Home > Uncategorized > Damning Evidence – Why a List of 14 Names Has Pro Wrestling on the Ropes

Damning Evidence – Why a List of 14 Names Has Pro Wrestling on the Ropes

A few things first:

A link to the original SI article which names the wrestlers who were clients of Signature Pharmacy through February 2007 (when the company was raided).

In the following entry I’ll discuss not only the ramifications the list has, but also why the timing of the names being released is especially damaging. I also go into the psychology of those in the industry as an attempt to explain why otherwise sane people react so irrationally when it comes to questions about their industry, as well as what this could all mean for the future of professional wrestling as an industry in North America.

The following was written sporadically over the course of three or four days, and despite my best efforts in proofreading and re-writing may still appear a bit disjointed. I still think it’s an alright read, and while lengthy, it at least attempts to explain the why this is such a big deal to wrestling fans. That being said, this is obviously not written for journalistic purposes, but for those I know who have asked what the Hell this all means and why it’s such a big deal. For more in-depth and accurate analysis, I refer you to Dave Meltzer at WrestlingObserver.com, Bryan Alvarez at Figure 4 Weekly, and others who do this thing for a living and whose work and research have done far more justice to this story than I ever could.

It’s also worth noting that while it’s a huge problem, not every single professional wrestler – especially not in WWE – has substance abuse problems, abuses prescription drugs, and/or illegally obtains or has obtained performance enhancers. The last thing I want to do is put a blanket term of steroid junkie on every single individual involved in the business, but there are very real problems that have either been actively ignored or possibly encouraged over the past several years. As a result, people have died. That, more than anything, is the most important thing to keep in mind while reading this.

And with that all out of the way, I invite you to read on…

If the public reaction to Chris Benoit’s vile actions and the revelations of deaths in the industry early this Summer were considered warning shots for professional wrestling as an industry, then the release of names of professional wrestlers who were clients in the Signature Pharmacy scandal is the gun pointed directly at its temple.

Last Thursday, Sports Illustrated released a list of known professional wrestlers that were consumers of Signature Pharmacy, the illegal online prescription drug ring that also listed high-profile individuals such as Evander Holyfield amongst its substance abuse clientele. Signature was raided this past Winter in an effort spearheaded by David Soares and the Albany County DA’s office after an investigation into the online business’s practices.

On the list were Chris Benoit (who murdered his wife and child before killing himself and in turn kicked off the media and congressional firestorm that’s currently engulfing the industry), Eddie Guerrero (whose passing in November of 2005 was directly attributed on his death certificate to excessive steroid use), Brian Adams (whose passing just recently wouldn’t get mentions on sites other than Dave Meltzer’s WrestlingObserver.com if it weren’t for the heightened media awareness of the issue), Chavo Guerrero (who received drugs up until May 2006 and considering Eddy’s passing should really know better), Shane Helms (aka “Gregory Helms” who received shipments up until February 2007 and is currently sidelined with a serious neck injury), Edge (see Helms), John Hennigan/Nitro/Morrisson (who received a litany of shipments including a hormone produced naturally during pregnancy – I shit you not – up until February 2007), Ken Kennedy (who in light of his boisterous claims of being clean since the implementation of Wellness and defense of WWE on national television programs like Nancy Grace looks incredibly stupid in light of him receiving shipments as late as February ’07), Funaki (seriously), Charlie Haas, Edward Fatu a.k.a. Umaga (received a form of HGH for some reason from July until December ’06), William Regal (whose inclusion is more disappointing to some like myself than any other name on the list), Randy Orton, and Sylvan Grenier (who was released from his contract several weeks ago).

