Feature: Steve Anderson on Accountability


Okay, I swear I’ll have a review up soon of the new Eddy Guerrero DVD set. Just in time for holiday gift-buying.

Meanwhile, watching it has got me to thinking.

WWE is starting to package their DVDs into sets encased in collector tins. ECW shows. WWE legends. They all get the treatment.

I wonder if there will come a day when they do sets of DVDs featuring those stars who are no longer with us. There are several on the market now. Brian Pillman and Curt Hennig, just to name a few. Is WWE exploiting their demises to make a few bucks?

Not an easy answer, I’m sure. You want to acknowledge those that made a difference in the promotion, but you also have to charge for the DVD. Hopefully, families are getting a cut of the proceeds.

Nonetheless, WWE gets raked over the coals whenever they release a DVD set of a wrestler who is no longer with us. The Eddy Guerrero tribute is a continuing line of DVDs that cover the careers of those whose lives were lost due to the excess of drugs and the rigors of the wrestling business.

Inevitably, scribes will take to their computers and rip the WWE for causing the death of the person and then profiting from it. They wonder when it will stop.

Well, a good first start is to STOP blaming WWE for those deaths.

Many young men have had the dream of being pro wrestlers. They caught the bug early in life. Maybe they came from the proverbial dynasty and knew full well what they were getting into.

When a dream comes true, reality sometimes provides sobering moments. You see the ugly side of things that you never witnessed when going to a show or watching a tape. Yet, there it is. Stark and ugly.

That side includes drug use. From addictions to illegal narcotics to prescription drugs, drugs become a part of many wrestlers’ lives. And some sadly die from the use, either recent or over the long haul.

WWE is not enabling those wrestlers. Every writer from Phil Mushnick on down who points the finger at the fed is enabling the wrestlers. By blaming the business, you are taking responsibility away from the individual. These are grown men. Yes, they are working in an industry that tends to promote frat boy antics, but they are adults. They make choices. Yet, why don’t many writers of this industry say that?

Simple. It’s not a story. Here’s the better story. Let’s blame the big, bad public-owned corporation for encouraging drug use and ignoring it when a problem gets out of hand. Let’s call out Vince McMahon and his ilk for the road schedule, the aches and pains, and then profiting from a death.

Not that certain storylines haven’t bordered on despicable. But I’m not talking about that. I am talking about the analysts and editorialists who continue to fault the wrestling promotion and not the wrestler. All the stars that we have lost over the years made decisions. Costly decisions. But they were there decisions. No one made them swallow a pill, snort coke, or shove a needle in their arm.

Yeah, I know. I’m naïve. The issue is not so simple. But you see, it is. Wrestlers read the drivel that we all write, including me. The message to them following a death is simple. It wasn’t their fault. Wrestling is on trial. The business needs to change. It needs an off-season (perhaps the stupidest idea ever pitched).

These dreamers became wrestlers. And as their career advanced, they saw the seedy side. They may have suffered aches and pains and loneliness and longing. Alchohol was the answer. Drugs were the solution. And for those who are still with us who embrace that lifestyle, your legacy is fine. Should you overdose or drink yourself to death, don’t worry. Because there’s a gaggle of apologists who will shift the blame completely away from you and convict the WWE for your crimes.

We hold wrestlers accountable for everything. Crappy matches. Bad interviews. Infidelity. Arrogance around fans. Yet, when they cease breathing, it’s not their fault. It’s their employer.

I invite all my peers to call them on itâ<80>¦or we can just continue to write the obituaries.

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