cover image WRESTLEMANIA: The Official  Insider's Story

WRESTLEMANIA: The Official Insider's Story

Rebecca Kai Dotlich, WRESTLEMANIA: The Official Insider's Story

Fans of the surprisingly insightful documentary Wrestling with Shadows will attest that the tawdry and manic world of professional wrestling affords a certain intellectual stimulus. Readers hoping that WWF foot soldier DeVito (now president of the XFL) will offer equally engrossing and analytical fodder, however, will be severely disappointed. The words "official" and "insider" declare an inherent conflict of objective interest that plagues the book. Though written engagingly and smoothly, it's not much more than a collection of game-day programs for the annual orgy of faux bloodlust, Wrestlemania. Bursting with vivid color photographs of the various celebrities who initially helped Wrestlemania succeed, and those whose fame is drawn entirely from their association with Vince McMahon's megalith of mock violence and true lewdness, this is the ideal coffee-table tome for WWF devotees. The book's structure apes the scripted outline of the matches: establish conflict, hype conflict, let conflict run amok, temporarily resolve conflict with the promise of further conflict. Every year the WWF powers-that-be wonder how they can possibly top the previous Wrestlemania, and according to DeVito, they never fail to find that je ne sais quoi. In chronicling the WWF's phenomenal success since 1985, DeVito never addresses any of the real conflicts behind the scenes, e.g., McMahon's betrayal of former champion Bret "Hitman" Hart, documented in Wrestling with Shadows. If a sycophantic account of the triumphs of Vince McMahon sounds appealing, look no further. Readers who want commentary on the often outrageous and occasionally questionable policies and behaviors of the WWF, however, should look elsewhere. (Mar. 6)