Literally hours before the list came out, WWE announced through its website and a press release that it was suspending ten members of its roster for drug-related suspensions. Although one would assume they had received word of the SI article, apparently they were more concerned about the timing of the story in general combined with the upcoming Congressional hearings and had no idea the names were going to be made public. The ten suspended were most likely those mentioned in the report who are still contracted with WWE (Chavo, Helms, Edge, Nitro, Kennedy, Funaki, Haas, Umaga, Regal, and Orton). Other individuals (eg. Batista and Chris Masters) were linked to Signature by ESPN, though neither appeared with the full list that SI published. However, it’s worth noting that in addition to the ten individuals who started serving their suspensions as of this past Monday, Jerry McDevitt announced on the Nancy Grace program over the weekend that at least two others are expected to face suspensions in the coming weeks and there may be many more to come. Batista, for what it’s worth, is still scheduled to compete in three weeks at the next WWE pay-per-view and has claimed publicly that he was not indicated in any of the names released as having ordered from Signature Pharmacy.

(For those curious and who have asked, the release of names of MLB and NFL players who were Signature clients is weeks or perhaps even days away.)

Word coming out of Stamford is that not only has the entire roster been told that as of November 1st all suspensions are going to be made public, but that Vince is serious about enforcing the company’s Policy to the letter – including firing those on the list for whom this would count as a third policy violation. It’s not as if WWE has much choice in the matter, since this comes at a particularly bad time with Congressional hearings starting within the next few weeks.

Those who haven’t been following and/or were aware of the situation may not see what the big deal is. It’s been common knowledge that steroid use in professional wrestling has been prevalent for many years, and McMahon himself faced down a federal indictment in 1992 due to steroid distribution (among other less than reputable practices) in the then-WWF lockerroom. It becomes a greater issue now, however, that it’s become more and more apparent that abuse of steroids and other drugs (both prescription and recreational) reached epidemic levels and as a result many wrestlers who competed in North America over the past twenty or so years are having a lot of trouble making it to the ripe old age of 45. WWE has touted the line that only five individuals have passed under their watch, and on the surface they have a legit argument – of the five, only one can be linked directly to steroids. However, that list doesn’t include those that did work for WWE and/or developed their drug habits under the auspices of, to borrow a phrase from Vince McMahon and Jerry McDevitt, “putting smiles on people’s faces”.

What this all means in the context of the media coverage over the past several months and the upcoming Congressional hearings is that WWE is, to put it lightly, kind of fucked. They didn’t do themselves any favors from the moment word of the Benoit tragedy came out, as they immediately put out an overly-defensive press release saying that there was no indication steroids had anything to do with it. It would’ve been an acceptable and effective tactic had it not been literally the moment word came out of Atlanta that the Benoit deaths were the result of a double murder-suicide and had the media been even given a moment to inhale before mentioning the word “steroid”. Since that time, WWE has been touting their Wellness Policy (announced in late 2005 and adopted in February 2006 after the sudden death of Eddy Guerrero the previous November) and claiming complete innocence when it comes to abuse of prescription and performance-enhancing drugs, including sending many of their own on television shows to defend the Wellness Policy and noting that Benoit passed his last drug test in April. Not as many are appearing now, as very early into coverage of the Benoit tragedy the question was raised as to how he could have passed WWE’s drug tests when he was receiving six months worths of steroids every three to four weeks from Atlanta area physician Dr. Phil Astin (who himself is being investigated for his practices).

The full story isn’t so much the names that were released, but rather the inevitable questions that Congress will raise. Although Signature was one of the larger companies not named Balco to be busted for illegal distribution of prescription drugs and performance enhancers, it stands to reason that it wasn’t the only location from which professional wrestlers and other athletes were able to obtain steroids and various forms of Human Growth Hormone (and as the investigation into Astin’s practices indicates it most definitely was not).

Despite some early gaffes such as requesting the NWA turn over records of its drug policy (which is foolish since the NWA currently is just a very loose conglomerate of independent promotions and barely even exists), the committee overseeing the hearings are certainly doing their homework and have taken the time to educate themselves on what’s happened and what they need to look for. Unlike in the past, WWE can’t count on general ignorance of the issue to ultimately bail them out of a disastrous situation. According to Dave Meltzer in The Wrestling Observer dated September 3rd, 2007, preparations are well underway and they’re already asking all the right questions. Well, perhaps “right” is a subjective term dependening on where you want the investigation to go. They’ve already had a conference call with Konnan, and indications from that call alone are that Congress is more than prepared for these hearings and are coming in with as close to a full knowledge of the situation as one could expect (and possibly more).

