If you’re a wrestling fan odds are you have both of the beautiful DK released WWE Encyclopedia’s. After all, they’re amazing books and an invaluable research tool for anyone who cares about the history of World Wrestling Entertainment. Chances are you’re also looking forward to the inevitable third update to the WWE Encyclopedia. We’re not there yet, but in the mean time WWE and DK have teamed up again to release what might as well be considered the WWE history book in the form of “WWE 50,” which “celebrates 50 years of sports entertainment.”
Like the two WWE Encyclopedia’s, WWE 50 is an absolutely gorgeous and high quality book filled with photos, quotes, facts, and a wonderful layout. As such, it is a must own book for any WWE fan.
The book is written by Kevin Sullivan (his 10th book) and has a forward written by Vince McMahon. WWE 50 is a jam packed 224 pages hardcover that covers the entire history of WWE. It comes with a built in bookmark to help you keep your place, and a collectible Shawn Michaels promo card for the Topps WWE 2014 trading card set. Here’s the official product description:
WWE 50 delivers an unprecedented and in-depth look into the story of global entertainment powerhouse, WWE. With a multitude of interviews and imagery from all eras, no stone is left unturned as DK Publishing traces the evolution of the company from a regional promotion to a global pop-culture phenomenon.
Learn the real story behind all the key events in WWE history:
- WWE’s split from the National Wrestling Alliance
- The sale of WWE to Vince McMahon by his father
- WWE’s national expansion
- Innovations of WrestleMania, Raw, SmackDown, Survivor Series and more
- Triumph in the Monday Night Wars
- Taking WWE public
Plus, get an inside glimpse into today’s WWE as it prepares for another 50 years of nonstop family-friendly entertainment. From the creators of the WWE Encyclopedia, WWE 50 gives you the inside knowledge to become the ultimate WWE fan.
As a diehard life long wrestling fan, I already knew a lot of the stuff in this book, but there’s also a lot of stuff I didn’t know and it’s basically a treasure trove of information on the different eras that makes it a must have research tool for all fans. The book wonderfully chronicles the beginning of the company as Capital Wrestling Corporation. They even break down and spotlight 11 of the more popular/important acts within CWC led of course by the original Nature Boy, Buddy Rogers.
The 1960’s saw CWC rebranded as World Wide Wrestling Federation and the decade would be dominated by the legendary Bruno Sammartino. Bruno sold out Madison Square Garden 187 times against some of the biggest names in wrestling history include Buddy Rogers, Gorilla Monsoon, Fred Blassie, Kill Kowalski, Bill Watts, Giant Baba, Gene Kiniski, Waldo Von Erich, and so on. So it’s no surprise then that the 2013 Hall of Fame inductee makes up a large portion of the section on the WWWF in the 1960s and 1970s. This section also includes four pages of make shift posters highlighting the cards from the biggest events in the 1960s.
WWE 50 covers the dubious history of the Intercontinental Championship, a title birthed from a tournament that never took place. There’s also a great map that shows where all the major territories were located and who promoted them.
Now for something that I learned from the book. We’ve all heard the story of how Vince McMahon purchased the company from his father, but what I didn’t know until reading this book was that there was heat on Vince from Gorilla Monsoon as a result. Vincent J. McMahon’s business partner “Toots” Mondts retired in 1969 and the elder McMahon replaced him with three new partners: Arnold Skaaland, Phil Zacko, and Gorilla Monsoon who together owned 50% of the company.
As the story goes, when Vincent J. McMahon was going to sell his shares of the company Vince stepped in to buy it. Gorilla didn’t like it because he was seen as the heir apparent to the elder McMahon who was going to buy the company. Vince Sr. sold to his son with the agreement being that if Vince failed to make any one of four quarterly payments that the stock would revert back to the original partners and they’d get to keep the money already paid to them. None figured Vince would be able to do it, but he did and the rest is history. It’s interesting to look back now and wonder how different things would be today if Vince Sr. had sold to Gorilla Monsoon instead of his son. Odds are, things would be drastically different.
WWE 50 chronicles every WrestleMania with results, quotes, and interesting facts. There’s a 20 page spread devoted to the Monday Night War, including a complete ratings time-line that takes up 14 pages. It’s funny to look and see how close both RAW and Nitro were in 1995 and then how WCW started pulling away in 1996 once the nWo arrived. It also shows just how much of a boom wrestling saw during the late ’90s where both shows had grown from 2 ratings to 4s, 5s, and ups. In 1998, WWE closed the gap and RAW and Nitro were once again pretty neck and neck. Once 199 rolled around, WWE went through the roof and Nitro fell way behind and would never again come close to even sniffing WWE again.
For those who want to laugh at WWE’s failures, there’s even blurbs about World Bodybuilding Federation, WWE New York/The World, and yes the XFL. They even talk about Chris Benoit and mention the double murder/suicide.
The book wraps things up with a look at WWE today from outside the ring. This includes a great few pages showing off the WWE Headquarters (which is stunningly decorated and place I’d really love to see in person), WWE’s various partnerships and commitments to social issues and charities, WWE.com and the company’s social media presence, the Wellness Policy, and finally the WWE Performance Center and NXT.
If you’re a WWE fan, you absolutely need to own this book. It’s the perfect compliment to the 50 Years of WWE Blu-ray and the WWE Encyclopedia’s, a great research tool, and just a fantastic piece for your collection. You can purchase the book from Amazon for what I think is a great price, around $20. I highly recommend you do so.
WWE 50 gets a four out of five: GREAT.
* A copy of this book was provided by the publisher for review.