- File Size: 1309 KB
- Print Length: 360 pages
- Publisher: WhatCulture.com (June 6, 2016)
- Publication Date: June 6, 2016
- Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
- Language: English
- ASIN: B01FYVBUN0
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Lending: Enabled
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #42,413 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Titan Screwed: Lost Smiles, Stunners, and Screwjobs Kindle Edition
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Top Customer Reviews
Most fans have heard the story of the Monday Night War so many times that they think they have a good understanding of it. However, like any field of study, there’s a general knowledge and then there’s a deeper knowledge that comes with exploring the subject closely. Just as there are casual fans who know their favorite stars in a promotion and their finishing moves, there are more knowledgeable fans who can tell you a wrestler’s entire history, the names of various moves being used, and the meaning and application of terms like psychology and heat. Likewise, with a discussion of the Monday Night War. One may understand the basics of what happened, but a book like Titan Screwed offers a chance to add depth and breadth to one’s knowledge.
Take this for instance. Conventional wisdom has it that WCW was killing the WWF in terms of TV ratings, house show attendance, and pay-per-views. Dixon and Henry paint a different picture, pointing out how 1997’s pay-per-view buyrates were only negligible in difference. In terms of house shows, they argue that the WWF was selling more tickets than WCW and that the WWF was crushing WCW when it came to licensing and merchandising. Of course in terms of TV ratings, WCW was ahead, and Dixon and Henry point out how this drove a competitive Vince McMahon crazy to try a radical approach to changing his product.
Titan Shattered showed the beginnings of McMahon’s attempt to increase ratings by presenting an edgier product in 1996. By 1997, this was in full force but McMahon was still unsure of how to emulate the success of ECW. Titan Screwed takes a look at the WWF’s late-night Shotgun Saturday Night program with Dixon and Henry pointing out how it was an “ECW Lite” that failed to catch on with more hardcore fans.
The book continues the look at the escalating tensions between Vince McMahon and two of his biggest draws, Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart. Both Michaels and Hart were tremendous wrestlers but clashes in personality and lifestyle were making things harder for them to work together and creating incredible headaches for Vince McMahon, who had to deal with them. On one hand, McMahon had to deal with Michaels, the man he envisioned as carrying the WWF standard. Michaels’ charisma and undeniable skills in the ring made him a good candidate to be world champion. Behind the scenes, he was difficult to deal with. When it came time to do jobs, he seemed to conveniently suffer injuries. Backstage, he and his friends in the Kliq (Kevin Nash, Scott Hall, and Hunter Hearst Helmsley) made life difficult for anyone they didn’t like. By 1997, Michaels’ friends Hall and Nash were in WCW, leaving him to fend for himself. He was still playing games with other wrestlers, but he had no one to protect him.
Bret Hart too was a fantastic performer (although not as charismatic) and beloved by WWF fans. Unlike Michaels, Hart was a loyal company man and he didn’t play the backstage games as Michaels and his friends were notorious for (as Dixon has detailed in other books, Hart was asked to join the Kliq but refused, not wanting to deal with their party lifestyle or backstage antics). In Hart’s case, he was loyal to a company that wasn’t necessarily loyal to him.
After WWF lost Hall and Nash, Vince McMahon was careful not to lose any more top stars. It’s likely he felt he just couldn’t afford to. McMahon decided to make sure Bret Hart stayed with the WWF so he signed him to an incredible twenty-year deal. Hart would be paid well, end his career with the WWF, and carry on as a good-will representative.
Over time, McMahon seemed to regret his decision. For years, the story has been that McMahon couldn’t afford the contract and told Bret to consider finding employment with WCW. Hart did sign, and as we shall see later, his departure was handled poorly, resulting in the Montreal Screwjob. Again, Dixon paints a different picture. He argues that McMahon wasn’t hurting for money as he told Hart and could have kept Hart under contract. He even argues that Hart made last minute attempts to stay with the WWF as long as he’d be used right, only for McMahon to dismiss his overtures.
