First off, I have never visited the Wrestlecrap Website. That said, when I heard about the premise of this book, I was expecting a slightly amusing look at bad gimmicks like "The Red Rooster." I was surprised to find that this book gave more than lists and photos of outrageously horrid characters. "Wrestlecrap" is so much more. This book ponders the thought process of the higher-ups in WCW and WWF. It describes gimmicks that were created for personal satisfaction rather than business savvy, gimmicks that were created out of desperation rather than creativity, and bad gimmicks that the promoters honestly thought were brilliant. Best of all, I found this book to be more than just slightly amusing; this book is hysterical!
Wrestlecrap primarily focuses from the mid 1980s to the present, when Vince McMahon Jr gave pro wrestling a brand new paint job, and how folks like WCW's Jim Herd tried to "outcamp" the WWF with disastrous results. While I've read countless articles presenting icons like McMahon as everything from innovative to cutthroat to no-nonsense maverick, it's not very often you get to read a detailed report on the many blunders that go on amidst the successes, in the ring and behind the dressing room curtain. Yes, we know multiple Doink the Clowns were lame, how embarrassing the fake Razor Ramon & Diesel was, or how we cringed at WCW's "Wonderful World of Oz." But Wrestlecrap goes into great detail about the geniuses who dreamed these angles up, why they expected them to work, why they didn't work. We read about backstage politics, and how some promoters created bad gimmicks specifically to make the wrestlers they disliked personally look bad. The author is also humble enough to point out a gimmick that, considering how way-out it was, should have failed, but instead became one of the most successful pro wrestling personas of all time: The Undertaker.
Early on in the book, Reynolds and Baer appropriately take the heat off the wrestlers for performing these gimmicks, since they are performing a job at the booker's request.
The point of wrestlers following the orders of the promoters is driven home in the book's forward, which is written by John "Earthquake" Tenta. Tenta was a Sumo and legit tough guy long before he became Earthquake. Even with that reputation, he did not hesitate, when asked, to dress up like "The Shark" or as Golga of The Oddities (confession time---I think we all have at least one "Wrestlecrap Guilty Pleasure"...mine is The Oddities!). In a business where big egos and dressing room hissyfits can make headaches for promoters, Tenta is a breath of fresh air. He stresses that wrestlers have to make do with the personas given them, and give it their best shot, and that for every "Stone Cold" Steve Austin created, there are a hundred "Sharks." He is able to laugh at the bad gimmicks he did, as well as laugh at himself. John Tenta, despite being a Sumo, obviously never thought that the wrestling business was "beneath him" unlike many folks in the biz. For this, I take my hat off and salute John Tenta.
This book is a shockingly wonderful book, and highly recommended for anyone who wants to see the rationale behind bad decisons!