Recently, I was gifted a copy of the WWE Encyclopedia of Sports Entertainment (4th Edition) and to be very honest, I wasn't sure how useful it was going to be. Would it all be WWE propaganda, focusing only on the moments and events that it felt were still relevant at the time of publication - in this case, the year 2020? Or would it take a deeper into the rich history of the industry?
I was pleasantly surprised to find what a comprehensive wrestling resource this is, and something I can continually refer back to frequently,
In a very well-designed 416 pages, the Encyclopedia gives a capsule profile of thousands of wrestling stars. Obviously, the bigger names are given more prominence (e.g. Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair, John Cena, Shawn Michaels, Stone Cold Steve Austin) but there's also plenty of ink for lesser-knowns, including Eric Escobar, Mitsu Arakawa, Tony Altamore and Tiger Ali Singh.
Quite honestly, I tried several times to find omissions, even amongst people who left WWE on less than ideal terms (Chris Benoit, Muhammad Hassan, Dr. David Schultz) and no one seems to be omitted. This is truly a project that didn't let WWE hype overtake history.
When a wrestler has multiple personalities (e.g. Bastion Booger/Friar Ferguson, The Iron Sheik/Colonel Mustafa), each are treated as their own profile. Plus there also separate entries for tag teams, factions and trios, giving the book a lot of replay value.
In addition to competitors, the Encyclopedia has a history of different promotions, pay-per-views and championships. So if you want to see. for example, some of the dozens of times the WWF Hardcore Championship changed hands in the year 2002, you have that all at your fingertips.
In addition to the fantastic design work, the Encyclopedia includes some great photography, adding in hundreds of studio pictures of WWE stars from the past.
Overall Rating: Oh Hell Yeah! This is not a traditional read. It is, after all, an encyclopedia. But judging it on that basis, there's lots to appreciate here and the writers should be applauded for putting together such a comprehensive and well-written historical document.