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Book Review: "Death Clutch" by UFC's Brock Lesnar is a disappointment

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Brock Lesnar's autobiography "Death Clutch" (written with Paul Heyman) was released last week by William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers that is putting out another wrestling-related book next month in the form of Linda Hogan's "Wrestling The Hulk.". "Death Clutch" had been anticipated for a while now, as he certainly has an interesting story to tell. That said, he's often talked about how a big part of that story, his WWE run, is something he didn't like very much barely remembers a lot of the details of since he was constantly wasted on alcohol and pills. After reading the book, though, I don't think it would have mattered if it would've mattered if he loved working for WWE while avoiding intoxicants, as the book is very short and Lesnar doesn't really go in-depth about anything at all.

The main text is 210 pages (including the "Part X" separators and blank pages that come after some chapters) plus a two page preface. All chapters start on right-hand pages, so there's a blank page after each chapter that ends on the right side. The sixteen page color photo insert is surprisingly not counted with the text to pad the length, but that said, this is still a very short book.

The book dives right into amateur wrestling and quickly moves onto college. This part is easily the highlight of the book, as what he went through to try to break through to the top level is fascinating. I knew that he didn't go straight to the University of Minnesota to wrestle for the Golden Gophers team, as he matriculated and wrestled first at Bismarck State College, but I didn't know about the path he took from a two year state school to strong Division I wrestling program. Somehow he wasn't aware of the minimum requirements for U of M transfer students (Lesnar blames Coach J Robinson, who had his Bismarck State transcript) and was 24 credits short. With most Summer sessions having already started and Robinson wanting Lesnar at a school with a decent wrestling team that he could practice with, arrangements were made for him to attend Lasson Community College in Susanville, California. Brock headed home to Webster, South Dakota, told his parents what he had to do, and drove 1,600 miles to Susanvile, arriving at 5:10 AM on the first day of classes.

This story highlights Lesnar's most admirable trait throughout the book: His drive to work at being the best. That's some pretty serious dedication. He showed similar dedication when he first signed a developmental deal with the WWF. He couldn't report to the Ohio Valley Wrestling developmental territory immediately due to Minnesota amateur wrestling community engagements. Wanting to get started on his training right away, he got in touch with Minnesota native Brad Rheingans. Rheingans was a NCAA champion and Olympic level wrestler who was expected to medal in 1980 before the US boycotted the games. He turned pro and eventually ended up working as a trainer for New Japan Pro Wrestling when they brought in a group of Soviet amateurs in 1989. He was a was a good person to get Lesnar started.

That said, Lesnar comes off as a misanthropic curmudgeon with a shallow view of the world throughout most of the book. Well, noticeably more so than he normally does. For example, "a major turning point" in his life came after he placed 5th in the Junior College Nationals in his freshman year because he lost to "a pudgy little kid whose name [he] can't remember" because his opponent "shouldn't have been able to beat [him]." When talking about his abuse of alcohol and painkillers, he doesn't examine his issues with any kind of depth. Then, when he kicks the habit cold turkey, he strongly implies that people who get clean with professional help are weaklings who are nothing compared to mighty Brock.

Lesnar refuses to buy the idea that Eddy Guerrero was put over him for the WWE Title because they wanted to capitalize on Eddy's popularity amongst Hispanic fans.  Instead, it must have been because he was starting to have more issues with Vince McMahon!  The thousands of fans packing the Cow Palace in San Francisco who went nuts for the title change must have been holograms.  Brock also makes sure to point out that his chest tattoo is his absolute favorite tattoo.  If he could only keep one, it would be that one.  Take that, losers who said he looked like he subject of a certain Z.Z. Top song.

Oh, and he really, really, hates Frank Mir, seemingly based solely on the face that Mir beat him in his UFC debut.  There's also a glaring factual error in the chapter about the road to UFC 100, as he thought that Mir's win over a severely ill Antonio Rodrigo Noguiera was to create a UFC Interim Heavyweight Champion.  Nogiuera came into the fight as interim champion, having beaten Tim Sylvia to create that title several months earlier after lineal champion Randy Couture's absence due to a contract dispute.  Thanks to a scheduling quirk that I forget the specifics of, when Couture agreed to return to defend his title against Lesnar, it was booked to take place before the already scheduled Noguiera-Mir fight.

At least he realizes that it was a bad idea to propose to his wife by breaking into her house when she wasn't home, stewing around for a while, and then angrily calling her to ask her to come home so he could pop the question.

There really isn't much of value in the book after the amateur wrestling chapters.  There are some interesting stories here and there, like his dealings with Antonio Inoki, or how the differences between Rheingans' WCW-style ring and the WWF-style ring in OVW led to an embarrassing moment on his first day in Louisville, and not much more.  The book is essentially The World According To Brock, and the fact that co-author Paul Heyman, a very sharp person who's one of Brock's best friends couldn't get more than about 200 pages out of him is...interesting.  I suppose I shouldn't have expected it to be much more than what we got, but I expected it to be at least a little bit better.

If you're an amateur wrestling aficianado, I'm sure you'll like the early portion of the book.  Overall, though, there isn't much there.  It's worth reading to get into his mindset and see how driven he is, but most of the book is just annoying.  Oh well...

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