What this means, then, is that Congress will most certainly be asking where else these drugs were being obtained. Additionally, they’re going to be asking WWE exactly how it was implementing and enforcing a Wellness Policy when hard evidence exists that there were blatant and detectable violations occurring right under their noses. WWE has always had the loophole in the policy that the drugs could be in a wrestler’s system as long as s/he has a legal prescription for it, but that legality doesn’t fly when there are now known individuals who were not only obtaining the drugs illegally but were doing so through the internet – a practice that WWE’s own Wellness Policy specifically prohibits.

What this will mean in the long-term and what effects the hearings and any conclusions reached will have on the industry is anyone’s guess. In my mind, I think we’re in for another long stretch of bad business such as the one that occurred between 1992 and 1996 after the federal indictment that almost sent Vince McMahon to prison, except without the sudden boom in 1996 to ultimately save the industry from fading into obscurity. McMahon was lucky at that time, as the prosecution in 1992 severely bungled their case and called witnesses that had no place being on the stand. Granted, this time around nobody’s really on trial. However, in a very real way, the entire industry itself and its practices over the past twenty years is being put on public trial, and there isn’t going to be a glorious moment of exoneration that Vince will be able to throw in everybody’s faces for the next fifteen years. There are certainly going to be hard questions, stunning revelations (at least as far as the general public is concerned), and sweeping changes that the industry is going to have to undergo. Whether it will survive these changes is a question I can’t even begin to answer, although my gut feeling is that while we obviously won’t see every major North American company shutting its doors in December, the days of professional wrestling as a highly profitable business venture are long gone.

One would hope that the result of these investigations would be to open up a lot of people’s eyes to the problems in the industry, which leads to finding solutions that clean up the industry and save lives while simultaneously keeping it from drowning in its own excess. Unfortunately, as unfair as people may think the “carnie” label is to professional wrestling, it still very much has an exclusionary attitude prevalent throughout it. Professional wrestling as a whole and professional wrestlers themselves adopt an “us versus them” attitude whenever anyone outside of the business asking any sort of questions as to what goes on when the cameras aren’t on them. It’s an attitude that has its roots in the practice of working the audience into thinking what they were seeing was real rather than a staged farce parading as a legitimate athletic competition. Attitudes changed in the late eighties when McMahon admitted publically that it wasn’t real and that it was simply “sports entertainment” (which everybody already knew anyway), but by that time professional wrestling had reached a point where it had become such a punchline in the eyes of the mainstream that promoters, wrestlers, and fans felt the need to always be on the defensive whenever the subject of professional wrestling was so much as brought up in conversation. Although there are notable exceptions, for the most part many of the reactions and public appearances wrestlers have made indicate that they’ve adopted much the same attitude towards questions and criticisms stemming from everything that’s happened over the course of the past several months.

The idea that this traditional attitude and approach needs to be held onto despite evidence that this industry kills people on a weekly basis is, while a little understandable, completely sick and demented. Guys like Chris Jericho, for whom I have the utmost respect for, have no right to write off a problem that’s killed some of his best friends in the industry by pointing to himself and saying he made it despite his size, particularly since when he was at the apex of his career he was freakishly huge for a man of his height and natural build. While I certainly understand the psychological and historical reasons for what to the casual viewer seems like a ridiculous position to take, I have a lot more trouble condoning it when considering the ramifications of all the problems being addressed.

But what’s more amazing than the defensive posture struck by so many wrestlers who have seen the men they’ve bled, sweat, and cried with drop dead at an early age is the one struck by individuals who consider themselves lifelong fans of the sport. A large chunk of the fanbase has either actively ignored or provided excuses to downplay the epidemic that’s engulfed the industry over the past several years. The Benoit Family tragedy was a hard slap in the face to a lot of those fans – myself included – and forced us all to face some very important questions concerning our support of an industry that can destroy lives for the sake of watching men fake-fight each other. Even then, we had the built-in excuse that for as many factors that led to Chris Benoit doing what he did, ultimately Chris had to have it in him somewhere to commit as heinous an act as the one he committed.

