Tuesday, December 8, 2009
Rant #148: Another Wrestler Passes
I don't know if everyone saw this, but another popular wrestler just passed away.
And he passed away before he turned 40.
Known as Umaga, this burly wrestler was one of the hottest athletes in the WWE stable until a few months ago, when he was let go by the organization after supposedly many months of rehab due to assorted injuries.
He was best known as the Samoan wrestler with distinctive tattoos on his face, and he was part of the legendary wrestling family led by Chief Peter Maivia, a clan that includes Dwayne Johnson, also known as The Rock.
What is going on with professional wrestling? Why are so many of these young men dying at such early ages?
Well, we know from the Chris Benoit tragedy of a few years ago that the sport is rife with drugs, whether it be performance enhancing drugs (PED) or the other illegal kinds, everything from pot to cocaine.
We also know that the sport is bereft of health insurance for its athletes.
The schedule is grueling. The WWE is a 24 hour/365 day job that only a few can handle. Even when some move onto the other top wrestling organization, TNA, the easier lifestyle does not preclude the battering that these young men--and women--get on a regular basis.
It is clear that this beating--both physical and mental--makes many of these athletes old before their time, but the fame and wealth that can be accrued by being part of these organizations seemingly far outweighs, in the athletes' eyes, the possible health hazards.
I think it is time for professional wrestling to be regulated once again, if for no other reason than to see to it that these organizations have even stricter rules related to drugs than they already have--and the rules that they already have seem to be weak and not working.
For every wrestler that gets suspended or kicked out for drug usage--like Umaga--there are probably many others who abuse drugs yet go undetected, because the right tests are not in place.
Sure, other professional leagues have had the same problems as professional wrestling, but I believe their testing, which is in place now, is working to a certain degree.
But professional wrestling is a different animal altogether. To skirt the legal regulations, the organizations have declared themselves to be entertainers, and acknowledge that the results are often, if not all the time, fixed.
This way, they don't have to be regulated by state governments, like they used to be and like their cousin sport, boxing, is.
They are entertainers, and if entertainers need to be tested before they perform, I guarantee very few rock concerts would go on as scheduled, for obvious reasons.
That is why the time has come to re-regulate professional wrestling. Some governance and oversight is needed, because not only have the WWE and TNA created their own worlds, they have created their own rules, and that is just plain wrong.
With some rules in place, a wrestler like Umaga could get the treatment he needs, to continue his life, which I think is more important than him continuing in wrestling.
That oversight is necessary, and needed now.
Posted by Larry at 4:21 AM