECW than the other. Something had to give, but nothing was going to. Especially when Vince launched a new brand which might as well be called RawDown! but instead rightfully decided to bleed a good brand name for what he could. Hoo boy was that the straw that broke the camel's back for the haters. They got angrier, WWECW became a much-criticised but sometimes-entertaining TV show, and the true love and adoration for a wonderful promotion was lost under a mess of burnt belts and new breeds of extreme.

But thankfully, and refreshingly, all is not lost in frustration and bitterness forever. No no, someone walked the line, and did he have a story to tell.

Turning The Tables - The Story of Extreme Championship Wrestling

Subject: An attempt at extracting the best of both worlds to truly reflect what ECW was, is, and always will be.

Release Date: October 2005

John Lister is English, which is fantastic. I'm obviously pretty biased here being English myself, but this fact is not just great because he's one of countrymen. No, John Lister being English is great because ECW was STUPIDLY hard to be a part of over here. I mean, it had some daft TV slots in America, but daft ones were pretty good compared to NOTHING over here. From 1992 up until around 1998, ECW did not exist on British Televison. Thanks to THE wrestling magazine over here, a fine publication known as PowerSlam, plus internet and non-internet (imagine that!) tape traders, some, and only some were exposed to the future of the business. In 1998, we got limited exposure with some ECW shows from mid-1996 buried on a low rent satellite channel for about 6 months. Despite cancellation, for most this was the first true view of a promotion we had only read about (or saw about on Raw during the invasions).

What that small history of ECW in the UK was meant to stress was that people would go a long, LONG way out of their way to see this product emanating out of a bingo hall/mummers float storage hut out of Philadelphia. John Lister was a true follower. Travelling the length and breadth of the world, and then some, he made sure he had joined the revolution, as the t-shirts would say. He understood the show's importance and like so many others, cared about it like nothing else. Following the success of his first effort Slamthology, it was clear he could put pen to paper. The world needed his words on his favourite empty obsession. Thank god it did, because without it, we may not have been given Turning The Tables.

If I was to say that Turning The Tables was the quintessential guide to what was ECW, it would pretty much sum up everything that needs to be said. However, I'm not here to write what needs to be said, I'm here to write what I want to say. And quite honestly, I could go on about this book all day.

It's a bit annoying too, to be honest. Because I waxed a lot on Shawn Michaels' book last week, I didn't intend to be blown away two weeks on the spin. But in the 5 or 6 engaging hours I spent with this book, I realised I'd be lying through my teeth if I didn't give this book every bit of praise it deserved.

And it's not even just that it perfectly covers the middle ground between the haters and the recreators. This is one fantastic aspect, but through sheer content, this book would always be a total triumph. See, look at it this way. The Rise & Fall of ECW DVD was a massive, massive success, critically and commercially. But as I attempted to implicate above, it was not without it's (at times, gaping) flaws. However, Turning The Tables is simply flawless. It might be worth noting that, unless there are any very-well-hidden agendas, John Lister has no reason to side with either tents in the Extreme camp. Indirectly, that allows for the perfect companion to chronicling the land of the misfit toys. Lister's style is breezy and informative but clinically decisive, formulaically honing in on all the points you want to know more on. Like word foreplay, a certain incident or moment will be hinted at, then be so amazingly stretched out for the literary climax later on. By repeating the process, and (in that he was a fan himself), by having an incredible knack for understanding what needs dwelling on the most, the entire book, every single chapter, is irresistible.

A good example is the early description of Tri-State and just how crucial it was to the formation of ECW. It brings in the importance of Philadelphia's anti-establishment attitude in creating the need for an alternative. It would be enough to say that Eddie Gilbert, Tod Gordon, and later Paul Heyman, decided to run shows out of a bingo hall with fresh ideas and some violent matches and go from there. But with such an exhaustive and extensive history behind Tri-State, let alone ECW itself, it really determines an understanding of the roots behind everything company stood for. Again, it isn't necessary but once you've read it, you would want it again. An entire history of the business is both fruitless and pointless, but a focussed insight on the single, more relevant aspect to Extreme Championship Wrestling is an absolutely phenomenal addition to an already fine historical package.

Written almost in the style of an academic text, the book follows a basic story structure, but is laced with poignant and valuable quotes from all the movers and shakers. Again this where Lister's ambiguity is key, as he is perfectly able to take quotes from the WWE's works, personal superstar interviews, wrestling newsletters, and other relevant mediums in order to put the point across. Paul Heyman's captivating pre-match speech from Barely Legal is included in it's entirety, the full press conference following the NWA screwjob, plus all the contradictory interviews from Heyman, Douglas, Gordon and Coralluzzo that followed it are covered at length, and the consistently fluctuating financial records are detailed with such candour and analysis that a potentially boring aspect to the office end of the company becomes enlightening and thoroughly readable.

Yet another wonderful aspect of the book is in how actually investigates the legitimacy of some of the comments made by the main players. Unlike other versions of ECW's history, where someone's (usually Heyman or Gordon) words are taken as fact because they were there and they know best, this book often leads you into decoding the truth for yourself, being given all the supplementary material to work with, rather than the oft-reference Kool-Aid we all have to drink with other works. Two fantastic examples being Gordon's leaving of the company and the ECW vs. TNN war. It also takes a more honest approach to the ‘dream' lockerroom that existed in ECW, showing off that ultimately it was only the same as every other politically-based wrestling company, even if it was to a smaller degree. Not like I'm into nay saying and hate-mongering, but the time for some brutal honesty had really come. I adored ECW and everything it brought with it, and still do, but sometimes you need your glasses to be not-so rose coloured, ya know?

But it's always best with everything in equal measures, and Turning The Tables gets it spot on. Lister throws credit where it's due out by the shovel load, to both the performers who put their bodies through hell, and the innovative bookers, writers and producers who created, moulded and presented the product that would change the wrestling industry. Particular attention is given to the post-production side of ECW, stressing how well put-together it was in order to hide the cracks in the pavement. In a way, something so simple to discuss only helps to further Lister's description of the pressure behind producing Pay-Per-Views, from a creative and qualitative standpoint. It's quietly purposeful, and only when you finish the book do you realise that his words and style have carefully manipulated you just enough to appreciate chapters you would normally skip over or skim read. It's a marvellous tactic and it works again and again.

If a DVD followed this book rather than different people's agendas, a true representation of ECW's donation to the Wrestling industry would finally be established. However, in book form, it will do just fine. For anyone who calls themselves a wrestling fan, especially those that have an interest in its roots and history, this is absolutely required reading. Like the day where a WCW book comes out without a WWE spin, or in 50 years time when Vince is dead and a somewhat objective look at his life hits the shelves. Until then, this IS the benchmark. It sets the standard for books based on ECW, it sets the standard for books documenting the story of a company, and the raises the bar for every future wrestling book. Every single fan should own this book, because unlike ECW itself, there are no restrictions on this becoming a lot lot more than an underground phenomenon unable to crack the big time.

