2 on 1 Episode #5: David Shoemaker
You might not know David Shoemaker by name, but to wrestling fans across the internet, he is The Masked Man, the best blogger and perhaps the best writer going when it comes to professional wrestling.
His writing has been featured on Deadspin (the archive of his super-popular and absolutely fascinating Dead Wrestler of the Week column can be found here) and currently on Grantland (the archive of his equally compelling regular column is here).
Even as someone who hasn't followed wrestling in some time, there's an absolutely irresistible history and culture within the spectacle. Equal parts carnival world and old Hollywood, there's something about wrestling--especially the old urban legends and Greek tragedy feel--that I find completely interesting. David's new book The Squared Circle: Life, Death, and Professional Wrestling has all of this and more, and even as someone who has spent many an hour Wiki-ing old wrestling feuds and YouTubing the craziest wrestling stuff I could find, the first 50 pages alone were full of absolutely new information and understanding to me.
It's written so well and in such a clear tone, it's easy to forget that you're reading about guys battling in predetermined matches over (usually) scripted feuds. But that's because David Shoemaker has taken the time and craft to definitively show the humanity of wrestling, rather than some exploitative look at the "real" side of the business. He writes about the people behind their larger than life personae.
I sat down to talk to him about the surreality of wrestling, how its culture is like the Mafia, and Owen Hart conspiracy theories. Check it out.