This week were pulling on the Lycra and stepping into the ring.
“The following contest is a wrestling themed blog…….”
Chris Benoit performing his famous diving headbutt
As a prolific wrestling fan during the last decade I remember exactly where I was when the shocking news became apparent of a high profile death with in the business.
I am talking about an accomplished Canadian wrestler who in 2007 was found dead in his Atlanta home along with his young son and wife. (later to be a confirmed as a murder suicide)
It was a Tuesday evening when I put in my VHS that recorded Monday night raw and was met by the chairman of the world wrestling entertainment standing. There he stood in the ring. But the surrounding arena empty. Something was wrong, very very wrong. (to me at this point was my world)
As a trembling Vince McMahon announced that Chris Benoit was dead I immediately said out loud “No”
Here was a wrestler that I had come to like and seen him achieve the greatest of feats within his organisation. Entertain and captivate so many, but then he was gone, and would never be seen again.
The wrestling industry has always interested me on many levels. Whether that be the whole pageantry of the show or the politics behind the scenes. As well as being pure theater there was something I always admired about it and there were many instances I considered pursuing a career that way. But the most intriguing thing is also a deterrent. That is the amount of wrestlers that have died.
You don’t have to look that far under the surface of this industry to see that so many of these people that have died were under the age of 50.
A worrying statistic is that the Ultimate Warrior who passed earlier this year (heart related) is the 12th wrestler who competed at WWE’s annual show Wrestlemania VI (1990) to have died.
To compare, the Superbowl held that year between the 49ers and Broncos, only one of those players is dead (reference here).
I did speak about this in a podcast earlier this year (off the radar).
The Ultimate Warrior earlier this year before his passing
So why is the death rate alarmingly high?
Is it the combination of drugs/rock and roll life style plus a gruelling schedule? Even more worrying so that the WWE is now in a ‘PG’ era. Meaning more and more kids are looking up to these superstars. I do remember a year or so ago I caught an interview (youtube) with Rowdy Roddy Piper who said back in the 80’s everyone was on drugs, whether that be to pick you up before a show and take you back down afterwards.
My favourite wrestler when I used to watch religiously was Jeff Hardy. Even he and his brother have had drug problems in the past, and resulted in his sacking. But they are both still around and working.
More to the point many of wrestler deaths occurred after their tenure in WWE. Of course there are exceptions such as the late Eddie Guerrero and Chris Benoit. So does that leave Vince McMahon with or without blood on his hands. Even after the investigation of Chris Benoit, the findings stated that at the time of his suicide and murder of wife and child he had the brain of an 85 year old alzheimer’s patient. The common factor with both of these deaths was indeed steroids.
McMahon publicly said he didn’t support these findings but to me there is a large amount of blood on his hands.
Jeff Hardy atop of a ladder in one of his last WWE appearances
Since some of these higher profile deaths a wellness drug policy has phased into WWE but it still isn’t enough. Yeah sure you can pay for someone’s Rehab but once an addict always an addict right? So they acknowledge there’s a problem but it seems the policy is there to protect the game and not the player.
Until Vince McMahon and the WWE start introducing a retirement health plan, wrestlers will keep on dying young. I hold a great amount of respect for people who step into the squared circle but they do so at a risk. Not so much of injury but of being consumed by the lifestyle it provides.
A good documentary about this can be found on YouTube and it centers around Chris Benoit’s story
For all of Chris’ achievements which are many there is never a mention of his name once in WWE programming since his untimely death. I would like to see if that would be the case if someone like Triple H met the same fate.
What do you think? Wrestling fan or not, there is definitely some level of problem.
I just want to take this opportunity to thank all those who have signed up to follow my Hall of information.