Shorthand:

Worst Bit: It didn't even matter in the end, but simply subjectively speaking, I wanted a bit more on Brian Pillman. His true involvement in the company is always argued, and I happen to be in support of his worth, but John Lister doesn't, and I couldn't help but pick up on it.

Best Bit: The absolutely mindblowing account of the Dreamer/Raven feud. I consider this the greatest angle in the history of the business, and the simply breathtaking account featured was unbelievable. A bulleted list of every time the two squared off, not to mention all the key moments involving the many other people who benefited from it, was above and beyond the call of duty. But MAJOR kudos for it. Utterly brilliant, and the real point where this leaves every other book in the shadows.

Buy It, Borrow It, Bin It: Buy It. Buy two and give one to a friend. Then tell them to do the same. More's the point, email John Lister and ask for a free one to distribute to a non-wrestling fan. It's potentially that great.

Final Mark: 11/10

From the Wrestling Observer website:

By Kenny McBride

"Philadelphia was different." So begins "Turning The Tables: The Story of Extreme Championship Wrestling" by John Lister. This is the first of three books expected in the near future about the revolutionary "little promotion that could", and that opening sentence almost sums up the whole ECW movement. Even the T-shirts invited fans to "experience the difference", and it was a difference that changed the course of the industry throughout America and beyond.

Anyone who has read Lister's previous book Slamthology will know Lister's credentials for this fascinating and detailed study of the rise and fall of a company that was quite unlike any that came before or after. Having watched every tape and visited the ECW Arena on several occasions, he was close enough to truly understand the rabid reactions of the fans at the shows, yet living in Britain, and with his solid journalistic background, he is detached enough to be able to look at the story of ECW without letting his judgement be clouded by his love of the product.

"Turning The Tables" begins with a look at the genesis of the promotion, starting with a look at Philadelphia's history as a hot, if unusually hostile wrestling town, and the office out of whose ashes ECW was born, Joel Goodhart's TWA. It then gives a roughly chronological account, from the early days in the Original Sports Bar, through the creative miracles of 1995-97, and on through the PPV and TNN years, all the way to the unlikely place of death in Pine Bluff, MO, the confusions and contradictions of the bankruptcy proceedings, and this year's nostalgic resurrections. Much like the WWE-produced DVD, the book follows a path of looking primarily at Heyman's booking magic as the company grew to the point where, almost unbelievably, it debuted on PPV with Barely Legal, then seeing the creative side of the company falter as debts spiralled out of all control and the company limped towards its inevitable demise.

The other ECW books that are forthcoming - one by Scott Williams and one official WWE book - will certainly trump Lister's effort for direct contributions from the people involved, but the research for "Turning The Tables" is beyond reproach. Lister has clearly studied hours of tapes (both ECW releases and a variety of shoot interviews) and hundreds of pages of newsletters and websites to build up a detailed picture of how the ECW phenomenon grew and finally self-destructed. There are details in this book that even the most avid ECW fan probably doesn't remember, including one fact about a key ECW angle that will genuinely shock most readers, and the analysis of both the NWA double-cross and the Mass Transit incident in Revere, MA is probably the most accurate you will ever see. Both these incidents get their own chapters and, for anyone who didn't follow wrestling at the time, will provide an insight into just how controversial ECW really was. Other chapters go into great depth on some of the topics that defined ECW - "The Night The Line Was Crossed", "The Three Way Dance", "Raven Vs. Dreamer", "Barely Legal" - while one chapter, "Ten Classic Gertner Introductions", appears to have been included simply to provide some light relief in amongst the tales of mounting debts, half-baked PPVs and an ever-decreasing talent pool.

Though this book is not a history of 1990s American wrestling, Lister does regularly refer to happenings in WCW and the WWF, pointing out the ways in which ECW truly was an alternative, breaking down barriers and changing the rules of a business that was incredibly stagnant when Eastern Championship Wrestling began. It builds a compelling case that without ECW, there might never have been a late '90s boom, and constantly reminds ECW's many detractors of just how significant the company's influence was. In today's US wrestling monopoly, especially with the winners writing history, it is easy to forget just how bad things were, and how thrilling ECW was for hardcore fans hungry for excitement. Without ECW, there would almost certainly be no ROH, no CZW, no PWG and arguably no TNA, and WWE would probably be look very different as well. ECW consciously drew in the fans who knew that they were watching a show, but it was so exciting and unusual that it never really mattered. The kind of brand loyalty that every company now seeks, usually with attendant chanting of the company's initials, is all a result of ECW's potent influence. "Turning The Tables" constantly reminds the reader why ECW was special, and why that kind of passion may never be replicated. Particularly affecting this week is the description of the "Malenko/Guerrero Classic", including the emotional final match at the ECW Arena. The tears in the eyes of both wrestlers and fans were real that night, and are as fitting a memorial to the wrestling life of Eddy Guerrero as any.

Perhaps the only real criticism that can be levelled at "Turning The Tables" is its length. Though Lister's concise, direct style means that nothing important is left out of its 195 pages, there are a number of stories that cry out for a bit more depth and background. This is a minor gripe though. As a whole, "Turning The Tables" is essential reading for ECW fans still trying to make sense of the death of the only promotion they ever truly loved, ECW detractors who still can't work out what all the fuss was about, and especially for newer fans who are scratching their heads over the rabid reactions to the cheap PPV with no great matches earlier this year.

The book is dedicated to one of Lister's all-time favourite wrestlers, Chris Candido. Described as "the last true worker," Candido's story is a microcosm of the ECW story. He was too small to be a big star, but too talented to be ignored. He consistently gave 110% effort, even when he was injured or drugged to the eyeballs. He was one of the great hopes of the smart fans, but one who was inevitably going to be lost in a futile struggle with bigger rivals. And just when you thought the turnaround was within reach, he was snuffed out and mourned desperately by everyone who had ever known him. "Turning The Tables" is available from most online retailers. For further details, including best prices and delivery times, check out www.turningthetables.co.uk.

From the Wrestling Observer website

By Joe Babinsack

ECW was a multi-faceted and multi-dimensional entity.

One can read about the inner politics of the group, can read about the interactions between this minor league operation with major league impact, can learn about the various styles it repackaged and launched in the US, can attempt to understand the involvement of the fans, the talent and the promotion in its presentation of a seamless product.

But most of the time, the facets presented by writers, nostalgic fans, corporate sycophants and insider/analysts seem to overlook the depth of the promotion, and often ignore the squeamish details -- those details that revolve around audience participation on various level, on targeting a niche market instead of the mainstream, and about how ECW both maintained wrestling tradition while destroying the perceptions fostered by its dominating rivals.

ECW has always been about what professional wrestling has become, and what it has lost in the process. In the era in which ECW became a cult phenomenon, it rebelled against the WWF’s circus-like mentality and Vince’s ongoing revisionism, and also against the overbearing egos which were ruining WCW’s product. It was a group of outcasts and misfits, people who could not, rather than would not, work successfully in the more corporately structured major federations.

But in the histories presented by fabulous writers and DVD chronicles, there is always something missing.

