Sex, Lies and Headlocks by Shaun Assael and Mike Mooneyham
Review / August 6, 2019

The semi-biography of Vince McMahon is a case of a book having value despite numerous flaws. While Mooneyham is a regular columnist on pro wrestling, Assael is a sportswriter from ESPN and approaches the subject from an outsider perspective. It’s arguably the most perceptive such work from somebody not already involved in or interested by the wrestling business, though that approach brings a risk of errors that is certainly realised. The book comes across as if there was a little confusion about its intended focus and scope, possibly because as a 2002 publication its writing came at a tumultuous period in the wrestling business. It straddles the line between a biography of McMahon and a history of the WWF’s expansion and the war with WCW. The big picture story is on the money and for a new fan it certainly makes for a more accurate overview of the Monday Night War than the WWE Network documentary of the same name will provide. The devil is in the detail however. The book is rife with two distinct types of error. The first is simple factual mistakes, many of which appear to be the result of Assael getting bogus information direct from…

Second Nature: The Legacy of Ric Flair and the Rise of Charlotte by Ric Flair and Charlotte Flair
Review / August 2, 2019

Buy on Amazon While a creative concept for a WWE book, this is less than the sum of its parts. Second Nature effectively combines two autobiographies – covering Ric Flair’s final run in WWE and retirement and Charlotte’s entry into the business – neither of which would provide enough material for a full-length book in themselves. They join together almost too seamlessly, drawing attention to the way that the ghostwriting doesn’t really feel like the natural, individual voice of either wrestler. Indeed, WWE speak plagues the book, with some particularly awkward mentions of “championship” that make no contextual sense when describing the physical belt. There’s also a jarring reference to “WWE” not being an NWA member. The strong points of the book certainly work well, with Ric detailing the adjustment to being out of the business, including some surprisingly positive mentions of how he was treated in TNA. Charlotte gives a heart-breaking account of her close relationship with brother Reid and the tragedy of bereavement. There’s also some surprising revelations about professional jealousy between Charlotte and Sasha Banks, while her recollection of an abusive relationship with a former husband provides the emotional meat of the book. The problem is that…

Sharpshooters & Sermons by Darren Kane
Review / August 1, 2019

One of the more unusual books about wrestling you’ll find, this is one man’s tale of the parallels he finds between wrestling (mainly WWE) and religion (mainly Christianity.) The book follows a set pattern with each chapter beginning with a recollection of an incident or aspect of wrestling and then an explanation of a related element of religion or Biblical story. For example, the opening chapters compare the issue of planning a match vs calling it in the ring with taking similar approaches to delivering a sermon; the story of Paul Heyman sitting in uninvited at a Dusty Rhodes booking meeting to the need for churchgoers to listen to and learn from religious teachers; and the need to avoid the edge of the ring in a Royal Rumble to the need to avoid temptation as a believer. It’s often an intriguing set of comparisons and includes some less well-known wrestling moments. For example, I was particularly struck by an examination of two Mick Foley promos about moments being more important than statistics and how that relates to members of the religious community being overly concerned with the raw numbers of their congregation and forgetting to view members as individuals. Other comparisons seemed more…