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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Wasted opportunity..., 9 April 2010
By 
IWFIcon - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
I should confess that I'm a wrestling fan, and have been for at least 20 years. I should also confess that I once met, and shook hands with, the double-killer Chris of the title of this book, Mr. Benoit. As brief as the meeting was, Chris Benoit seemed a perfectly nice gentleman, which couldn't be said of all the wrestling personalities I've had the fortune to meet over the years, and seemed to have genuine interest that I came from Wigan, an area well associated with Benoit's wrestling hero The Dynamite Kid.

That said, I'm no Chris Benoit "mark", looking to excuse what he did in killing his wife and child. I'm also by no means a brainwashed acolyte of Vince McMahon and the WWE. Benoit's murderous rampage was one of a number of times over the last ten years that I've asked myself "is wrestling worth it?" Perhaps Ivan Muchnick, and Foreward writer Phil Mushnick, would therefore be more than a little saddened that despite the undoubted tragedies that have occurred to wrestlers over the years I still watch the product, albeit to a far less degree than I did a decade ago.

And that seems to be the raison d'etre of this book. How could someone proclaim to be a "fan" of professional wrestling knowing that so many performers have to take drugs just to survive the schedule that brings us our entertainment?

The problem is that the book just doesn't really convince. Muchnick mentions his blog on more than one occasion (and that, along with the incessant plugs in the footnotes in the book for the "companion DVD" of various documentation pertaining to the case, soon becomes annoying and is almost worthy of a reccommendation to bypass the book altogether) and it seems as if that is the style of writing that suits him most. The chapters seem randomly inserted, with no real narrative flow. Read in isolation most would be fine, if rather unexceptional; as a cohesive whole the book is completely lacking.

In a way, this is very sad. Even if I remain unconvinced that there is as much of a WWE "conspiracy" as Muchnick would want us to believe it is clear that there are important questions to consider over the WWE's reaction to the story as it broke. Even allowing for the fact that a company would naturally seek to enter "damage limitation" mode upon hearing the news, it's not clear exactly how much the WWE knew and when. Sadly, after reading this book you will be none the wiser. You will get accusations, carefully worded, but precious little convincing evidence to back up Muchnick's claims. At best, you are left feeling a frustration that the relevant authorities don't seem to have done the most thorough or professional investigation.

All this would be bad enough if this was a book rushed out to "cash-in" on the notoriety of the murders; that it appears over two years later makes the lack of clarity, real evidence and cohesion all the more galling.

Most readers will know that wrestling and wrestlers have a long-standing problem with both "recreational" drugs and steroids. Most would agree that Benoit's troubles with drugs must have contributed to his actions. Fewer, other than those already pre-disposed against wrestling, the WWE and Vince McMahon in particular, will read this and have their eyes opened. The book is so muddled, jumping from one part of the timeline to another with little rhyme or reason (which is ironic given the dissection of the WWE's timeline of events surrounding the Benoit tragedy that pervades the book) that few will have the patience to notice the very real questions that wrestling, and perhaps society as a whole, still have to answer.

Chris Benoit had a drug problem and that problem contributed to his actions in June 2007. Drugs were, and probably still remain, a problem that the WWE needs to address. You don't need to read this wasted opportunity of a book to know that, and reading it won't add very much to the discussion.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A confused, incoherent account of a tragic but fascinating topic., 14 Mar. 2010
By 
L. Burrows (Watford, England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
I have had an interest in wrestling since my early teen years that was rekindled when the industry began to reveal the smoke and mirrors that makes the business work. Once you get past the hopeless acting and the schmaltzy, saccharine pathos dripped in American patriotism you can appreciate wrestling for what it really is - spectacle. When I closely followed the storylines of the attitude era and the Monday night wars I always wondered how it worked. You do not have to be a wrestling fan to know that the bumps and bruises are fake, the victories and defeats are staged and the storylines are manufactured. But what really intrigued was how all this was done and what is the real difference between a nominal wrestler and a champion?

Since the early 2000's all of these questions have been answered and there are some fantastic books and DVD's that fill in the blanks from things you might not have known when you were a kid. However, there were also some "storylines" that were not staged, the Montreal screw job, for instance, and the Benoit story is perhaps the most significant because the extent of the tragedy and the shockwaves that it sent through the wrestling world. And so I approached this book with a sense of optimism that some light may have been shed on this morally abhorrent crime.

I am sorry to say that this was certainly not the case. I do not feel that I know any more about the Benoit events than I did before I picked the book up. What is so frustrating about it is just how appallingly it is written. The author shows absolutely no command over the English language to a point where paragraphs and not just sentences make absolutely no sense. His frames of reference are bizarre and contain a number of sayings and analogies that I have never heard before. There is also no effort made to make any reasoned analysis of the murderers. The book is so heavily polemical that everything, not just in wrestling but in the world, is the fault of Vince McMahon, the owner of the WWE.

I am still puzzled as to what the author was trying to achieve with this book. If, as it is assumed, was to convince the wrestling world that Vince McMahon's evil intent and distribution of steroids was to blame for the murder-suicide of the Benoit's, then the method in which he does it is so incoherent and badly put together then even this fails.

In short, I would not recommend this book to anyone with an interest in wrestling or in spending your time productively
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