Growing up within walking distance of the Rockville Centre offices of G.C. London Publishing Associates, which produced several pro wrestling magazines, Brian Shields always felt a closeness to some of the great wrestling journalists of all time.
Now, he gets to share an important distinction with some of them — being a hall of famer.
On July 27, the 42-year-old Shields was included with WWE legends Sgt. Slaughter and the late Bruno Sammartino, UFC heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier and others in the 2019 class of the George Tragos/Lou Thesz Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame — a branch of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame Dan Gable Museum in Waterloo, Iowa.
Shields was this year’s recipient of the Jim Melby Award, which, according to the hall, “is presented to a journalist or historian, who has advanced professional wrestling through their writing.”
Past recipients include veteran wrestling magazine journalist Bill Apter, Wrestling Observer newsletter editor Dave Meltzer and Pro Wrestling Torch newsletter editor Wade Keller.
“When I look at this list, I’m just very honored to be included,” Shields said in an interview days before the induction ceremony. “It’s still kind of hard for me to wrap my head around receiving this award.”
Shields, a graduate of Holy Trinity Diocesan High School in Hicksville and Adelphi University in Garden City, has written several historical books and biographies for WWE, including “Second Nature” — the 2017 memoir covering the careers of “Nature Boy” Ric Flair and his daughter, Charlotte Flair.
But Shields may be known best for his work as co-author of the first two volumes of the “WWE Encyclopedia” — an extensive reference book covering more than 1,000 wrestling personalities, as well as major events, championship histories and more.
Shields, who co-authored the encyclopedias with former WWE.com content director Kevin Sullivan, said he spent more than two years working on the original version, which spent five weeks on The New York Times Bestseller list.
“The front of that book says, ‘the definitive guide to World Wrestling Entertainment,” and we took that to heart. We wanted to make sure it was the absolute best,” said Shields, a lifelong wrestling fan who has taught digital marketing and social media at LIU Post in Brookville for the past four years. “We wanted fans to feel like, ‘This is our book.’ And I feel like, by and large, we achieved that. And it’s something that I’m very proud of.”