Titan Sinking by James Dixon

May 27, 2019

Of the 25 years I’ve been following WWE, 1995 was undoubtedly the in-ring lowpoint, when I’d have tapes posted to me from home while away at university only to find myself struggling to make time to see the likes of Sid, Mabel and Tatanka in lead villain roles. It was a period of depression in the company’s product, and one that is detailed in-depth in Titan Sinking.

As previously noted here, it’s a major change of pace from Dixon’s previous work on review-based books where snarkiness, humour and opinion where the order of the day. This is a more mature, focused piece of historical writing that not only covers 1995’s tumultuous scenes inside and outside the ring, but brings up details that have previously been little addressed.

The research and resulting writing are both excellent, based on a wide range of sources such as “shoot” interviews along with some original research ranging from lengthy conversations with Jim Cornette, Tom Prichard and even the lawyer for Douglas Griffith, the solider who got into an infamous brawl with Shawn Michaels outside of a nightclub, which is explained at length here with information that both boosts and weakens Michaels’ side of the story.

The focus on a single year allows Dixon to cover the pay-per-view events at length, putting the in-ring action into its backstage context. Examples of this approach include a lengthy look at the roster in the Royal Rumble that shows just how dire the talent pool was, and an explanation of why the Wild Card match at Survivor Series was so politically charged.

Dixon has clearly made every effort to cover specific incidents as broadly as possible, telling all available sides of the story. The main limitation is simply the fact that, compared with some elements of historical research, pro wrestlers can be unreliable witnesses. There are points where it appears the pace of the book is being driven by the availability of information, such as an entire chapter exploring the departure of Randy Savage the previous year. And at times it feels as if the writing takes a little too much literary license by detailing the thoughts of wrestlers and management in a way that appears to be supposition.

But these are minor criticisms and in no way detract from the book as a whole. 1995 is a period that has received little historical attention other than as the context for the Monday Night War, but the bad times and periods of conflict often throw up the most enlightening stories, and that’s certainly the case with Titan Sinking.

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