If it hasn’t become abundantly clear by now, I’m a big pro wrestling fan. As with all wrestling fans, I’m a sucker for nostalgia. Revisiting and celebrating the wrestlers, matches, and memories of my youth — through streaming services, DVDs, magazines, and books — is a complete joy. Most recently I read We Promised You a Great Main Event: An Unauthorized WWE History by Bill Hanstock.
The first thing that grabbed me about this book is the title because it’s excellent. Any fan who grew up watching the WWF in the 1990s, like me, will remember Vince McMahon on commentary saying this phrase. It’s a wonderful callback that I’ve never seen another author use, so kudos to Bill Hanstock for being clever enough to do so.
The cover of the book makes sense too. While the typeface isn’t anything to write home about, the photo of Triple H spewing water serves its purpose, as he has been a mainstay within the WWE (formerly WWF) for decades — meaning both older and younger fans will recognize him.
This book is not Nitro by Guy Evans. Despite the author being a reporter, this book comes up short in the primary research department. As far as I can tell, there are no interviews included that he conducted himself. Instead, this book reads like a well-written Wikipedia entry about the history of WWE. I don’t mean this in a disparaging way — I’m just being honest. If you’re intimately aware of all aspects of pro wrestling, you won’t learn much by reading this book. Instead, you’ll find it to be an entertaining book report on what WWE has done since its inception, all the way up until 2020.
I didn’t mind this narrative approach at all. While I found the sections devoted to the 1980s and 1990s to be bland because they’ve been covered elsewhere extensively and the author doesn’t bring anything new to the table, I did enjoy everything beyond that point the most. Not many books have been written about modern-day wrestling. This is why I really enjoyed reading about the Ruthless Aggression era, TNA Wrestling, NXT, and more. This was the moment when the book was at its best. Unfortunately, you have to get through about 75% of the book to get there.
We Promised You a Great Main Event met my expectations; it didn’t exceed them. I got what I paid for, and nothing more. I’m fine with that because I left satisfied. If this sounds good to you, then I highly recommend checking it out. If you’re looking to learn something new from a book filled with a series of in-depth interviews, look elsewhere because this isn’t that book.