This article may be a bit jumpy, but it is going to be my attempt to discuss my feelings on professional wrestling as it stands at this time. I want to cover the topics of the wrestling related deaths, and the abundance of product that is out there at this time. The reason for my delay in writing this has to do with the former, which allowed me more time to think about the latter.
The month of march saw the deaths of three profesional wrestlers — Andrew Martin aka (Test), Steve Doll (aka Steven Dunn from Well Dunn), and Andrés Alejandro Palomeque González (aka Abismo Negro). Admittedly the deaths of the latter two wrestlers are unfortunate circumstances that one does not count when this circumstance comes up, but the same cannot be said for the death of Andrew Martin. Andrew Martin is a wrestler that most Americans wrestling fans are going to be familiar with due to his career with WWE through out the last decade. The toxicology reports recently came in and it was ruled that Martin’s death was ruled an accidental overdose of Oxycodone.
It is the reaction to the death of Martin that I find most surprising. The man was a jacked up freak. His ring name was Test and yet he did not have a teacher gimmick like the former NYS school teacher Matt Striker. How is it that no one figured out that his name was short for testosterone? If not for Juventud Guerrera using the nickname “The Juice” in an attempt to be Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, I honestly believe that his ring name would have been Juice. A man just shy of his 34th birthday should not be dropping dead. Yes, the WWE wellness policy is a step in the right direction. It is great that WWE has opened the door to pay for drug treatment to every wrestler that has ever worked for the company, regardless of length or the way they left the company.
But Martin took them up on the treatment! Admittedly, due to his cause of death it must mean that the treatment did not work… is that due to his own personal demons, or is that a comment on the type of treatment that WWE was giving out. Wrestlers such as Eddie Guerrero have cleaned up their act, only to have the their past come back to bite them. Prior to his horrific end the now infamous Chris Benoit was one of the most widely respected professional wrestlers in all the world. Everything about him screamed intensity, endurance, and versatility (except for his skills on the micrphone). Is it any wonder why it was speculated that Benoit had suffered from numerous concussions through out his carrer in combination of the numerous drugs that he took? Martin was very open about his use of drugs to make it through his pro-wrestling career.
To be frank I do not believe it is possible for wrestling to continue on the path that it is now. Forget the argument about whether or not pro-westling should be considered a sport. The fact of the matter is that regardless of whether or not it is a sport, it is a highly athletic field that involves more travel than any “real” sport, does not have an off-season, and sees athletes continuing with the activity much longer than anywhere else and whose participants come out of retirement very frequently. Terry Funk has retired multiple times over the last 3 decades! There is something very wrong here when 105 professional wrestlers under the age of 65 have died since 1985 with the majority of them having come from drugs/pain killers in some form or another, be it directly or indirectly.
The “straight edge superstar” CM Punk is the model that WWE needs to be building up. He legitimately lives the no drugs, no alcohol life style. He is one of the few wrestlers that will actually ask for time off when he is hurt, rather than pop some pain killers to keep going rather than risk losing his spot on the roster. The last two years CM Punk won the Money in the Bank match at Wrestlemania and used that to cash in and become the World champion, but after that time his career seemed to fade to the point that it was an actual surprise that he would win the match a second time and be given the chance to compete for a world title match at any time of his choosing. Wrestlers need to see that it is possible to advance in their career as a professional athelete and live a healthy life style. CM Punk needs to not be the exception to the rule, and the only way that will happen will be if he is allowed to have a successful career. The man has shown on the indy circuit that he can cut a good promo. Let him speak on the microphone every once in a while! Forget that he doesn’t fit into the classic “look” of a professional wrestler.
Going with my point about wrestlers working too much, WWE recently expanded their TV programming by adding WWE Superstars on WGN to Thursday nights. WWE now has programming on 5-6 days a week depending on whether or not their is a PPV on Sunday. Monday is Raw, Tuesday is ECW, Thursday is Superstars, Friday is Smackdown, and Saturday is AM Raw. Admittedly AM Raw is a recap show, and the same wrestlers do not appear on every show, but in the same sense those wrestlers are also wrestling in non-television shows at the same time. Similarly, as a wretsling fan I have to say that this is just too much damned product to keep up with. It involves investing too much time to keep up with in order to follow all of this. The world economy is in the crapper, WWE recently had to lay off about 20 million in work force, and they add yet another show that they have to spend money on producing? This is all around not a smart move.
Edit: And while I was writing this Cactus Jack (Mick Foley) just won the TNA world title. In the infamous words of Tony Schiavone “Yeah, like that’ll put asses in seats”.