Saturday, 3 September 2016

BOOK REVIEW: The Death of WCW - R.D. Reynolds and Bryan Alvarez

Bryan Alvarez and R.D Reynolds chart the meteoric rise and spectacular fall from grace of World Championship Wrestling in a book as detailed as it is hilarious.

*Book review originally written 2012*

It's perhaps fair to say that the complex story of World Championship Wrestling is integral to the entire history of professional wrestling. Though today we mostly remember the company as an entirely mismanaged entity full of creative mishaps which occasionally came good -both the highs and lows of the organisation were the catalyst for much of what happened in the entire pro wrestling landscape both at the time and -in some respects- even to this day.

The former National Wrestling Alliance (NWA) territory, funded by billionaire media mogul Ted Turner, floundered for a number of years in the shadow of the mighty World Wrestling Federation (WWE), playing second fiddle to Vince McMahon's outfit and running at a loss until third-stringer announcer Eric Bischoff took the reigns.

Bischoff, who had learned his trade in the dying days of Verne Gagne's now-defunct American Wrestling Association (AWA), was quick to turn the company around and, with the creation of famous New World Order angle, took WCW from being a low-rent WWF to the most powerful wrestling organisation in the world.

Good things, however, rarely last forever and World Championship Wrestling's dominance over the pro wrestling landscape was no exception. Ultimately, it's demise was brought about by a number of terrible, ill-advised decisions both creatively and financially.

It's those decisions which make up the juicer parts of The Death of WCW's story. Rightly so too, for whilst WCW's rise does make for optimistic reading, we all, of course, know it didn't last, and it's the company's downfall that readers really want to sink their teeth into.

When they do, they'll find that story told in great detail; every poorly conceived angle, every ill-fated business decision and monumental display of egotism and stupidity by those in charge at the time are all detailed, often in humorous fashion.

Indeed, many of WCW's blunders are genuinely funny in hindsight, and if Reynolds and Alvarez have any one talent more than others, it's their ability to turn those comical errors into laugh-out-loud anecdotes.

Where the authors fail, however, is in their inability to say anything most fans didn't already know.

Sure, if you're fairly new to pro wrestling and just want a quick history lesson, then this book is a good starting point, but if you were there at the time, or even if you've seen the WWE-produced DVD, The Monday Night Wars, you won't find anything new here.

Despite its promise, The Death of WCW doesn't offer any great new insights into why WCW went under, nor does it provide any great revelations. This is a shame, because if the authors had done a bit more research, if they'd just looked a bit deeper into the story and taken their research further than their back-issues of the Wrestling Observer, surely they could have unearthed a few surprises, or never-before-told stories that would have been a huge selling-point of this book.

Instead, we get a story most long-time wrestling fans already know, albeit one told in a well-written fashion with plenty of humour.

Would this writer recommend The Death of WCW? Yes, it serves well as a historical account of one-side of the Monday Night Wars, and is worth reading at least once.

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Retro Pro Wrestling

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