The big picture of ECW revolved around the product, not the politics. But the strange bedfellows and the financial hypocrisies and the intertwined destinies of McMahon, Bischoff and Heyman make for great reading materials. Unfortunately, the agendas of those involved, and the reality that the winners write the history, and the ultimate reality of Vince McMahon’s complete ownership of names, recollections, present and future of the Extreme Championship Wrestling “brand” make almost everything written about the legend altogether questionable.

That’s not to say that John Lister has perfected the history of ECW, but I think Lister -- in concentrating on the product, the fan interaction and on the information that was released over time -- has captured far more of what made ECW a legend. Instead of ego stroking, revisionism and painting the proper picture to the proper audience, we get strong glimpses into the flow, into the presentation and into the dynamics of the big picture, the historical placement and the reality of the matches

In other words, if you know the letters E-C-W, but don’t exactly know the history, this is the first book you should read. If you know the stories and want to know the opinions of the players involved, then read one of the other fine books on the subject.

Where I commend John Lister is in the perspective of the fan. When ECW arrived on the scene, I was a twenty-something wrestling fan, who knew of other worlds of wrestling, who bought and traded tapes, who scoured the internet newsgroups, and who had delved into the drinking scene

ECW provided me with an alternative wrestling product, that intertwined cutting edge music, innovative violence, and rewarded my knowledge of wrestling history and wrestling lore across the world. It also produced storylines that weren’t stupid, characters that actually developed when interacting with opponents and the fans, and presented 100% effort, if not quality, in every match.

Lister provides the names, the numbers and the details of the matches -- things most other recollections touch upon but never seem to care about. Sometimes, it was simply the packaging of the ECW show that appealed. The bumper music, featuring White Zombie, Killing Joke, and music from the Pulp Fiction soundtrack, was a great way to get a new set of fans involved. So by the time the Dreamer/Raven feud was well underway, the music of the Offspring and Alice and Chains reverberated in ways that corporate jingles and house music (cheap ripoffs, that is) could never replicate. That ECW also mixed in Edgar Winter and Deep Purple showed that the music appreciation mirrored the sensibilities of fans who could both adore and abhor Ric Flair.

For those who think that the ECW fans were a monolithic group are sorely ignorant. This was a fan base that would have died for the Four Horsemen, but once Tully Blanchard put on a stinker of an hour long match, they turned their back on him. Sid Vicious was a typical muscle head out of corporate pro wrestling, with little effort and almost no dedication to the profession, but once he stepped foot in the Bingo Hall, he was cheered like Pillman or Austin.

And that dichotomy will forever be linked with a selection of hardcore fans that would chant “ECW” at the coolest, most innovative and dangerous stunts ever seen on television, but would just the same scream “You F***ed Up!” if someone stumbled trying a similar spot.

By combing through insider newsletter accounts, fan web sites and other news outlets, as well as watching the tapes of the shows, Lister provides an in-depth picture of what made ECW work. With nuts-and-bolts details of various important events, including “The Night the Line was Crossed,” the NWA tournament backstab by Shane Douglas, the New Jack/Mass Transit incident in Revere, and a detailed listing of the bankruptcy proceedings, this book has far more depth on the history than those which will rely upon sound bites, carefully orchestrated memories and an eye to the wrestling politics of the McMahon family.

Turning the Tables features the background of not only the big matches, but also the streams of run-ins, plot twists and dates of major feuds and matches. Thus in a DVD format, a match and a voiceover provide visual and commentary, but with this book, the reader gains insight into the overall picture of how the fans interacted, were lead and almost always participated in the show.

The backstory on all the behind the scenes machinations of that story are provided, as are details on the Raven/Dreamer feud, Mick Foley‘s various contributions as heel and face, the various jumps to WCW and WWE which destroyed the company, and lots of recaps of promo material, from Terry Funk, Mick Foley and the off-color introductions of the oft-forgotten Joel Gertner.

Lister is an English journalist who previously published Slamthology, which detailed his interests in the American version of professional wrestling.

The essence of what was ECW, and how and why it continues to this day, as a spontaneous chant when fans see awesome work in the ring, is captured more so in this book than in other accounts. Lister gets the details right, and sets up the interactions far more than just the names and numbers and cold analysis. ECW fans exuded an exuberant appreciation for wrestlers and the product -- who in return the favor. The insane atmosphere that was in ECW still haunts the WWE and may never be duplicated. But we will see if the efforts in upcoming weeks will rise to the challenge.

“Attitude, effort and talent” are what Lister calls the focal points of the fan’s appreciation of being there, being involved and creating more than just a performance in the ring, but being players in the big picture, through audience participation, communications that went in both directions and through respect that was maintained.

Today, the talent for a revived ECW is a given, and the effort will most likely be achieved. The major question remains the attitude, which is, above all, the essence ofwhat ECW was, and the stumbling block to this day of the corporation which first stole the catch-phrase, then bought out the library and likenesses of ECW.

John Lister was able to capture much of what made ECW tick, and his book, “Turning the Tables: the Story of Extreme Championship Wrestling” is a great primer for those who want to see if the WWE can recapture what became a legend in the minds of most hardcore fans, or if it will simply sell out the brand and hope that people have forgotten its history.

From eResources of Pittsburgh

By Joe Babinsack:

From the Two Sheds Review

By Julian Radbourne

One of the biggest news stories of 2005 has been the wave of nostalgia that has swept the wrestling business with regards to Extreme Championship Wrestling, so it's no surprise that someone's finally released a book about the company.

John Lister, following on from his successful Slamthology book, is that man, and his second book, 'Turning The Tables: The Story of Extreme Championship Wrestling' is perfect for any die-hard ECW fan, or for people like me who jumped on the bandwagon too late and got caught up with events earlier this year.

This is the first ever book that looks back at the history of ECW, from their beginnings as Eastern Championship Wrestling and as an affiliate member of the National Wrestling Alliance, and to the actual birth of Extreme Championship Wrestling when Shane Douglas won a tournament to crown a new NWA World Champion, and promptly threw down the belt and proclaimed himself the first ECW Champion.

It seems that almost every infamous incident here is covered in depth, from the Mass Transit incident, the Raven-Tommy Dreamer feud, the Sandman crucifixion angle, and more. Lister tells the story of ECW's attempts to become a national promotion, securing television spots in various parts of America, moving on to pay-per-view in 1997, and gaining a national television slot on TNN, which to many was the beginning of the end for the company.

There is also a few chapters which look at the financial dealings of the company, and the list of people and companies who were owed money when they filed for bankruptcy in 2001.

Lister also looks at the two ECW invasions of the WWF, including their teaming with WCW to form The Alliance during the failed Invasion angle in 2001, and the reasons this very book was published, the wave of ECW nostalgia that has swept the wrestling business this year, Shane Douglas' Hardcore Homecoming shows, and the WWE's One Night Stand pay-per-view.

In conclusion - Lister's done it again. Turning The Tables is an extremely well researched, and certainly thought provoking book, about a promotion regarded as one of the most influential in professional wrestling history, how the passion of just a few men turned something that had a cult following into a national phenomenon that challenged two international promotions, but ultimately failed because of poor financial acumens, and by growing faster than they should have. It's a very good read, and a must for any ECW fan.

