Here’s a list of the top ten comic book series about the world of professional wrestling. Are you surprised there’s more than two?
Honorable Mention: Matt Champion
This was intended to be a four-part series, but only one issue was produced. It might as well have been the story of Tom Magee, considering how quickly they put an end to this comic’s push.
10. Masters of the Ring
This comic book was basically every “smart mark” fan’s dream come true. A diehard wrestling fan decides to fantasy book the wrestling matches and storylines of his favorite wrestling league online, only to see those fantasies come to life. This one actually made it to 2 issues before it was cancelled.
9. Steel Pulse
Roger “Steel” Pulse was a heel who had changed his ways, thanks to the love of his life, Betsy. During his main event match against Sardonicus for the UCW title, a steel chair rigged with dynamite comes into play and seemingly kills Betsy and Sardonicus. Pulse hangs up his boots until a reanimated Sardonicus starts terrorizing the wrestling world, forcing Pulse to enter the squared circle once more.
8. The Nail
A group of bloodthirsty satanic bikers disrupt Rex Hauser’s humble indy wrestler lifestyle, and he has no choice but to fight back and protect his family. It’s a Rob Zombie creation so expect many nods to 70’s grindhouse/exploitation films, but in comic book form.
El Tigre is a washed-up luchador doing jobs at local shows, until a damsel in distress gets him involved in the seedy world of corrupt politicians and organ trafficking. The story is a bit more grounded than the others, but it does an awesome job paying homage to the conventions of the old luchador films without going into campy territory. Which is always an option when vintage luchador cinema trademarks are involved.
Another wrestling series set in the 70’s rasslin’ territory days. “Forced” into wrestling after suffering a football career-ending knee injury, and caring for a sick mother who requires medical treatment, Eric Layton finds himself trying to break into the wrestling business. But instead of coming up with a cool name or a decent finisher, he finds that protecting the promoter’s side drug venture is more lucrative than taking bumps.
5. To Be The Man: Evil Ain’t Good
An homage to 80’s pro wrestling featuring Ric Flair and Bruiser Brody stand-ins, “Fabulous” Frank Hazard and Greg “The Gargoyle” Grimes, but instead of behind the scene politics, or professional backstabbing, these two rivals have to fight for their lives as they face off against zombies and other types of wrestling monsters.
4. Super Pro K.O.
Joe Somiano, the Scott Pilgrim-like version of The Young Bucks’ Matt Jackson, is an over-anxious rookie in the Super Pro K.O. federation looking to make a name for himself. But wrestling being wrestling, what with the backstage politics and all, obstacles abound. As do many colorful, albeit black and white, wrestling characters. It’s also the only comic on the list with its own rap song.
Dan Knossos is a grizzled mat legend who is forced to do some things he’s not proud of to save a former lover. Along the way, his past in the squared circle as The Minotaur resurfaces. This poignant drama is also the only real mainstream wrestling comic book series, not associated with WWE or WCW, on this list, as it was published by Image Comics.
2. Whoa, Nellie!
Whoa, Nellie! is a landmark comic about women’s wrestling. There’s definitely more out there, but this is the only one that doesn’t objectify the women and provides a complex storyline that even the WWE hasn’t figured out how to execute in their women’s division. This story follows female wrestlers, Gina Bravo and Xochitl Nava. They usually compete as a tag team, but as Gina embarks on a promising wrestling career, Xochitl recognizes that she’s at the tail end of her own. Tensions rise as they each try to decide what’s best for them going forward as a team.
The most famous of the wrestling comic book series. And with good reason. Not only did Michael Kingston’s comic become a favorite among wrestling fans, but actual wrestlers, as well. Wrestlers who’ve also lent a hand to Michael, helping him come up with one of the more true-to-life wrestling tales. After seeing a live wrestling event, theater major, Mike Hartmann, decides to drop out of college and focus on becoming a professional wrestler. But a training session that goes horribly wrong and practically blackballs him from the industry, forces him to work under a mask if he ever hopes to make it. There’s also the backstabbing. It is a true-to-life tale about the wrestling business, after all.