World Wrestling Entertainment evolved from a respectable promotion in the Northeast to a global juggernaut that has reached far beyond the pro wrestling arena.
The "WWE 50" hardcover book takes readers along every step of the way using the voices of those who experienced the milestones firsthand. The business decisions, the controversial and iconic moments and everything that ultimately made the company what it is today.
Best-selling author Kevin Sullivan (not the pro wrestler and former leader of the Dungeon of Doom) was given full access from those on the corporate level like WWE chairman Vince McMahon and his wife Linda to superstar legends including Bruno Sammartino and Stone Cold Steve Austin.
They provide tremendous insight of went on behind the scenes and in front of the camera. There are also some interesting anecdotes and inside stories that will keep even the most die-hard fan engaged.
The layout of the book is filled with vibrant photos that pop out of the pages and give it an almost yearbook feel. I love the attention to detail. A gold piece of ribbon was even attached so readers don't lose their place.
There are results from WrestleMania events and a chart showing the fluctuation of ratings during the "Monday Night Wars" between WCW and WWE. One of my favorite visuals in the book is of McMahon's booking ledgers and a really nice map of the territory system in the United States. If there was a course taught on WWE, this would be the textbook.
The high points are chronicled, but so are the low ones too. The McMahon family doesn't shy away from the steroid scandal that rocked the organization in the 1990s or experiments that didn't quite work out such (See entries on the World Bodybuilding Federation and the XFL). Yes, even the Chris Benoit tragedy is covered, albeit brief.
It's a enthralling trip down memory lane and a history lesson for those new to the product. Readers get a chance to see how the idea of the WWE superstar changed over the decades with a diverse cast of characters. With WrestleMania XXX and the recent start of the WWE Network, the timing of this project's release couldn't have been any better.
A perfect accompaniment is the "History of WWE" DVD, which goes in a similar order as the book. It's a one-two punch.
"WWE 50" is now available on Amazon, WWE Shop and through other retailers.• Follow me on Twitter @smFISHMAN.