From wrestlemag.com:

By Mark Bright:

Following up the excellent Slamthology, John Lister becomes the first person to release a book about ECW - and the timing couldn't be better with ECW nostalgia at an all-time high what with the WWE doing the Rise & Fall DVD and One Night Stand PPV, as well as Shane Douglas running his Hardcore Homecoming shows.

This book takes a chronological look at the major events of ECW, from even before the formation of Eastern Championship Wrestling, right up to the folding of the company and even the shows this year. A problem with writing an ECW book is that everybody knows the major events that took place in the company, but through heavy research that included some key promo transcripts (Steve Austin's debut, Heyman's backstage promo before the Barely Legal PPV to name two) and through looking at it from a fan's perspective, this book does give you a different view on things than WWE did, and Borash/Douglas did with their ECW DVDs. Although Lister was clearly a big ECW fan, that's not to say he's a blind supporter who thinks ECW is great and everything they did was the greatest thing ever, for example admitting that the Dudleys/Eliminators match from the Barely Legal PPV technically wasn't great, however it was perfect as an illustration of the ECW style and it differentiated what they did to what WWF and WCW were doing at the time.

Far different from the loyalist ECW fan attitude of "we were great then WWF nicked all our ideas otherwise we'd have still been "around Lister goes through the last two years or so of the company, in terms of the financial problems, and also the clear reduction in quality of the product from the creative peak of 94-7 and touching on the main problem the company had in that time, in that the more they tried to drive the product forward -different markets, more PPVs - the more the financial strains of the company brought them down - going into the financial details of what they owed, and their various TV deals, the implications of some of those being astounding, you wonder how they ever happened, both from an 'ECW screwing people over' and 'people screwing ECW over' standpoint.

The biggest weakness of this book is the length. At only 196 pages it means that certain key events in ECW's history are glossed over, but that has been a problem with a lot of good-but-could've-been-great wrestling books lately (Harley Race's autobiography, I'm looking in your direction) and I'd guess is more to do with the publisher than the writer. However, it still is a good recollection of ECWs just-short-of-10-year history, with all the key moments at least being touched upon, and some going into detail, and while not treating ECW like it was the perfect company, the product is talked about in the fond and nostalgic way it deserves. For a non-ECW fan, this book is a very good indication of why people followed that company and loved it so much. For an ECW fan, it's a look back at a time when this small bunch of misfits from Philadelphia busted their asses infront of loyal fans to put on entertaining kickass wrestling shows. And its well worth your £8.99/US$15.99 from http://www.turningthetables.co.uk/ or the usual internet bookstores.

From InsidePulse.com

By Jed Shaffer

As the WWE continues it's push of DVD's and books celebrating the history of wrestling's Legends (their capitalization, not mine), the market for wrestling history that doesn't have to be passed through a McMahon filter continues to grow. If you check my archive (a link is at the bottom of the screen), you'll see more then a few autobiographies by people who, at one time or another, have stood outside of Vince McMahon's sphere of influence. And, to go along with that, more then a couple of people have dared to explore the how's and why's of some of wrestling's failures, most notably WCW and ECW. Some of these books have been successful, some have been less then, but all have aspired to the same goal: to examine the fallen promotions without the prejudice of the winners of the war holding the editor's pen.

And, since last summer's pair of ECW reunions (one organized by the WWE, one organized by Shane Douglas) and two equally popular if competing DVD's (put together by the same two entities), no subject has become more of a hot property than the history of that "island of misfit toys", ECW. Two DVD documentaries, Forever Hardcore and The Rise & Fall Of ECW and the Scott Williams book "Hardcore History" have attempted to chart the history of that beloved promotion from Philly ... and all have left one contingent or another in the audience wanting (either due to the WWE product being "biased" towards the WWE, or the independent product being overtly contradictory against it). Even I opined the possibility of ever seeing a true, independent history of ECW in my review for "Hardcore History".

Then, John Lister contacted me, and told me about his new book, "Turning The Tables: The Story Of Extreme Championship Wrestling". He said that it would satisfy that yearning I had for both an amusing narrative and an unbiased history of ECW.

The book

Like "Hardcore History", "Turning The Tables" starts out looking at the true genesis of ECW, with Joel Goodhart's Tri-State promotion, and how ECW rose like a phoenix from Tri-State's ashes. The familiar path is traced, from Eddie Gilbert's role as booker to Paul Heyman coming in whilst working a side-gig for a possibly resurgent Jim Crockett project called the World Wrestling Network. From there, the book goes through the other familiar steps: Heyman taking the helm, Heyman buying out Gordon, the "mole" incident, Mass Transit, PPV, TNN, talent raids, and finally, the quiet, almost forgettable death of the fed. You won't find any surprises here if you've read the other book. That's not a bad thing, just a fact; if someone else wrote a book about the rise and fall of WCW, it would chart the same territory Reynolds & Alvarez already did. It's damned hard to write about a non-fiction topic and make it be fresh when other people have done it.

But it's not a carbon copy of "Hardcore History" by any means. Lister makes a concerted effort to add new and heretofore unmentioned facts, or put existing facts in a different light. The NWA Title Tournament and the inextricable knot of rumor and innuendo and mystery between Tod Gordon, Paul Heyman, Shane Douglas and Dennis Coraluzzo and who knew what and if it was a work, shoot or a shwork; Lister doesn't necessarily add new details to the argument, but his take on the situation adds new complexity and new speculation to exactly what in the hell happened (of course, he can't solve it either, and to his credit, he doesn't really try ... he just recalls the evidence at his disposal). The Mass Transit incident gets a much more in-depth attack, with an examination of the footage that's so broken down, you'd swear this was a breakdown of the Zapruder film and that Lister is in fact Jim Garrison (back, and to the left ... back, and to the left ...), putting the whole incident into a new perspective.

There's also a few oddities in a pair of chapters: one highlights 10 particularly classic Joel Gertner nickname introductions, something old ECW fans will get a kick out of. The other chapter, though, is a mixed bag, a timeline of the entire Raven/Dreamer feud, going date by date, match by match, until Raven's loss in their Loser Leaves ECW match in 1997. You don't get a lot of the nuances when the material is broken down as:

April 14: this match

April 16: this match

April 18: and so on and so forth

But you do get a surprise concerning the very heart of the feud's mythology. The truest of ECW mutants might already know it ... but it ain't my business to divulge. Send the man some dollars (or, since he's British, some quid) and you can find out.

And closing the book is an impassioned and brilliant piece written by Lister, not as an author, but as a fan, about the nature of ECW and its legacy, the reason for its demise and the reason for its (limited) success. Like the "anti-PTC" rant at the end of Mick Foley's "Foley Is Good" book, the final chapter isn't necessary to the flow of the book ... but it's the most heartfelt piece of writing in the book, a fan's denouement to the preceding pages that doesn't let the demise of ECW go down so bitterly.

