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THE MAIN EVENT by Patrick Jones

THE MAIN EVENT

The Moves and Muscle of Pro Wrestling

By Patrick Jones

Age Range: 10 - 18

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 2012
ISBN: 978-0-7613-8635-3
Publisher: Millbrook/Lerner

A tight yet thorough history of wrestling as "sports entertainment"—read that as meaning staged—from Jones.

This is not the story of the sport or of two Olympians or high schoolers going at it for pin or points, but of the art of making the blows and throws look like the real thing while the outcome has been predetermined. Sometimes that is a little difficult to understand from Jones’ text—“Fans understand. They know what wrestling is all about: Two men, one ring. The main event,” doesn’t exactly chime with “the fix is in.” Similarly, the notion of staged fighting is at odds with the very real damage that can be done, as when Killer Kowlaski ripped off Yukon Eric’s ear during a turnbuckle slam. Indeed, it is a tribute to Jones that he acknowledges the increasing thuggishness of professional wrestling in the 1990s that turned many away, a trend that was gradually averted. But Jones is also a fan, one who can see the fun and appreciate the personalities and the drama. He gets fairly involved in tracking the evolution of the various professional circuits and the shenanigans of the promoter Vince McMahon, but he hits an enjoyable stride when telling the stories of ring heroes—Gorgeous George, Strangler Lewis, Andre the Giant, Hulk Hogan, The Undertaker, The Rock—their famous bouts and their signature moves.

Jones shows that the best professional wrestling is a kind of primal theater, and a far cry from the much more brutal mixed martial arts, which is sadly eclipsing its fan base. (Nonfiction. 10-18)