Synopsis: Documenting the mistakes, gaffes and problems that the McMahon family has made in recent years while running a virtually unchallenged wrestling monopoly.
Full disclosure up front: I wrote for Guttman's World Wrestling Insanity website for about seven years. Does that make me biased? Possibly, but I'd like to think that I can still be somewhat objective in my review.
I wasn't sure exactly what to expect going into this, despite knowing some of Guttman's opinions on wrestling's first family (including Triple H). Now, I am a huge Triple H fan and for me, his contributions in the ring and on the mic often overshadow whatever damage he does backstage. So I'm not going to agree with everything, but there are definitely some shared opinions here.
The pleasant surprise: instead of arguing for 300 pages about how much the McMahons suck, James has written up thoughtful, essay-like opinions on many of WWE's recent business decisions, how they could have been avoided, and what impact they ultimately had on the business. Topics range from the infamous Diva Search to Katie Vick, and from Tough Enough to Triple H. And here's the thing -- while I may disagree on certain points, I give him credit for having arguments to back his points up.
Instead of relying on the popular Internet excuse of "Triple H never elevates anyone", James provides evidence for his points, and even interviews subjects ranging from former front-office guy Tom Pritchard, to Terry Funk, to Kamala. Sometimes they agree with him, and sometimes they try to justify why certain things were done. To boot, he's obtained several internal company memos and decisions -- stuff that I've never seen reported elsewhere.
The humor in this book is fresh and makes for a very smooth read. As I said, I'm already a fan of his writing style, yet he's saved some of his "A" material for this book. The doctored illustrations of Vince, The Game and everyone else are hilarious.
The one criticism I have is that I would have liked to see some evidence that someone in Stamford was at least contacted to try to back this all up. I defer to Mick Foley's "Foley Is Good", in which he criticizes the Parents Television Council and then documents his numerous attempts to get their side of the story. Yeah, I realize this isn't journalism, but one "no comment" paragraph would have gone a long way, in my eyes.
Rating: Transitional Champion. On second and third reads of the book, its historical signifance has diminished. But this is still a well-written and funny resource that explains a lot of WWE's inner workings.
World Wrestling Insanity
The Decline and Fall of a Family Empire