Now we’re faced with an even bigger conundrum. All of us – fans and wrestlers alike – have gone from being perpetually put in a position to defend our dedication and love for a sport to being completely and wholly unable to defend it any longer.

We’re not fully to blame, though. We were the children of a bad parent, and we were patted on the head and told that everything was okay and that the reason they don’t understand is that they simply can’t. Surely, despite all the hard evidence being presented that the drugs and lifestyle encouraged by the industry and WWE specifically was leading to premature death and that nothing was really being done to prevent it, Chris Jericho will come back to save WWE and our beloved wrestling will survive this storm just as they did the joke of a steroid trial in 1992. But no amount of fantasy booking is going to change the reality of the situation, which is that WWE and its wrestlers are in a heap of trouble that has endangered not only the company’s profit margin but the very existence of professional wrestling as we know it in North America.

Taken into the grand scope of the media scrutiny, the full awareness of the problem (rather than a relative handful of fans realizing that a ridiculous number of guys not making it to 45 or 50 in an age where the life expectancy of humans is getting higher and higher is suspiciously unnatural and a very real problem), the higher profile deaths and the Congressional Committee investigations, this latest development isn’t just damning. It’s a worst case scenario that confirms the suspicions of all the cynics that so many of us tried to write off: that the Wellness Policy wasn’t just fundamentally flawed but was an outright farce that WWE perpetuated in order to get fans, stockholders, and the general public off their back. WWE lied to its fans, many of its own employees, the media, and the wrestlers who truly love the business enough to believe that Vince McMahon and his billion dollar company cared enough to not want guys dropping dead just for the sake of producing a 3.8 rating every week.

When it comes to this issue, there’s so much more to write about that I’d be here typing for days on end. However, I’ll save all of us some time by closing on this: There are many people – from Vince McMahon to Ken Kennedy to John Cena to Chris Jericho – who claim to “love” this industry. I do not doubt that these men do love what they do (or did) for a living, nor do I doubt that it became such an important part of their lives that any attack on it – justified or not – is unequivocally similar to an attack on a beloved family member. The idea is that right or wrong, everyone involved in professional wrestling is part of this big weird family and while they may not always agree with each other they’ll be damned if they let somebody from the outside who can’t even fathom what they go through on a daily basis take their shots at them. However, I sincerely believe the time has come for them to ask if “loving the industry” means more than just defending its less reputable aspects and if addressing the dysfunctions of the family and the damage done to those they love within it isn’t showing the true meaning of caring about the industry and all who inhabit it.

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  1. September 4, 2007 at 2:55 pm

    12 months.

    That’s how long Vince will need to play the game before people forget. Look at baseball. Attendance records fall again this year. Look at football. Think anyone cares that Rodney Harrison was getting HGH? Not as long as their fantasy team does well.

    Vince will have to be on good behavior for 12 months. He will have to let Congress rip him apart and if he’s smart he’ll send Linda or Shane to talk instead of him in the hopes they can sound contrite and willing to change things.

    He will have to let some people go. Just like last time the purges will need to send a “message” to the world that roid monsters have no place in the industry.

    He will need to make moves to strengthen the wellness policy, and he will need sacrifices to show the masses.

    He will need to do this for 12 months. He’ll need 12 months of no one important dying on his watch. The past wrestlers will keep dropping, but as long as he has done the above the only people who will call him out on it are ones who would never give him money in the first place.

    If he holds to that for a year, people will forget. Parents will have 100 other things to worry about, and WWE will seem no worse than any other entertainment their kids might want to enjoy.

