Saturday, June 30, 2007

What Price Fame?

By this time anyone who knows anything about pro wrestling has heard some of the bizarre details surrounding the deaths of Chris Benoit, his wife Nancy, and their son Daniel. Were the actions caused in any way by steroids? I'm not a medical professional, so I don't know, even though I suspect yes.

Pro wrestling has come a ways since the 70's when folks like myself and newsnomore used to watch on Saturday nights on WUAB/43. Most people knew that the matched were predetermined, but we liked to have debates with some in school who thought it was on the up and up. We used to watch folks like Johnny Powers, who looked like someone in pretty good physical shape. He got his body from eating right and working out. The only thing he didn't have since birth was his hairpiece. I don't remember seeing any moves that, if performed in real life, would kill somebody except possibly the sleeper hold.

Other wrestlers in that day looked like they would be home in a Sunday afternoon softball league. They either had beer guts or the gut was formed by excessive weight lifting. I suspect the former.

Enter the eighties, this was the time when BizDecision started watching the World Wrestling Federation(WWF). Enter the Hulkster, Wrestling had gone nation wide, and for the first time each region didn't have it's own "world champion". Wrestling also was featured on Saturday morning cartoons, and the wrestlers became human cartoon characters. Vince McMahon was also being more and more enamored by the big, muscular, wrestlers. Some wrestlers, like Rick Martel, would be off tour on "injury leave" and come back more muscular than before they left. Vince was commentator on WWF Superstars of Wrestling, at that time the flagship program, and he would make sure during his commentary that he would mention that so and so was really looking good. I don't think they got that way in the weight room.

At that time I liked the comical wrestlers, such as the Bushwackers. JimOhio has told me that his favorite was George "the animal" Steele. Story lines, though at times stupid, were innocent enough.

The nineties brought the Monday Night wars, and some very evil as well as somewhat pornographic story lines. It also brought the "attitude" era. You didn't know the faces(good guys) from the heels(bad guys) if you missed any programs. It was no longer "say your prayers and take your vitamins".

The "fan favorites" were folks like "Stone Cold" Steve Austin, who constantly defied authority and drank his beer in a post victory celebration. Hardly an example to be set for your young children. The wrestlers went from being comic book characters to male soap opera stars , but looking like they came from the pages of Marvel Comics. Looks like steroids were becoming the "breakfast of champions."

The women involved in what was becoming Vince's traveling freak show were starting to get "enhancement surgery," also looking like human comic book characters.

New century and Vince now has a monopoly with the demise of World Championship Wrestling(WCW). It's now his way or no way. Wrestlers are getting bigger, and premature deaths of performers are increasing. Some of these deaths are caused by drug abuse, some are caused by heart attacks. Do the performance enhancing drugs weaken the heart?

Is there such a thing as 'roid rage? Does one need to enhance himself so much that he loses himself? Does Vince worry so much about his bottom line that he has such a low regard for human decency?

I say that Vince and his family should help his performers get off the "juice" and make pro wrestling the choreographed exhibition it was in the seventies and eighties. Get some of the older stars to help in that regard. And if they want to build their bodies, let them do it in the weight room.

And I also wonder if it's worth paying with your life for 15 minutes of fame.


Liquid said...

Let's go back to the "Hulk Hogan" days! Ummmm, I mean when he was in his PRIME! lol

74WIXYgrad said...

That's three votes for Hulk-a-mania.