Wrestling – No, Hold On…
December 10, 2009
Like most people, I left the world of WWF wrestling behind when I discovered that there were more important things to be doing. Obviously, it isn’t a real sport and it isn’t real wrestling in the Olympic “Greco-Roman” sense, but the athleticism of the participants cannot be denied. I’ve seen men weighing over 20 stone flipping off turnbuckles and landing on their feet. For sporting prowess, these men are truly something else.
Of course, these men also pay a very high price for taking part in this activity, injuries are common place, with careers and even lives being ended in the blink of an eye. And these accidents are accepted, all competitive sporting activity in its very nature carries some form of risk. Every time a Ronaldo or a Rooney takes to the pitch, they accept that this could be the match that ends their career. To some degree, this is even accepted in the courts after Paul Elliott attempted to sue Dean Saunders after Saunders launched into a career ending tackle on Elliot.
But as far as wrestling is concerned, there’s another hazard on the horizon, that being the great unmentionable, drugs. But drugs don’t just end careers for wrestlers, it has an unhappy knack for ending wrestlers lives.
Think about some of the wrestlers that have died recently where drugs were cited as a major contributing factor to death.
1) David Smith (The British Bulldog) –died at 39 from a heart attack
2) Curt Henning (Mr Perfect) – died at 44 from a cocaine overdose
3) Michael Lockwood (Crash Holly) – died at 32, choked on vomit following an overdose
4) Ray Traylor (The Big Boss Man) – died at 41 from a heart attack
5) Eddie Guerrero – died at 38 from heart failure.
Of course the list goes on, and these weren’t obscure wrestlers that only the hard core fan would remember. These were wrestlers that even the casual sports fan might have heard of, especially David Smith.
So what’s happening here? Why are these apparently fit and healthy men dropping like flies? The WWE runs its own “Wellness” programme and those stars found abusing controlled substances are severely disciplined, such as suspension from the company. But maybe here lies the problem, the culture of the WWE, especially under current Chairman, Vince McMahon, has always favoured the “Bigger” man. The wrestler packed with solid muscle seems to find himself pushed to the top of the ladder, even if that wrestler apparently lacks any kind of real technical skill (a la John Cena). When faced with these kind of commercial and career pressures, you can’t really blame a wrestler for being tempted.
Sadly, this doesn’t look like changing anytime soon. John Cena is the current WWE Champion, and while wrestling carries on favouring the “Big Men”, the industry runs the risk of helping to destroy some of its stars.