The View From Down Here – Book Review ‘I’m Next’ by Goldberg [Plus bonus Stephen King]

 Let’s get straight into this one.

Next on the summer reading list is ‘I’m Next’ by Bill Goldberg with Steve Goldberg (2000).

After reading two of the most highly regarded wrestling autobiographies out there  – by Dynamite Kid and Bret Hart – this one was, well, shall we say, different.

But before I get into it, I have to say that I was a Goldberg mark in WCW. I even thought that WWE did some okay things with him – the elimination chamber match where he just punched the plexiglass out was perfect for the character (if not cartoonish, but that was/is WWE). And I think he was a better wrestler than many have made him out to be. He certainly seemed to have a wider array of moves and submission holds than, say, Ultimate Warrior (who I was also something of a fan of). I also find his film Santa’s Slay not as horrendous as most make it out to be (I even own it; might have to do a review of it one day…). I think it was a comedy that just fell flat a little too often (though it was not as bad as most US ‘comedies’ I have seen in the past 10 years). So there’s not only your embarrassing admission, but also you know where I’m coming from.

So, that being said… This book was not a literary masterpiece. Not even close, I’m afraid.

The narrative jumped all over the place. There were two chapters written by members of his family plonked into the middle. It covered his career, then jumped back to his early life before going to his heel turn and problems with it, mentioning in passing he had problems with Bischoff. Non-linear narrative is all fine and dandy, but in an autobiography? A wrestling autobiography at that? Marketed to wrestling fans? Add to this the fact that too many attempts at humour fell completely flat. He tries to be self-deprecating one minute, hero-to-millions the next. It is a frustrating read.

Now, it is not really badly written. It is tightly edited and it is an easy enough style to get into. But it was nothing special, and at times it was hard to maintain my interest. Uninspiring would probably be a good description.

I think the thing that really got me was comparing it to the Hart and Billington (and Foley) autobiographies. These guys plied their trade across the course of years on the road; Goldberg went in from another sport. And I’m not saying he didn’t work hard at football, but to put his football career down as much as he does in this book (“slow”, “sitting on the sidelines”) and then become what he considers a superhero in wrestling really does detract from these tales and makes wrestling look all the weaker for it.

Some of his stories were intriguing – being on the verge of signing with the WWF/E before going to WCW, having many of the same concerns with Nash as booker being the one to end his ‘streak’ as much of the IWC, obviously not being a fan of Scott Hall. But some were glossed over too quickly. Batting practice with Mark McGwire (mind you, WCW did not even acknowledge it)? Giving Bret Hart concussion? You’d think they were footnotes. And what about his infamous challenge to Austin on Leno’s show? Not even hinted at.

I think the best word to describe this book – written while WCW was still a going concern – is “disappointing”. It’s not kayfabe at all, and yet it is a strange mix of arse-kissing and honesty. It is confusing. Look, it’s not bad, not really. It’s just… disappointing.

The sixth book on my list of wrestling tomes, and the first one I don’t think I’ll be bothering with again. I’m Next – thumbs in the middle, leaning down.

Quick diversion – I also finished Full Dark, No Stars (2010), the latest Stephen King work I have procured. Now, I have every book by Stephen King released in Australia. His early novels are awesome, and Christine is one of my very favourite books of all time. My first two novels were rejected for being bad Stephen King pastiches (and rightfully so).

But for the past fifteen years, though I still buy and read all his stuff religiously, I have been disappointed with the majority of his works. His short stories I have generally enjoyed, and the occasional novel (From A Buick 8 springs to mind as one I liked), but most have left me feeling flat. So it was with some trepidation I approached this book.

I read it in three days. It is four novellas, and they are all really disturbing. I did not like one, but that was because of the fact I really didn’t like the main character and that he got away with murder, not because of the way it was written or anything like that; one truly disturbed me and one was one of the very best King things in years. But I read it and could not put the damn thing down.

It’s Stephen King – you know what you’re going to get. But what we got here was a bit more of the psychology and that made some of these tales even worse than they could have been. Still, it’s King. It’s horror and there’s gross out and there’s supernatural stuff. And all of it is good.

This one is a recommended book, for sure

But let’s see what else there is to read.
Pulse Glazer put out one of his best columns last Monday.
FLEA’s back!!
Penny has a damn fine column looking at Lance Storm and the reality of wrestling ‘success’.

And that’s the view for another fortnight…

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