Badseed's Bottomline Supplemental #21

Sex, Lies and Headlocks: The Real Story of Vince McMahon and the WWF
By Shaun Assael and Mike Mooneyham

Reviewed by Badseed

This Article Was Republished With the Permission of

    If you haven’t read this book you really should. I swear Sex, Lies and Headlocks is probably the closest thing to an unbiased look at the inner workings of what the wrestlers call the business. Sex, Lies and Headlocks gives an in-depth history on the World Wrestling Federation and its rise and falls in the wrestling world, including glimpses at the corporations' rivals over the years and how they hindered and contributed toward World Wrestling Entertainment’s near monopolistic success.

     From small bingo halls and studio shows to large-scale arenas readers are treated to an interesting history on McMahon’s father decision to compete with the powerhouse National Wrestling Alliance (NWA). Yet, McMahon, Sr. was not willing to go the extra mile, not like his son. Strangely, McMahon Sr. did not want his son involved in wrestling. Apparently the young McMahon had a hard time proving himself, after failing to successfully pull off wrestling events, including the Muhammad Ali vs. Antonio Inoki fiasco. However, like every true entrepreneur failure after failure did not stop the young McMahon who decided to confront his father and give him an offer he could not refuse.

     The elder McMahon was nearing the end of his life and Vince bought the WWF from his dad and his partners and decided to compete with nationwide, breaking the tradition of territory wrestling. Gobbling up all the territories’ top stars, McMahon formed a federation with no boundaries. Every territory soon became WWF territory and it was either compete on the same level or face extinction, which the American Wrestling Association (AWA) and the NWA soon discovered.

     McMahon did all he could to bring his brand of wrestling to the masses, even airing his show on Turner Cable. This is where their feud first began, as Turner did not like the ratings of the WWF program, and resurrected the NWA Georgia Championship Wrestling a majority of fans in the south seemed to enjoy more. However, the WWF would eventually succeed, something that would not have happened had a little experiment known as Wrestlemania did not make money. Using an idea of closed-circuit television and then pioneering Pay-Per-View, McMahon continued to revolutionize wrestling until Turner bought the NWA’s World Championship Wrestling program and soon decided to compete with the big boys.

     We learn about WCW and the federations slow rise to power when Eric Bischoff, at the spur of the moment decided that they needed a live Monday show with the best wrestling matches to compete with the WWF’s Monday Night Raw program. Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW) is also discussed as they used an edgy format to compete with the two main federations, an idea McMahon would eventually steal and modify to form WWF Attitude and win the war against WCW. Of course that came at a price of a strained relationship between WWF and the USA Network that became concerned over the content of the program, including a show when Brian Pillman pulled a gun and apparently fired at Steve Austin. It worked and the WWF won, eventually making a move to TNN and UPN, buying out WCW and knocking ECW out of their coveted TNN national cable deal. Conversely, with success comes failures and those are depicted as well, including the failed World Bodybuilding Federation, XFL and the steroid and sex scandals that could have put the WWF out of business.

     My only complaint about this book is that it is a little one-sided, but the great tales make for a great look into wrestling history and offering up an opportunity for a rebuttal by Mr. McMahon himself. There are two sides to every story and this is one side of the epic tale about how and why the WWF and now-WWE rose, fell, fought back and remained in power changing the state of wrestling forever.

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