World Wrestling Entertainment just surpassed their fiftieth anniversary and what better way to celebrate their history than with a massive coffee table book! Author Kevin Sullivan (no, not that Kevin Sullivan) takes the reader from the promotion’s early beginnings as Capitol Wrestling Corporation to the boom period of the 1980s, to the envelope-pushing programming of the late 1990s, all the way to the global media presence they are today.
Full color splash photos coupled with rare shots of items like Vince McMahon’s handwritten schedule from the tenth WrestleMania, early event programs, and throwback merchandise make this book a visual treat. Aside from the main narrative text, Sullivan inserts quotes from legendary performers and current-day grapplers. If you’re a big, big fan of the industry, there’s probably very little that you’ll learn but if you’re anywhere from a casual fan to a newcomer, it’s a great way to kill a few afternoons.
One thing worth noting is the consistent hypocrisy from Vince McMahon in regards to the Monday Night War. As we all know, history is written by the victors and when the dust settled on the battlefield for pro wrestling supremacy in 2001, Vince McMahon and WWE stood tall. However, the same thing is reiterated here just as it has been in prior documentaries, interviews, and books; the employees of WWE cried foul when it came to the fiercely competitive World Championship Wrestling (WCW) and their architect Eric Bischoff.
You see, the professional wrestling landscape we all know today is not what it used to be. Each promotion controlled a set space in the United States (and Canada) and was therefore responsible for bringing wrestling to the masses in their allotted divisions. However, in the 1980s when Vince McMahon took the reins from his father and purchased the then WWF promotion, he decided he wanted to be the defacto presence in the wrasslin’ industry. He embarked on an ambitious campaign across North America to buy out his competitors and offer exclusive contracts to the nation’s hottest performers.
What WCW and Eric Bischoff did in the mid to late 90s was essentially the same thing. Fortunately for Bischoff, he had the ultra-rich Ted Turner bankrolling these massive contracts he offered to main event level WWE stars, luring them to his promotion. Now WCW used lots of other dirty tactics as well (including giving away the odd taped results of Monday Night RAW) but the ability to steal talent and use their established star power was their bread and butter.
While I’ve always been a hardcore WWE fan as far back as I can remember and I’m glad that they won over that disorganized mess, it’s hard to find any sympathy for a man who essentially did the same thing to everyone else in the country. I always cringe when I read/hear about this stuff because it’s simply not a valid complaint. Essentially, you reap what you sow.