Why then, did McMahon encourage Hart to leave? One possibility is the amazing rise of “Stone Cold” Steve Austin. In hindsight, it’s incredible how Austin transformed from the career-killing “Ringmaster” character to the “Stone Cold” character that helped the WWF become a billion-dollar company. While there were other people involved in the WWF’s rise to supremacy, the “Stone Cold” persona played a large part. Did McMahon feel that he no longer needed Hart? You’ll have to decide for yourself. Towards the end of the book, Dixon and Henry suggest that McMahon was more than happy to replace Shawn Michaels with “Stone Cold” after Michaels’ career-ending (or so was thought) injury that shelved him after WrestleMania XIV.
One interesting story involves Austin’s injury at the hands of Owen Hart. Hart’s botched piledriver nearly ended Austin’s career (and it definitely shortened it). Dixon talks of how Austin wasn’t too happy with Owen Hart, not because of the accident, but because Hart never apologized for the incident. On a side note, I recently learned (from another book) that Austin injured a Japanese wrestler in the ring several years earlier with the exact same move that injured him. That’s one tidbit I would have liked to have heard about in this book.
Dixon and Henry do an excellent job of showing the various players whose star was on the rise. Men like Mick Foley, Rocky Maivia, and Hunter Hearst Helmsley may have struggled at times, but they persevered, all of them eventually reaching the main event. Dixon examines Triple H’s transformation from his Greenwich blueblood character to the D-Generation X reprobate he’d find great success with. The authors make it a point to include Chyna’s importance in establishing Triple H as a star. Triple H would find himself in a sink-or-swim situation when he was forced to take over Shawn Michaels’ role as leader of D-Generation X.
Just as before, the book provides a lot of interesting behind the scenes stories. For example, one story has it that the Undertaker was waiting in the Gorilla position at WrestleMania XIV during the “Stone Cold” vs. HBK match to ensure that business would be done in the time-honored tradition. While HBK had legitimately (and seriously) injured his back, he’d cried wolf so many times with injuries when it was time to do jobs that not everyone was sure if he’d drop the belt to Austin.
Titan Screwed doesn’t limit itself to discussing important events in the WWF. There’s also a discussion of the infamous “slow three-count” by Nick Patrick during Hollywood Hogan vs. Sting main event at 1997’s Starrcade. As the story goes, Patrick was supposed to make a fast count (insinuating he was on the take by Hogan) only for ringside spectator (and newly signed Bret “The Hitman” Hart) to intervene, protesting he wouldn’t see someone get screwed over like he’d been (referencing the Montreal Screwjob of course). What happened was that Patrick made a normal three-count, which made no sense for Hart’s protest. Dixon and Hart make a shocking revelation concerning the reason behind this. Rather than revealing it, I encourage you to get the book.
I enjoyed how the book presents different points of view on situations. When discussing Starrcade, they mention that Sting gave Hogan carte blanche to determine the match finish, even though Sting was supposed to win. Sting pointed out that Hogan had taken WCW so far that he was thankful for everything he’d done. Hogan has got his fair share of criticism over the years for making WCW into the Hulk Hogan Federation so it’s interesting to see a WCW mainstay’s take on things.
Just as before, the book provides a list of works referenced. Whether it’s interviews, shoot interviews, books, newsletters, and videos, fans can verify the information themselves (except for the interviews) and see if they agree with Dixon and Henry’s analysis of things. Now if they would only cite their sources (i.e. tell us where a particular piece of information is coming from in their references), they’d have the perfect wrestling book.
Of course, a well-researched and cited book doesn’t always translate into an enjoyable read. As much as I appreciated the voluminous research of Jim Wilson’s book Chokehold, it remains the number one choice for insomnia relief. Fortunately, Dixon and Henry have developed an engaging style of writing that informs and entertains. Some people write so well that you don’t mind reading a discourse on the history of the letter “C.” In their case, they make an already fascinating subject positively delightful to read thanks to their style.
Last year I noted my displeasure with the book’s paperback price, noting that it cost $21.43 on Amazon for a 266-page book. By comparison, Daniel Bryan’s 319-page book Yes! cost $17.76 for the hardcover. This year, the 278-page paperback retails at $21.04 at Amazon. Looking back, I realized I was wrong.