    And most likely we will keep on watching. Because even though we got misty eyed when Eddy died, or when Benoit died and we thought it was a horrible accident/twist of fate rather than a brutal murder/suicide, these people mean nothing to us except for how they can entertain us. So as long as Vince does something to mollify us, to make us feel like we’re not actively killing young men before their time, we will turn the blind eye to it and say “it’s a shame this had to happen, but hopefully at least some good can come from it” and use that to comfort ourselves. We’ll snark about how “well at least the workrate will go up now.” And as time goes by, and guys start to get bigger again, and rumors start to leak out about guys finding new ways around the Wellness Policy, and pushes start to be based on pec size instead of in-ring skill, we’ll just write them off as isolated incidents. And enjoy the matches and the wacky angles and all that.

    If I truly wanted to do my part to make a change, I wouldn’t spend another dime on wrestling. But I will. So will most of us who are having thoughts like this right now. We probably shouldn’t spend it. We’re aiding and abetting a terrible industry. But I don’t know how not to love it. Flawed, insidious, vile as it is.

    12 months. One cycle of seasons to clean the ground that wrestling stands on. If Vince can’t do that, the industry is in grave danger. The sharks are in the water, and the blood of young men with enlarged hearts and dreams of a main event push is driving those sharks into a frenzy. But eventually there will be some other chum to feast on, some other group of people thrown into the fire of the media and our car-wreck mentality. He will need to keep his nose clean long enough for people to forget he matters. For people to forget that these men matter. To forget that this isn’t a cartoon. Vince has on his side the fact that memories aren’t very long, and that next year the world will be very busy making sure to tell us every little thing Rudy Giuliani and Hillary Clinton have done that might make them bad presidents. Who will have time for a carny promoter and his band of chickenhead gnawing freaks? No one but us, the people who have had the time for so long, and who have through our love, our ignorance, and our gleeful self-delusions helped to spawn a slaughterhouse of an industry. And even though we know how the sausage is made, we still can’t resist one more bite.

    • September 5, 2007 at 12:39 am

      Fantastically put, and I’m tempted to agree with you. And up until I got home from work today, I was in absolute agreement that as much as perhaps I wanted change, it wasn’t going to come with any sort of permanence.

      Then I read Meltzer’s latest Observer that came in the mail today. Apparently all indications coming out of the preparations being made by the committee investigating the industry are that they’re already set on recommending government regulation and I think it’s going to take something short of a miracle to convince them otherwise. The committee is fully aware that WWE knowingly executed a flawed policy and can’t be trusted to make the necessary changes to clean up their company. Especially since they already had a drug policy in place between 1992 and 1996, when they suddenly stopped enforcing it and ignored the problem for a full ten years.

      In other words, WWE can claim all it wants that the drugs obtained were undetectable (which is only true for some of the various forms of GH distributed through Signature but certainly not the easily detectable steroids that were delivered to the 14 named) or that they can’t be held accountable for guys cheating a system they had faith in. But all evidence has and is going to suggest that WWE can’t be trusted to regulate itself. Whether that’s by their own design or through their own ineptness is moot. And even if mainstream media coverage dies down, there are enough politicians convinced – whether it’s true or not – that WWE has already done damage in terms of influencing the younger members of its audience when it comes to dabbling in steroids and other performance enhancers to ensure Congress won’t drop the idea of government regulation. That in and of itself will make it an even bigger issue as we get closer to Fall ’08 and Congressional seats are contended once again.

      As for Vince sending Shane or Linda to speak for him? You’re absolutely right on both counts – it’d be a wise move on his part and he should absolutely do it. The problem is this: the members of Congress aren’t WWE investors. They know who’s really in control of the company’s direction despite what’s on paper, and they’ll want the man who’s had to answer for it in the past to answer for it again. I don’t doubt Vince will try to fight it and/or say he’s sending Linda/Shane/McDevitt in his stead, but they’re going to want him specifically testifying before them and they’re not going to take no for an answer.

      • September 5, 2007 at 1:38 am

        Here’s the thing…committee hearings exist mostly to let the members get publicity and give the appearance of things being done. I agree, Vince will end up having to go (though he likely will not be alone. In fact, I’m sure it could be convincingly stated that while Vince is the creative mind, that Linda is as important or moreso in terms of the business end, which makes her testifying totally legit) and he will be grilled like a steak.