What you won't get, though, is a lot of depth or emotion in this book. Emotion? Well, that may or may not be a loss ... if the emotion is the bitter, derisive and myopic rantings of a Shane Douglas or an Ian Rotten, the book is so much better off as it is: a straight account of the facts, without political leanings or dirty laundry being aired about. It's refreshing, especially in an industry as political as wrestling, to get something that isn't strained through some emotional filter ... but, paradoxically, there isn't a lot of fanboy passion through the narrative, either. The Death Of WCW, even when lampooning and lamenting at the litany of mistakes made by the WCW braintrust, never hid the fact that the authors were first and foremost fans of WCW who were examining the ruins of their beloved promotion with a heavy heart. Turning The Tables doesn't have that passion in it; there's no beating heart, no sense of loss, just a journalistic examination. Maybe, with how ECW seems to inspire partisan opinions, that's how any ECW book has to be ... but I can't believe that. Others have managed to find the balance.

As for the question of depth ... at 196 pages, this clocks in even shorter then the Williams book. Chapters run 4-6 pages usually, so just as it seems you might be getting to the meat of a topic (Mass Transit, TNN, the NWA Tourney), you've hit chapter's end. I can't begin to speculate on why the book was kept short, but another 100 pages could've turned this book from a Spike Dudley-sized appetizer to a Rhino-sized buffet table.

Summation

When I got the book, I was nervous, even hesitant. I knew the author was proud of his work, and he believed it the solution to my woes for a real ECW history, without the BS. While he didn't fail, I can't say it's the bullseye I was hoping for. The brevity of many of the chapters makes the book over before it should be, with such a subject as deep as ECW, and the cold, flat rendering of a lot of the material makes the book overly analytical. Of course, I could be off the mark and Mr. Lister may not have been aiming to make a passionate, fanboyish historical account; maybe he wanted to stick to the numbers and nothing but. But for my money, I crave a little more, and I think Joe Book-reader wants a little more then just the facts and nothing but. That's not to say that the book is bad; even with the flaws, the book doesn't succumb to many of the pitfalls the Williams book stumbled into. But make no mistake: just because it's a better book doesn't mean it's a great book. It's like Hank Aaron stepping up to the plate against a high school pitcher ... and hitting a single; you just know it could be better.

Final score: 6.5.

From Liveaudiowrestling.com

By Dan Lovranski

Much like Turning the Tables itself, I'll keep this short and sweet. This book is a quick breeze through the history of Tod Gordon and Paul Heyman's Extreme Championship Wrestling. It's basically just a time line covering both the major angles in the promotion and the problems that eventually brought it all down. There doesn't appear to have been any new interviews done, although author John Lister does have a few choice bits including the actual figures for what the various workers were due when ECW folded as well as learning JT Smith was the very first victim of the infamous "you f@#*ed up" chant when he botched a move and landed on his head.

Lister's book works best as an hors d'oeuvre before the two other ECW themed books that are scheduled to appear over the next year or so. First up, ECW founder Tod Gordon is going to do a book from his perspective, which should give us some insight into the early days. The WWE is also doing a book, and one would hope that Paul Heyman would be involved, creating a perfect counterpoint to Gordon's book, if done right.

I would, however, like to recommend Lister's earlier book, Slamthology. It's a collection of imaginary wrestling scenarios mixed with Lister's own road stories of a British wrestling fan touring all the American promotions, big and small.

From Obsessed With Wrestling

By Brad Dykens

IT WAS the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of violence, and it was the age of extreme. But this tale began in the city of brotherly love -- Philadelphia. Extreme Championship Wrestling is a cultural anomaly that will forever go down in the memories of wrestling fans as a revolutionary style of anti-establishment fueled by a cult of passionate fans that had as much to do with the product as the men inside the ring.

John Lister, based out of the United Kingdom, set out to uncover the seedy underbelly of the phenomenon known to wrestling fans the world over as ECW. The concept is technically the property of Vincent Kennedy McMahon but the memories belong to the fans. “Turning the Tables, The Story of Extreme Championship Wrestling” is a celebratory journey down memory lane for crazy fans of Extreme wrestling. Lister takes readers back even before the beginning and after the end, hitting on all points in between. He exposes what happens backstage and recalls some of ECW’s most unforgettable moments. Credit is given to the important people who kept the company going as long as it did, and proper tributes paid to the army of extreme wrestlers who gave their blood, their bodies, and in some cases their lives, to make ECW so great.

Turning the Tables is a great book about something that interests all wrestling fans. Through the pages of this book you will experience the true influence that ECW had on all aspects of today’s wrestling product and you will be left with a newfound feeling of respect for Extreme Championship Wrestling.

Rating: 7/10 - Must have a genuine interest.

From 411mania.com

By Michael Weyer

So we have one book that paints the WWE in a good light, another that paints it in a poorer light with the emphasis it was the wrestlers, not Heyman, who made it work. So you might wonder if there's a more balanced and unbiased look at the company. Enter John Lister's Turning the Tables: The Story of Extreme Championship Wrestling (Exposure Publishing $15.99).

On the face of it, you might think this is the least of the books. For one thing, Lister is British and it was published in England so you might wonder how well someone from the other side of the pond can understand ECW's impact. Also, at 194 pages, it's the shortest of the three. However, it's amazing just how much information Lister manages to pack into this and does so with a steady hand.

A lot of it is stuff covered in the first two books but Lister puts some spins on it. For example, while the first two books cover Mass Transit in general terms, Lister devotes an entire chapter to a literal blow-by-blow of the entire event and then the next chapter has a timeline of how the story expanded and initially killed the first pay-per-view. It cites the belief by Heyman that the Wrestling Torch leaked the tape of the match to the PPV distributors in an attempt to kill the show, which Torch editors deny. Another timeline has pretty much every match of the Dreamer/Raven feud and how it developed.

Another unique special look is at the NWA title tournament. WWE has it that only Heyman, Gordon and Douglas knew what was going to happen while Hardcore History hints that NWA board member Dennis Coraluzzo might have known about it too. Lister goes the next step with a slew of evidence indicating that not only did Coraluzzo knew, he was fully in on it. However, it hints that Coraluzzo thought this would lead to a big ECW/NWA feud and didn't expect ECW to break away like it did. Lister leaves the actual judgment to the reader but the evidence is compelling.

Also, more so than the other books, Lister delves deep into the dollars and cents of the company and its ups and down, showing how much Heyman was making vs his spending. One of the last chapters, in fact, lists all of the creditors and workers Heyman owed money to and how much. Like Williams, Lister mentions One Night Stand and its short-term impact but, in a show of how instantly outdated wrestling books can be, both state it doesn't seem to have led to any mass revival of ECW. Lister does add a few intriguing touches like a one-page chapter of the ten best Joel Gertner introductions. Lister also has word for word stuff like Heyman's pep talk before Barely Legal and the post-"Night the Line Was Crossed" interview with Funk and Douglas that turned Douglas from babyface to the Franchise. While it may be a bit dry at times, it's a much more balanced look at ECW than the other two books.

