Brody – The Triumph and Tragedy of Wrestling’s Rebel Book Review


“Wrestling can drive you nuts from all the lies!” Those were the words from one of the most celebrated legends of pro wrestling, Bruiser Brody. The book Brody: The Triumph and Tragedy of Wrestling’s Rebel is a great read that pays tribute to one of wrestling’s greatest outlaws, Frank “Bruiser Brody” Goodish.

Bruiser Brody is legendary for a lot of reasons in pro wrestling. Brody’s in-ring ability, his influence, his wrestling psychology, his business sense, his thirst for blood and violence, his true rebellious ways, and his devotion to his family are many of the reasons that Frank Goodish is just as much a part of pro wrestling today as he was during his glory years.

Larry Matysik is the protege of the famous NWA kingpin, Sam Muchnick, as well as an iatrical part of the St. Louis wrestling territory in and out of the ring. Matysik along with Brody’s widow, Barbara chronicle the life and times of Bruiser Brody in a new book – Brody – The Triumph and Tragedy of Wrestling’s Rebel.

[adinserter block=”1″]Bruiser Brody went from the NFL to headlining Madison Square Garden against Bruno Sammartino, selling out the Tokyo Dome against Antonio Inoki, drawing big box-offices challenging the NWA World Champions Harley Race and Ric Flair, and terrorizing the country with his bloody battles against Abdullah the Butcher. While nobody could stop him inside of the ring, Brody faced a challenge before a show one night that would take the big man down for the count.

The first chapter of the book is entitled, “Murder.” The chapter is written from the point of view of Brody’s friend Larry Matysik, and includes comments from several of Brody’s peers. It is without a doubt one of the most riveting single chapters I have ever read in a book period. The second chapter entitled “The Nightmare” is written by Barbara as she reflects her final days with Frank, how she found out about the incident, and how her and her son dealt with the loss of their husband and father.

The death of Bruiser Brody is still one of the most talked about and controversial stories in pro wrestling nineteen years later. I recently had a chance myself to discuss this night with Dan Spivey who was Brody’s scheduled opponent. This continues to be one of those stories that have about twenty different interpretations from the people that were there which includes witnesses to the actual murder.

Brody was scheduled to wrestle Dan Spivey in Puerto Rico. Brody wound up in a secluded room with the booker and fellow wrestler, Jose’ Gonzales. Exactly what happened next has been told in so many different forms and versions that the real story may never truly be told. The bottom line is that Brody entered that dressing room a healthy man. Brody left that room stabbed, bloody, hanging on to dear life, and shortly after dead.

The book proceeds to chronicle the rise of Bruiser Brody from the gridiron to the wrestling ring. Brody had one of the most storied careers in such a short time. The book fairly points out some of the controversies that Brody had throughout his career.

Brody had a reputation for not always doing what was right for business. Several of Brody’s peers I have talked to over the years including Bobby Heenan and Nick Bockwinkel don’t remember Brody fondly at all. Both describe him as bad for business and not worth the trouble he brought with him to a territory.

Matysik is fair to discuss this issue and even one of Brody’s closest friends Gary Hart talks about the troubles he even had controlling the big man. Brody was so intelligent when it came to pro wrestling that he was usually two steps ahead of the game if he felt he was being used or misused. Another story talks about the infamous night Brody and his partner Jimmy Snuka walked out in the middle of a sold-out Japanese tour.

My memories of seeing Bruiser Brody live go back to about 1987 in Wildwood, NJ. I took a fan-trip to see Brody live since it was the closest that he had ever come to wrestling in the area since I had been a fan. Brody was headlining the show against his most notorious rival Abdullah the Butcher.

There were only a couple of hundred fans in attendance if that. Most of the matches were terrible. For fans that complain about independent wrestling today, try going to a show 20 years ago and tell me how much fun they are? Anyhow, Brody and Abdullah came out and immediately brawled all over Convention Hall. The two went into the concession area, the stands, the chairs, the bathrooms, no place was safe. I remember a moment where the two went into a room and Brody returned with a broomstick and began clubbing Abdullah with it. 1 fans, 200 fans, 20000 fans, the two gave everyone a hell of a show. I had never seen anything like it live and I wouldn’t again until 8 years later and ECW.

One fantastic story that describes Brody’s smarts was a match he had in St. Louis challenging Harley Race for the NWA World Heavyweight title. Brody promoted the match with crazy interviews leading up to the event. As crazy as Brody got about the match, he never once promised that he would beat Harley Race for the title. He only promised to beat up Harley Race. Brody understood that babyfaces should never make promises they won’t be keeping to the fans. How many times in today’s wrestling do you see babyfaces predicting victory against the heels only to come out with a loss? Wrestling 101 my friends.

In reading about some of the stories I felt as if I was riding in the car just listening to these people crack open a cold one and start storytelling. It is amazing to me that almost twenty-years later and nobody has been charged with Brody’s murder. The man be gone but his legend will always live on. Bruiser Brody is the kind of guy I could see myself easily becoming friends with on the independents.

[adinserter block=”2″]The man was smart, loyal, and dedicated to his family and his craft. It is a shame that the new generation of fans will never have the experience of seeing Brody live. The story of Bruiser Brody is one that should have been told a long time ago. Frank Goodish was very lucky to have Larry Matysik and Barbara Goodish in his life. The two tell a great story and one that should be read by all aspiring wrestlers and fans. It is the kind of book old-school wrestling fans only wish that some of our legends would write about.

A classic Bruiser Brody promo

Click here to order the book Brody – The Triumph and Tragedy of Wrestling’s Rebel.

See Bruiser Brody wrestle Ric Flair to a classic one-hour draw on the Classic St. Louis Wrestling Vol. 12 DVD by clicking here.

See Bruiser Brody take on Abdullah the Butcher in a Steel Cage on the The Triumph and Tragedy of World Class Championship Wrestling DVD by clicking here.

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