Title: WWE 50
Author: Kevin Sullivan
Date Of Version Reviewed: 2014
Publisher: DK and WWE Books
What the book is about…
World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) celebrates 50 years of ‘sports entertainment’ in this full colour, glossy hardback book – carefully crafted from a huge back catalogue of pictures and stories from the WWE archives.
I read this book in one night. In fact I was so hooked that I ended up feeling crap the next day at work but it was totally worth the time because it is – in my view – one of the great wrestling books of the past twenty years. The cover is classy, my version embossed with a printed ’50’ in a black background with the WWE logo imprinted in the centre. WWE is fantastic at this type of thing and really should be proud of the level of work their staff produce – stunning visually all the way through the whole book from beginning to end.
I loved the inside cover – each WWF/E pay per view poster is displayed going from WrestleMania I featuring Hogan and Mr T to Extreme Rules 2013 with the ginger haired Sheamus pointing into the viewer’s face. This sets the tone for the whole book – giving me a nostalgia kick that lasted several minutes as I took time looking at each poster and remembering the matches and stories leading to the individual shows. It is a really nice touch and shows the evolution of the PPV format through the quality of posters that were put out. My favourite posters – for the record – are Royal Rumble 1993 (Bret vs Razor on purple background), SummerSlam 1996 (Vader screaming at Michaels) and WrestleMania 14 (Tyson referees Michaels vs Austin). As a 80s kid this was a real blast from the past. It is amazing how many shows they have done over the years.
The attention to detail continues through the book as the WWE takes us on a journey starting with the relatively humble beginnings of Capitol Wrestling (pictures including a young Vince McMahon Sr and Joseph ‘Toots’ Mondt. We get a brief summary of the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA) title background before being introduced to some of the Capitol wrestlers
I really enjoyed looking at some of the classic 1960s cards laid out in poster formats. We get a taste of 60s action with cards such as Sammartino vs Rogers and others.
The book springs into full colour as WWWF (at the time) came into the 70s and we get information on Sammartino’s reigns as champion, Bob Backlund, Superstar Billy Graham and the Cape Cod Coliseum. The territories are then broken down on a two page spread noting the whereabouts of the Rougeau’s IWA, Bob Geiger’s NWA Heart of America, Bill Watt’s Mid-South Wrestling and others. It is impressive how much space the legendary Stu Hart’s Stampede Wrestling took up, especially compared to the Von Erich’s in Texas and McMahon himself in New York.
The WrestleManias are broken down with some background before we head to the cartoon era of the mid 1990s and into the attitude era and the monday night wars. We don’t get a huge amount of new information about the wars (they have largely been covered by DVD and Network exclusives).
A “miss” for the content is the rundown of every single Wrestlemania. There are several very important, very good Wrestlemanias but not all of them deserve this level of attention, especially to the detriment of including other material. Simply highlighting the one or two big matches from each Wrestlemania doesn’t warrant wasting space listing all the other matches the cards.
One more “miss” is the 14 pages dedicated to a line graph illustrating the ratings for Nitro and Raw during the Monday Night War. That’s a full 6% of the book containing nothing but a red line, a black line, dates, and random pictures. Not the best use of space.
Fast forwarding through to today’s era the WWE go on to talk about the failed XFL project, ECW revival and the changes to various TV stations in the last ten years. These are dryer and unless you are particularly interested in those things they can be a little tiresome but overall the rest of the book more than makes up for it.
Final Thought: A well produced coffee table book that is well worth the price. Beautifully made with glossy photos and some good little insights this is any WWE fan’s dream. The best part of the whole book are the short statements from the wrestlers who were there at the time – candid thoughts about the happenings and the backstage politics both good and bad. The only drawback is it was too short! Get it!
The Folks at Goodreads said…
‘ I loved reading this book from the moment I started it. The book talks about the history of WWE and how it went through great and tough times.’ Kaitlyn Beck 5/5
‘This book is truly a dictionary for the past fifty years of the WWE and I think anybody who is into the WWE and just pro wrestling in general should read this book.’ Cass Novosel 4/5
‘Would loved to have seen a full memorial section, although it did mention Chris Benoit and Owen Hart. A must see book for wrestling fans!’ Katherine 3/5
‘ WWE are 50 years old and have brought this Excellent (Giant) Book out to celebrate the history. To look back and review the last 50 years. This is a little Guilty pleasure for me and I Really enjoyed looking and reading through this book.’ Eleanor 4/5
‘It really is interesting, but of course you get a somewhat skewed view as to what happened. I particularly liked the quotes from different wrestlers/personalities talking about particular things as they actually had some negative things to say where it was warranted. If you’re a big wrestling fan, check it out. I personally prefer the Midnight Express Scrapbook though.’ Cash 3/5