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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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From the Inside Flap
"Current fans and recovering Hulkamaniacs alike should find [Sex, Lies, and Headlocks] as gripping as the Camel Clutch." --"Maxim
Sex, Lies, and Headlocks is the ultimate behind-the-scenes look at the backstabbing, scandals, and high-stakes gambles that have made wrestling an enduring television phenomenon. The man behind it all is Vince McMahon, a ruthless and entertaining visionary whose professional antics make some of the flamboyant characters in the ring look tame by comparison. Throughout the book, the authors trace McMahon's rise to power and examine the appeal of the industry's biggest stars--including Ed "Strangler" Lewis, Gorgeous George, Bruno Sammartino, Ric Flair, and, most recently, Stone Cold Steve Austin and The Rock. In doing so, they show us that while WWE stock is traded to the public on Wall Street, wrestling remains a shadowy world guided by a century-old code that stresses secrecy and loyalty.
With a new afterword, this is the definitive book about the history of pro wrestling.
"Reading this excellent behind-the-scenes look at wrestling promoter McMahon . . . 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."
"A quintessentially American success story of a cocky opportunist defying the odds and hitting it big . . . Sparkling cultural history from an author wise enough to let the facts and personalities speak for themselves."--"Kirkus Reviews
About the Author
Shaun Assael, a senior writer for ESPN: The Magazine, is the author of Wide Open: Days and Nights on the NASCAR Tour.
Mike Mooneyham, an editor with the Charleston Post and Courier, pens the longest-running wrestling column in the country.
From the Hardcover edition.
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It gives us a short biography of Vince K. McMahon's childhood, growing up with his mother near a military base not knowing who his father was and growing up trying to fit in with the tough crowd.
The business suddenly started changing around Vincent James, and with his son urging him on to sell the company to him, Capitol Wrestling Corporation, which broke off from the NWA and became the World Wide Wrestling Federation began to pick up the pace after acquiring top talent, especially after Vince Kennedy bought the company from his father, who quietly retired, and later died around 1983.
The book is very bland on language, being clear and simple, and relying on the natural circus that is pro wrestling to entertain the reader. After reading the highly sensationalized, opinionated, and overall entertaining "The Death of WCW" by RD Reynolds and Bryan Alvarez, this was a sudden change, with the authors clearly showing no favor or hatred for anyone as they manage to cram mini-biographies from the likes of Jim Crockett, his son Jim Jr. and his apathy towards building his father's business, to Dusty Rhodes and his success as the "American Dream", and Ted Turner's minor promoting of wrestling with Georgia Championship Wrestling, and McMahon's cutthroat approach to business, once telling AWA's Verne Gagne during a negotiation very simply and brutally, "I don't negotiate."
Vince and his wife Linda, both taking very active roles in the WWF, from the horrors of trying to finance Wrestlemania, to recovering after the action flop starring Hulk Hogan, and the infamous steroid case of the early nineties, are portrayed almost amorally, with a true business sense to them and their actions, without explicit and graphic details of shadier practices bordering on the debauched. Sure, Vince took steroids to bulk up and look big, but once the proverbial crap hit the fan, he ditched it and never touched the stuff again. Rather than buy Jim Crockett's promotion, he waited until it went into the hole, so he could acquire it for next to nothing.
From there, much of the focus is on steroids, and the scandals erupting over its use, including name-dropping on just who was on steroids, who was suspected, etcetera.
From there, it jackknifes to detailing the situation in the WWF, WCW, and even mild glimpses into ECW, and how it influenced the WWF's Attitude Era. Keeping true to the focus of the book, matches and booking are given a spotlight, but the backstage workings, the politics and decisions of Vincent Kennedy McMahon are the true main event of this book.
The events from this time period are delivered in great detail, even containing quotes from superstars and personnel, delivered in such a way that you imagine the events unfolding in your head, with the quoted superstar turning to talk directly to you, as if breaking the fourth wall in a re-enacted documentary.
Sex: There's plenty, but not as much as you'd think. Aside from the typical groupie sex with the wrestlers, there are only two real sex scandals---one involving the infamous accusations of rape by a female referee, who (in)explicitly recounts in the book how McMahon ordered her to give him oral sex in a limo, and when she refused, forcibly raped her. The other involves Pat Patterson's aides soliciting sex and essentially creating a gay sex ring involving young men involved with the lesser jobs in the early days of the promotion, such as ring attendants, etc. In the late 80s, this was finally uncovered, and while Patterson escaped unscathed, his aides did not.
Lies: Many things McMahon says and does in this book is or are lies. From guaranteeing a reality series with MTV in 2000 and then going and soliciting NBC about it, to the more deviant ones in the early years, lying to wrestlers, promoters, and businessmen for the benefit of his own company.
Headlocks: I can only remember two, one of them being a headlock delivered by Ric Flair.
In total, this is a very slim, quickly and easily readable book, packed with pounds of information delivered in an easy, documentary style with little dressing or relishes--as the stories told provide that themselves.
At the same time, however, this book will make you hate McMahon. Some of the stories of his dealings (both private and public) were shocking.
All in all, this is a great read and I highly recommend it.