        But I will be stunned if any actual law or regulation comes out of this. Because the minute you start to regulate pro wrestling you open up about 40 other cans of worms that no one will want to get into during a presidential election year. If you regulate a fake sport, how do you justify not regulating real sports? How do you not regulate MMA, or boxing? What about bodybuilding? What will the role of the state athletic commissions be? How do you define professional wrestling so that you are not taking in many other improvised theatrical performances?

        The thing that will doom this is that in the end no one really cares. People LOVE baseball in numbers that dwarf pro wrestling, yet nothing was done about its most hallowed record being broken by someone who is accepted by everyone as a steroid using lab experiment. Sure it makes a good story for the media to hit on that a bunch of pro wrestlers died, but really, they’re just pro wrestlers. It’s not children or cute animals. It’s a bunch of weird muscleheads in spandex, like the American Gladiators rejects.

        But mostly the question is…who’s vote is going to moved by this? What group is going to be appeased by taking this on? No one I can think of. But I can think of a lot of groups who give a lot of money who do NOT want to see pro wrestling wiped out or destroyed. The cable industry, major arena holders, major media companies, all of them have a stake in pro wrestling continuing on and making money for everyone. On the other side stands…no one and everyone all at once.

        Regarding the fall 08 campaign season, that’s the best thing WWE has going for them. In the noise of that campaign, which stands to be the ugliest and loudest in modern history, there won’t be air for most issues. Iraq will be dominant, beyond that will be all the wedge issues . Who has time for wrestling when there’s gay marriage to be fought about, or fetuses to be saved?

        Right now Congress is getting ready for major political battles over the budget and Iraq. Those are going to careen into early 2008. After that we’re in the middle of campaign season and there’s not a whole lot going to get done at that point.

        That’s where the 12 months come in. The only thing that could give the story enough air and actual public interest would be another HUGE story breaking out of the industry. A major name dying in some tragic way. If that happens over the next year, then maybe you have enough of a story that there’s some tangible political benefit to being out front on it enough to shepherd a contentious bill through both fractious houses of Congress and to somehow craft it so W will sign it. But otherwise…sound and fury, signifying nothing.
        (cont’d)

      • September 5, 2007 at 1:39 am

        Congress has a history of making lots of noise, but only acting when a major political wedge group wants something. Trust me, as someone for whom online poker got much more difficult to fund due to the UIGEA being slipped into the port security bill, I know this. When someone shows me a group for whom regulating wrestling is their #1 priority, then I might think that Congress would consider doing something. Until then, my faith in Congress to do nothing about a situation unless it will clearly benefit them is nearly infinite. And I know Meltzer hears all sorts of stuff, but honestly, I think Dave has trouble with the world beyond the world of wrestling. I think he’s a touch sheltered. Because he cares deeply about wrestling, he thinks everyone does. When really, not many people do.

        My guess is Vince goes in, shows major contrition, offers a very strict program, and lives up to it. Because that’s what Congress wants. The few folks on the committee will get to tell their voters that they forced them into testing and they’ll point to Chris Masters when he inevitably gets fired as a sign of the program working. Because otherwise they get dragged deep into the muck, and this becomes a giant pandora’s box that no one wants opened. Vince is the tip of the iceberg. And I think I know Vince well enough from all these years that if he is going down, he will drag anyone and everyone with him. Dana White, Bob Arum, Oscar de la Hoya, Rodney Harrison, Barry Bonds, and a whole lot of others do not want this box opened. Because if the door of national regulation of a sport/pseudo-sport gets opened, its going to be very hard to close it back up.

        Of course, maybe Congress will act fairly and promptly…but I doubt it.

      • September 6, 2007 at 2:49 pm

        A few things.

