Mark James is 50 years old. He moved to Memphis when he was five. Some more data: James has written 39 books. Most of the these books are about wrestling. About half of those books about wrestling focus on Memphis wrestling. His latest book, published last fall, is Top 100 Monday Nights of Memphis Wrestling 1974-89.
James’ focus for this book is the weekly matches at the Coliseum. He watched every match during that time and came up with his list. But, he was sure to get Jerry Lawler’s approval.
Among the top five: The time Lawler beat Bill Dundee and Dundee had to shave his head. The next time Lawler beat Dundee and Dundee’s wife had to shave her head. Then, there was the time Lawler had to shave his head after a loss. (“It didn’t happen that often,” says James.)
Of course, the infamous 1982 match with Lawler vs. Andy Kaufman makes the cut.
James says he was into wrestling when he was a kid because everyone was.
“It was Memphis not having a professional team,” he says. “Wrestling replaced a lot of that for young males in Memphis.”
He also notes that sometime in the 1980s, wrestlers got a lot better looking, which drew in the women fans.
James has written books that concentrate on specific years. He’s told Jerry Jarrett’s story and helped with Dundee’s autobiography. For research, he watches old matches and goes through clippings and programs. And, he talks to the wrestlers to get the behind-the-scenes and the in-front-of-the-scenes stories.
One thing James points out is that the wrestling of back then is not like the wrestling of today, which he says is like watching a movie.
“It was fun to do. We’d hoot and holler. For the fans, wrestling was real back then,” he says.
For more information about Mark James' books, visit markjamesbooks.com.