As a parent, you want your child to read, and the WWE Ultimate Superstar Guide delivers in that respect. My son, age 8, has gone back to it again and again.
But that doesn’t mean it’s without flaws.
The idea of the Guide is it’s an introductory book of sorts, with both WWE Hall of Famers and legends mixed in with today’s WWE and NXT stars. The page of each wrestler is dominated by a comic-like illustration by Australian artist Daz Tibbles, exaggerated and dramatic in his or her pose, and complimented by a small actual photo. There are very short biographies of the stars, including basic stats like height, weight, hometown and signature move.
It’s kayfabe all the way, like in Irwin R. Schyster’s where there is no mention that he is Mike Rotunda and won the WWF tag titles at the first WrestleMania. Lord knows I was not expecting them to acknowledge that he is also the father of Bray Wyatt and Bo Dallas.
Yet Terry Funk has his past mentioned, but just his father, Dory Sr., and not his brother, Dory Jr., nor his NWA World title run. Funnily enough, his alter ego, Chainsaw Charlie, is noted — that was NOT a very PG character, if I recall correctly.
The art is great, if goofy. It’s a shame that Tibbles isn’t credited on the cover and spine.
The text, penned by Steve Pantaleo, is serviceable, though I have to second-guess some of it, if this is aimed at kids. The question, “Dad, what’s a sultry temptress?” has not come up yet from the Trish Stratus page.
I have to remember it’s not aimed at me, but it’s so all-over-the map in its listing, I do wonder who it is actually aimed at. Young fans will enjoy the current stars; older fans will be insulted.
My biggest beef is one that Quinn brought up too, and it’s a continuing issue that carries over from other books like the WWE Encyclopedia — why in the world would anybody look for John Cena under “J” and not “C”? Or even worse, it’s “Big” John Studd in the “B’s” and “Mean” Gene Okerlund is an “M.” Poor Adrian Neville; will anyone find him by his first name now that he’s just Neville on Raw? To me, it doesn’t speak well of WWE’s opinion of its audience’s intelligence. Or am I reading too much into it?
Here’s the thoughts of the eight-year-old on the book:
I think it is good and bad. The bads: I hate how they do it by first name and don’t have a lot of my favorite guys like “Big” John Quinn. The goods: It has good drawings and has my favorite guy: Santino Marella.
Here are four people that are not in it but I think they should.
1. “Big” John Quinn
2. Rick Martel
3. Sweet Daddy Siki
4. JJ Dillon
And I learned a lot about Nikolai Volkoff.
It says something about the randomness of the selections that he brought up Volkoff; not sure why he stood out. (And you may have guessed that my son has a greater-than-normal grasp of professional wrestling and its stars from the past; I accept full blame.)He latched onto ones he’d heard about but didn’t know much about, like Vader.
If I were to add my own key figures missing from WWE history, there should have been entries on Buddy Rogers (who, in this ridiculous placement by first name, would have appropriately enough ended up beside Bruno Sammartino), Pedro Morales, Ivan Koloff, and Kurt Angle to name just five off the top of my head.
And it’s pretty petty that CM Punk didn’t make it.
In the end, you’ll know better than I whether the young WWE fan in your life will like WWE Ultimate Superstar Guide; get them reading about wrestling to start, and then onto higher quality product down the road.
GREG and QUINN OLIVER are the father/son team behind the book Duck With the Puck, which received this praise from Don Cherry: “You described how I felt as a young boy. I could hardly wait for the ice to freeze. Great job! You will follow your Dad with books.”