Adventures in Larryland!: Life in Professional Wrestling (click to read), by “The Living Legend” Larry Zbyszko in 2008 is a funny book and contains a shocking revelation, but otherwise the lack of detail prevents it from rising past being a lower mid-card act.
Funny and engaging. Zbyszko’s cocky and entertaining personae shines through. In case you didn’t know, Larry was one the top microphone pro wrestlers of all time, right up there with Roddy Piper when it comes to being an antagonistic heel. He’s an Enneagram Personality Type 8, but not really a typical version because he was heavily influenced by his mentor and idol Bruno Sammartino.
Easy to read. This is a double-edged sword, of course. The font is huge, and it’s barely 200 pages, meaning I was done in two sittings. I listed it as a positive only because I, like many people, are pressed for time and can’t spend a week on a book right now. It’s written for older casual wrestling fans who may have remembered Zbyszko from turning on Sammartino in 1980 or being a top heel in AWA in the mid-1980′s. It’s not written for “smart marks”, current WWE teenaged fans, or non-wrestling fans.
Screwed by Vince McMahon, Sr and Jr. Finally, Larry Zbyszko chronicled why he left the WWF in 1980 after the classic steel cage battle with Bruno Sammartino and Shea Stadium- it was over money. Larry Zbyszko was THE top heel in wrestling after turning on Bruno (which their idea), and that feud was the TOP in the industry. Larry Zbyszko, taking advice from Bruno, was holding out for more money while he and Bruno were touring the northeast circuit. That was an unforgivable offense to the McMahons, who requested Zbyszko to job out (lose) after the feud was over. The way Zbyszko describes the genesis of the angle and all of the events that were involved with it make the book. It’s a shame he was not as detailed with any other aspect of his career. Then again, it could be argued, this WAS the highlight of his career, which he milked for his entire life.
Listen to the ring introduction for PROOF of how hated Larry was!
No details at all. Personal life? How he picked his last name? His great run in Georgia Championship Wrestling? His relationship with other wrestlers in various leagues? Day-to day? Everything is skimmed or completely skipped. Other stories are unbelievable.
No editing. Some facts and timelines are just plain wrong, even from his relatively recent run in WCW.
It almost seems like Larry spoke into a tape recorder to make an outline and just wrote it based on that. It feels like there was no collaboration or fact checking, and the way events are glossed over, distorted, or omitted is a shame.
Exaggerations. Zbyszko takes credit for having outstanding post-retirement matches against Eric Bischoff and Scott Hall, in terms of quality and drawing power. Those matches were barely OK for someone his age, and gimmicky. Although some fans rooted for him when he was an announcer against the nWo, the fans cheered when Dusty Rhodes turned heel on him at the nWo Souled Out PPV. That PPV was a commercial and critical failure, as well. Another exaggeration was the importance of the AWA World Title when he won it. The AWA had jumped the shark in the mid-1980′s, and was a small time indy league by the time he won the title in Battle Royal in front of less than 2,000 people.
Ripping Bob Backlund. You can tell Larry Z was jealous of WWF Champion Bob Backlund because he went out of his way to call him Howdy Doody and boring. Backlund is known to be a sickeningly nice guy in real life, and was also screwed by Vince, so that was uncalled for. It’s true Backlund gets ranked like Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter when it comes to rating systems, but his matches were outstanding and he sold out arenas for many years on top. Backlund is very underrated. You can check out any of his matches on YouTube and hear the fans go crazy for someone that was so “bland”.
It’s a shame these and many other facts had to be misleading, since Zbyszko actually had a somewhat underrated career since he was blackballed by the WWF, something that is implied but not stated outright in his book.
Conclusion: Entertaining read; I enjoyed it. Just could have been so much more.
Here is my updated list of Best Wrestling Autobiographies of All Time:
1- (THREE WAY CHAMPS) Ric Flair/Chris Jericho/Bret Hart
4- Mick Foley I
5- Dynamite Kid
6- Billy Graham
7- Fred Blassie
8- Lou Thesz
9- Shawn Michaels
11- Ted DiBiase
12- Jerry Lawler
13- Mick Foley II
14- Harley Race
15- Dusty Rhodes
16- Terry Funk
17- Ivan Koloff
18- Bobby Heenan I
19- Jesse Ventura
20- The Rock
21- Larry Zbyszko
22- Roddy Piper
23- Bruno Sammartino
24- Arn Anderson
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- Why Do People Believe Ric Flair is Overrated?
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