Wrestling – No, Hold On…

December 10, 2009

The British Bulldog- Now Dead.

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.


One Response to “Wrestling – No, Hold On…”

  1. richwilcock Says:

    Hi Ross,

    I do agree with you on the factor of drugs in wrestling. It is endemic in the sport and has been since Vince expanded WWWF in the 80’s. But, it is wrong to say that the wrestlers who take steroids are punished severely disciplined. Many have a three strikes and you are out policy, and when caught, get a one month ban with pay or an option to go to rehab for a period of time, something which Umaga (the most recent to die) refused twice. The WWE is very selective of whom it picks on and suspends. Are we supposed to believe that Triple H’s 40 year old body of superior muscle and toned physique is because of good genes?

    The biggest contributing factors that came up after the signature pharmacy scandal two years ago about drugs were two things.

    1. WWE do not pay for rehab, hospital costs, health insurance, flights, hotels or anything else that may help them. The Wrestlers work as private contractors. Many are driven to steroids or increase dosage to keep up with demands or simply to heal their bodies. Contrary to popular belief, Wrestlers are not paid particularly well, and many are still in the game, simply for the love of it.

    2. Wrestling suffers from a lack of unionisation, meaning that WWE pretty much rules the roost over what happens in the sport. The “selective” wellness policy has nobody there to abjudicate or to determine what is right and what is wrong and subsequently, drugs remain rife because the only company in the business who could do anything about it is far too interested in trying to keep the whole thing locked up and not spoken about.

    Sorry if i sound a bit know-it-all, as Mike could attest, Wrestling is a passion of mine (:

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