You can’t be father to an 11-year old boy without knowing something about the WWE.
Our first exposure to the wrestling entertainment conglomerate came in the early ‘80s, when we were an 11-year old taken aback by Hulk Hogan’s cameo in Rocky III.
Fast forward three-plus decades, and we’re playing catch-up with our kid on The Wyatt Family, The Shield, Batista, Randy Orton, CM Punk, and the rising stars of the NXT. We’ve learned more than we ever cared to know about Money in the Bank, TLC, and RAW—and can rattle of the names of over a dozen modern-day WWE Superstars—but it’s tough keeping track of the leagues’ heroic “faces,” notorious “heels,” and their running soap opera-esque storylines.
Fortunately, DK Publishing has an encyclopedic tutorial for ignoramus ‘rent: The WWE Ultimate Superstar Guide is a compact, colorful who’s who reference of wrestling stars past and present that’ll appeal to kids and confounded fathers alike. Written by Steve Pantaleo—and featuring eye-popping, comic book-style artwork by Darren “Daz” Tibbles, the travel-size tome devotes one page apiece to over a hundred legends of wrestling’s premiere ring.
Presented in alphabetical order, the superstars are each given a flashy pen-and-ink Tibbles makeover showcasing his (or her) sculpted physique, stylish costume, and larger-than-life personality. An actual photo appears above each entry, while Pantaleo’s meticulously-researched captions run down the sides of the page. A bulleted legend informs readers which combatants earned which titles and accolades—from World Heavyweight Championship, WWE Hall of Fame inductee, Tag Team champ, and Women’s Champion, to Intercontinental Champion, King of the Ring, Royal Rumble Match Winner, and Slammy Award recipient.
We get the complete profile of every pugilist, with stats (height, weight, nickname, hometown, etc.), signature moves, finishers, and catchphrases listed—along with career highlights and pertinent partnerships, rivalries…even romances.
There’s nothing like a good gimmick in pro wrestling. Accordingly, the book’s capsule summaries give a lowdown on everybody’s shtick—those defining character quirks, accessories, and outfits—that set them apart from the pack. If you’ve ever been in the dark about a particular wrestler’s modus operandi or je ne sais quoi, the Ultimate Superstar Guide is your go-to reference, offering a nutshell resume and striking visual for just about every dude and Divas to test the turnbuckles.
You get everyone from Adam Rose and Angelo Dawkins to Zack Ryder and Zeb Colter—a veritable Hall of Fame of yesterday’s greats juxtaposed by tons of today’s hotshots: Andre the Giant, Angelo Dawkins, Bad News Barrett, Baron Corbin, Bayley, Big Boss Man, Bo Dallas, Booker T, Brock Lesnar, Bruno Sammartino, Cesaro, Chris Jericho, Colin Cassady, Curtis Axel, Daniel Bryan, Dean Ambrose, Doink the Clown, Edge, Earthquake, Fandango, Fernando, Finn Balor, Goldust, Great Khali, Honkytonk Man, Hulk Hogan, Iron Sheik, Jake the Snake Roberts, Jerry “The King” Lawler,” Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka, John Cena, Junkyard Dog, Kane, Kofi Kingston, Koko B. Ware, Lex Luger, Luke Harper, Mankind, Ted “Million Dollar Man” Dibiase, Nikolai Volkoff, Papa Shango, Randy “Macho Man” Savage,” Razor Ramon, Rey Mysterio, Rick Rude, “Rowdy” Roddy Piper, Roman Reigns, Rusev, Sami Zayn, Seth Rollins, Shawn Michaels, Sheamus, Sting, Terry Funk, The Miz, The Rock, Triple H, Tyler Breeze, Tyson Kidd, Ultimate Warrior, Undertaker, Xavier Woods, and Yokozuna.
And that’s just some of ‘em.
The book also catalogs Divas like Nikki Bella, Charlotte, Natalya, Sasha Banks, and Paige, too—and includes promoters and mouthpieces (Paul Bearer, Jimmy Hart, Lana), announcers and executives (Mr. McMahon, Stephanie, “Mean” Gene Okerlund), as well as half-pint Superstars, sidekicks, and mascots (Hornswoggle, El Torito).
Tibble’s sketches are top-notch, and in most cases distill the essence of their Superstar subjects into sharp, multicolored marvels worthy of graphic novels for comic shops and neighborhood newsstands. The examples of Tibble’s handiwork not quite measuring up to the real McCoy are few and far between (his rendering of our favorite Diva, Alexa Bliss, gives the bubbly babe an unbecoming mannish makeover). If anything, the illustrations err on the side of caution, exaggerating rather than minimizing the wrestlers’ burly bods, and underscore the fighters’ fashion sense (or lack thereof).
WWE athletes devote every inch (and ounce) of their being to pinning their opponents to the mat. Luckily, fans need only a reliable thumb to browse this gallery—and at least one working eye to appreciate its offbeat (but attractive) art.