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mygif

Wow. Didn’t expect a reply here (not that I’m complaining, mind you, I’ve just got whatever the web equivalent of stage fright is now. :) Go away, crippling fear of public speaking, you are not the slightest bit helpful.)

Okay, um…

It could be overindulgence in recreational drugs that contributed to the premature deaths of other guys, that’s true.

Still, when you’ve got so many dying fairly young of heart failure as shown in the following video, when the common thread is that they were all in the same business, it raises a red flag for me.

http://youtube.com/watch?v=1-CIX4iXnf8

Steroids aside, lots of wrestlers don’t like their work to be described as “fake” because in terms of the pain and the injuries involved it’s most definitely not fake. These guys go through the wringer and take risks and endure as much punishment as they think they can withstand because that’s what it takes these days. That’s how you put on a good show, and that’s a big part of how you get over with the fans. That and talking, but nobody’s gonna win any titles with mic skills alone.

Here’s my understanding of the situation. If a guy wants to play it safe, he might not get a push and he might get left behind, which he doesn’t want to happen when he has bills to pay. So he wrestles through injuries and might even try to conceal them because, as Kanyon writes, if a guy is absent for too long then he might not be able to come back. When I read “Have A Nice Day” by Mick Foley (who I’m more convinced than ever made the right decision by retiring instead of wrestling as long as he was physically capable) I was astonished to read that the Undertaker wrestled the first Hell in a Cell match with a broken foot. Now I guess I know why he did that.

Continuing, even if these guys aren’t juicing, a lot of them are certainly taking something to kill the pain. Sometimes they take too much. So that’s no good.

Another thing is that they’re going to be ordered to do things that they really don’t want to. I remember in either the A&E Biography on Owen Hart of the Bret Hart documentary “Wrestling With Shadows”, somebody who knew Owen (it might’ve even been Bret) said that he was really afraid of heights and he didn’t want to climb up there and be lowered down to the ring. It was made clear to him that the matter wasn’t open for discussion. So he did what he was told, and the rest is tragic history.

So, we have people wrecking their bodies to be rich and famous or even just to make a living, we have them taking drugs that may not be good for them in order to achieve the same end, and they’ve got a boss who doesn’t always have their best interests at heart and who will force them to do things that might put them at risk.

I admit I hadn’t put as much thought into the consequences of anything that could be construed as a public admission of guilt, MGK, and I definitely know less about the law than you on this. I also don’t want to see all the people employed by WWE suddenly jobless either.

But something’s gotta change, or the bodies will keep piling up. It’d also be nice if Vince didn’t practically have a monopoly (if you don’t count TNA), but that’s another story.

(Btw, wasn’t Brian Pillman still in his prime–at least by Ric Flair standards–when he died? I know it’s just one guy, but that happened a long time before Guerrero and Benoit, so maybe it’s not so new after all.)

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mygif

The third option that I think would see a lot of action is that fans would explode in sound and fury, but otherwise do nothing. I suppose it’s the same as taking WWE’s side, but eh.

It’s weird, personally, thinking about guys like Flair or Regal or Undertaker. They’re fairly old guys. It’d be neat to see how they managed to stay on as long they have. Flair especially, though I suppose he’s more a relic of bygone days before ladder matches and other high flying stunts that are so popular in the indies. I think it’d also be interesting to compare how many people die out in the indies. Mass Transit’s probably fairly isolated in specifics, but dudes like Snitsky didn’t just start on the ‘roids when they signed that WWE contract.

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mygif

For my part, I’m not nearly so concerned with Vince accepting responsibility for creating the problem as I am with him accepting responsibility for fixing it. Pinning this mess on him and making him pay for it isn’t nearly as important as creating an environment in the wrestling industry where performers don’t die young. Expecting Vince to accomplish that shouldn’t be a matter of “It’s your fault so atone for it,” but a matter of “You’re the only one who can get anything done, please do something.”

Where this falls apart, of course, is that Vince thinks the world is out to get him. And quite frankly, I don’t think the media and Congress care whether their spotlight on this issue cleans up WWE or puts WWE out of business, as long as wrestlers live longer, and his competition has historically exploited opportunities from his drug policies, so Vince’s paranoid is not entirely invalid. So Vince sees the entire issue as existing solely to torment him, and the task of combating it as an unpleasant chore instead of a worthy cause.

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mygif

Ironically, what the WWE really needs is a strong union/players association to negotiate collective deals with. There’s a huge amount of irony in this solution as it’s something all promoters have fought so hard against – but it changes the relationship between the fed and it’s “talent” from being an exclusive employer/employee one, to one that actually may give some of it’s “independent contractor” claims some weight.

Of course it means admitting you need to change long-standing things like payment, travel, guaranteed contracts, and working conditions would have to be radically overhauled, but it would mean finally large issues like drug abuse and health conditions, and “the lifestyle” wouldn’t be a case of a singular entity (Vince) being evil, but rather problems systemic to the entire business that need to be addressed from all sides.

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