WWE Raw: Will the WWE Remember the Dead at Raw's 1000th Show?
Monday Night Raw's 1000th episode will be a great celebration of the WWE's success.
The festivities will encourage fans to relive great moments and applaud the legends who have made the WWE the most dominant sports entertainment provider in the world.
It is difficult to imagine that the 1000th episode will be anything else but a great success even if it is considered a standalone event.
However some of the men and women who made Raw great will not be in attendance.
Some of these will miss out due to them being contracted to another wrestling company, while others will not agree terms to return. Then there is the small group who have passed away since leaving the company.
Whether the WWE wants to concentrate on this group or not, there will be many people from outside the industry who will be keeping a very close eye on how, or if, the WWE addresses this issue.
The wrestling industry, and the WWE specifically, have been put under a great deal of scrutiny considering the total number of performers who have died at an early age. In fact 28 individuals who featured on Raw have died under the age of 45 since the programs beginning in 1993.
On previous occasions, the WWE has provided a tasteful video package commemorating those who died. These have been well received by wrestling fans, and the big advantage of this is containing the sadness to one part of the show.
Unfortunately this practice may not be appropriate on this occasion due to pressures from outside the WWE.
The first issue comes from the video package emphasizing just how many wrestlers have died. Showing these famous faces back to back will only strengthen the claims of those who think that the industry is inherently bad for people's health.
New York Post columnist Phil Mushnick, who is a well-known critic of the WWE's, drew attention to this fact in his Sunday column when he stated:
A former WWF/WWE content man wonders if in the coming 1,000th episode of “Raw,” Vince McMahon will present a roll call of WWF/WWE TV performers who didn’t live past 45. “Or would that take too long?”
Such a prominent newspaper noting this issue will only add to the people watching what the WWE chooses to do when referencing those who have died.
This problem is furthered by Linda McMahon's senate campaign.
Adding the 'deaths in wrestling' issue back to the table, which was a critical reason behind her failure to win a senate seat in 2010, could sink her campaign once again.
The final issue, and possibly the most controversial problem facing WWE fans as well as the outside world, is how does the WWE deals with the memory of Chris Benoit.
Five years have passed since Benoit committed suicide after killing his wife and son but the damage it did to the psyche of wrestling fans is still fresh. The WWE have chosen to ignore Benoit as a superstar up to this point, which is an issue that some agree on and others do not, but any addressing of deaths at the 1000th episode will bring this matter to the fore.
This will be uncomfortable for the WWE and fans alike.
The WWE could choose to ignore the issue of deaths in the wrestling industry entirely, but that would come with the general media accusing the company of avoiding or denying the problem.
It is well-known that the WWE has worked hard on its wellness policy, including banning high profile talent like Rey Mysterio and Randy Orton, to show that it is taking considerable steps to stop workers from damaging their long-term health.
Any sign that the company is going weak on the issue would be a public relations disaster.
Ultimately, the WWE seems to be damned if they do and damned if they don't with this issue.
Bringing up the subject of wrestlers' deaths, especially in the inflated numbers that they are in, will be a difficult issue for the WWE to negotiate. However, ignoring the subject completely will open the business up to accusations of denial and ignorance which could affect the company just as badly.
This may be the greatest celebration in Raw's history, but the way they handle the issue of deceased wrestlers on this occasion may be remembered for longer than the party itself.
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