This week’s edition of Ringside will focus on putting to rest two of the myths that are out there about the wrestling business. So let’s get right into demystifying a couple of these untruths pertaining to professional wrestling.
Myth #1: Steroids usage is rampant in the wrestling business.
Steroids are not any more common in wrestling as they are in other sports such as baseball. Only a small number of wrestlers are on enhancement drugs, and that is definitely the minority. For over a year now, World Wrestling Entertainment has had a Wellness Policy in effect, which enforces an aggressive substance abuse and drug testing policy. Random tests are done several times annually by an outside doctor to check for “the non-medical use and associate abuse of prescription medications and performance-enhancing drugs, as well as the use, possession and/or distribution of illegal drugs by WWE talent.”
This past week for example, Andrew ‘Test’ Martin was suspended for 30 days without pay and taken off house shows after violating the policy. He has, ironically, tested positive for taking what is believed to be anabolic steroids. A second offence could land him with a 60-day suspension and he would be forced to go to a rehabilitation centre or otherwise face termination from the company.
While steroids may have been used in larger quantities back in the 1980s, the WWE now takes performance-enhancing drug abuse very seriously. Wrestling is a form of entertainment where your look is important, unlike Barry Bonds with the controversy in the NBL who used steroids to cheat and boost his performance for years. Personally, I say if a wrestler wants to take 5-10 years off their life for their little 15 minutes of fame, then so be it. If they want to ruin their own bodies, then good riddance to them. Obviously, the company thinks otherwise and I tip my hat off to them for taking the initiative to stop this pattern of early deaths among wrestlers.
Myth #2: Vince Russo killed WCW, which was in the gutter anyway.
Contrary to popular belief, World Championship Wrestling was not a failure, unlike what Vince McMahon would want you to believe. Ted Turner started WCW back in 1991, and the company had a strong run for over 10 years. In 2001, Ted Turner’s company, Time Warner, merged with AOL. The new AOL-Time Warner acquisition wanted to no longer be associated with wrestling and decided to sell the entire wrestling organization to the competition. At the time of their final show in March 2001, their ratings were on par with what Smackdown gets today and way higher than either ECW or TNA. It’s called revisionist history. McMahon buys out his competition and makes the fans think that the company was in the gutter the entire time. He also gets his cronies to say that Vince Russo had the worst storyline ideas ever and only worked well in World Wrestling Entertainment when he was censored by others. Both tales are untrue. If you look at the facts, World Championship Wrestling almost put WWE out of business. For 84 weeks in a row, Nitro beat Raw decisively on Monday nights and for a few years following the ratings went back and forth between the two shows. When Vince Russo left – or joined? the WWE in October 1999, he brought the quality of programming and ratings up a notch. He helped build characters and establish new stars such as Booker T, Jeff Jarrett, Billy Kidman and Scott Steiner. Yes, he did make actor David Arquette the WCW champion. But who else would have been on the cover of USA Today the next morning and countless other publications? In the mid-90s, Vince McMahon had childish characters such as a garbage man, a clown, a hockey player and the Bastian Booger while WCW was innovative. They brought in luchadors from Mexico and highlighted lightweights in their cruiserweight division. They had the nWo, with Hogan, Hall and Nash among others. WCW was hip and cool, and ultimately it was mismanagement that killed them. Not Vince Russo, not bad wrestling, not even bad ratings, but the fact that Ted Turner no longer had control over his own company after the merger with AOL.
In other news, John Cena and Shawn Michaels defeated The Undertaker and Batista in the main event of No Way Out on Feb. 18. Batista surprisingly turned heel by giving the Deadman a vicious Batista Bomb. After two years of being a face, the fans were tiring of his usual act. It’s about time Batista did the turn to a rulebreaker leading into his title defence at Wrestlemania 23. Also on the show, Brian Kendrick and Paul London retained the Tag Team titles against the Greasers and Bobby Lashley was disqualified in his ECW championship match due to the usage of a steel chair.
Speaking of Wrestlemania, potential matches being talked about right now include Bobby Lashley vs. the Great Khali, MNM vs. the Hardyz, the now annual Money in the Bank ladder match which would have two guys from each brand, and the ECW Originals vs. the New Breeds. Another possibility may see Mick Foley facing Umaga. More on these in the coming weeks.