This book is one of the few in which the subject had more success in a career outside of sports instead of his time in them. This memoir is written by a man who was a key figure in the world of professional wrestling for many years doing many different jobs but yet is probably best known for his work in country music. Wrestling is his first love, however, as evidenced by the title of this book, "Mat Memories"
"Mat Memories: My Wild Life in Pro Wrestling, Country Music and with the Mets" by John "Alexander" Arezzi and Greg Oliver
Wrestling, Baseball, professional, memoir, management, Mets
April 6, 2021
4 of 5 stars (very good)
John Arezzi has led a very interesting and varied life. He has held jobs in three very different entertainment industries – baseball, country music and professional wrestling. He has also had three different names he used at various times in these professions. His story is told in this very entertainment memoir written with Greg Oliver, a respected author on professional wrestling.
Arezzi grew up with two loves: professional wrestling and the New York Mets. As a teenager, he started a fan club for his favorite wrestler, "Classy" Freddie Blassie and even wrote a regular newsletter about the heel. While he remained a wrestling fan, the pull of getting a chance to work in the Mets organization was too strong and in 1981, he worked for one of the Mets' minor league teams. However, the wrestling bug had bitten him too much and he ended up going back to that business. He even appeared in the ring as John Anthony. In a book filled with entertaining stories, that one is probably the funniest and most entertaining of them all as he flubbed some of his parts but somehow was able to finish two matches.
After that, he hung up the tights for good and settled in for various jobs in the industry. Whether it was hosting a radio show, writing newsletters and articles, managing wrestlers – you name it, Arezzi was involved. His most notable accomplishment was organizing the first wrestling conventions in which fans could meet their favorite wrestlers and purchase pictures and autographs. His time in wrestling was filled with conflict as well as success and Arezzi pulls no punches when he describes the difficult times as well as the good times.
In an unusual switch, when he had reached the end of his rope in the wrestling business, he took a job selling advertising time for a country music radio station. From here, he started a successful stint in that music genre in which he was responsible for the discovery and start of three women who went on to successful country music careers: Patty Loveless, Sarah Darling and Kelsea Ballerini. Through this, he went by the name of John Alexander, mainly to have a more "conventional" name upon advice from another woman in the business, Suzanne Alexander. While it was hard for him to give up the wrestling, it is clear from his writing that he was very grateful for the success and relative calm that country music gave him compared to wrestling.
Whether his story is about wrestling, music or baseball, Arezzi drops a lot of names and doesn't hold back anything. The stories are plentiful and entertaining. The worst that can be said about the book is that at times, the details in some of the wrestling accounts get bogged down that it is difficult to follow and has so many names that a casual fan may not understand the full picture. What keeps them going is Arezzi's enthusiasm and honesty about everything, making for a good read that anyone who follows wrestling or country music will enjoy.
I wish to thank ECW Press for providing a copy of the book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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