Lex Luger’s “Wrestling With the Devil”

Prince Fielder is not a popular man in Detroit right now. After the Tigers failed to live up to World Series expectations from their fan base, fingers were pointing everywhere. The coach, the bullpen, Miguel Cabrera and his injury….but most fingers were pointed at Fielder.

To say he floundered in the playoffs would be insulting to flounders. Prince was completely and totally counter-productive to his team, securing 0 home runs and 0 RBI’s during the Tigers 11 game playoff run. Fingers were pointed at him already, but a quote he made after another stinging loss really raised the bar of anger for fans.

“”It’s not really tough, man. It’s over. I got kids I got to take care of, I got things I got to take care of. It’s over.”, said Fielder after the Tigers season ended in heartbreak.

Fans were furious with this attitude. Why didn’t Fielder have the same passion for winning games that they did?

The truth is, Fielder has undergone some major issues off the field this season. Rumors swirled about his wife divorcing him, an affair and other gossip tidbits. For a man who knows the feeling of a strained parent relationship, this probably affected Fielder even more so.

As a Tigers fan, the quote irritates me. But as a father and a husband, I have to understand it. Baseball is his job. It’s just work. To us, it’s a passion, it’s a hobby, it’s our free time. It’s none of those things to him, and that is the difference between those who are paid to it and those who pay to watch it.

One of the main things I took away from his book “Wrestling With The Devil” was that to Lex Luger, wrestling was a job. It was his career. He used it to earn a paycheck, and a hefty one at that.

As wrestling fans, sometimes this bothers us. Much like sports, we want the ones we root for to care as much as we do, but they are doing it for a check, not necessarily for the pure joy of it. And when the checks are big, who can fault them?

This isn’t a knock on Lex Luger either. In fact, I respect that he saw wrestling as a launching pad for something bigger. It didn’t happen, but that was his vision. I’ve often said the biggest marks are the ones in the locker room and in reading this book, I didn’t get that impression about Luger. If he was booked to win, great! If he was asked to lose, OK. As long as the checks came in, he’d do what was asked. In a way, this is a refreshing change of pace from all the stories of politics, refusal to put over talent and protecting spots.

But the bigger story of this book is that it’s not really a wrestling book. If you’re looking for smut or juicy gossip, you won’t find it here. I don’t think Luger speaks negatively of a single person, from Hogan to Vince to Sting to Ric Flair. If he trashes anyone, it’s himself.

Without going into the dirty details, Lex is very open about his failures and problems. His college exploits, his steroid use, his arrests, his addictions and his affair with Liz. He certainly doesn’t hide who he was or who he is. He presents his life warts and all, which is commendable.

Again, I feel like I need to state that if you pick this one up expecting a wrestling book, you’ll probably be disappointed. Wrestling is certainly talked about, and at great length, but it’s just a part of a bigger picture. This is a book about a guy who happened to be a pro wrestler, and his life. And it’s quite an interesting life.

From a young age, Luger was clearly an athletic prodigy. He talks about breaking records in grade school, excelling at basketball through junior high and high school, and his transition to football, from Penn State and the University of Miami to the CFL and USFL.

It is clear throughout the book that Luger had an incredible work ethic, which is interesting given how people would pan his wrestling ability for lack of workrate over the years. Luger’s goal was to use pro wrestling to launch a fitness and nutrition empire, using himself as the poster child. Unfortunately, things didn’t turn out that way.

It is an easy read and quite enjoyable. I breezed through the entire book in two short sittings and was never once bored. The man has certainly led an interesting life. If you want wrestling, it’s in there, but more than that is the rise and fall of a tortured soul, and his redemption.

I feel compelled to warn the reader, this book definitely features a LOT about Christianity and the bible. If that is not your cup of tea, you may still enjoy it, but it’s very heavy in the later chapters. Then again, it was a very big part of his life and the reason for writing the book, so to leave it out would be missing something in my opinion.

If there are any complaints I had, it’s that his life AFTER wrestling is fairly glossed over. We read a lot about his converting to Christianity and his paralyzing injury and inspiring battle, but not much else. I wanted to know if he reconciled with his ex-wife or what he was up to as it related to wrestling, but we didn’t get much there. I also would have liked to hear more behind the scenes wrestling stories, but that’s just the wrestling fan in me.

“Wrestling With The Devil” is ultimately a story of the rise, fall and redemption of a man who had it all, lost it all and found out that all that he had wasn’t all that mattered in the end. As a Christian man myself, I truly loved reading about how he found peace, purpose and the power to overcome addictions and personal demons through a relationship with Jesus Christ. Even if you aren’t of the same faith, who doesn’t love the story of an over-comer?

Lex Luger was, in my mind, a very underrated wrestler whose impact on the sport’s history may have been overlooked or forgotten over the years. He’s truly one of the greats of the 1980’s and 1990’s, but the story is how a great character became a great man, and it’s a good story to tell.

If you’re looking for an easy read about a character you probably know and are OK with getting a dose of religion along with everything else, I’d highly recommend checking out “Wrestling With The Devil”.

Why not buy it from Amazon.com, going through placetobenation.com? Thumbs up, cheap pop!