WWE broke Justin Roberts’ heart.
After falling in love with the company as a child of Hulkamania, and doing anything possible to gain its attention, reaching out time after time with pitches and suggestions, begging for just one chance, Roberts finally achieved his dream of working for Vince McMahon.
That’s when the honeymoon ended.
Roberts’ autobiography, Best Seat in the House: Your Backstage Pass through My WWE Journey, is a post-breakup analysis of his relationship with WWE. It starts with the beginning of his fandom, being introduced to Saturday Night’s Main Event and quickly becoming addicted to the larger-than-life characters, storylines and action. Pro wrestling was a fantasy world that he needed to enter, and more importantly, felt he could enhance. He spends a couple chapters reminiscing on his fun and zany interactions with these performers and those alone are worth the $24.95 price tag.
But it’s his more than a decade as WWE ring announcer that will have you enthralled. “Pulls no punches” is no cliché – Roberts reveals the behind-the-scenes bullying, uneasiness and frustration that he experienced. He names names, levies heavy criticism against the company’s inner workings and recalls hostile international trips in vivid detail. There are juicy, dirty tales that grasp your imagination and interest, but then every so often you remember it’s not a tabloid. It’s really what Roberts lived through on a daily basis for a dozen years.
You almost wish he never achieved his dream so he could maintain naivety about the hellish infrastructure of McMahonland.
However, then he would have missed out on the camaraderie among his coworkers, fellow lifelong fans along for the ride – Dolph Ziggler, The Miz and CM Punk, just to name a few. Then a sick little boy named Connor would have never received the special kind of medicine you can’t get over the counter or from a prescription. Then Roberts’ father, a hardworking, jovial third-generation scrap metal business owner, wouldn’t have had his spirits lifted by the calls of WWE Superstars during his most depressing and deteriorating times.
In any relationship, you take the good with the bad. In between the torment and anxiety, the verbal thrashings and encouraged miscommunication, the never-ending grind of criss-crossing the world to entertain the masses of fans just like himself, Roberts managed to make the most of his once-in-a-lifetime opportunity by meeting childhood heroes, bringing smiles to faces and helping the wrestlers with health and travel needs. His unexpected exit from the ride (which he has many theories as to why it happened) turned out to be a shining light at the end of a grim, grisly tunnel.
Roberts wrote the book to inspire fans to achieve their dreams as he did. Although that dream may have felt like a nightmare at times, he’s grateful for the experience and appreciates everything he learned along the way. His story ends in an uplifting manner similar to Mick Foley’s first novel Tietam Brown. After years of pain and anguish, Andy and Roberts are both looking forward to where the future takes them. It’s up to the reader to decide whether their current peace was worth all the turmoil.
Best Seat in the House gets my highest recommendation. Every pro wrestling fan must read this story for a brutally honest dive into WWE from a former employee who started out just like us, watching from the couch, cheering for his favorites and wondering what it would be like to enter that ring someday.
Check back to Wrestledelphia Radio this week for an interview with Justin Roberts.
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