Wrestling Unmasked: Ripping the Mask off the Crime, Politics and Intrigue Beyond the Ring by WrestleTalk

January 22, 2024

Somewhat a mirror image of its predecessor, this works as an overall collection of articles, even if some pieces feel a little flat.

The second compilation from WrestleTalk, this follows The New War: AEW vs WWE. I found that while individual pieces were intriguing, it didn’t necessarily hang together as an overall narrative or history of a time period. The situation is reversed here, with a much broader topic, namely wrestling’s crossover into the real world. Topics include the portrayal of gay and disabled characters, political-based storylines, the Chris Benoit case and the lack of unions in the business. Despite being less directly connected, the book’s themes comes together, turning the compilation format into a strength.

The main problem is that many articles have plenty of relevant content, but left me unfulfilled at the end. Too often the writer would provide plenty of examples and incidents on a particular topic but either intentionally avoid making a conclusive argument or unintentionally lack a big picture point. Pieces intended to be thought-provoking often failed to really cut through.

Some notable exceptions do lift the book. A piece giving some previously underreported examples of mafia involvement stands out, as does a (perhaps overly) extended look at a case of a British wrestler being prosecuted for a violent “receipt” that received little or no coverage elsewhere in either general or specialist wrestling media.

All told, it’s something that may interest many readers but isn’t really a must-have for your permanent collection.

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