The Titan books are published through Createspace, a publishing arm of Amazon. Last spring, I published a book through Createspace and learned a lot about the process, including pricing. First, you have to price the book higher than you might see other books if you want the book to get wide distribution. Second, although the book costs a bit more, it’s a professional production through and through. This isn’t some hack mimeographing a book. This is a well-written and well-researched book that provides detailed and entertaining analysis of an important time in professional wrestling. If you’re on a lower budget like me, get the e-book. If you’re an Amazon Kindle Books member, you can read it for free. In any event, it’s well worth having in your library.
Kudos to James Dixon and Justin Henry for a well-written and well-referenced book that continues a detailed examination of a key period in wrestling history. Established writers should no longer rest on their laurels as Dixon and Henry are setting a very high bar when it comes to wrestling books, whether they’re traditionally published or self-published.
The amount of detail and research that went into this biography is amazing. Not one piece of information in this book comes off as slanderous, just simple brutal honesty. I’ve always wondered what it meant when Shawn Michaels “lost his smile” and why it was considered disgusting at the time. It turns out he faked a knee injury so that he wouldn’t have to lose his WWF World Championship to his backstage rival Bret Hart in a credible wrestling match. I’ve also wondered what it was about the Melanie Pillman interview that made it win Most Disgusting Promotional Tactic of 1997 in the Wrestling Observer Newsletter awards. Turns out nobody wants to see a crying widow falling apart on TV while Vince McMahon tries to wash his hands of drug-related controversy. Accurately told stories like these prove that the wrestling business never was and never will be rainbows and skittles. So much anger and toughness runs deep in the veins of everybody who goes out to the ring to put on a show.
The reason I mentioned not knowing much about lost smiles or Melanie Pillman’s interview days after her husband Brian’s death is because there was a period in my life where my mother wouldn’t allow me to watch wrestling (because of its “trashy” content). So when I read about certain things in Titan Screwed that I missed all of those years, I’m suddenly in the mood to watch them. Apparently, Bret Hart vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin at Wrestlemania 13 in a submission match is a five-star classic with hard-hitting moves, a splattering of blood, and a match ending that made both wrestlers look strong. The planning that went into the Montreal Screwjob months later at Survivor Series made me empathetic towards Bret Hart’s seething anger and his physical outbursts, which had to be contained by an entire locker room full of wrestlers. The way these two particular parts of wrestling history were written made the whole story seem novel-like. So intricately detailed, so much dialogue, and so much emotion went into writing this book that I might as well have been reading a classic novel.
As much as I praise the picturesque details of some of the scenes in this book, there’s something about the writing style in general that slows the whole thing down for me. Maybe there’s too much detail. Maybe it’s the dry writing style of the minor parts of the biography. Maybe there’s too much verbiage and not enough action. Maybe it’s the fact that this is in its basic form a biography and not a tried and true memoir. Whatever the case may be, the slow reading pace put a huge strain on my eyes to the point where reading almost became a chore for me. Yes, this book is rich with information I’ve been longing to have since my mother forced me to stop watching wrestling as a teen. But just like with assigned college reading, the pace of the book can make or break the whole thing. In this case, the snail-like reading pace makes me want to downgrade this book to three stars instead of my usual four or five.
While some parts of this book read like a novel, others read like a Plain Jane biography. There isn’t necessarily anything wrong with that as long as you know what you’re getting into. James Dixon and Justin Henry are two wrestling columnists I trust when it comes to analyzing this particular form of entertainment. They’ve done amazing work with websites like What Culture and Wrestle Crap. If you enjoy their work outside of Titan Screwed, you’ll probably get a good read out of this book. If you’re as anal about a book’s reading pace as I am, you might struggle with this one, but I urge you to make it until the end of the book. You can do it. I believe in you. A mixed grade goes to this simple and clean piece of wrestling literature.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Otherwise, if you watched this era when it happened, after the fact, or are just interested in wrestling history, this...Read more