Before I get much into this review, I will preface by saying that if you are a fan of the WWE or professional wrestling in general, WWE 50 is a must-buy and might be the best book I have ever seen when it comes to the history of the WWE. I also want to say that you need to buy the physical book and not the Kindle edition, because this is a beautiful book and is worth the $7 difference in price. With that out of the way, let’s look and see what you get with this purchase.
Last year, the WWE released their Blu-ray titled The History of WWE: 50 Years of Sports Entertainment and WWE 50 is the perfect complement to that Blu-ray documentary. While the two products tell similar stories, there is so much more in this book that was not a part of that great documentary.
When you open the book, you see that every poster from every WWE pay-per-view is on the inside front and back covers of the book. It isn’t anything but packaging, but it is pretty cool. However, once you start reading the book, you find this is something special that tells the complete history of the WWE, the good and the bad.
WWE 50 starts out with Capitol Wrestling with Vincent J. McMahon and his work in building his wrestling promotion. The entire ordeal where Vince left the NWA with Buddy Rogers and then discovered Bruno Sammartino is given a lot more space here than the documentary ever gave it. While the documentary skimmed over the pre-Hulk Hogan era, this book not only goes into detail what happened in that era, but also has some amazing photographs.
Plus, like I said, this even gives the dirt as well, such as Superstar Billy Graham still saying the WWWF dropped the ball when they shortened his title rein to give the belt to a “boring” Bob Backlund. I also learned that Gorilla Monsoon was completely against Vince Sr. selling the company to Vince Jr. because he was one of the owners along with Sr. and wanted the company to remain in old school hands.
If there is one thing that bothers me about the story in this book, it is how it discounts promoters like Bill Watts and Fritz Von Erich as being short sighted, and then later when Triple H calls other promotions today “small and shabby” and places that teach bad habits when it comes to in-ring work. However, as a book about the WWE, it is clear they have an agenda and that is to show that they were right in the long run. They did give credit to WCW, but only slightly.
Speaking of WCW, there is an awesome graphic during the section about the Monday Night Wars where it shows the ratings for every week that they went head-to-head, from the start to the finish. There is also a fantastic map in the book where it showed who ran which territory in the country before the WWF started its take over.
Plus, did I mention the photos? This is why you need the physical book. From old school wrestling posters to in ring photographs to behind-the-scenes photos (such as a very young Stephanie McMahon sitting on Andre the Giant’s lap), this book has everything a WWE fan could want. This is a reason to buy the book all by itself.
However, Sullivan wrote a very entertaining and interesting story. While it was clear this was from the WWE’s point-of-view, that is ok because the winners write the history. However, there are a lot of behind-the-scenes stories that are told from all points of view. We hear Pat Patterson talking about how he hated Shawn Michaels but loved to watch him wrestle. We have Steve Austin regretting ever shaking Mr. McMahon’s hand and turning bad, saying he would do it all the same (cheating to beat The Rock) but wouldn’t have turned good. We even get a lot of comments from Vince Russo as well as Paul Heyman’s thoughts on McMahon ruining ECW when he brought it back.
Things slow down at the end when the book talks about marketing, books and movies, and the Performance Center, but it is a complete history and those areas are needed. For those who love the curiosities, the book also talks about the XFL and World Bodybuilding ventures that were not as successful for Vince McMahon.
Let me be 100% honest. I loved WWE 50 and every WWE fan should own it. If I could give it more than a 10, I would.