Brock Lesnar's "DeathClutch" book review - Powell's thoughts on the former UFC Champion's autobiography co-written by Paul Heyman
By Jason Powell
Brock Lesnar's "DeathClutch" was released last week. For ordering information, visit Amazon.com.
Former UFC Heavyweight Champion Brock Lesnar is a notoriously private person. Thus, it should not surprise anyone what there's only so much personal information he's willing to share in his 210-page autobiography.
The WWE chapters are the real highlight of "DeathClutch." No, that's not a pro wrestling bias. Rather, it's simply that Brock was most candid while recalling his time with the company, his departure, and the long legal battle he had to engage in to regain his freedom after foolishly signing a lengthy non-compete agreement against his lawyer's wishes.
Brock unloads on WWE politics (including the wrestler handshake tradition), the hectic travel schedule, Vince McMahon's mind games, and more. Lesnar also reveals that he was popping large quantities of Vicodin and washing them down with vodka on a regular basis during his WWE run. These felt like the most detailed and honest chapters of the book, and he did not come off like a bitter man who was just talking smack about his former employer.
UFC fans are the most likely to feel underwhelmed. Granted, they may also enjoy the stories about Brock's childhood in which we learn that his parents didn't accept losing. Second place wasn't an option for young Brock. His parents expected the best from him, yet were careful not to let him get a big head when he won wrestling tournaments as a kid. It may seem cold the way I'm describing it, but Brock does a much better job of detailing the no nonsense approach that his parents took to raising a successful athlete.
Getting back to UFC, Brock breezes through most of his fights. We know that he has an intense dislike of Frank "Golden Horseshoe Up His Ass" Mir, and he also explains why he refuses to respect his opponents going into a fight or touch gloves with them.
Brock addresses his passionate heel antics that followed his victory over Mir. He explains why Dana White was rightfully upset after Lesnar insulted UFC sponsor Budweiser, but he doesn't go into details on what White said to him during a backstage tongue lashing.
While I can understand why Brock would avoid sharing the word-for-word exchange he had with his boss, the consistent lack of such details throughout the book on many topics prevents it from being a great autobiography. Brock admits that most of his WWE days are a blur, and while there are moments that he does share some interesting specifics, there are just too many times when he leaves the reader wanting more.
It may seem rather trivial, but one example is that he lists Curt Hennig as a local friend who offered him great advice, and described him as a real character. However, Lesnar stopped there. Wrestling fans will be left wanting a couple of Hennig stories, while MMA fans or non-wrestling fan readers will be left with no insight as to what this Hennig guy was all about. The simple inclusion of more background information and entertaining stories about various people would have made for a longer and fuller book, and it wouldn't have required Lesnar to give up more details about his personal life.
The highest compliment I can give the book is that I felt like I was hearing Brock's voice as I was reading his story. I was concerned that first time author Paul Heyman would make the rookie mistake of putting things in his own words. Granted, it probably would have made for a more informative and detailed read if he had done so, but it wouldn't have felt like a true Lesnar autobiography.
"DeathClutch" truly felt like Brock telling his story in his own words and on his own terms. This wasn't a tell-all book that answered all the questions about Lesnar. He may have pulled the veil back a bit, but he certainly didn't remove it entirely. If you go in knowing that it's not a lengthy book and there's only so much information that he's willing to share, you'll enjoy it.
I gained a lot of respect for Lesnar's decision to leave WWE regardless of how he handled his departure. After reading his perspective on the WWE lifestyle, I even found myself wondering how and why some wrestlers last as long as they do in the meat grinder. Brock offers his theory, and his assessment of Vince McMahon's manipulation of talent is very convincing. Lesnar's paranoia regarding some of his co-workers working against him may just be that, but it's easy to see why the pro wrestling lifestyle and the WWE politics would cause one to feel that way.
I recommend Brock's book to pro wrestling fans. MMA fans who want to know more about his life and background will also enjoy it, but pro wrestling fans are more likely to get more out of it.
I'd love to think that there will come a day when Brock will be a little more sentimental and open up about his life. While that's probably just wishful thinking, I'm not sure how different another book would be when it comes to WWE or UFC. Brock isn't a guy who grew up loving either business, thus some of the details that fans of either genre would find fascinating don't seem all that interesting to him.
I give the book three out of five stars. Brock has a great story to tell, but the book leaves readers wishing he had told more of it. He never addressed performance-enhancing drugs (not that I'm surprised), the great road stories that wrestling fans have come to expect from autobiographies are not included, nor did he provide much insight on his current or former co-workers.
There are no dull moments in the book. It provides a rare, albeit limited look inside the mind and life of Brock Lesnar. You'll be left wanting more, but I'm sure Lesnar would have it no other way.
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