Sex, Lies, & Headlocks
The Real Story of Vince McMahon and World Wrestling Entertainment
Shaun Assael & Mike Mooneyham
Synopsis: The story of a young Vince McMahon taking over his father's wrestling company and then... well, you know how that turned out.
One of my absolute favorite books about the entertainment industry (non-wrestling division) is "The Late Shift" by Bill Carter. It's about how David Letterman lobbied for Johnny Carson's job and the decisions he had to make when he lost the role to Jay Leno. The similarities between "Late Shift" and "Sex, Lies and Headlocks" are incredible.
Assael, a writer for ESPN, and Mooneyham, a longtime newspaper wrestling columnist, have compiled arguably the most complete biography of Vince McMahon out there. And the authors talk to a variety of wrestling personalities to get the non-WWE version of history.
What I find fascinating is the level of description here. You can visualize, for example, Stu Hart, from the way the authors describe his "stoop and butcher's handshake", or the awkward early meetings between Vince McMahon Sr. and his estranged son. Reading this, you can really envision a lot of the conversations, negotiations and battles that took place.
Simply because this is the story of Vince McMahon's life, it really does give you a flavor of what's happened in wrestling for the past 50 years. We're talking everything from Vinnie Mac's humble beginnings in a trailer park to the regional wrestling promotions; from the AWA to the NWA; from Hulkamania to WrestleMania; from the steroid trial to the sexual abuse allegations; from WCW to the Monday Night Wars; from the WBF to the XFL â€¦ essentially everything up until late 2000.
This book does not paint Vince McMahon as scum of the earth, nor does it make him out to be an angel. It's a fairly balanced story. Yet I don't believe the authors ever contacted someone from WWE to get their side of the story.
Now, I'm not stupid: I realize that Vince McMahon would have never made a public comment on this, and even the company's paid spokespeople wouldn't likely have. But at least that way, he could have written: "Hey, I tried to contact WWE, but they never bothered returning my call. They didn't want to tell their side of the story."
By the way, "The Late Shift" ends with Letterman leaving his comfort zone at NBC and jumping ship to the Viacom-owned CBS. "Sex, Lies and Headlocks" ends with Vince and Linda McMahon leaving their comfort zone at the USA Network (which is now owned by NBC Universal) and jumping ship to the Viacom-owned TNN. Interesting, huh? Of course, Letterman didn't jump to back NBC after five years, but it still makes for a neat coincidence.
Rating: The Best There Is, The Best There Was, The Best There Ever Will Be. A very well-written resource that could educate virtually anyone on Vince McMahon and his impact on the wrestling industry. And like "The Late Shift", it shows how talent, hard work and pushing the envelope can pay off.