Drugs in Pro Wrestling: Stop the Hypocrisy
It never ceases amongst wrestling fans. Whether or not some of us refuse to admit it we are all basically hypocrites when it comes to the product which entertains us.
We expect nothing but perfection and constantly bicker over who should be getting pushes, why they should, why they haven’t, who doesn’t deserve pushes, etc.
Perhaps one of the biggest things that shows our hypocrisy is the way we react when wrestlers are caught using some form of drugs. Our reactions differ. The reaction differs from person to person and his attitudes surrounding drugs. But what many have not looked at is our reaction also depends on the wrestler.
Let us take a look at the most obvious, and current example, that being Jeff Hardy. Hardy is a three-time world champion and held a total of 19 championships during his time with the WWE.
As many of us know, his contract with the WWE expired and he went on a hiatus. Roughly two weeks after he left, he was arrested for possession of Vicodin and various other drugs.
Immediately after the wrestling world discovered this, wrestling websites were ablaze and many fans, writers, and insiders alike were criticizing Hardy with many referring to him as a fallen hero and a druggie.
Let us pause for a moment here and take a look at the bigger picture. Do any of us really even know the reason that Jeff wanted to take this hiatus?
Well it has been revealed that Jeff Hardy is suffering from a neck injury, two herniated discs in his lower back as well as restless leg syndrome, which causes the uncomfortable burning, itching, or tickling sensations in the legs.
These effects are made worse by relaxing and they continue unless one is constantly moving. Right now there aren't very many effective treatments for Restless Leg Syndrome.
The large amount of pain Jeff may be in at this point in time is likely more than enough to make even "Mr. I am straight-edge which means I'm better than you in every single way you could possibly imagine" CM Punk go to his doctor and beg for some type of pain medication.
How many of us could honestly say if we were in Hardy's shoes we wouldn't attempt to find some type of relief?
Let's us turn now to another case, one that truly shows more depths to the hypocrisy surrounding wrestlers and drugs; the case of recent WWE alumni, The Brian Kendrick.
Brian Kendrick is most known for his run with Paul London as the WWE tag-team champions and after many months re-debuted with the gimmick of a cocky heel.
Many people feel Kendrick is a great wrestler and can speak well on the microphone. It is said amongst a number of fans that Kendrick deserved to be a world champion simply due to his in-ring work.
A good, fair, few people know why Kendrick was released but I will reiterate it anyway. Kendrick's eventual release was due to him being caught with marijuana in his system 14 or more times during drug tests.
Marijuana is not against the wellness policy so he was never suspended for it but it did cause the pushes he was supposed to receive to be canceled, even though a majority of us knew he smoked marijuana, we still called for him to be a world champion.
WWE consistently asked him to keep clean but he refused. His smoking of marijuana and constantly being caught made the company look bad just having him on the roster; if he had become champion I could imagine the headlines now,
"WWE promotes marijuana use."
"WWE wrestlers are terrible role models; turn off your television now!"
"Do we wish to allow this glorification of marijuana use to continue?"
How many of us would have wanted to sit through that? None of us, yet we still call Kendrick's release a foul action of keeping a good wrestler down.
Let us turn to our final case, that of Eddie Fatu, AKA Umaga.
Umaga, a two time IC champion, was released as of this past June after returning from injury, in this case a torn PCL, and seemed to be receiving a push only to be buried by CM Punk and released a night later.
It would eventually come to light that Fatu had been caught violating the wellness policy for the second time, which is normally grounds for a 60-day suspension, not a release. He was offered rehabilitation and flat out refused which is what caused him to be released.
The IWC was on fire, calling this yet another case of WWE releasing a potential world champion and established star. Many have talked of him going to TNA because they could make him the world champion that WWE never would have.
This is where the hypocrisy begins to show through. (Please note this isn't to say I'm not excited he will possibly be going to TNA.)
To be technical it is not that the WWE never would have made him a world champion; it is that he would not allow them to make him a world champion. He not only was caught using steroids, he refused to go to rehab which made him unreliable as a champion, yet many refuse to see that as being the case.
Now what is the difference between these three men? One we laugh at when he is arrested, yet when others are released we call foul? It is a puzzling situation and to be honest it is one I don't understand.
Kendrick and Fatu had more solid wrestling ability than Hardy, yet not only used drugs but refused to quit and remain clean, at least until the end of their tenure with the company. They failed themselves; it is not the WWE's fault for not pushing them. Hardy at least remained clean until he left the company and I respect him for that.
Remember, do not judge any wrestler for using drugs unless you understand the situation they are in. It is their choice to use them and hinder their careers, not ours. There are a variety of reasons wrestlers use any drugs, far too many name and understand, but in any case the hypocrisy must stop.
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