Vince McMahon's vision of wrestling depended on him launching a national promotion, something other promoters had toyed with, but who had yet to make successful. McMahon's goal depended on him finding a highly marketable star and an entertaining cast of supporting characters. The promoter raided a number of rival promotions, cherry-picking their best wrestlers, announcers and other staff. Spearheading the new version of the WWF was the extremely charismatic Hulk Hogan, a Herculean hero who personified everything that Vince wanted in his company - clearly-defined heroes and villains performing in storylines that focused on flash over substance.
Key to Vince's vision was a giant event to capitalize on his investments and planning. That event became known as WrestleMania, an all-star wrestling show that featured the WWF's best as well as celebrities like pop singer Cyndi Lauper and TV and film star Mr. T (who wrestled alongside Hogan in the main event). McMahon was counting on his show being a can't miss event, so much so that people from across North America would watch it in arenas on closed-circuit TV.
Disclaimer: Mike Rickard is a long-time friend and contributor to Wrestling Merchandise and Memories. As our wrestling historian, he has penned a number of very popular pieces for this very site ranging from his series The Enduring Legacy of Hulk Hogan to a fantasy "What If" tournament that could have taken place in the early 1980s. So I'm a bit biased, to put it mildly, when it comes to the subject of this book's author.
Having said that, it was a stroke of genius by Rickard to publish a historical look at wrestling's all-time most influential figure, just at the moment he was losing power in the very promotion he built. That meant producing a lot of writing about Vince McMahon: the good, the bad, and a whole lot of ugly.
McMahon's Messes and Misses is not so much a Vince McMahon biography as it is a series of historical essays, each one carefully researched while meticulously crediting the source material (as those of us who have published his work know... Mike takes referencing his sources very seriously). From McMahon's rough upbringing to his unprecedented success in the world of sports entertainment, practically everything is covered in this well-presented book.
If you're looking for a balanced account of McMahon's many scandalous moments, this is it. While McMahon's 2022 sex scandal and subsequent removal as Chairman and CEO of WWE will undoubtedly be the biggest wrestling story of the year, it's hardly the only public humiliation Vinnie Mac has endured. Heck, it's not even his only sex scandal, with his indiscretions dating back to at least the early days of WrestleMania.
There are many other sins and unfortunate events that have followed Mr. McMahon around over the years, including the deaths of Owen Hart and Chris Benoit; the rise and fall of the XFL; steroids; concussions; and even WWE's relationship with Saudi Arabia. All these indiscretions and others are covered in great detail.
In addition, there are also stories about the "good" Vince McMahon, the person who cares for his employees and even tears up when they go through personal triumphs and tragedies. Instead of making McMahon out to be a Bond villain, the author shows balance in his writing.
Overall Rating: Oh Hell Yeah! Especially given what has happened with Vince McMahon this year, this book should be considered required reading, giving you a full picture of the man who (used to pull) all the strings in professional wrestling.