The Six Pack

On the Open Road in Search of Wrestlemania


By Brad Balukjian

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$39.00 CAD

This item is a preorder. Your payment method will be charged immediately, and the product is expected to ship on or around April 2, 2024. This date is subject to change due to shipping delays beyond our control.

From the bestselling author of The Wax Pack, comes another eye‑opening road trip adventure into a pocket of iconic pop culture—professional wrestling—starring the Iron Sheik, Hulk Hogan, Tito Santana, and many more larger‑than‑life characters of the WWF in the 1980s. 

"Perhaps one of the most truthful and enjoyable reads about my profession ever. I absolutely loved this book." —Former WWF Champion Bret "The Hitman" Hart

In 2005, Brad Balukjian left his position as a magazine fact-checker to pursue a dream job: partner with his childhood hero, The Iron Sheik (whose real name was Khosrow Vaziri), to write his biography. Things quickly went south, culminating in the Sheik threatening Balukjian’s life. Now seventeen years later, Balukjian returns to the road in search of not only a reunion with the Sheik, but something much bigger: truth in a world built on illusion.

Balukjian seeks out six of the Sheik’s contemporaries, fellow witnesses to the World Wrestling Federation’s (WWF) explosion in the mid-‘80s, to unearth their true identities. As Balukjian drives 12,525 miles around the country, we revisit the heady days when these avatars of strength, villainy, and heroism first found fame and see where their journeys took them. From working out with Tony Atlas (Tony White) to visiting Hulk Hogan’s (Terry Bollea) karaoke bar, we see where these men are now and how they have navigated the cliffs of fame.

The Six Pack combines the spirit of a fan with the rigor of an investigative reporter, tracking down former WWF employees, childhood friends, and mutually curious archivists. Wrestling is perceived as a subculture without a cultural home, somewhere between sport and theater—often dismissed as silly and low‑brow. But what makes this book so compelling is the humanity beneath each wrestler. The Iron Sheik, Hulk Hogan, and the rest of the cast were not characters in a comic book movie. They were real people, with families and feelings and bodies that could break. Most of them did, in fact, break; some have been repaired, but none of them will ever be the same.

