SEX, LIES, AND HEADLOCKS: The Real Story of Vince McMahon and the World Wrestling Federation

Shaun Assael, Author, Mike Mooneyham, Author, Mike Mooneyham, Joint Author . Crown $24 (272p) ISBN 978-0-609-60690-2

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. (July)

Reviewed on: 05/06/2002
Release date: 07/01/2002
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 272 pages - 978-1-4000-5143-4
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