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Tuesday, June 26, 2007

A Look at Steroids and Pro Wrestling

The details still need to be discovered, but I really want to write something about this topic. Being a huge wrestling fan, it's hard not to think about the Chris Benoit situation and where it will leave pro wrestling. Really, it is scary for everyone involved since this is easily the biggest real life story coming out of pro wrestling since Owen Hart's death in May 1999.

First, let's look at why steroids have become such a big part of the business. It really started in the 1980s with the rise of the Immortal, Hulk Hogan. No wrestler was ever more popular and Vince McMahon and the WWF (renamed WWE for the uneducated wrestling fans) decided to go in that direction. They wanted bigger and stronger wrestlers. If you look at some of the biggest wrestlers in that period, they were huge.

Then, they had this big lawsuit in the early 1990s, which killed that movement. They quickly shifted gears to smaller, more technical wrestlers like Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels. Then, around the Attitude Era in the late 1990s, it slowly started to shift again. The market wanted nicer and muscular bodies. Plus, let's face it, pro wrestling easily has the most grueling schedule of any sport (Yes, I am going to call it a sport to simplify this post). They wrestle easily over 250 dates a year. Some even more. To put it bluntly, pain kilers and steroids were and are used by many.

The 2000s have been a horrible decade for wrestler deaths. Many have died "young" in their 40s. I am not even going to attempt to list them all since it would be ridiculous. This might sound crazy, but I don't completely blame the WWE for this. If anyone is to blame, it is the entire sport of pro wrestling. A lot of these deaths, come from wrestlers who were wrestling in the indie circuit (Previous wrestlers in WWE, WCW, and ECW who can't find work in the WWE or TNA) and just trying to get by with the bare minimum.

Basically, the WWE have screwed themselves big time. Recently, they implemented a drug policy in the company, which has been effective in a sense. They ARE suspending wrestlers and good ones, too. But, then one of the most popular and best wrestlers of the last 10 years, has died in an apparent double murder/suicide that was possibly influenced by drugs/steroids. To top it off, they have a three hour tribute show in his honor on Monday night. I don't solely blame them since their intentions were good. They suffered serious bad luck there and are probably kicking themselves. The problem is that if they didn't do it, they would also never heard the end of it since he was so beloved by fans and fellow wrestlers. Finally, to even top that off, they recently introduced an angle that revolved around Vince McMahon getting blown up in his limo. To sum it all up, the WWE are on a roll right now.

Luckily, wrestling fans are extremely loyal. They might lose some people, but the diehards will stay. It has always been that way since I was a little kid. In my opinion, I would be very conservative on this topic and really drill it into their employees. Start drug testing everyone and do it continously. And also, don't talk about the death because anything they do will be wrong. Leave it be. It's too deep. I really think Benoit will be the next O.J., which is really sad. A GREAT career is tarnished by a deeply disturbing act. I just want to know why?

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