"Wrestlers are Like Seagulls: From McMahon To McMahon" by J.J. Dillon with Scott Teal & Philip Varriale
After reading another fantastic offering from Crowbar Press wrestlers may indeed be like seagulls, but James J. Dillon is the proverbial phoenix. Dillon always found a way to emerge from the flames, not completely unscathed, but seeming to retain intelligence and learning from his own mistakes as well as the mistakes of others. The thing that I love about this book is the unabashed honesty that Dillon espouses. While at the same time retaining the class and dignity that he always seemed to reflect in his role as manager of the Four Horsemen.
Readers will no doubt enjoy the tales of the more prominent times of J.J. as manager of the Horsemen, but what I found truly fascinating was how profound and successful his own in ring career was. Learning about different territories, the men and women who made up the management and how they operated, those are some of the true gems found only in this book. I would recommend anyone in business to read this book, especially people who are in roles that require a lot of face time with people.
Through the book, we can see the ineptness of Eric Bischoff, who personifies a lot of what happens in the business world. A person who sells himself and attains short term success without any real knowledge of the position he holds. This is not uncommon in the corporate world, but with WCW being high profile and the people behind the scenes being more subject to public access we are able to gleam some insight into the inner workings of the company. But don't let that fool you, Bischoff wasn't alone, as J.J. points out the faults of others in power, as well as, his own shortcomings. This book isn't a mud slinging festival though, we can see through well presented facts at most, and the opinion of a highly successful wrestling personality and corporate employee at the very least, that Dillon's statements do indeed have a high degree of merit. Again, I have to go back to the point of honesty, Dillon doesn't portray himself as being infallible or perfect. In fact, I would say that J.J. is a little too hard on himself at times.
Another excellent point of this book is the dichotomy of the McMahon father-son dynamic. We read how kind and great Vince Sr. was. The picture painted reminds me of some great wonderful baron, who would reward those who deserved it, be charitable to whom he thought needed it, and even in death has maintained an image so respected that his ghost comes across as almost saint like. On the flip side, we see the ego maniacal, Vince Jr., a person who uses, abuses, and displays all the psychological attributes of a classic case of narcissism. A cowardly bully, who takes all the credit and none of the blame. Vince Jr. donates to charity in public, and spends thousands publicizing his false generosity. Vincent K. McMahon uses false kindness as a disguised weapon of manipulation, and no where is that more apparent than the effect he has had on J.J. Dillon's life, as portrayed in this book. When reading this book, I suggest pausing and really absorbing the information presented. This is a book to ponder over and not just veraciously read cover to cover. The details are too important, the facts, as Mr. Dillon believes them, are too relevant to be ignored.
Overall, "Wrestlers are Like Seagulls: From McMahon To McMahon" by J.J. Dillon starts as a happy tale of a wrestling fan giving everything he's got to be part of this industry. It turns somber, and downright sad in several parts. In fact, you will probably feel outright feelings of hatred and revulsion for Vince Jr., Eric Bischoff, and Vince Russo. However, this is not the tell all, axe to grind story that many wrestling books turn into. It is, to be perfectly simple, the story of a man who became involved the wrestling business, the way that business affected him, his family, and how the business that he gave everything to, gave very little back to him. You'll hear stories about lesser known wrestlers that you will not hear anywhere else. You'll learn about the inner workings of several promotions and the political struggles within those organizations. You will end on a high note, knowing that J.J. Dillon is not only okay, but he's in a great place in his life, at peace with everything and that's something very few who have attained the status he has can say.
This book is great. I highly doubt that anyone else in the wrestling industry could even offer anything similar, because of J.J. Dillon's unique career. A great career, a great person, and ultimately, a great book.
You can also hear my interview with J.J. Dillon regarding this book as well as, other aspects of his career at www.myvirtualbc.com in the Newest Audio Interviews Section.
William Hatfield Host of the Wrestling Hotseat on www.myvirtualbc.com