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Sex, Lies, and Headlocks: The Real Story of Vince McMahon and World Wrestling Entertainment Paperback – February 24, 2004

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Reading this excellent behind-the-scenes look at wrestling promoter McMahon, the current ruler of the wild and ruthless world of professional wrestling, is almost as entertaining and shocking as watching the most extreme antics of McMahon's comic-book style creations such as Steve Austin and The Rock. Combining hard investigative journalism with a genuine love for wrestling's weirder tendencies, Assael (senior writer for ESPN and author of Wide Open) and Mooneyham (who writes the wrestling column in the Charleston Post and Courier) have penned one of the closest looks so far at this industry, which moved from the cheap and smoke-filled Midwestern halls of the 1930s to become one of the most successful television enterprises ever by the 1990s. The authors focus on McMahon, who rose from a difficult childhood to take command of the World Wrestling Federation and almost singlehandedly invent the current style of extreme wrestling. The authors also carefully detail how McMahon's take-no-prisoners business style led him into his own bouts with financial, legal, sexual and drug problems, until finally he had become totally seduced by the loud, angry circus he'd created. But beneath the many stories about crooked promoters, armed wives, drug-crazed and sexually profligate wrestlers, the authors also skillfully illuminate pro wrestling's influence on the media, detailing McMahon's feuds with rivals like Ted Turner and World Championship Wrestling's Eric Bischoff, as well as his byzantine dealings with notables from such companies as Viacom and NBC. This is an essential read for both fans and enemies of pro wrestling.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Professional wrestling has become a lightning rod for controversy. Critics decry the violence and the rampant disregard for political correctness, while those who savor the spectacle think those are its best qualities. At the eye of the storm is Vince McMahon, a third-generation wrestling promoter with a genius suited for the cable age. Assael and Mooneyham provide a brief history of the sport from its days as an early television phenomenon to its downslide into a regionally marketed sideshow in the seventies and eighties. The advent of cable created a need for cheap, quickly produced programming, and McMahon was there with wrestling, which he built into a show-biz spectacle. Imitators followed, and the stakes became higher as cable networks battled for viewers, steroids became de rigueur, and wrestlers died in stunts and from drug overdoses. There's no end in sight: the Rock, a premier wrestler, was a speaker at the Republican convention that nominated George Bush. Somewhere between expose and celebration, this account will be of most interest to fans who view the sport as a guilty pleasure. Wes Lukowsky
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 266 pages
  • Publisher: Broadway Books (February 24, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400051436
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400051434
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (93 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #599,745 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

34 of 35 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 26, 2003
Format: Hardcover
The major concern I have is whether or not some rarely known facts were thoroughly researched. My concern comes from the fact that there were many inaccuracies in the book that I knew for a fact were wrong. For instance, the Rick Steamboat-Randy Savage WMIII match that Assael claims went nearly an hour, was actually a fifteen minute affair. Assael also writes that Lex Luger slammed Yokozuna on "July 4, 1995" just prior to his shocking appearance on Nitro. Problem was, the bodyslam actually took place July 4, 1993 - big difference. If he can't get this stuff right - which is can be found very easily in any old PWI Almanac - how can we trust him to know what was going on in meetings with Vince McMahon and Ted Turner held behind closed doors?
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27 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Kevin Ridge on July 21, 2002
Format: Hardcover
I found the book "Sex, Lies, and Headlocks" to be interesting, though some of the stories to be quite depressing. It is just amazing some of the stuff that goes behind the scenes in the wrestling business. For one, I was shocked what Vader said after learning of the death of Brian Pillman.
The timeline of the book goes from the start of the NWA in 1948 to when the McMahon's moved their WWF company from USA over to Viacom.
I'd recommend the book for all wrestling fans thought acknowleging that it is not perfect. There are some inaccuracies with dates and other information. The authors flip back and forth between topics. This can lead to some incohesivenss and rather pointless info that may be just included for pure shock factor.
