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WWE Book of Rules (And How to Break Them) Review

I have a pretty big collection of WWE merchandise–maybe too big (just ask my girlfriend). If the stars align, you’ll catch me sipping Broken Skull IPA out of a WWE Championship pint glass while wearing an nWo shirt sitting beneath my Daniel Bryan poster. The video games, the action figures … I’ve given WWE a lot of money over the years.

One piece of merchandise that has eluded myself and every wrestling fan, though, is the official rulebook of professional wrestling–often mentioned on air, but never presented in physical form. I even tried to compile my own rulebook several years ago, but without an inside man, I was sure to miss a few. Thanks to the Anonymous Raw General Editor (seriously, that’s who is credited with compiling this book), we the staunch members of the WWE Universe can finally peek behind the curtain and see the official rules that bind our favorite unreality.

WWE Book of Rules (And How to Break Them) (Media Lab Books)

Pardon my thumb–there aren’t many great images of the cover on the internet.
I wasn’t sure what to expect when opening this book. In-kayfabe simple stuff like “if your opponent reaches the ropes you must break your submission hold in five seconds?” Or more tongue-in-cheek meta stuff? Delightfully, the book is a combination of both, along with a metric fuckton of inside jokes and references to gimmicks and angles of yesteryear. It serves as both a fun rundown of the rules behind the wacky world of WWE and a fun trip down memory lane for diehards.

The first thing you’ll notice upon receiving this book is the unique cover. The book is wrapped up in what is made to look like a nondescript manilla folder, complete with wiring you need to unwrap. Reading the intro, you find out this was supposedly cobbled together from decades of use, dating all the way back to the territory system, surviving through both the Golden Era and Attitude Era all the way to today. As such, much of the book is presented like a scrap book, with hasty prints of “internal memos” with Post-It notes stuck to it, and edits in the margins written in permanent marker by various Superstars.

The manilla folder presentation is fun and certainly adds to the flavor of the book, though it’s a bit cumbersome and makes actually reading the book a bit more difficult than it needs to be. The book is also sort of flimsily put together. Perhaps I got a defective copy, but the binding is exposed once you open up the “manilla folder”, and the pages feel like they could be better put together. Curious since most of WWE’s merchandise, especially their books, are usually top notch.

Regardless, the content is what you’re here for, and this book delivers in droves–as a longtime wrestling fan, I basically couldn’t stop smiling the whole time I read it. From the foreword by Smackdown Live General Manager Daniel Bryan to the nonstop nuggets of nostalgia (how’s that for alliteration, Mauro?!), there’s something to love for wrestling fans of all magnitudes. Every era of WWE is faithfully represented too, so don’t worry if you suffer from Attitude Era fatigue like a lot of us.

“Why you gotta cut me so deep, brother?!”

The book covers the basic rules of a wrestling match–the shoulders must remain pinned to the mat for three seconds to win, no using foreign objects, no choking, etc., but a larger portion is more like a celebration of all things WWE. There’s a section on “celebrating cultural diversity” by using moves like the Irish Whip, the Samoan Drop and the Russian Leg Sweep. There’s a whole section on what to wear to the ring. There’s a breakdown of the most beloved stipulation matches of all time (and the most maligned–even the Kennel From Hell match gets a shoutout here).


While certainly not a long read, it’s a fun one. WWE Book of Rules (And How to Break Them) is a must-have for any longtime wrestling fan. Everything from weddings, contract signings, and every other wrestling trope you can think of is faithfully explained and celebrated in this one.


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