|Written for The Wrestling Game
Hello people of TWG™ and whoever stumbled upon this article! I am Ninoslav Maricic and I will be your host for yet another exciting (or not) episode of "Talking to Myself". In this article, I will be talking about substance abuse in professional wrestling.
So, professional wrestling is a sport that has no off season. People (are supposed to) compete all year long, every week with little to no time off. Even though everything is scripted and pro wrestling is a world where nothing is real (according to Bret "The Hitman" Hart), injuries happen all the time and painkillers are so easy to get addicted to. There is that and also there is good old human stupidity.
With pro wrestling "evolving" from a few simple moves wrestlers used to execute to a modern day product where the action gets faster and faster and moves get more and more dangerous, the injuries have gotten much worse and happen more often then before. Also, since WWE turned into a beauty contest after the fall of WCW and the end of "Monday Night Wars", there is more and more steroid abuse (Brock Lesnar is having a history of abdominal problems? You don't say!)
In recent years we have seen WWE trying to put a stop to substance abuse with some (I dare say limited) success. After what happened to Eddie Guerrero, WWE has decided to make sure their superstars take tests to ensure that they are not using illegal substances (their well known "Wellness Policy"). Fail the test once, you are suspended for a month, fail the test twice, you are suspended for three months, fail the test three times, you are off to TNA for a second (third, fourth, fifth, etc) chance.
Without mentioning people whose deaths are also linked to substance abuse (like Miss Elizabeth, Bam Bam Bigelow, Chris Benoit...), I would like to talk about more recent "incidents" involving some of the pro wrestling's top stars. Starting with:
Did I say top stars? I meant top stars and this guy. This guy was never liked much (unless you are from Oklahoma) and he still got pushed a few times. Recently, he was away from TV and then they finally found something for him to do. They gave him Zeb Colter and put him in a heel xenophobic patriot storyline. The storyline works great (no thanks to Jack or his swagger) and all Jack has to do is scream "We, the people!". Jack won the number one contender Elimination Chamber match and he will be facing Alberto Del Rio in a match for the World Championship title at Wrestlemania (or did face already, depending on when you are reading this article).
Now, what do you do when you get a chance like that in a company that is allegedly frowning upon the people who abuse substances? You get yourself arrested for DUI (driving under the influence). It also seems to help if you are arrested for DUI while you got some of the illegal substance left with you (for more info, google "Jack Swagger DUI Arrest"). So what does your company that is allegedly frowning upon the people who abuse substances do? Nothing, I guess. He is still in WWE, he is still the number one contender for one of their top titles and he is still going to Wrestlemania. Sure, he will probably lose the match and be gone from TV again, but I'll believe it when I see it.
Anyway, this is yet another opportunity WWE wasted on the wrong person (and they say WCW ruined everything). They would be better off if they gave Zeb Colter to somebody else. Maybe Fandango. It would be better then that dancing thing he does. Or maybe they could have combined the two by having him say "We, the people!" the same way he says his name. Maybe even have him and Zeb tango down the ramp together. I bet that would get a few laughs. It wouldn't be the craziest thing WWE did either.
Here is a guy that calls himself "The Charismatic Enigma" and his fans "The Creatures of the Night". His hobbies include painting his hair, painting his nails, painting his face, getting really high to jump at people while executing some of his moves and just getting really high.
So, long story short, he was in WWE, he failed their "Wellness Policy", got suspended, learned nothing from it, went to TNA, got a second chance, got a world title, showed up for a PPV main event in no shape to compete and disappointed everyone by losing the match to Sting after one move. Fans were very vocal about it (unfortunately, I can't write what they were chanting here) and Sting agreed with them (I'm sure everybody did).
Luckily for Jeff Hardy, WWE has a policy to pay for rehab for any WWE superstar (past or present) and Jeff decided to take them up on it (I bet they hate it when that happens). He went to rehab, got better (I guess), came back to TNA, got his second second chance and haven't failed his employers and his fans (yet). We'll see what the future brings for this guy and I really do hope he doesn't fumble again (even though I can't say that I am his fan).
Randy Orton is a third generation wrestler who was called a "Legend Killer" and who was (I'm not sure if he still is) known as the youngest WWE champion ever. He is also known as a guy who signed a 10 year contract with WWE and in the meantime failed the "Wellness Policy" twice. And even though Vince McMachon was very disappointed in him, at least we all found out why Randy Orton hears voices in his head.
So, he is back after his second suspension, he got pinned at Elimination Chamber by Jack Swagger to lose his shot at Alberto Del Rio and he had to join Sheamus and Big Show to face "The Shield" in order to get his ticket for Wrestlemania (and it's likely "The Shield" will win that match). He still has one more shot to get fired from WWE by failing the "Wellness Policy" third time and then he can look for his "second chance" in TNA. And maybe he can get Kennedy fired again (sorry The Bouncer, I couldn't resist).
Well, this all I have for you this time. I had to cut it short a bit since I'm close to deadline again, it's almost 3 am, I got to work in the morning (even though it's Sunday) and I need my beauty sleep. I am Ninoslav Maricic and you were reading "Talking to Myself: Wrestling and Substance Abuse". I will be back next week with another article and until then, I bid you adieu!