WWE Encyclopedia (Updated and Expanded Edition) Review
By: Ryan Droste for Wrestleview.com
If you are looking for a book full of insider information and gossip, the WWE Encyclopedia is not for you. If you are looking for a beautifully designed book full of biographies, title histories, big match results, and 50 years of history in one place, the WWE Encyclopedia is exactly what you are looking for.
Authors Brian Shields (Main Event: WWE in the Raging 80s) and Kevin Sullivan (no, not the Taskmaster) were given the difficult duty of writing profiles for close to 1,000 WWE Superstars, from the 1960s to present day. You will find literally everyone in this book. Think of the most random, wacky mid 1990s failed gimmick (Abe “Knuckleball” Schwartz comes to mind). You will find them here, guaranteed. The amount of space dedicated to a superstar, of course, depends on their contribution to the sport. Some of the career biographies stretch across more than one page, while others make up just a paragraph. Each biography contains the wrestler’s vitals (hometown, nicknames, etc), their title history (as of 2012), and a few paragraphs summarizing some of the highlights of their career.
The WWE has advertised this book as the ultimate companion book to watching their product, and it would be hard to argue with that statement. This book could come in especially handy when watching a classic event with someone who is a bit of a pro wrestling novice. Who is this strange man in the ring, they ask? Hand them the WWE Encyclopedia. They can read a few short paragraphs on the wrestler in question, and they will have a general idea of that person’s significance and contribution to the industry.
To me, the images are what make this book worthwhile. If you are a wrestling fan, this is the ultimate coffee table book. I can’t think of another book that even comes close. There are all kinds of gems to be found in the 400 pages of WWE history that are present. It doesn’t matter if you are a new fan or someone who has followed the WWE for decades, I guarantee you that you will see something new. The highlights for me were many of the unseen photographs from the 1960s and 1970s, decades which the WWE typically doesn’t spend much time covering in their releases.
The research doesn’t stop with the wrestlers of the company’s past. As you browse through the book, you will see every short-lived announcer, manager, and referee from the past. One interesting two-page spread in the book lists, decade by decade, the referees from that period of time. Even the best of the best among wrestling history buffs probably could not come up with this information off the top of their head. There is something for everyone in this book.
The major event breakdowns include every pay per view the company has put together in the last 30 years, as well as other major events like Toronto’s “The Big Event” and the SWS/WWE Japan events from the early 1990s. However, it is typically just the main event result that is given print. The Royal Rumble entry lists all of the winners of the annual battle royal, year by year. The rest of the pay per view event entries typically includes the main event from each event. The WrestleMania result pages, though, list every match on the card.
It would be impossible for me to discuss everything in this book. Every time you open it up, you will discover something new. For example, during my first reading I did not notice that there are even breakdowns for all of the Diva Search and NXT competitions. There are all kinds of gems to be found, reading after reading, with this book. Shields and Sullivan had quite the task when setting out to break down this much history into a relatively small amount of space. All things considered, 400 pages isn’t all that much room for 50 years of history. Faced with this challenge, the authors have certainly delivered the goods.
Whether you are the most knowledgeable fan or a beginner to this crazy world known as sports entertainment, there is something for you in this book. Everyone has that “go to” stack of books that they just can’t seem to put back on the bookshelf. I guarantee you that this book will find a spot in that stack. Next time you turn on that old Coliseum Video and have no idea who that is in the ring during a random six-man tag from the mid 1980s, the WWE Encyclopedia will answer that question for you.
While there are other books and biographies that will certainly give you more inside information on these stars and their careers, that is not what this book sets out to accomplish. These are encyclopedia entries through and through, and the WWE Encyclopedia is a strong attempt at summarizing 50 years of WWE history.
Rating: ***** Five out of Five Stars