You could be either be the newest fan of World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) or a fan dating as far back as the Capitol Wrestling days and may never truly know everything about the pioneer of sports entertainment.
Add Figure Four Daily editor/publisher, Wrestling Observer Live host and semi-retired professional wrestler Bryan Alvarez into the fold to educate the masses about WWE in his recent book 100 Things WWE Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die. (Editor’s Note: Wrestling Observer Live can be heard seven days a week on the Heartland Newsfeed Radio Network: Sunday through Friday with Alvarez and co-host Mike Sempervive (MTHF – live show: 3 PM Eastern/2 PM Central/12 Noon Pacific, WED – tape delay: 5 PM Eastern/4 PM Central/2 PM Pacific and SUN – live show: 6 PM Eastern/5 PM Central/3 PM Pacific). Podcast personality Jim Valley hosts the recently-added Saturday edition at 1 PM Eastern/12 Noon Central/10 AM Pacific.)
A short and sweet foreward from fellow pro wrestler and Figure Four Daily co-host Lance Storm (if you know wrestling well enough, you’d know he’s a WWE, WCW and ECW alum) kicked off the book, followed by a brief introduction from Alvarez. Alvarez talked about his previous book The Death of WCW, co-authored by R.D. Reynolds and published in 2004 and some references to his live radio program, including that of advertisements regarding writing a book during the broadcasts. Disclaimer: Yes, I’m well aware of the ads Alvarez is referring to. We air ads from the same per-inquiry ad network as the Sports Byline USA radio network via the Heartland Newsfeed Radio Network, which is an online broadcast affiliate of SBUSA.
Sports historians and wrestling fans would appreciate the work exerted into the book, which dives deep into the history of WWE (and any company they ultimately took over, e.g. WCW, ECW, etc.).
Throughout the book, Alvarez mentions many aspects of WWE’s history, including the inaugural WrestleMania event in 1985, the birth of Monday Night RAW in January 1993, the Monday Night Wars against WCW Monday Nitro on Ted Turner’s TNT (where All Elite Wrestling makes their official TV debut on October 2), the risk of Hulkamania, the long-standing rivalry between “Stone Cold” Steve Austin and the McMahon family (which made for excellent television during the Attitude Era), the “Montreal Screwjob” and even newer events such the launch of the WWE Network in February 2014 and the $2.3 billion television deal with Fox Broadcasting Network, which involves WWE Smackdown‘s return to Fridays for the first time since 2005 (when it was on the former UPN network).
You may be surprised about some of your favorite wrestlers as well. For instance, did you know that the late great Rowdy Roddy Piper was a vital part of the Rock ‘n’ Wrestling Connection era of WWE (then called World Wrestling Federation/WWF)?
You’re scratching your head in confusion, aren’t you? The Rock ‘n’ Wrestling Connection was a cooperative period of cross-promotion between WWF and the music industry, started by manager Lou Albano. A 1984 match during a live MTV broadcast called The Brawl to End it All featured Albano, who sparked a rivalry with musician Cyndi Lauper, in which Albano selected The Fabulous Moolah against Lauper’s Wendi Richter. An animated TV series aired on CBS called Hulk Hogan’s Rock ‘n’ Wrestling, which aired for two seasons.
The rest is history you should read for yourself.
Alvarez gives some shameless plugs for the WWE Network and the Wrestling Observer website (in which Figure Four Daily and Dave Meltzer’s Wrestling Observer Newsletter are merged together on one website). Editor’s Note: I am a quarterly member of the Wrestling Observer website.
You would be surprised to learn something new about WWE and perhaps try out some of the things Alvarez recommends, including playing WWE video games. (Not much of a recommendation on my end, considering I’ve played nearly every single release since 2000’s WWF Smackdown on the original PlayStation.)
And yes, I have gone by the moniker of “The Anarchist” Jake Leonard since WWE 2K17. (Just my wrestler is more polished and less about random attire.)
Disclaimer: As I purchased this book, there was no mandate for payment for this review. Some of the links above are affiliate links, meaning at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission from click-through purchases.
Jake Leonard, a broadcast media and journalism veteran, is the editor-in-chief of Heartland Newsfeed. Leonard is also GM and program director of Heartland Newsfeed Radio Network, wrestling editor and contributing writer for Ambush Sports, a contributing writer for My Sports Vote and Midwest Sports Network, and a former contributor to Bleacher Report and Overtime Heroics. He resides at home in Nokomis, Ill. with his dog Buster.
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