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12:00 - 18th February 2015, by Brian Elliott

WWE 50 CELEBRATING 50 YEARS OF SPORTS ENTERTAINMENT (FSM 107; JUNE 2014)

Information – ISBN-13: 978-1465419231 • Distributor: DK Books • Price: £15.10 • Pages: 224 pages • Release: Out now • Weblink: www.DK.co.uk

With a humble introduction from Vince McMahon thanking family, wrestlers and fans before speaking of the “rich history” to be found in WWE 50: Celebrating 50 Year Of Sports Entertainment, you get the impression that this is a compendium that’s as important as the half-century suggests. By the end of the book’s 224 pages, there’s no doubt of how much it meant to author Kevin Sullivan to put it together.

Moving in a largely chronological order, the book – simple but attractive with its hard cover, dust jacket and fabric bookmark – opens up with the Capitol Wrestling days, and spends over 40 pages covering the period up to WrestleMania I. Here, for example, you’ll find the story of Buddy Rogers becoming the inaugural WWWF champion before relinquishing it to Bruno Sammartino, illustrated with an amazing photograph of a victorious Sammartino having his hand raised, as Rogers clutches his heart. “The Nature Boy” had been hiding cardiac issues for some time.

It’s from the second Sammartino run that one of the most thought-provoking quotes appears, although there are many of them. This one is from 1976, from Vince McMahon Sr, who notes, “We learned our lesson from boxing and pro football. And we present no feature bouts on TV for free.” There’s another pearl of wisdom from him, as his son recalled, “[My Dad] thought I was going to wind up at the bottom of a river” – this in reference to Vinnie moving in on other promoter’s territories.

Another particularly interesting topic is the 1994 steroid trial, which is used not only to talk about the stars of the WWF’s “new generation”, but also to openly state that Ted Turner preyed on McMahon’s problems “to acquire many of WWE’s top names.” McMahon’s admission that he felt threatened by Turner is quite the surprise, too. Several pages are then dedicated to the Monday Night War ratings, culminating with a rather one-sided portrayal of The Montreal Screwjob. There’s also a look back at some of the most memorable moments of The Attitude Era, including DX crotch-chopping its way to dominance, and Sable going topless with only painted hand-prints to hide any remaining modesty.

Much like the 50 Years Of Sports Entertainment DVD documentary, the book then fades into details of more corporate concerns, such as “WWE’s commitment to social issues”, the Wellness Policy, and its commercial partnerships. That sugar-coated conclusion does not take away from an enjoyable jaunt through WWE history that you’ll be able to dip into time and time again.

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