Beautiful article, Mr. Anderson. As a fan of wrestling for almost 30 years (and your cartoons in the old Apter mags!), it has been very sad to see so many wonderful workers die young. Rude, Bossman, Hennig, and on and onâ<80>¦but I agree with you: we all make choices. And we have to deal with the consequences of those choices. I look at a guy like Lance Storm, who had all the tools and lived a healthy lifestyle and is now able to sit back and enjoy his retirement. No bitterness, no fear for that potential fatal heart attack due to massive drug useâ<80>¦now thatâ<80><99>s a model for people to follow.
Thanks again for the true words, and the guts you have to say them!
Columnist’s Note: Nice to be reminded of my past. Sometimes even I forget about my PWI ‘toon tenure.
I enjoyed your article on accountability today very much and couldn’t agree with you more.
As a fan, Eddie Guerrero’s death affected me more than any wrestling casualty. I’ve been an Eddie fan for a long time and I can say with certainty that Eddie was and still is one of my favorite performers in wrestling’s long, storied history. I miss Eddie, very selfishly I admit, but I’m happy to have the DVD collection so I can revisit some of his greatest moments. I believe Eddie and many wrestlers like him, made a choice and blaming the business is an easy way out. Sure there are rigors, but what about the countless wrestlers who have loved long, fruitful lives? We never hear about them and further many of the same critics who complain about these WWE DVDs are the same people who mock Scott Hall while he goes through this same cycle. It’s hypocritical. I believe Eddie would be happy that we’re celebrating his life and his career. Viva La Raza.
Columnist’s Note: Again, Pat, a wrestler who lives long and prospers is not a story. Regarding Scott Hall, he has been given more “Get-Out-of-Trouble-From-the-Promotion-That-Employs-You Free” cards than anyone in the industry.
And I would be remiss if I didn’t include a reader who did not share my point of view:
Good day Steve,
I’ve been reading your column for quite some time and I must say that I disagree with 90% of your assessments. Thus, there should be little surprise that I take exception to your claim that by blaming the WWE, we enable the wrestler to shirk responsibility for their own actions. I agree that in the end, an individual is accountable for him or herself, but you don’t address the environment that is presented by the WWE either. From best accounts, the road schedule has only improved marginally since the late 1980s where it wasn’t uncommon for stars to work 300 dates/year. The level of the wrestler’s ‘star’ is still congruent with their appearance. The WWE hires wrestlers that 99% of reasonable people (let alone those who have spent their whole lives in the business) would recognize as steroid users (i.e. Batista, Orton). Their drug penalties are laughable because they’re afraid of losing a draw either for an extended period of time or to the competition.
Maybe I’m naive, but, if anybody, I see writers like yourself and the WWE PR squad (i.e. Cena and Jericho on Larry King) as the true enablers. While I agree that the individual is responsible for his or her actions, I also don’t wholly blame the 90-year-old lady who was bilked out of her retirement savings to invest in the man*pulators at Enron. Yes, Grandma should know better than to trust the guy who smiles too much, but you also need to fault also the salesman chasing his bonus, and the manager who man*pulated the books to get his bonus, and the auditor who signed off on the book to get his bribe, and the government who didn’t have the regulations in place to prevent these situations.
I’d given up on WWE years ago due to bad product, but were I still as big of a fan today as I was as a kid, I’d be faced with a very difficult choice as to whether to support an environment that demands this type of employee or find another form of entertainment on Monday nights. Vince McMahon has run his business under the model of squeezing every nickel of profit out of each and every night/show with no regard for the livestock he calls performers. I think that if you consider a WWE as a company as opposed to a wrestling company, you may have a different opinion. Deaths with these kinds of circumstances (under 60, drug related etc) are not happening in any other industry save for maybe the pornography business, which could use a quick once-over itself.
I don’t think it’s unreasonable to demand that the man who claims to have singlehandedly revolutionized the wrestling world take a solid look in the mirror and assess that maybe a responsible employer wouldn’t have his performers working two shows in two towns in one day, or have them on the road for sometimes a month and a half at a time. In fact, I think a lot more people than just Vince McMahon, like us fans and state regulators, may share in the blame as well. I don’t think it’s as easy as you make it. Feel free to respond to the above email address if you get a chance.
Columnist’s Note: Salient points, Nate. You are right in that there is a great deal of blame to go around. However, there is a tendency to immediately point the blame at the evil wrestling promotion and disregard personal responsibility. Regarding a quick once-over for the porn industry, I suggest you rent, “The Best Quick Once-Overs: Volume 1” from your local adult video store.
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