From What Culture:

As far as unauthorised accounts go, this is by far the best detailing the history of Extreme Championship Wrestling. John Lister has also penned other books, including one which acted as a diary of his various wrestling-related trips to North America in the 1990’s. With Turning The Tables, he trumped even that, and the in-depth nature of the book makes it essential.

The biggest compliment which can be handed Lister’s way is that he at once makes the book accessible to those who know a lot about the original ECW and those who don’t. Even people who didn’t watch one ECW broadcast at the time the promotion existed will enjoy this one, it’s written with the non-fan in mind.

It’s also clear that a lot of research has went in to ensuring each page is bursting with facts. From financial information about ECW, to backstage stories and other tales, there’s a lot to take in. There’s a nice flow to proceedings however, this is an easy read. For new and old fans alike, Turning The Tables is an even better account of ECW’s history than perhaps even Paul Heyman could provide. It’s unbiased, in other words.

From What Culture

Written by John Lister, Turning The Tables is an unauthorised account of the original Extreme Championship Wrestling. At 196 pages, it's short, but doesn't scrimp on any details about the cult-like promotion that demanded attention throughout the 1990s. Lister comes across as a fan of the company, but one who realises the shortcomings that eventually led to its demise.

Previously, the same author had penned a collection of his own experiences crossing the Atlantic from England to take in ECW events. As a university student fascinated with wrestling, he and some friends made several trips to the United States, taking in WWF and ECW shows along the way.

That clear love of ECW shines through, making the read a much more enjoyable one than the more saccharine (and WWE-produced) The Rise & Fall Of ECW. Whilst the DVD was excellent, the book of the same name didn't really cut it. 

Turning The Tables is bursting with statistics associated with the group, such as pay-per-view information and the wage structure in ECW. Thus far, it's the best book written about the hardcore promotion. 

Reader comments (including responses at the UK Fan Forum and reviews at Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk)

Despite the solidly 5 star rating the book has gotten, I was skeptical enough to be detracted by the never lowering price and frequent suggestion by Amazon.com's recommendations that I should try "Hardcore History" or the "novelization" of "The Rise and Fall of ECW", or even the DVD itself, or the DVD "Forever Hardcore".

And yet this book manages to both explore the hype of ECW as well as telling the history in a "warts and all" sort of way.

At not even 200 pages, I was astonished at how fluidly the author moved from year to year and topic, compacting so much information, while remaining on focus that the book is not about the individual wrestlers, but about the company in general.

Territory not very well touched by the two major DVDs (Rise and Fall of ECW and Forever Hardcore) include going back to the beginnings of the wrestling promotion started by Tod Gordon, putting out a second mortgage on his house to finance Eastern Championship Wrestling, and putting as much detailed information into the pre-1993 history of ECW that is only faintly touched upon by "the DVDs" (the two mentioned above).

Chapters include quotes from the people involved, such as Paul Heyman or the wrestlers themselves, etcetera, and brief transcripts of events such as "the Night the Line was Crossed" and Shane Douglas' speech where he threw down the NWA Championship, as well as giving a wide variety of varying views as to the controversy that surrounded this, giving suggestions that it may have been staged by ECW and the NWA, or that NWA was completely out of the loop, going so far as to include information so minute and seemingly out there and impossible to find that it does not stick to one guaranteed story, but lets us pick our own to believe, based on the evidence supporting whichever.

While focusing on the genius of ECW's booking and writing, and being bluntly honest (including ripping on my favorite ECW event "Heatwave 98" by calling the first two matches "competent" and taking a slight jab at the classic Tanaka/Awesome encounter), he is objective enough to take into account the fact that ECW's in-ring product was not always lovely, and its financial situation was even more ghastly, from TV networks in Chicago and Florida having a fierce battle with Paul regarding the TV slots, to frequently losing and re-gaining TV spots, to almost precise numbers on just how many fans would attend arena shows wherever they were, and how despite the massive intake from arena tickets coupled with merchandise sales, ECW was seemingly always hemhorraging money, and virtually never made a profit.

Some of the wrestlers have minor accounts of their time in ECW devoted to more than just name-dropping (Too Cold Scorpio is one of the name-dropped) such as Taz, Sabu, and most especially Tommy Dreamer and Raven. Dreamer and Raven's legendary feud is even chronicled in an entire chapter detailing solely the dates of ECW shows from 1995-1997, and the events transpiring between Dreamer and Raven, which I felt should have benefitted from some exposition to clarify to the obtuse (like me) just why this was such a monumentally epic feud (I don't doubt that it is; I'd just like to see the author do more than list dates and results, such as "6 June, Dreamer and Sandman defeat Raven and Richards, with Sandman pinning Raven").

By the late 90s, the book becomes objectively critical of ECW as the financial situation comes to engulf the entire situation of ECW. It's never outright stated, though it's implied as a possibility that Paul Heyman was being paid money by Vince McMahon early on as 1997, whereas he only publicly claimed to be being paid some time later. It's also stated that varying companies cautiously invest money in ECW, including Acclaim Entertainment (who would be responsible for putting out the ECW video game) who seemingly gave ECW almost a million dollars which was never even begun to be paid back, giving the impressiont that perhaps Acclaim was buying a portion of ECW itself.

The end chapter monumentally details the finances of ECW, and how ECW had hemhorraged so much money that it owed various companies and people more than 8 million dollars, of which no one who was owed such money would ever see again, from Paul Heyman's father Richard Heyman, to an unknown "Heyman" with the seeming first name of Richard's middle name, to individual wrestlers, to Vince McMahon himself and two major companies who had invested in ECW, and more specifically it's parent company HHG, inc (the book suggests this might stand for Heyman, Heyman, and Gordon, including Paul's father Richard S. Heyman).

The entire book manages to go over the history of the short-lived company in an unbiased manner that is highly informative and painfully detailed in so many areas usually looked over by the DVDs and other recountings.

The only major issue I have is when it touches on the now-deceased wrestlers in the world, such as Mike Lockwood (Crash Holly), Eddie Guerrero, Pitbull #2, Rocko Rock and Johnny Grunge, Brian Pillman, and many others, and shockingly seems to blame ECW for their deaths by implying that ECW was such a "free drug zone" that everyone who stopped by got themselves addicted on something and ended up overdosing because of their time in ECW, be it several years, a few months, or just a minor appearance so obscure that their presence isn't even considered to be worth mentioning. I'm almost insulted that he didn't blame Kurt Angle's painkiller addiction on his one-time-almost appearance in ECW in 1997.

It's worth mentioning as an end that the author sums up Extreme Championship Wrestling in a bold way that would anger and upset much of its fanbase, yet cannot be denied as false: ECW could never possibly succeed. ECW suffered money problems from the very beginning, and the only solution to paying its debts was to expand enough to make more money. And doing this would only expand the amount of ECW's expenditures, in such a way that ECW's expenditures would always outweigh their profits. ECW was destined not to succeed as a living company.Despite the solidly 5 star rating the book has gotten, I was skeptical enough to be detracted by the never lowering price and frequent suggestion by Amazon.com's recommendations that I should try "Hardcore History" or the "novelization" of "The Rise and Fall of ECW", or even the DVD itself, or the DVD "Forever Hardcore".

