Stop me if I'm rambling...

Monday, November 14, 2005

"If you're going to die kid, die in the ring. It's good for business."

Those words were spoken to famed WWE heel "Rowdy" Roddy Piper by a promoter back when he was a young man trying to break into the wrestling game. They are representative of the brutal nature of the sport (or "sports entertainment" as slimy WWE honcho Vince McMahon calls his cash cow) in which no gimmick is too unsavory in the federation's quest to make a quick buck. Granted, it's "fake," or "scripted" to use another McMahon term, but in many ways, it is very real. It's an unforgiving business in which being a jacked, muscle-bound wrestler is important but having a high threshold for pain is paramount. Accounts of life in the WWE chronicle a vicious cycle of self-inflicted abuse, as wrestlers medicate with painkillers, cocaine, and alcohol, and are routinely urged to get bigger and bigger through the use of human growth hormones. While I was never a huge wrestling fan, I always harbored a voyeuristic car-crash type of curiosity with its mix of rogues and intricate storylines. I always looked at it as a soap opera--albeit a violent one-- that guys could enjoy. For years, it remained one of the few bastions in American culture in which there was a definitive good guy (a "babyface," to use wrestling jargon) and a bad guy (a "heel"). Growing up, I could count on Hulk Hogan to defend our American liberties against evil outsiders like the Iron Sheik (the dreaded Iranian who wore a table-cloth style headdress) and Commie Nikolai Volkoff (who threatened to undermine our way of life by singing the Soviet national anthem). Sure, it was xenophobic and maybe a little insulting to our intelligence, but wasn't it fun to watch?? Anyway, when I began to hear about some wrestling casualties, I started to take note. The list of young guys (many in their 20s and 30s) dying far too soon, from both wrestling-related and non-wrestling causes, was staggering (see Owen Hart (killed when performing a stunt in the ring), Dino Bravo (dead at age 44--mob hit), Junkyard Dog (rumored to be drug-related), "Ravishing" Rick Rude (heart attack possibly linked to steroid use), "Miss Elizabeth" (drug overdose), Big John Studd (liver failure), Andre the Giant, Yokozuna, "Mr. Perfect," The British Bulldog, many of the Von Erich clan...the list goes on. The latest casualty is Mexican-American Eddie Guerrero, who died yesterday at age 38. I remember Eddie the most for having the "cojones" to rock a mullet well into the 21st century. I think he just cut it off about two years ago. Heart failure is listed as the cause of death, and his history of drug and alcohol abuse is well-documented. Sadly, he leaves behind a wife and a few kids. It's a shame...another casualty of the WWE lifestyle.


Blogger Jay said...

Hey, welcome to the world of blogging and thanks for bouncing by. I grew up on a steady diet of wrestling too and Eddie's death really took me by surprise. I heard that they had this unbelievable tribute to him on Raw but unfortunately, it won't be shown here in the Philippines until two weeks from now.

10:01 PM


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