        The thing about Congressional committees is that the members, by and large, tend to get very serious about the issues they address and specifically the ones they (i.e. Waxman) raise. It becomes their baby and their pet project, and they don’t let go of it. For more high-profile committees and Congressmen who are consistently in the national spotlight, yes, a hearing tends to be something for them to just strut their stuff and puff their chests out in front of a camera. But for Waxman et al on the committee investigating pro wrestling, they’re not going to pull any punches and they want something done and won’t let up. It becomes their pet issue, regardless of the level of coverage they get. It’s not a vote thing at all but an ego thing – their little claim to fame and pet project – and they’ll keep a death grip on this issue until something’s done.

        MMA and boxing are regulated by the SACs (as you noted). It doesn’t need federal regulation since they’re already in full compliace with the SACs, even though there might be some questions here and there. So that isn’t an issue. Especially when Dana, for as much criticism as he’s getting, has reiterated time and again that he not only welcomes SAC involvement in keeping the sport clean but institutes his own bannings and firings on top of any mandated suspensions.

        As far as MLB and the NFL is concerned, that box doesn’t need to be opened since it was blow apart by Balco and now the Signature controversy (which is going to release more names). The bigger issue with those sports isn’t steroids – which once it got mainstream attention resulted in more suspensions and more regular testing even if improvements can still be made – but with HGH, which is nigh impossible to test for and will be for the forseeable future. Government regulation won’t change that.

        It’s also worth noting that while more awareness is being raised about the permanent damage of concussions in the NFL, neither that or MLB has guys dropping dead on as regular a basis as pro wrestling. And if either wanted this issue dead to cover their own asses, you can bet it would’ve already been killed in the committee well before the green-light was given for hearings.

        I have no doubt, again, that Vince is going to promise a strict policy and do some ceremonial suspensions and firings to enforce the point – he already has. The problem is, he already HAD a strict policy for four years, and it just disappeared. They know it, they won’t trust him again, and they don’t have any reason to.

      • September 6, 2007 at 4:48 pm

        Re: SAC’s, everyone knows most of them are jokes. Also, in some states wrestling still falls under the auspices of the SAC. Which is ludicrous. At some point the argument hits the snag of “how do you justify the state athletic commission regulating something that is not a sport or athletic contest?” This same thing is going to happen on a national scale. Especially once it becomes apparent that not only would someone need to be watching over WWE, but over every single wrestling event in the country. I mean, I suppose you could have a rule that only shows that are above a certain attendance need to be regulated, but that will just open up Congress to complaints that they only care about the lives of star wrestlers, and then someone will point out how fucked up things are on the indie scene.

        As for committee chairmen, I became much less concerned about things when I found out Rep. Bobby Rush was one of the lead guys. As a Chicago resident, I can tell you Bobby Rush has never done anything effective in his entire life. I wouldn’t bet on Bobby Rush to be able to make a change in a homeless man’s life if he had a million dollars to give to the guy, let alone be able to impact a giant industry. As for Henry Waxman, he was able to negotiate a settlement with big tobacco that basically saved them hundreds of billions in potential liabilities. Kids are still picking up smokes every single day. His life’s work, his death grip issue, hasn’t really done all that much.

        One thing that needs to be considered is that it is very difficult to regulate an activity, especially on a national scale. Just look at the immigration debate. This is one of the most pressing issues in the country, 10000X moreso than cleaning up pro wrestling, yet no one can seem to get a handle on the logistics that would be needed to do so.

        You mention HGH, and how no major sport is testing for it. How well do you think it would fly if Congress tries to make actors on a tv show and touring production (which is all wrestlers are) test for HGH (which you can test for, but you need to draw blood) while real sports that many more people care about are not testing?

        But beyond all that, let’s say that somehow Congress pulls the political will together to try and regulate wrestling…how? What could they do that either A) wouldn’t get tossed out in court (if they attempt to regulate aspects of the performance, which is an artistic performance and thus first amendment protected), B) require the creation and funding of a very large bureaucracy, C) cause unintended problems for multiple other industries or D) end up killing the wrestling industry? I’ve seen so many people talk about them regulating wrestling and how Congress will act, but I’ve yet to see anyone put forward something that seems like it would have a reasonable chance of becoming a working and functional law.

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