And yet this book manages to both explore the hype of ECW as well as telling the history in a "warts and all" sort of way.

At not even 200 pages, I was astonished at how fluidly the author moved from year to year and topic, compacting so much information, while remaining on focus that the book is not about the individual wrestlers, but about the company in general.

Territory not very well touched by the two major DVDs (Rise and Fall of ECW and Forever Hardcore) include going back to the beginnings of the wrestling promotion started by Tod Gordon, putting out a second mortgage on his house to finance Eastern Championship Wrestling, and putting as much detailed information into the pre-1993 history of ECW that is only faintly touched upon by "the DVDs" (the two mentioned above).

Chapters include quotes from the people involved, such as Paul Heyman or the wrestlers themselves, etcetera, and brief transcripts of events such as "the Night the Line was Crossed" and Shane Douglas' speech where he threw down the NWA Championship, as well as giving a wide variety of varying views as to the controversy that surrounded this, giving suggestions that it may have been staged by ECW and the NWA, or that NWA was completely out of the loop, going so far as to include information so minute and seemingly out there and impossible to find that it does not stick to one guaranteed story, but lets us pick our own to believe, based on the evidence supporting whichever.

While focusing on the genius of ECW's booking and writing, and being bluntly honest (including ripping on my favorite ECW event "Heatwave 98" by calling the first two matches "competent" and taking a slight jab at the classic Tanaka/Awesome encounter), he is objective enough to take into account the fact that ECW's in-ring product was not always lovely, and its financial situation was even more ghastly, from TV networks in Chicago and Florida having a fierce battle with Paul regarding the TV slots, to frequently losing and re-gaining TV spots, to almost precise numbers on just how many fans would attend arena shows wherever they were, and how despite the massive intake from arena tickets coupled with merchandise sales, ECW was seemingly always hemhorraging money, and virtually never made a profit.

Some of the wrestlers have minor accounts of their time in ECW devoted to more than just name-dropping (Too Cold Scorpio is one of the name-dropped) such as Taz, Sabu, and most especially Tommy Dreamer and Raven. Dreamer and Raven's legendary feud is even chronicled in an entire chapter detailing solely the dates of ECW shows from 1995-1997, and the events transpiring between Dreamer and Raven, which I felt should have benefitted from some exposition to clarify to the obtuse (like me) just why this was such a monumentally epic feud (I don't doubt that it is; I'd just like to see the author do more than list dates and results, such as "6 June, Dreamer and Sandman defeat Raven and Richards, with Sandman pinning Raven").

By the late 90s, the book becomes objectively critical of ECW as the financial situation comes to engulf the entire situation of ECW. It's never outright stated, though it's implied as a possibility that Paul Heyman was being paid money by Vince McMahon early on as 1997, whereas he only publicly claimed to be being paid some time later. It's also stated that varying companies cautiously invest money in ECW, including Acclaim Entertainment (who would be responsible for putting out the ECW video game) who seemingly gave ECW almost a million dollars which was never even begun to be paid back, giving the impressiont that perhaps Acclaim was buying a portion of ECW itself.

The end chapter monumentally details the finances of ECW, and how ECW had hemhorraged so much money that it owed various companies and people more than 8 million dollars, of which no one who was owed such money would ever see again, from Paul Heyman's father Richard Heyman, to an unknown "Heyman" with the seeming first name of Richard's middle name, to individual wrestlers, to Vince McMahon himself and two major companies who had invested in ECW, and more specifically it's parent company HHG, inc (the book suggests this might stand for Heyman, Heyman, and Gordon, including Paul's father Richard S. Heyman).

The entire book manages to go over the history of the short-lived company in an unbiased manner that is highly informative and painfully detailed in so many areas usually looked over by the DVDs and other recountings.

The only major issue I have is when it touches on the now-deceased wrestlers in the world, such as Mike Lockwood (Crash Holly), Eddie Guerrero, Pitbull #2, Rocko Rock and Johnny Grunge, Brian Pillman, and many others, and shockingly seems to blame ECW for their deaths by implying that ECW was such a "free drug zone" that everyone who stopped by got themselves addicted on something and ended up overdosing because of their time in ECW, be it several years, a few months, or just a minor appearance so obscure that their presence isn't even considered to be worth mentioning. I'm almost insulted that he didn't blame Kurt Angle's painkiller addiction on his one-time-almost appearance in ECW in 1997.

It's worth mentioning as an end that the author sums up Extreme Championship Wrestling in a bold way that would anger and upset much of its fanbase, yet cannot be denied as false: ECW could never possibly succeed. ECW suffered money problems from the very beginning, and the only solution to paying its debts was to expand enough to make more money. And doing this would only expand the amount of ECW's expenditures, in such a way that ECW's expenditures would always outweigh their profits. ECW was destined not to succeed as a living company.


My initial viewing experience in Cleveland (OH) with the ECW television program was through shows airing on a small station based in Akron/Canton (OH) that was not picked up by most cable outlets outside that area. I was lucky enough to have a Sony Watchman that picked up the station.

Based on that TV show and word of mouth, ECW sold out its first show in Cleveland at the Agora nightclub, which was known for holding metal shows. Needless to say it wasn't the typical crowd found at WWF and WCW house shows held at the larger venues in the city.

Lister captures that energy and excitement of ECW as it built up its following from Philadelphia and the East Coast to taking the product nationwide, and then the collapse of the organization (with the rebirth as a subsidiary of WWE).

Lister is not hampered one bit by not having access to those involved in ECW for interviews (most likely due to the recent book and DVD put out through WWE). Rather, Lister takes secondary sources, along with his encyclopedic knowledge of the organization through viewing shows live and on tape, to weave an outstanding and unbiased look at the company.

He also points out key points in storylines that appeared in WWF/WCW sometimes years later and also has enough information on what was happening in the major organizations to place ECW in its proper historical perspective.

A major plus is Lister's comprehensive list of wrestlers who were part of ECW. That in itself is worth the price of the book.

I want to remember ECW as the inovative organization with performers willing to push the (bingo) cards off the table and that kicked hard to force WWF/WCW to alter its product, no matter how lame the knock-offs ultimately were to fans "in the know."

If there is one book you want to pick up to chronicle the history of ECW, Turning the Tables is it.


Massively informative read thoroughly enjoyed it and learnt a lot. I would recommend this book to anybody who enjoys wrestling.


I did have some sort of idea about ECW when I was in my early years of watching wrestling. But because it wasn't on any channel here in England (that I knew about) I could never watch any of it. I can now say that I wish I had done. OK so The Attitude Era was VERY cool, but without Extreme Championship Wrestling and its grand influence there's a good chance that WWE wouldn't exist today. The telling point is that this is an accurate history about the origin of the company that gave wrestling in America a kick up the backside necessary after the staleness following the 1980s and has detailed chapters on its most famous moments including every result of the revolutionary feud between Tommy Dreamer and Raven; the Shane Douglas-NWA World Championship controversy and even a chapter with the ten best Joel Gertner quotes. I can't really recommend this highly enough without putting forward the case that as sad as it was that ECW "crashed in a sea of debt" it was ultimately for the best. I say that because it was less painful then it could have been given the size to which it grew. Plus it's written by an English dude so all spellings and customs are correct (don't take it too personally if your reading this and from North America).

