Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Here's What I Think...Wrestling, What Happened?

Wrestling is finally having to cope with the world of steroids. And since I have been talking about wrestling over the past few weeks, I thought maybe it's a good time to tackle the newest problem with wrestling since the death of Chris Benoit. Here's What I Think...

It's no surprise that wrestling is seeing a new face on the roll of dead wrestlers to drugs, mainly steroids. Everybody knows that steroids are a problem in the wrestling world. In fact if you remember, Vince McMahon ran into some heavy problems with wrestlers using steroids back in the early 90's. There was a huge deal made about it because Hulk Hogan took the stand on the issue in court. But here's what gets me wondering about the whole ordeal. Why hasn't this been a problem prior to the late 90's? It seems to me that this steroids problem has only gotten worse since the death of Brian Pillman in '97. (There may have been others, but this is the only one I can remember that made a huge impact.)

I believe the reason why steroids has become such a huge problem is because image has become the standout for wrestlers and not their ability to wrestle. You could almost blame the Hogan years as to why this has happened. Prior to Hulk Hogan's jump into the center square, not many wrestlers were beefed up and muscle bound. Look at Jackie Fargo in his later years. A lot of these guys had beer bellies. When Hogan and other guys like the Macho Man Randy Savage, Rowdy Roddy Piper, and the Ultimate Warrior to name a few, broke onto the scene, wrestling changed. Plot points took on a new meaning. Wrestlers began to take on strange persona's. And the build of the new wrestler was the chiseled Greek god. For most wrestlers, the easiest way to get built quickly was to start taking steroids.

I'm not going to blame all of this on Hogan. He was just a pawn in the new corporate machine that was the WWF. They had a product and it sold. To keep the product going you had to have similar wrestlers. But let's move on to the mid-90's. Wrestling started getting more intense. The fallout of the McMahon-Steroids scandal was quickly getting swept under the rug and society began to change at the same time. Our society wanted fast paced action. Muscle bound heroes fighting evil villains. Sex and Violence was what was selling and wrestling followed suit. The wrestling wars became greater with WCW entering the Monday Night stage. When WCW started getting bigger, the WWF had to match it. Both organizations were looking for a way to get the attention of the American public. That was when you began to see the wrestlers becoming more vulgar, more violent, and more sexually explicit. The new generation of wrestlers were different, with guys like Stone Cold Steve Austin, Kevin Nash, Triple H, and The Rock. The problem with the new generation though was that they had no fear for what was happening to their bodies. Did it make wrestling more enjoyable? Sometimes. But wrestling began to hit the skids with the deaths of Owen Hart and Brian Pillman. Suddenly wrestling was dangerous and in some instances real. Several other wrestlers went the way of Pillman, men like Kurt Henning, Rick Rude, Eddie Guerrero, and The British Bulldog Davey Boy Smith.

So who is to blame? McMahon? The Wrestlers? Society? In reality they are all to blame. Society's demands drove McMahon to put out a new product. Wrestlers wanting to get into the business had to become that product. Unfortunately steroids have played a part of creating that product. Whether Chris Benoit was on a 'Roid Rage' or not isn't the point. The point is that there is a problem in wrestling and it needs to be fixed. McMahon needs to have stricter policies for drug use as well as domestic abuse. Wrestlers need to see that their bodies and lives are more important than pushing a product. The statement really is true, 'This ain't your daddy's wrestling.' I wish it was though.

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