Wrestling Babylon: Piledriving Tales of Drugs, Sex, Death, and Scandal

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ECW Press, Nov 16, 2010 - Sports & Recreation - 200 pages
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Irvin Muchnick — a widely published writer and nephew of the late, legendary St. Louis wrestling promoter Sam Muchnick — has produced a book unlike any other on the astonishing growth of professional wrestling and its profound impact on mainstream sports and society. In Wrestling Babylon, he traces the demise of wrestling’s old Mafia-like territories and the rise of a national marketing base thanks to cable television, deregulation and a culture-wide nervous breakdown. Naturally, the figure of WWE’s Vince McMahon lurks throughout, but equally evident is the public’s late-empire lust for bread, circuses, and blood. As this book demonstrates, the more cartoonishly unreal wrestling got, the more chillingly real it became.

What truly distinguishes Wrestling Babylon, however, is Muchnick’s ability to show how professional wrestling has become the ur-carnival for a culture that feeds on escapist displays of humiliation, revenge, fantasy characters, and sex. His People magazine article on Hulk Hogan blew the lid off the drug abuse of the sport’s signature superstar. His award-winning Penthouse profile of the ill-starred Von Erich clan was the first to connect the dots between wrestling, televangelism, and MTV-style production values. His never-before-published investigation of the death of Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka’s girlfriend suggests the cover-up of a murder. The book’s appendix — a comprehensive listing of the dozens of wrestlers who died prematurely over the last generation, with little or no attention — is both a valuable resource for wrestling historians and a shocking document of the ruthless way sports entertainment eats its own.


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A Windbag Flexing His Vocabulary
The stories aren't worth wading through this thesaurus dump.

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Page v - Now that no one buys our votes, the public has long since cast off its cares; the people that once bestowed commands, consulships, legions, and all else, now meddles no more and longs eagerly for just two things — bread and circuses.
Page xiii - Whoever wants to know the heart and mind of America had better learn baseball, the rules and realities of the game — and do it by watching first some high school or small-town teams.
Page xxi - What they miss is that their own secure, respectable forms of "sports entertainment" are converging upon wrestling, like the pigs and the men at the end of Animal Farm.

About the author (2010)

Irvin Muchnick is a writer whose work has appeared in publications ranging from The New York Times to Penthouse. He is the nephew of legendary wrestling promoter Sam Muchnick. He lives in Berkeley, California.

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