This book is a pretty detailed book about most of the history of the ECW. For a huge fan of the company like me, it was enjoyable. From a business perspective it was interesting to see where most of the financial dealing was not successful. It's an easy read and includes a few tidbits not covered in other publications I have read. If your a fan of ECW THEN you would like the book.

I can assure anyone who's wondering that it's at least as well written as Slamthology and tells the story of ECW more honestly, thoroughly and accurately than any other account you'll see.


This is an excellent book. Probably better than Slamthology purely because it's all on a single topic and is meticulously researched. Whether you watched ECW from the beginning or got your first taste at One Night Stand, you must read this book.


I also had a sneak preview, and I can't recommend it highly enough. The sheer amount of research put into it is clearly terrifying, and it's as awesomely written as you'd come to expect from John. I consider myself a pretty big ECW fan, I certainly was an obsessive follower during the heyday, and there's a ton of fascinating stuff in this book I had no idea about. There's no agenda behind this book, just a meticilously researched, fascinating account of a turbulant period in history by someone with an obvious love of the subject.


Got mine this week-read the first few chapters thus far, and I'm impressed. Very nice read, and have already read things I didn't know (which for a diehard ECW fan such as myself was a surprise!)


Read almost 3 quarters now, fantastic read so far, really interesting, some great info in there on things I didnt know about, or things which I've read about in past, but not to as much detail.


Just finished my copy, really great informative yet concise read. This book is a must have for any wrestling fan


An excellent read and a worthy follow up to the first book. I started reading it as soon as I got it (luckily I had a free day), and just finished a moment ago: very well researched with some bits I didn't know!


I would like to thank you, as 'Turning the Tables' was incredible. I loved every page, and as a big ECW fan, I learnt many new things.


Having read the author's other book on wrestling, Slamthology, was very happy to see he'd wrote another book on probably my fave wrestling group ever, ECW. The fact it was wrote by someone who had made trips to the States to see ECW live during the company's existence also sold me on the idea of buying it. Covers ECW from before its existence, to the early days, right through to the last show. I thought I knew a lot about the history of the company, but there was a hell of a lot of stuff I had no clue about in this book. Its took me roughly 3 nights and a couple of afternoons to read through the book, normally its takes me a LOT longer, but it kept my attention from start to finish. If you ever watched ECW, or are just a fan of pro wrestling, read this book. You wont be disappointed.


Requires some prior knowledge of the sport, that's for sure, but chances are you won't be reading this review if you've not got some yourself. A great book about a tricky subject- the less-than-perfect recollections of a bunch of drug-addled wrestlers and sleazy promoters that came together to make ECW, still my favourite wrestling promotion ever for the sheer fun I had watching it. Lots of interesting and unbiased reporting (the same can't be said for the other books due out on the subject) and a fun read.

Trying to document the story of a promotion which had so much impact on professional wrestling was always going to be a daunting task, but Lister has done an excellent job.


This is an enjoyable read with statistics and memories aplently. I would strongly recommend this book to old ECW fans and new wrestling fans alike. Like it or not, ECW was a promotion which lead the way in the 90s


I finished reading this last week and along with the Funk book is one of best wrestling books released this year. It's much better than Slamthology (although I think I'd read quite a bit of that in other stuff before).

Simply Turning The Tables is the ECW book that wrestling has been crying out for. Along with Forever Hardcore and The Rise And Fall Of ECW this book is an essential for any fan of ECW.

I found the book rather concise and I felt certain chapters were screaming for more information and depth however the brevity of the book is also one of it's biggest strengths. In 200 or so pages it covers pretty much everything notable in ECW's history. Lister's analysis of the growth and then failure of ECW is spot on and is without the spin from the two DVDs released this year.

Like many people I've been on a nostalgia trip this year and have been watching many of the shows from 1993 - 1994 and I thought Lister's account was excellent. You really get the impression after reading this book that you know more about the history and impact of ECW - furthermore it makes you want to watch again all those great angles and promos.

The fans always knew what was special about ECW and you can tell that Lister was a fan also but he remains detached enough about the subject to review it objectively.


One of the best wrestling books i've read. Its well written, easy to read and very informative. A great job by the writer.


I am in the middle of the book, and I too will say it is great. A very easy read, but really interesting, ESPECIALLY the very early days of ECW which I am not too familiar with. I recommend this to all, as Lister did a great job here.


I don't learn enough about wrestling anymore. When I watch a shoot interview, I find I've heard a lot of the stories, when I read a magazine, I find I've heard the 'news' and I've heard the stories. This book was one big learning experience. A lot of the stories were new, a lot of the perspective was new and a lot of the information was new.

The author is obviously in love with the product, but manages to be impartial. You get a real sense of love for the promotion but of frustration too. Frustration at the lack of business acumen on display and the poaching of talent. The book does a good job of leading you through the history of ECW from a perspective in front of the camera, while at the same time, giving a more 'insider' perspective. The explanation of the business decisions and the affect of these decisions is written in a manner that anyone can absorb.

In fact, the whole book, complete with relevant quotes at the head of each chapter, is written and organised in a manner that makes it very easy to read. As someone who seldom finds time to sit and read, the book was the perfect length. Each chapter is manageable. I found time to read at breakfast, on my lunch hour, or while waiting in the car.

While Slamthology, despite being a very good read, had some problems with the language and had an 'undeveloped' writing style, Turning the Tables has no such flaws. The author is far more experienced and this book shows a more mature writing style. I look forward to his work in the future.


I finally got round to reading it after buying it ages ago - I in fact started it in Friday night and finished it in the early hours of this morning. With my only real knowledge of ECW coming from the Rise and Fall of ECW DVD a lot of the content was new to me.

The whole ECW story is certainly an interesting one and well put across in this book - facts, figures, stories, gossip - it's all in there! It was certainly a page turner and one that I will definitely read again.


Turning the Tables is a great book. When I got it I read it in less than 4 hours. It's a great look at ECW from its beginning and everything surrounding the end of ECW. Awesome read. Highly recommended.


Massively informative read thoroughly enjoyed it and learnt a lot. I would recommend this book to anybody who enjoys wrestling.



The book is excellent, and the author fully captures the feel of the promotion. Not being too up on ECW (barring the odd Bravo show) and only seeing it retrospectively, it really helped build a clear picture of how the promotion rose, grew and ultimately became too big for it's limited resources (and the constant battles that Paul Heyman waged to keep it going) Also it discloses dealings between Vince McMahon and Heyman, help from WWE in other words while Eric Bischoff and WCW did nothing (except stupidity in releasing Austin and Foley) The key moments are clearly pinpointed as are key angles and matches. I like histories of promotions especially when they are as well put together as this one. :thumbsup

Video review: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=khnD6Xipfpg