Tuesday, April 30, 2019

"Final Bell" Remembers Legends of the Mat

by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

I've enjoyed Mike Mooneyham's wrestling columns in the Charleston Post & Courier since I first discovered them on this new thing called the Internet in the 1990s. Mike instinctively knows how to connect with both casual and hardcore fans, exploring the modern but also mining the historical, often in a very nostalgic way, which has always appealed to me directly.

Part of what I liked about many of his columns was that much of his subject matter came from the same territory I had grown up in. It was clear we both had a love and deep appreciation for Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling. So whenever a legend from our area passed away, I anticipated the column that would soon follow where Mike would perfectly frame the life, career, and death of these legendary wrestlers.

Mike collects many of those tributes, not only on the stars from our area, but from the wide world of pro-wrestling, and presents them in this amazing volume published by Evening Post Books.

"Final Bell" presents over 35 of Mike's columns going back decades, and is divided into various sections thematically: "Champions" such as Jack Brisco, Bruno Sammartino, and Randy Savage; "Originals" like Wahoo McDaniel, Fred Blassie, and Johnny Valentine; "Braintrust" featuring Jim Barnett, Lance Russell, and the longtime local promoter from his hometown of Charleston, Henry Marcus.

And of course, there is a large section on "Mid-Atlantic Mainstays and Stars" including such legends as Rip Hawk and Swede Hansen, George and Sandy Scott, Tim Woods, and Johnny Weaver.

And so many others.

I had read many of these articles before, but I had missed many, too. I was captivated by the material new to me, and enjoyed reliving the others. Throughout I was moved to laugh and cry, and as with most of what Mike writes, I continued my education in the history of professional wrestling.

For more information and to order your copy of this impressive collection of essays, visit "Final Bell" at Evening Post Books.

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From the publisher:
Best-selling author Mike Mooneyham is back with a collection of his previous columns that remember some of pro-wrestling’s finest movers and shakers. From their rise to fame to the end of their days, Final Bell: Legends of the Mat Remembered pays tribute to fallen wrestlers such as Dusty Rhodes, Roddy Piper and the Fabulous Moolah. The book also includes quotes from the industry’s favorite wrestling professionals like JJ Dillon, Jerry Brisco and Jim Cornette. Showcasing two forewords by industry pros Les Thatcher and Jim Ross, this book is a must-have for all dedicated wrestling fans!

Mike Mooneyham began covering pro-wrestling in the mid-1960s for a number of national wrestling publications. He was a writer, editor and columnist with The Post and Courier in Charleston, SC, for nearly 40 years, retiring in 2016 but continuing to write his popular Sunday wrestling column, which he started in 1989, making it the longest-running pro wrestling column in the country. In 2002, he co-authored the New York Times best-selling book, Sex, Lies and Headlocks: The Real Story of Vince McMahon and World Wrestling Entertainment. Mooneyham is a member of several halls of fame, including the George Tragos/Lou Thesz Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame in Waterloo, Iowa; the South Carolina Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame; the Lowcountry Wrestling Hall of Fame; and the Mid-Atlantic Legends Hall of Heroes. He received the James C. Melby Award, the industry’s top writing award, in 2009.