At the end of the book their is a final chapter that is very rushed. It includes the XFL, demise of ECW, and the sale of WCW to Vince McMahon. I felt that the sale should have had alot more detail since it was one of the biggest news stories in wrestling history. It would have been nice if the authors would have gone into more detail covering it.
The book was a bit short (258 Pages, not the 288 Amazon.com lists) and can be read at a fast pace. The language in the book is not the greatest. I can understand when the authors quote someone but I was suprised to see some of the words they used themselves. It did not bother me but it might not be a great choice to read for someone who is of a younger age.
Would have been nice to see the book a bit longer and covering more topics but this is probably the best book on wrestling that has been released lately. Despite the cons, It was still very enjoyable.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Jason L. Pemberton on February 24, 2004
Format: Paperback
This book is well written, but not a lot of research was done. It's written like fiction. Andre the Giant did not retire in 1987, as this book states. He won the world title in 88, and the tag titles in 1990.
Sloppy facts and enough made up info and verbiage make this book a no go.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Joe on July 29, 2003
Format: Hardcover
This is billed as, "The Real Story of Vince McMahon and the World Wrestling Federation", but this book is REALLY about the hisotry of the television development of the WWF, WCW, and NWA. The book is primarliy about how wrestling gained exposure through cable television and how the WWF and WCW eventually became giants through television and how WCW "overtook" the WWF in the ratings, and then going back to second fiddle to their eventual demise.
It's fairly easy reading. I finished this in two days.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By nusandman on October 15, 2002
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Before starting Shaun Assael's Sex, Lies, and Headlocks, I was fearful that it would be a totally one sided bashing of Vince McMahon and the wrestling empire that he has built. And while the book is critical of many of the means that Vince used to get where he is, it is also a very nice historical perspecive of the history of the business itself. I didn't expect it to go into as much detail as it did on the rise and fall of some of the other organizations, especially WCW and it's Monday Night Wars with the WWF. Having been a long time fan, much of what I read I had known of before, but there was information that I hadn't heard as well. This is a great read if you are interested in the business and the behind the scenes dealings of it. If you are a die hard Vince McMahon fan, you may not like or believe all of what you read. But, I can't imagine anyone with an interest in wrestling not gaining some knowledge of the business that they didn't have before.
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15 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Alex Marvez on July 24, 2002
Format: Hardcover
I wrote this review for my July 12 syndicated pro wrestling column on the Scripps-Howard News Service. I strongly recommend this book to both the casual fan who wants to learn more about the business or the hardcore follower who might not know the background behind the people and decisions that shaped the industry. Here's the review:
Sex, Lies, and Headlocks are no longer exclusive to World Wrestling Entertainment programming.
The phrase serves as the title for an excellent new book chronicling the modern history of professional wrestling and the behind-the-scenes happenings that led to WWE owner Vince McMahon becoming the unquestioned king of the ring.
Authors Shaun Assael and Mike Mooneyham cover every major event of the past 20 years. That includes the accidental death of Owen Hart in a 1999 ring entrance mishap, the demise of World Championship Wrestling and the anabolic steroid scandal that almost landed McMahon in prison.
"This book is about how wrestling evolved, especially in respect to the last 10 or 15 years and more so specifically the Monday night wars," said Mooneyham, referring to the competition between WWE's Monday Night Raw and WCW's Monday Nitro from 1995 to 2001.
"I don't think you have to be a wrestling fan to enjoy it. And for casual fans, it may be looking at the business in a way they haven't before."
Sex, Lies, and Headlocks tells many of the sordid stories known only by wrestling insiders and hardcore newsletter readers will become public. There are allegations of cocaine use and infidelity by McMahon as well as a detailed account of the sex scandal that rocked WWE in the early 1990s (WWE spokesman Jayson Bernstein said the company had no comment on Sex, Lies, and Headlocks, claiming, "It's not even on our radar.").
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Sex, Lies, and Headlocks: The Real Story of Vince McMahon and World Wrestling Entertainment
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