Saturday, September 10, 2016

Book Review: Motel Wrestler Series (AC Yates)

It was just over a year ago that I did my first book review. While I've only done one more, you shouldn't infer that I don't read. It's just that I don't read many books that are relevant to the blog. I'm kind of wary of some of them being just glorified fan fiction of the variety I can find for free elsewhere. With self-publishing, it'd certainly be easier to do these days.

The Motel Wrestler series from AC Yates is not fan fiction. It's a unique autobiographical inside look into the world of the private/underground wrestling scene where two guys meet online then meet to wrestle. It's not an erotic series, although there are moments that lead that way. It's really a story of a guy using wrestling to find out about himself.

Delve into the world of motel wrestling
(Image: BGEast Motel Madness 3)

Told through recounts of various matches, the four mini-books form one narrative that takes you through his two-year experience in this world. This series (not to be confused with the fictional series that Yates has launched) really make up one novel. Each one is about 60-70 pages and together they immerse in the variety and emotion of this part of the wrestling world.

For those not familiar with this whole motel/underground/private area, there are personals sites where guys meet, chat and then get together for wrestling. The two that I know best are Globalfight and Bearhugger, although I'm sure there are others nowadays. With thousands of members, there is a huge mix of guys in terms of demographics, geography, interests and intentions, so they can be both exciting and daunting.

I really enjoyed reading these books. They're quite engaging and give a pretty thorough view of the world. It's skewed to a certain type and interest, but there's representation from the diaspora of guys, from those who're looking for a serious match to those looking for a fun rendezvous.

This series should be really interesting for two groups - people who've done the private/motel match thing and people who're curious about it.

I fall in the former and the series was fascinating to me. The experiences laid out are significantly different than my own. Not just because our interests are different, but because of the role it played in our lives. For me, it was a fun way to live out pro fantasy and superhero roleplay. For Yates, it was a life-changing experience. I guess that's why he can write a really insightful and engaging book series about it while I just use it as a plot driver to get characters like Ben, Jeff and Cody on the mats or in the ring.

I know plenty of people in the latter category of the curious, because I've been asked about the whole deal more times than I can count. The main reason many don't pursue it is fear. Yates does a good job of relating the different fears people have and should have if they don't. They ring true to me, as does his advice on what to do and watch out for. I conducted myself in the same way he does and thankfully never had any trouble.

Getting on the mats with a stranger is intimidating
(Image: BGEast Wrestleshack 8)

But with the right partner, it's an awesome time
(Image: BGEast Wrestleshack 8)

And so, it's certainly not a sales pitch to get you to the motel and stripping down, nor is it a how-to. Still, as you read Yates' experiences, this series just might entice you, but it also might scare you off. Either way, there's enough diversity in the adventures to satisfy any level of curiosity. I appreciate that it's a fair portrayal of this hobby, warts and all.

Over the four books, Yates takes us through an interesting and logical progression. He makes it clear from the start why it's a finite two-year period, so you know it's coming to an end and you know why. However, that's not the point. You're really following his personal journey during this time.

Book 1: Memoirs of a Motel Wrestler

This is your introduction to Yates and the scene. All this happened around 15 years ago. We learn that the author is from southern Georgia. He's closeted, trapped by family, faith and self-doubt. It's a very common situation, but especially at that time. Wrestling becomes an outlet for Yates to more deeply explore who he is and what he wants.

After a setup, each chapter deals with a different encounter and how it affects him. There are differences between them, so you get an interesting range. One interesting thing for me is all the married straight opponents in this series and not as in guys on the DL. Just guys who want to wrestle then be on their way.

We meet the author
(Image: BGEast Bedroom Brawl 1)

He takes us on his journey
(Image: BGEast Bedroom Brawl 1)

And gives us a glimpse into his experiences
(Image: BGEast Bedroom Brawl 1)

Book 2: Travels of a Motel Wrestler

Here, we get a diary of Yates' travels around the world to wrestle. With stops in the US and Europe, each opponent has a unique story and reason for wrestling. I found in this one, you get less about the author and more insight into the diaspora of wrestlers. I mean, you get both in all four books, but here it felt weighted to the opponents.

Book 2 takes us on a road trip
(Image: BGEast Boston to Austin 1)

There are wrestlers all over the US
(Image: BGEast Boston to Austin 1)

And there's plenty of wrestling abroad, as well
(Image: BGEast UK Three Way)

Yates gets into the rough stuff as his journey continues
(Image: BGEast UK Three Way)

Book 3: Broken and Submitted

This is the most intense of the books as Yates gets serious. Unlike the first two where each chapter was self-contained, each opponent here is only leading to a meeting with an ongoing opponent from the first book named punchUNC. The straight, married, 'tough guy' cop has cast a shadow over the series, so this climax makes sense. The emotions behind it are intriguing, although not something I can really understand or relate to.

Book 3 leads to punchUNC's cabin
(Image: BGEast Wrestleshack 1)

The men face off in jeans for a NHB struggle
(Image: BGEast Wrestleshack 1)

Who ends up broken and submitted? Read to find out!
(Image: BGEast Wrestleshack 1)

Book 4: Pinning My Demons

The finale. This is the wind down as the two-year adventure comes to a close. Yates has fought and played, won and lost, but ultimately learned and grown. Like I said, this is a tale of a life-altering journey. In addition to the change you know is coming, there's one I didn't see coming at all. I won't spoil it, but after spending a couple of hundred pages together, it definitely delivers an emotional impact.

We enter the final phase of this journey of self-discovery
(Image: BGEast Motel Madness 3)

Before retiring, Yates becomes a teacher of sorts
(Image: BGEast Motel Madness UK/XXX)

In the end, Yates left it all on the table
(Image: BGEast UK Three Way)

So that's it. Overall, an enjoyable series that is entertaining and insightful, whether you know the world or are just curious.

Alex


4 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. You're welcome! And thank you for putting your heart and soul into these books. It really was a tremendous pleasure to experience your journey.

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  2. Very good post. This is very interesting. Makes it wonder hiw it would be to be immersed in that world. Curiosity sometimes bites.

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    Replies
    1. Appreciate the comment. I think it depends what you want from it. I had a good time. :)

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