  • “With a PhD in entomology, a beat-up Ford Fusion, and a prior career as a fact-checker, Brad Balukjian is both the least likely and the absolute best person to write this book. His humility, intelligence, and devotion to fact serve a work that is revelatory, emotionally on point, and addictively readable. It's all here—the lawsuits and exploitation, the clashing egos, the brain damage and the debauchery. But this is less an exposé than a love letter—to the strutting monsters of Balukjian's youth and to the men they ultimately became: surprisingly reflective, sometimes broken, always fascinating. What an achievement this book is.”
    Mary Roach, author of Stiff and Fuzz
  • “Is pro wrestling real? Of course it is! It’s real enough to make a man take to the road in search of his boyhood heroes, undertake a sweet journey of self-discovery, and produce this gem of a book filled with wit, warmth, and wisdom.”
    Jonathan Eig, author of King: A Life, Ali: A Life, and Luckiest Man
  • The Six Pack isn’t mere rediscover-my-youth journey. It’s a joyful odyssey into the blissful, wacky, weird, outrageous world of 1980s wrestling. So step up to the top rope and leap into Balukjian’s masterful time machine.”
    Jeff Pearlman, author of The Last Folk Hero and Three-Ring Circus
  • "Perhaps one of the most truthful and enjoyable reads about my profession ever. I absolutely loved this book."
    Bret "The Hitman" Hart, former WWE Champion
  • “Brad Balukjian has created something unique in the crowded genre of pro-wrestling literature. Part wrestling confessional, part a series of eye-opening road stories, Balukjian writes of the joys (and dangers) of meeting one’s idols, as he peels back layers of some of wrestling’s greatest stars—revealing the real men within.”
    Mick Foley, author of The Hardcore Diaries
  • “This is such an original concept for a book about wrestling (which is rare these days) and Brad’s storytelling abilities and sense of adventure, makes me wish I'd been riding beside him for every one of those 12,525 miles!”
    Chris Jericho, author of A Lion’s Tale and Undisputed
  • "Perhaps one of the most truthful and enjoyable reads about my profession ever. I absolutely loved this book."
    Former WWF Champion Bret "The Hitman" Hart
  • “A lively and surprisingly poignant installment of cultural history…. Mr. Balukjian, an engaging chronicler, writes with an amused respect for these leaping lords of the ring.”
    The Wall Street Journal
  • “Brad Balukjian has masterfully combined two icons of the American experience – the road trip and professional wrestling – into a rollicking, one-of-a-kind tale. His journey, both hilarious and deeply moving, takes us through a cultural era, across the blurred lines of reality and spectacle, and into the heart of the American dream.”
    Daniel H. Pink, author of The Power of Regret, Drive, and To Sell Is Human
  • The Six Pack was a fascinating read. The extensive research and interviews with the subjects, combined with the cinematic writing style made me feel like I had a ringside seat to what can be argued as one of the most important eras in the evolution of what has become such a successful form of American entertainment. Once finished, I realized how much I learned about people I’ve known and worked with over the past thirty plus years, and how much more I would have loved to learn and appreciate from those included in this incredible book that I didn’t get to know. Bravo.”
    Eric Bischoff, former president of WCW
  • “Brad Balukjian was looking for a book that would be about the first WrestleMania and the characters involved, only to travel the country and find out the characters were even more unique than what he bargained for. In doing so he had to navigate crazies, pathological liars and bad memories but still end up with more real truths about Vince McMahon’s expansion of the WWF from a regional to international brand than anyone else.”
    Dave Meltzer, Publisher and Editor of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter
  • "Balukjian delivers a tour de force with The Six Pack. Honest and personal, it's an ambitious undertaking that takes readers along on a nostalgic road trip in search of the author's boyhood heroes. I was hooked from the opening line…. Balukjian's writing and investigative chops are on full display, but it's his love and respect for the subject matter that shows up on every page."
    Mike Mooneyham, Columnist, Post and Courier
  • “I’ve never been a wrestling fan - but this book is an absolute gem, for anyone. Balukjian goes deep inside this wild, bizarre, at times hilarious world and shows how it means much more than silly costumes and steroidal bodies. The human drama outside the ring is even more compelling than the brawls staged inside it.”
    Elie Honig, CNN Senior Legal Analyst and bestselling author
  • “A fascinating time capsule perfectly suited for a writer of Balukjian’s gifts…. It’s part travelogue, part biography, and part homage to a time long past. That’s a difficult combination to pull off, but Balukjian manages it with aplomb….. The Six Pack has a real case as the best wrestling book ever written.”
    Jonathan Snowden, author of Total MMA: Inside Ultimate Fighting
  • “Not only is Balukjian a dogged researcher, but he writes in a style that is admirably clear and entertaining. His views on his subjects are smart and also a little sweet. He’s a sympathetic interviewer. Balukjian does an especially bang-up job capturing the culture of what the wrestling world calls ‘kayfabe.’…Entertaining and insightful work.”
    California Magazine
  • "In the acclaimed The Wax Pack, Brad Balukjian's subject was baseball, where stats are precise and rules are rigid. In The Six Pack, his focus is Pro Wrestling, where stats are irrelevant and rules are fungible."
    Bob Costas
  • “Newbies to the sport…will find an amiable, informed guide in Balukjian…. [T]he author puts wonderfully human faces to professional wrestlers and the fans who love them.”
  • “Balukjian came to this project with a real sense of passion, and it shines through in his work…. The Six Pack is a great examination of an industry that provides both the highest of highs and lowest of lows for its performers and what’s unfortunate, is that it often seems completely arbitrary.”
  • “When I say Brad did his research, that is an understatement….The books is written very cinematically.”
    Eric Bischoff
  • “A touchingly crafted love letter to the era of wrestling that millions first fell in love with… this type of journalism is an art form….The Six Pack is a thrilling experiment and easily one of the most impressive books about wrestling ever written, the product of thousands of hours of love, miles driven, and hard work.”
    John Ellul, Voices of Wrestling
  • “Unabashedly unorthodox…. [Balukjian] covers vast distances…. The picture that emerges is seldom flattering. But perhaps that’s what makes The Six Pack so different from many wrestling books…. At its very core, The Six Packis a warts-and-all love letter to the mysticism, dogma, and occasional tragedy of professional wrestling…a book wrestling fans should certainly make room for on their crowded bookshelves.”
    Pro Wrestling Illustrated
  • “A fun read…. The Six Pack is a well-written and researched document of some of the biggest names in professional wrestling.”
  • “An incredible sixty-two-day and 12,525-mile journey of self-discovery into the heart of wrestling’s grandest stage…. ‘Never meet your heroes’ is sound advice that Brad Balukjian ignored, and we’re all the better for it! The author’s passion and attention to detail for the history of wrestling are evident…. Exceptionally well-written, meticulously researched… riveting.”
  • “[Balukjian] delivers a tour de force….[The Six Pack] isn’t your ordinary wrestling book. Introspective and compelling, it’s an ambitious journey that takes readers along for the ride on a nostalgic road trip in search of the heroes of the author’s youth. And quite a ‘ride’ it is….Balukjian does a yeoman’s job of peeling back the layers of his subjects’ complicated lives, along with reconciling his childhood heroes and memories. There are many touching moments in the book, and the love and respect Balukjian has for the business shines throughout the pages.”
    The Post and Courier
  • “A wild journey…. A wonderful look at the professional wrestling world…. [Balukjian’s] attention to detail is impeccable.”
  • “A wild journey…. A wonderful look at the professional wrestling world…. [Balukjian’s] attention to detail is impeccable.”
  • “An awesome read.”
    LocalSyr TV

On Sale
Apr 2, 2024
Page Count
320 pages
Hachette Books

Brad Balukjian

About the Author

Brad Balukjian, PhD [Bu-lewk-gee-in] has chosen two careers, journalist and scientist, which converge on pursuit of the truth. He has been published in Rolling Stone, Smithsonian, National Geographic, and many others. His first book, The Wax Pack: On the Open Road in Search of Baseball’s Afterlife, hit #7 on the LA Times bestseller list and was named one of NPR’s Best Books of 2020. He is a Research Associate at the California Academy of Sciences, and he discovered 17 species of insects (green flash bugs) in Tahiti, one of which he named after Harrison Ford. He lives on the road, where he’s in an open relationship with his VCR.

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