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.
FIRST IMPRESSIONS: Last week I was sent the ‘WWE 50' for review, and to be completely honest with you I had very mixed emotions on the product even before I began. Back in November, I reviewed the The History of WWE – 50 Years of Sports Entertainment Blu-ray set. It was a set that I quite enjoyed, not perfect, but it was good and in ways more honest than a lot of other releases by the company. But was this book going to be a written version of that DVD? Would it offer something new? I can say that there are a lot of similarities, but the presentation and layout makes for a pleasant experience.
NOTES & THOUGHTS: The first thing that you need to know is that the book looks fantastic, beautiful really. The inside cover and first page are filled with over 100 mini-PPV posters from over the years. I love PPV posters, especially the older ones, so this was a treat and much better than the usual blank pages you get. The last page and inside of the back cover are also covered with another 100 mini-PPV posters from over the years.
Again, the book looks beautiful on the outside, but the inside is also great looking. The book contains a clean, but cool layout; filled with beautiful images from the history of the promotion, the events, the wrestlers and basically all involved.
One of my favorite features is early on in the book, where they have a section titled, "Cards of the 1960s". This section includes posters from the major cards of the time, and again as someone who likes posters like this, it is an eye catching and fun section.
The book includes a look back at the WrestleMania events, featuring the results, locations, images and quotes from the major players on those shows. For historians, geeks, writers and or all three, which many of us are, it is essentially an encyclopedia/research aid.
We get looks at some of the company's failures (WBF, XFL and WWE The World). In the cases of the XFL and WBF, they admit that they failed, but also note that there were some positives, without getting defensive. WWE The World/WWE New York got ONE LINE and ONE IMAGE and they moved on. Can't say that I blame them. They instead spend a few pages on the success of the WWE books, WWE music and (arguably) WWE Studios.
Another of my favorite features is the Monday Night Wars coverage. The big draw here is a 14-page feature, discussing the high and low points for both promotions during the wars. But along with that is a ratings graph on the bottom of the page, tacking the ratings from September 4th, 1995 through March 26th, 2001. If you are a big fan of that era, or a stats geek, this is something that you will enjoy.
Something else that will be of interest for many fans will be the section on the attitude era. There is that section, with stories on the birth of the era, and fun things like the original concept art for "Stone Cold" Steve Austin. Then there is the section of the "Memorable Moments of the Attitude Era". Austin stunning McMahon, DX invading WCW, Brawl for All, the Stone Cold Beer Bath, This is Your life Rock and many more are all covered. If you watched during that time, it is a fun trip down memory lane.
And now for the elephant in the room, the Chris Benoit thing. The one major question with any kind of big release that covers big spans of time in the company is whether or not Chris Benoit is included. His name is mentioned in results, and he is included in the index. Also, in the "New Era of ECW" section when they discuss John Morrison winning the ECW Title, there in an image of Benoit, along with the following text…
After Chris Benoit failed to appear at Night of Champions, WWE contacted the Fayetteville County Sheriff's office requesting that they check on the Benoit family. Upon arrival on June 25th, 2007, authorities discovered the tragic double homicide-suicide involving Benoit, his wife Nancy, and son Daniel.
"When I heard about Benoit, I freaked out. It was horrible, absolutely horrible. You have no idea how much I cried. I couldn't believe it. He was a guy that loved the business so much. And I enjoyed watching him in the ring. But sometimes we don't know what's going on in their lives at home. We only know them on the road. We know their good guys, fun to be with, and fun to travel with. But we don't know their private lives most of the time. We don't know how they live." – Pat Patterson
I applaud them for the way that they coved Benoit here. What he did was obviously horrible, but the man is part of history. They didn't erase him, but at the same time, kept with the company edict and did not praise him either.
OVERALL IMPRESSIONS: First things first. I do have to question the fact that they are only (at this time) releasing this as a hardback. There is no "Kindle" or downloadable version of the book. This is 2014, and WWE's print media has not been setting the word on fire sales wise. I love books, and I know a lot of people that hate trying to read electronic books (they simply want the real thing in their hands), but there is also something to be said about catering to your audience and the times.
With that being said, I quite enjoyed the book. It is a beautiful presentation, and as someone who still relies on books like this for their research (I an a stat and wrestling geek) it is a nice resource to have around. Alone it is a very good publication, and also serves as a great companion piece to the The History of WWE – 50 Years of Sports Entertainment Blu-ray set.
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Larry Csonka is a Pisces and enjoys rolling at jiu jitsu class with Hotty McBrownbelt, cooking, long walks on the beach, Slingo and the occasional trip to Jack in the Box. He is married to a soulless ginger and has two beautiful daughters who are thankfully not soulless gingers; and is legally allowed to marry people in 35 states. He has been a wrestling fan since 1982 and has been writing for 411 since May 24th, 2004; contributing over 3,000 columns, TV reports and video reviews to the site.